Best wireless earbuds 2020 | Laptop Mag

The best wireless earbuds afford you many of the same perks that an elite pair of wired or wireless headphones would, maybe even more. They free you of cables, letting you consume music on the go without being physically tethered to your portable devices: smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Even better, they pack lots of performance – great sound, call quality, and special features – into a compact design.

As the category continues to grow in popularity, so does the demand for wireless earbuds, especially with modern smartphones slowly doing away with the headphone jack. Le sigh. Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped tech staples like Sony, Samsung, and even Apple from releasing stellar cordless buds. We’re also seeing other popular electronics brands such as Jabra and Anker jump on the wireless earbuds’ bandwagon, releasing superior products that hold their own against the top dogs.

In compiling a list of the best wireless earbuds, we take many variables into account, from battery life to connectivity to design to sound. Other notable hallmarks such as mobile app support, setup, and special features are factored into the equation as well.

After testing the market’s top offerings, we’ve ranked the best wireless earbuds based on budget, performance, and style. Scroll down to see which ones best suit your listening needs.

What are the best wireless earbuds?

The Apple AirPods Pro currently stand as the best wireless earbuds due to their enhanced fit, seamless iOS/MacOS functionality, and surprisingly good active noise cancellation. We’ve found these cordless danglers to be the ideal companion for all Apple devices. They also work with Android and Windows devices via Bluetooth, though the setup process can be a bit arduous. 

Coming in a close second is the recently launched Jabra Elite Active 75t, which earned a perfect score on our sister site, Tom’s Guide, for its remarkable all-around performance. While designed for fitness use, it is still an excellent everyday pair of wireless earbuds with dynamic sound, solid battery life, and lots of personalized features that enhance functionality.

Those on the hunt for Android-friendly wireless earbuds may want to look at the all-new Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. They have better battery life and sound than the AirPods Pro and plenty of neat features. Not to mention they work well across all OS platforms. The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 is another amazing option that blends excellent sound and powerful noise cancellation into a clean, minimalist design.

Sony’s game-changing WF-1000xM3 is the best noise cancelling model in the category, offering first-class sound and ANC in a deluxe package. These earbuds also have cool features like adjustable ambient listening to hear your surroundings more clearly and NFC support for instant pairing to compatible devices.

Contrary to popular belief, the best wireless earbuds don’t always come at a premium. There are a handful of models – the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 – listed under $100 that make for great AirPods’ alternatives as well.

Whether you’re a business traveler who requires complete silence in flight or just an avid music lover who wants amazing sound in a tinier form, there’s a model on our list of best wireless earbuds tailored to your ears.

The best wireless earbuds you can buy today

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom’s Guide)1. Apple AirPods Pro

The best wireless earbuds overall

Size: 1.2 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 0.19 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 4.5 hours, 24 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 800 feet | Digital assistant support: Yes

Effective active noise cancelation

Adaptive EQ

Clean, balanced sound

Lower battery life than the AirPods 2

No companion app

Apple made almost every change necessary to make the AirPods Pro the best wireless earbuds that money can buy. Fans wanted active noise cancellation and got just that, which is superbly effective, thanks to Apple’s multi-mic system that uses two mics on each bud to analyze ambient sound and cancels it out before reaching the soundstage. The technology is intuitive and blocks out about 85% of street noise. 

The included ear tips also make a world of difference in fit and sound. They create a comfy, tight seal around the canal that ensures the Pods don’t slip out when rushing to catch the bus. Gym rats and gamers who sweat profusely no longer have to worry about damaging their buds either, as Apple made the AirPods Pro water and sweat resistant. It’s this personalized fit, along with Apple’s all-new Adaptive EQ, that also makes music sound fuller. Not to mention Apple has introduced an all-new spatial audio feature in iOS 14 that helps create a 3D soundscape for listeners.

Read our full Apple AirPods Pro review.

