Technology

Best true wireless earbuds for 2020: Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds and more





Apple’s AirPods aren’t essentially the perfect wi-fi earbuds although they’ve led the class of true wireless earbuds for the previous few years when it comes to numbers bought. Many rivals have popped up that provide higher sound, battery life and efficiency, making the marketplace for true wireless earbuds actually aggressive, with extra to come back. Principally, you not need to have an Apple system to dwell the actually wi-fi earbuds dream.

This listing identifies the perfect true wi-fi earbuds; we even have lists of the best cheap true wireless earbuds and the best-sounding true wireless earbuds. Keep in mind that to get optimum efficiency, the perfect wi-fi earbuds must have an ergonomic design and really feel comfy. They should match proper, with a decent earbud seal. If you cannot get a comfortable earbud match with in-ear headphones, you will be sadly upset and really feel ripped off, which is why I recommend shopping for your pair of wi-fi earbuds from a vendor with a good return coverage, equivalent to Amazon. This additionally helps if the earbuds do not meet another expectation, from ambient sound cancelling to the touch management to how lengthy they final on a single cost. We’ll replace this listing of greatest wi-fi earbuds frequently as we assessment new merchandise.

Learn extra: Best noise-canceling headphones of 2020


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The second-generation Momentum True Wireless 2, available now for preorder and shipping in April, aren’t cheap at $300. However, they’re better all around than the originals, with a slightly smaller, more comfortable earbud design, great audio quality, active noise canceling that rivals that of the AirPod Pro, improved battery life (up to seven hours versus the original’s four) and better noise reduction during calls. If you don’t like these active noise cancellation earbuds in black, a white version is slated to follow later this year. Most importantly, though, the Momentum True Wireless 2 have the same great sound — for true wireless earbuds, anyway — offering clearly superior sound quality to the AirPods Pro. That makes them arguably the best true wireless earbuds on the market today and earns them a CNET Editors’ Choice Award.

These use Bluetooth 5.1 with support for the AAC and AptX codecs (for devices that have AptX like Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones). 

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.

David Carnoy/CNET

Google’s Pixel Buds 2 are worthy contenders in the premium true wireless earbuds arena, particularly for Android phones. Featuring hands-free Google Assistant (for Android), they offer a comfortable, secure fit and very good sound quality for true wireless. Additionally, they’re good for making calls and their touch controls work quite well. 

At five hours, their battery life isn’t as good as some new models that are hitting the market, but it’s on par with the AirPods Pro’s battery life and the well-designed wireless charging case gives you an additional 19 hours (there is a quick-charge feature). The Pixel Buds 2 will eventually be available in four color options (white, black, mint and orange), but at launch you can only get them in white.

This true wireless earbud option uses Bluetooth 5.0 with support for the AAC codec but not aptX. 

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Read our Google Pixel Buds 2 (2020) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Even if they don’t sound as magical as you’d hope a $249 model would, the AirPods Pro still manage to be a great pair of truly wireless earphones. That’s largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance, effective noise canceling and excellent call quality. Yeah, Apple AirPods are expensive at $250, but the good news is you’ll use these wireless earbuds so much you’ll probably wear the battery down — it does degrade over time and isn’t replaceable — and have to buy a new pair in 18 to 24 months if you don’t lose them first. 

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof).

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.

At first glance, the Elite 75t, which were originally supposed to cost $200 but now sell for $180 (£170 and AU$299), seem more like an evolutionary upgrade from the highly rated Elite 65t. But the updates turn out to be a little more substantial than I first thought. The Elite 75t’s smaller size (the buds and case are 20% smaller than the Elite 65t’s), their boosted battery life and USB-C charging are significant upgrades. Then there are the smaller changes, like the new charging case design with magnets inside that make it easier to open and close and to keep the buds inside. While the Elite 75t aren’t quite as comfortable to wear as the AirPods Pro and don’t have active noise canceling, they do sound better, with clearer overall sound and better bass audio quality definition, so long as you get a tight seal.

Water-resistantYes (IP55 rating — can withstand heavy sprays of water).

Read our Jabra Elite 75t review.

