Gadget makers have been striving to cut wires from their products for years and when it comes to headphones, they’ve just about managed it.
So-called ‘true wireless’ earbuds are now very much a thing thanks in large part to Apple and the AirPods.
Although AirPods remain the most recognisable, there are plenty of other decent contenders worth checking out.
If you’re an Android user or want a pair especially for the gym, then you’re apt to be looking for something other than Apple’s slick white buds.
We’ve pulled together a few options that are worth examining and listed them below.
Jabra Elite Active 75t
Jabra has two versions of the 75t: one regular and one ‘active’. The former is a bit sleeker and more suited to businessey types while the latter throws in an IP57 waterproof rating for when you’re hitting the trails.
These headphones are a strong choice if you’re regularly out running or cycling as they’ve got sweat and dust resistance thanks to that aforementioned rating. Jabra has made these buds 22% smaller and lighter than the last generation and bumped the battery life up to 28 hours.
The case charges via USB-C and you can program the on-device controls to tailor them to your needs. Speaking of, a feature called MySound attempts to calibrate the audio based on your own personal hearing profile. Which is quite handy if you’re preoccupied trying to sprint up a hill.
You can pick up the Jabra Elite Active 75t for £190.
Sitting in a similar slot to the Jabra Elite Active 75t above, these buds are for those with a penchant for getting hot and sweaty.
They’ve got themselves an IPX7 water resistance rating which means they could technically be submerged briefly in a metre of water and still work – although we wouldn’t recommend it.
You’ll get six hours of playback from each bud and the case carries an additional ten hours of charge. And, with a price of £160, they’re a fair bit more affordable than some of the other options here.
Jaybird has an app that accompanies the headphones that lets you customise your own sound profiles should you choose.
You can buy the Jaybird Vista here.
Winning the prize for the least-inspiring name on the list, the Sony WF-1000XMS are nevertheless highly recommended by gadgety folk.
They offer a pretty premium design and excellent noise cancelling technology to help block out the rest of the world. Sony says it uses 24-bit processing to make the batteries inside the buds last longer.
You’ll get six hours (turn off noise cancelling and that jumps to eight) of playback as standard but then enough power in the charging case for an extra three cycles. In total, Sony says you get 24 hours of solid performance with both Bluetooth and noise-cancelling enabled. The case is pretty chunky, but it’ll charge over USB-C and give you 90 minutes of power from just a 10 minute charge.
They’re not the cheapest at £220, but at the time of writing they are being discounted at Amazon to £170.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Sennheiser is a bit of a storied name when it comes to headphones and these wireless buds don’t come cheap at £279.
But you get a good amount for your cash. These have got active noise-cancellation on board and they are splashproof with an IPX4 waterproof rating.
Sound quality has been roundly praised by reviewers as has the comfort of wearing these for a long time. They should be good for about seven hours on a single charge and you can juice up via USB-C through the carry case.
Like the AirPod Pros, you can enable passthrough hearing by tapping the earbuds so (if you want to) you can let in the outside world.
You can pick up the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 here.
Apple AirPods Pro
If you’re a hardcore Apple user then the best wireless earbuds you can get are hands down the AirPods Pro.
You’ll pay a pretty penny for them (£249), but the functionality you get alongside an iPhone or iPad can’t be beaten.
There’s more sound to the Pros than the standard AirPods and the bass notes just sound a bit throatier. Apple has created what it calls ‘Adaptive EQ’ that will automatically tune the low and mid frequencies to the shape of each individual’s ear.
The company’s engineers scanned thousands of people’s ears and built heat maps to understand sound as well as fit. The all-round insulation of the sound likely comes from the fact you now have two tips of silicone holding the headphones more snugly inside your ear.
Something to be wary of: these are beautifully white when you unbox them but will get grubby before long.
You can buy the Apple AirPods Pro here.
Huawei FreeBuds 3
Huawei’s FreeBuds are all-white (or black) wireless earbuds that look suspiciously like Apple’s AirPods and if you’ve got a Huawei phone then they easily pair in a similar way.
The FreeBuds 3 are an open-cup design, meaning they don’t employ silicone tips to give an airtight seal around your ears. The benefit is they’re easier to slip on and slip off and will suit a wide variety of ear types. The downside is that even with the noise cancellation engaged, background noise is inevitably going to seep in around the edges.
They have been given an IPX4 water resistant rating (the same as the AirPods Pro) which means they’ll stand up to splashes, rain and sweat.
The FreeBuds 3 will give you around four hours of listening on a single charge but you’ll get a further 16 hours from the charging case itself. When it’s time to recharge you can use either wireless charging or plug in to the USB-C port on the underside of the case.
And, at £150, they’re reasonably well priced. Although Huawei does have an even cheaper set, the Huawei Freebuds 3i, for sale at £89.
You can buy the Huawei Freebuds 3 here.
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