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom’s Guide)2. Jabra Elite Active 75t

Practically perfect wireless earbuds

Size: 0.8 x 0.7 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 0.19 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 7.5 hours, 28 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital assistant support: Yes

Energetic soundstage

Waterproof design

Solid overall battery life

Lots of customization via companion app

Can get too loud at max volume

We didn’t think Jabra was capable of improving on near-perfection, but they definitely showed out with their latest release. The Elite Active 75t takes everything that made its predecessor, the Elite Active 65t, one of the best wireless earbuds for casual listening and fitness and turned the performance knob up to 11. Jabra shrunk the design by 22%, while nearly doubling the battery life on both the buds and charging case. The waterproof coating is also great for exercising and does a phenomenal job of absorbing wetness to prevent slippage.

What’s even more remarkable is how powerful the audio is on these sporty buds; sound is lively and lends itself well to all music genres. Access to the Jabra Sound+ app broadens the buds’ sonic capabilities by allowing you to play with the EQ or select from one of five band presets.

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)3. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Great-sounding buds with noise cancellation

Size: 0.58 x 0.96 x 0.52 inches | Weight: 0.19 ounces (per bud) | Battery Life (Rated): 6 hours/21 hours with case (ANC + Bixby); 5.5 hours/20 hours (ANC); 8 hours/29 hours (ANC + Bixby off) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital assistant support: Yes

Accurate, lively sound

Solid battery life

Plenty of customization via companion app

Fun, eye-catching design

Weak ANC

Samsung’s first-ever ANC wireless earbuds are a notable entry in the company’s line of popular mobile accessories and delivers top-tier sound in a unique, stylish design. You can expect crisp treble, clear vocals, and impactful bass when indulging in Spotify playlists, which you can instantly pull up on the buds with the touch of a button by customizing the controls in the Galaxy Wear app. There’s also the option to fine-tune sound to your liking by selecting from six different presets. One of the bigger perks of owning these buds over the AirPods Pro is longer battery life; the Galaxy Buds Live offers an hour more playtime with ANC on and three hours more when turned off.

However, the device’s killer feature, active noise cancellation, does not live up to expectations. It’s decent enough to eliminate small ambient noises, but don’t expect silence when walking down a busy street. We feel the touch controls could be better as well.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)4. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

ANC and Sennheiser sound for a premium

Size: 3.02 x 1.72 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 7 hours, 28 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 800 feet (243 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Superb audio performance

Clean, minimalist design

Longer battery life than its predecessor

Strong active noise cancellation

More expensive than the AirPods Pro

Uncomfortable for smaller ears

Basically, Sennheiser repackaged its popular wireless earbuds with a bigger battery and active noise cancellation, and the end product is undeniable. The Momentum True Wireless 2’s ANC performance is up there with the AirPods Pro, using a single mic on each bud to minimize ambient sound at high levels; loud TVs and noisy neighbors will go unnoticed. Playtime has been increased from 4 to 7 hours, with the gorgeous slate gray fabric charging case housing an extra 3 charges. These buds also retain the beautiful sound of the original, delivering sumptuous audio with precise detail, which can also be personalized via Sennheiser Smart Control app, though the default profile is great as is.

Those with small ears and pockets will find the Momentum True Wireless 2 less enticing, as the buds don’t provide the best comfort or fit for tiny ear holes, while the upscale price tag ($300) makes them one of the more expensive options in the category.

See our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Laptop Magazine)5. Google Pixel Buds 2

The wireless buds finally live up to the hype

Size: 0.8 x 0.8 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 0.18 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 5 hours | Bluetooth range: 120 feet (36 meters) | Digital assistant support: Yes

Rich, precise audio

Stylish, durable and comfortable design

Seamless translation technology

Lacks active noise cancelation

Volume is a bit quiet

Google’s back and the Pixel Buds 2 are better than ever. First off, they’re actually wireless this time around. Next, they’re comfortable and sound good, not exactly on a par with the leading brands, but not far off either. Best of all, at $179, it’s cheaper than most of the competition. But the Pixel Buds 2 claim to fame is its seamless translation services by way of Google Translate, which allows you to have a conversation with real-time translation. Another cool feature that Google has recently implemented is support for the Find My Device app, which will allow users to easily track down misplaced buds.

The earbuds also offer near-instant pairing, a solid Bluetooth connection and nearly 5 hours of battery life. You also get Adaptive Sound, which automatically adjusts volume depending on your surroundings. The Buds are immensely comfortable and offer a smidgen of durability with its sweat and water resistance.  If you’re searching for a pair of attractive, affordable truly wireless earbuds, you can’t go wrong with the Google Pixel Buds.