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung’s Buds Plus look essentially the same as the original Galaxy Buds, but their battery life is rated at 11 hours for music playback (up from 6) and they pack dual drivers for better sound and an additional microphone in each bud to help with external noise reduction while making calls.

I was impressed with the sound. It’s detailed and smooth, with deep, well-defined bass. The sound is richer and more spacious than that of the original Galaxy Buds. Well-respected Austrian audio company AKG, which Samsung acquired when it bought Harman, is behind the audio. While the original Buds were also “tuned” by AKG, these are a nice upgrade over the originals — and right there with what you get with the Jabra Elite 75t, if not even a touch better. They use Bluetooth 5.0 and support for AAC (there’s now an app for iOS users) and Samsung’s scalable codec, which is similar to aptX but is proprietary to Samsung Galaxy phones.  

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof).

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony hasn’t been much of a player in the true wireless (AirPod-style) headphone arena, though its new WF-1000XM3 model may change that. While this pair of headphones isn’t cheap, as far as sound quality, they’re the best wireless earbuds in this price range, matching and perhaps even exceeding the quality and performance of pricier competitors from SennheiserBeatsMaster & Dynamic and Bang & Olufsen. They also have a feature those wireless earbuds don’t have: active noise cancellation technology to reduce ambient noise.

The only drawback is the WF-1000XM3 earbuds aren’t rated as sweat-proof or waterproof headphones. That said, I’ve used them for light workouts with a bit of a sweat at the gym without a problem. They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC but not aptX.

Water-resistant: No (lacks IPX certification).

Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What’s most impressive about the EarFun Free is the features: Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging and fully waterproof (IPX7), according to their specs. Do they sound fantastic? No, but these earphones sound pretty good. They don’t have the clarity of higher-end true wireless earbuds that cost $150 or more, but they do have plump bass and enough detail to avoid sounding dull. They’re also pretty solid for making calls. An excellent value for less than $50.

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 rating — fully waterproof).

Read CNET first take.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Jaybird got off to a bumpy start in the world of true wireless — that’s “AirPod-style headphones” — when it released its Jaybird Run workout headphones back in October 2017. Updated to the wireless in-ear Jaybird Run XT earlier this year, the Jaybird Run earbuds were well designed but had some small performance issues that held them back from being great. But their wireless successor model, the Jaybird Vista (cue the Windows Vista jokes), include design, battery life and performance improvements that make them the quality product I’d hoped the Jaybird Run would be — and simply the best wireless earbuds for runners.

At $180 (£160, AU$280), this pair of sweat-proof earbuds are a little more expensive than they should be, but they’re among the better true wireless earbuds to hit the market last year. They’ll appeal to those looking for a more discreet set of totally wireless sports earbuds that feature full waterproofing.

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 — fully waterproof and sweat-proof).

Read the Jaybird Vista review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Libratone Track Air Plus has been out for several months in Europe, but only recently went on sale in the US (it lists for $200 but it’s currently selling on Amazon for $190 with a discount coupon for $10 off). It doesn’t sound quite as open to the ear as the AirPods Pro, but the audio is clearer and it has well-defined bass. You can choose between neutral, bass boost and treble settings in the companion app. The noise canceling is also decent — maybe not quite on par with the AirPods Pro, but close. I liked the fit of these — the in-ear buds stayed in my ear well (I was able to run with them) and the case is only a little bigger than the AirPods Pro’s case.

The Track Air Plus works well as a headset for making calls, and a firmware upgrade did improve headset performance. That said, the noise reduction isn’t quite as good as that of the AirPods Pro. People said they could hear me clearly and loudly, but the earphones didn’t muffle background noise quite as well as the AirPods Pro. 

These use Bluetooth 5.0 and have support for AAC and aptX. 

Note that Libratone also makes the Track Air, which is $150 (Amazon is currently discounting it by $10 with a coupon) and doesn’t have noise-canceling features but is otherwise similar.

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — sweat-resistant and splashproof).