Read our full Google Pixel Buds 2 review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom’s Guide)6. Sony WF-1000xM3 Wireless Earbuds

The best noise cancelling wireless earbuds

Size: 5.6 x 4.7 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 0.3 ounces | Battery life (Rated): 6 hours (NC on), 8 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital assistant support: Yes

Best-in-class ANC

Full, vibrant sound

Strong battery life across the board

Finicky touch controls

Call quality isn’t great

If you’re the type who looks to enjoy their Apple Music library with fewer outside distractions, then it’s the Sony WF-1000xM3 you want. These aren’t just the best wireless earbuds for noise cancelation – they happen to be one of the best-sounding models as well. The combination of a dual-mic system and Sony’s HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1e neutralizes noise from all angles. Those who want to be more mindful of their surroundings can enable the Ambient Sound Control option, which can be adjusted in the companion app to let in as much background noise as you want.

Bass remains at the heart of Sony’s sound signature, and while it’s boomy, it creates enough room for detailed mids and highs to serenade your ears. Multiple presets are programmed into the app that you can select; each one is fine-tuned and complements their respective music genres. With ANC known for sucking up lots of power, the WF-1000xM3 holds an impressive 6-hour charge (8 hours with ANC off), which is perfect for round-trip flights. If you’re thinking about holding out for the rumored WF-1000xM4, you may want to reconsider, as reports of the WF-1000xM3 receiving aptX HD support continue to heat up, extending the shelf life of these awesome ANC in-ear monitors.

(Image credit: Future)7. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

The best wireless earbuds for Android users

Size: 0.7 x 0.75 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 0.22 ounces | Battery life (Rated): 11 hours, 22 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 120 feet (36 meters) | Digital assistant support: Yes

Industry-leading battery life

Crisp, balanced sound powered by AKG-tuned drivers

Handy companion app

Touch controls can be unresponsive at times

Want a great pair of wireless earbuds that operates smoothly across multiple platforms? Here it is. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus doesn’t just play nicely with iOS and Android devices, but also offers more battery life, better sound, and cooler wireless features (e.g. reverse charging with any compatible Samsung Galaxy phone) than the AirPods Pro. Having 11 hours of playtime on a single charge is such a huge deal, giving users lengthier playtimes in between charges. The pill-shaped charging case doubles that number and supports faster quick charging to get you 1 hour of use on a 3-minute charge.

AKG’s dual-tuned speakers pump out clean and lively audio. The buds also have their own iOS and Android apps, which lets you personalize the sound and touch controls, though the latter blesses you with more perks such as Spotify integration and a Gaming mode with dedicated EQ.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Laptop Magazine)8. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2

An awesome AirPods alternative for cheap

Size: 2 x 2.2 x 1 inches | Weight: TBD | Battery life (Rated): 7 hours, 28 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 35 feet | Digital assistant support: Yes

Sound better than all AirPods models

Adaptive listening features

Impressive call quality

Touch controls are wonky

Same unattractive long-stem design as the AirPods

There’s nothing wrong with being labelled an AirPods clone, especially when the product grants better audio, battery life, and more color options (White AND Black) for under $100. Anker went all out stuffing the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 with as many powerful specs as possible: including 4 mics with noise reduction technology, diamond-coated drivers, personalized sound features, and a 7-hour battery.

You’ll experience some nice clarity and depth when listening to music, which also carries over to phone calls. It’s also cool that you can use the buds in stereo or mono mode. The Soundcore app extends functionality to customize the controls and sound; you can choose from multiple presets or select the HearID feature to have the buds create a sound profile based on your hearing sensibility. How many models do you know in the same price range that can pull that off?

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Laptop Magazine)9. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport

High-end sports buds with premium sound

Size: 0.9 x 0.98 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 0.44 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 7 hours, 30 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital assistant support: Yes

Authentic sound

Signature premium design

Great personalized and user-friendly features

Some of the most expensive buds out there

Finicky connectivity

There’s no denying that Bang & Olufsen’s first-ever sports wireless buds are pricey, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. In the case of the Beoplay E8 Sport, it’s craftsmanship and performance. This model carries over the same accurate sound signature as its more sophisticated sibling, the Beoplay E8, giving music a lively presence with superbly balanced frequencies. Bass levels knock hard enough to stimulate a second wind on long runs, while vocals are reproduced superbly to make listeners feel like their favorite musicians are performing front and center for them. More striking is the build quality, as the buds are made up of top-notch materials, are waterproof, and come with a robust charging case that looks badass.

Aside from its hefty price tag, the only other major complaint we have revolves around connectivity, as Bluetooth 5.0 isn’t the most reliable on these buds. You might encounter some stutter when stepping just a few feet away from your audio source or have the right earbud disconnect randomly.

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Laptop Magazine)10. Apple AirPods 2

Entry-level buds with amazing sound

Size: 1.6 x 0.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 0.14 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 5 hours, 24 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital assistant support: Yes

Lightweight, comfortable design

Faster connection on iOS devices

Hands-free Siri integration

Lacks ambient listening mode and EQ

Mediocre battery life

As phenomenal as the AirPods Pro may be, there’s no denying the model that came before it. The AirPods II still delivers a top-tier true wireless experience that makes connecting to iOS and macOS devices instantaneous, while allowing for seamless voice command via Hey Siri. You’re also getting many of the same features found on its noise-cancelling sibling, including Announce Messages with Siri, audio sharing between two AirPods or Beats headphones, and automatic switching, which is set to be part of an upcoming iOS 14 update rumored for launch this September. Adding some third-party ear tips into the mix can help provide a more pleasant and secure fit too. 

Investing in Apple’s second-gen buds also means you’re fine living without some modern features like EQ presets and an ambient listening mode. Those same sentiments carry over to battery life, which, while slightly better than the AirPods Pro, won’t last you long on flights.

Deal alert: Students can score the AirPods 2 for free with the purchase of a MacBook or iPad as part of Apple’s 2020 Back to School promotion.

How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

Battery life is most crucial when searching for the best wireless earbuds. Most models offer 4 to 8 hours on a single charge. Make sure the buds come bundled with a charging case too, so to keep them charged and stowed away during commutes. Charging cases can provide multiple charges and hold anywhere between 12 to 40+ hours of additional playtime.

Design is just as important. Ideally, you want a pair of buds that offer personalized fit and comfort, along with multiple ear tips to accommodate different ear shapes. Durability and water-resistant protection shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Next up is audio, which applies to all media formats (e.g. music, videos, games) and phone calls. Explore models with powerful drivers and customization settings that allow you to tweak sound profiles to your liking.

Let’s not forget wireless functionality. Many wireless earbuds come programmed with Bluetooth 5.0, which gives users faster connectivity, increased range (est. 120 meters max), longer battery life, and multipoint pairing to connect to two audio sources simultaneously. Digital assistant support (Siri, Google, and Alexa) falls under this section as well.

We’re seeing more wireless earbuds boast advanced features like an adaptive EQ and active noise cancellation. These are features well worth spending on extra on, if engineered properly, and will be more common as the category evolves.

How we test the best wireless earbuds

When testing for the best wireless earbuds, Laptop Magazine evaluates several factors: design, comfort, sound, and value just to name a few. Our reviewers also compare these models to similar products in the category in terms of features, fit, and pricing.

Wireless earbuds are worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. During this period, we assess comfort, ease of use, and audio quality. We listen to several sample tracks across a number of music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, and classical, while analyzing clarity, depth, and volume. Audiobooks, games, podcasts, and videos are also taken into consideration.

Our reviewers also test battery life, Bluetooth range, digital assistant support, ease of setup, and any app-enabled features compatible with laptops, desktops, and all portable devices like smartphones and tablets.

Furthermore, we test streaming music services that offer hi-res audio. To learn more about how these services can improve the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, here is an expert audio codec FAQ on everything you should know about FLAC files, MP3s and all other audio file codecs.

Once our testing is completed, every model is rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.

Round up of today’s best deals

Jabra – Elite Active 75t True…

Sennheiser Momentum True…

Sony WF-1000XM3 Industry…

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Plus,…

Anker – Soundcore Liberty Air…

Apple AirPods with Charging…


About the Author: Chris Jenny

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