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you can’t afford the Apple AirPods Pro, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 are a good alternative and are a top model for making calls. Like the AirPods Pro, this pair of Anker Soundcore earbuds do a remarkably good job of muffling ambient noise (callers said they could hear me fine even with a lot of street noise around me). While these Anker Soundcore earbuds don’t have active noise cancelling, they sound nearly as good, fit comfortably and their noise-isolating design passively seals out a lot of ambient noise. They cost only $100

Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating — can withstand heavy sprays of water).

Read full review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Yes, the Beats Powerbeats Pro’s jumbo charging case with its built-in battery is a notable drawback. But incorporating all the features that make Apple’s AirPods great while delivering richer sound and better battery life in a design that won’t fall out of your ear is a winning proposition. Just make sure you buy these Beats Powerbeats earphones somewhere that has a good return policy, in case you’re in the small minority who have ears that aren’t quite a match for them.

They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC but not aptX.

Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof).

Read our Beats Powerbeats Pro review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Anker is better known for its value headphones, but it’s trying to step into more premium territory with its Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds, which carry a list price of $150. From a design standpoint, these bluetooth earbuds share some similarities with Sony’s WF-1000XM3, though this Anker Soundcore model doesn’t have active noise cancellation. Anker says they have large 11mm drivers combined with Knowles Balanced Armature, with up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge (32 total hours of playtime with the case) and noise-cancellation microphones to help reduce ambient sound so callers can hear you better. They charge via USB-C and also support wireless charging.

I’m not sure they sound quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3, but they certainly sound like premium true wireless earphones, with rich sound that includes powerful bass performance and lots of detail. Some people may have some quibbles over the wireless earphone fit — I had to supply my own XL tips to get a tight seal and found the Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 a little more comfortable — but the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro are a good value. They also work very well for making calls (they do a good job reducing background sound).  

They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX.

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof).

Read more.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The second-generation Apple AirPods add a couple of small but key improvements to the original, including always-on voice recognition and a wireless charging case option. They’re also a quality device for making calls, indoors and out. 

The base model remains at $159 (£159, AU$249) while the version with the wireless charging case lists for $199 (£199, AU$319). However, you can often find both models for slightly cheaper online.

Water-resistant: No (lacks IPX certification).

Read our Apple AirPods 2019 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I don’t really know how stylish the 1More Stylish True Wireless earbuds are (yes, that’s their name), but they do sound good. With a list price of $100, they’re among the least expensive models on this list. 1More made a name for itself with its wired earbuds, the Triple Drivers, which sound great and were a good value when wired headphones were still a thing. The same clear, balanced sound is present in 1More’s first true wireless earbuds; they don’t sound as good as the Triple Drivers, but the audio quality is very good for true wireless.

These have more of an audiophile sound profile, with more “accurate” sound, so bass lovers may be a little disappointed, but I liked them. Of course, it helped that I was able to get a tight seal with one of the included sets of ear tips. However, the stabilizer fin did nothing for me — I just jammed the tip into my ear to get a secure fit. 

Their battery life is rated at up to 6.5 hours (expect closer to 5 battery hours if you’re listening to music at higher volumes), with an extra 17 hours or so of battery life available from the charging case. These use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX.

Water-resistant: No (lacks IPX certification).

Read our 1More Stylish True Wireless review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus are the second generation of the company’s MW07. This pair of earbuds features greatly increased battery life (10 versus 3.5 hours), Bluetooth 5.0 and active noise cancellation with two microphones on each bud. They may not fit everyone’s ear equally well, but they certainly have a distinct look, as well as very good sound and a great listening experience if you can get a tight seal. These in-ear headphones are known for more of an audiophile sound profile, with smooth, well-balanced sound and well-defined bass. 

Available in four color options, for $299, these wireless earbuds include a swanky chrome charging case that comes with a secondary pouch for safekeeping (yes, the case can get scratched up if you leave it in a bag). The case, with its built-in chargeable battery, gives you an additional three charges (it charges via USB-C). These have support for aptX (but not AAC) and have an extended range of more than 20 meters, according to Master & Dynamic.

Water-resistantYes (IPX5 rating — withstands sustained spray).

Read more.

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Author

David Carnoy