More Than Just AirPods

The 8 Best True Wireless Earphones of 2018


August 15, 2018 Tech By Photo by Hunter D. Kelley

This definitive guide to the best true wireless earphones of 2018 explores everything you need to know before buying your next pair of true wireless earphones, including what to look out for and the various options available. We also rank our favorite true wireless earphones of 2018.

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Table of Contents
The Short List

Introduction
Buying Guide

The Short List

Best Overall: Apple AirPods

Verdict: AirPods might be the best first-generation product that Apple has ever released — and that’s saying something. The charging case is by far the most compact and polished of any other true wireless earphones. The AirPods instantly pair with your iPhone or iPad thanks to its ingenious W1 chip. And the battery life is borderline extraordinary. AirPods were one of the first true wireless earphones released, in late 2016, and nearly a year and a half later no other product has been able to overtake these. The only two downsides to them are one, you need an iOS device to get the most out of them; and two, they’re not water-resistant, so if you’re running or working out while listening to them, you’re putting them at risk. However, the bottom line is that these are the best true wireless earphones available.

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Best for Office Settings: Jabra Elite 65t

Verdict: Jabra’s Elite 65t are newer than most others on this list and boast the latest Bluetooth 5.0, so they have an extremely strong connection. The sound terrific, too, with powerful drivers that deliver a frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz. They work with a companion app that allows you to tweak the EQ or turn on hear-through to hear ambient sounds. The other thing is that these earbuds fit snug in your ears and offer exceptional noise isolation. Thanks to a four-mic array (two in each earbud), calls are super clear and the buttons on the earbuds are easy to use without disrupting the seal. These are, frankly, excellent wireless earbuds. The only downside would be that, since they fit so tight in your ears, wearing them for long periods of time can cause ear fatigue.

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Best for Working Out: Jaybird Run

Verdict: The Jaybird Run are a solid option for anybody looking for true wireless pair of earbuds, especially for running or working out. They work seamlessly with both iOS and Android devices. They sound great (five percent TDH, frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz), plus you can tweak the sound signature through the companion app. And they’ll fit anybody’s ears. If you’re willing to spend around $180 or a little less, which is still fairly expensive, then these a stellar sweat-resistant alternative to AirPods.

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Introduction

The first true wireless earphones (or earbuds) date back to 2014, but it was the release of Apple’s AirPods in 2016 that really fired them into the mainstream. True wireless means that there isn’t any kind of cord tethering the two earbuds together, as opposed to just wireless earphones like the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless or Google Pixelbuds, and they are the next natural progression of wireless earbuds. Fewer and fewer people want wires of any type, and it’s as simple as that.

Not all true wireless earbuds are the same. In fact, now that there are so many on the market, a lot of true wireless earphones are very different. So which ones are right for you? The answer: it depends. It depends on what you’re going to using them for. It depends on the type of smartphone you have. And it depends on how much you’re willing to pay. But the biggest factor, and you really don’t have this problem when dealing with over-ear or on-ear headphones, is that your true wireless earbuds have to fit in your ears. And fit well. You’re never going to love them if you’re constantly worried about them falling out.

Apple’s AirPods have set the benchmark for true wireless earbuds up to this point. They’re fantastic true wireless earphones and that’s why every pair that’s since been released has been labeled some sort of “AirPod rival.” But if you have an Android smartphone, or if you plan on running or working out with your true wireless earbuds, AirPods might not be the best option for you. Depending on what you’re looking for, we’ve broken down all our favorite true wireless earbuds and what they’re each good for.

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Buying Guide

Best Bass: Bose SoundSport Free

Verdict: The Bose SoundSport Free excel in sound quality and bass, especially. The work with the Bose Connect app, which you need to download in order to initially pair the headphones, but the software is really easy to use. As for the earbuds themselves, the fit is as secure. They utilize Bose’s StayHear+ Sport earwings — the same as all other Bose earbuds, so if Bose’s other earbuds fit in your ears, so will these. The downsides are the earbuds stick out of your ears and can look a bit awkward. The charging case isn’t as pocketable as other wireless headphones’ cases, either. But if you want great workout wireless earphones — these are sweat resistant — and you’re willing to spend a little more for Bose’s signature sound, get these.

Read our full review of the Bose SoundSport Free, here.

Battery: five hours per earbud; charging case holds an extra 10 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Water Resistance: IPX4
Charge: micro-USB
Key features: quick charge of 15 minutes gives you 45 minutes of playtime; Bose Connect app has “Find My Buds” feature

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Best Hi-Fi Sound: B&O Beoplay E8

Verdict: The Beoplay E8s are the most luxorious wireless earbuds on this list. They’re arguably the best sounding, too, with advanced electro-dynamic drivers that can produce a wide frequency range (20–20,000Hz). A companion app allows you to adjust the EQ and craft certain sound signatures. The earbuds have optical sensors built into them, just like AirPods, so they automatically turn on when they detect that they’re in your ears. The main downsides with the Beoplay E8s are that they’re really expensive and the app is cumbersome and can be difficult to use. For audiophiles with really refined tastes, the Beoplay E8s are probably your best option.

Read our full review of the B&O Beoplay E8, here.

Battery: four hours per earbud; charging case holds an extra 8 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Sweat resistant: yes
Charge: micro-USB
Key features: companion app lets you adjust EQ

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Best for Office Settings: Jabra Elite 65t

Verdict: Jabra’s Elite 65t are newer than most others on this list and boast the latest Bluetooth 5.0, so they have an extremely strong connection. The sound terrific, too, with powerful drivers that deliver a frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz. They work with a companion app that allows you to tweak the EQ or turn on hear-through to hear ambient sounds. The other thing is that these earbuds fit snug in your ears and offer exceptional noise isolation. Thanks to a four-mic array (two in each earbud), calls are super clear and the buttons on the earbuds are easy to use without disrupting the seal. These are, frankly, excellent wireless earbuds. The only downside would be that, since they fit so tight in your ears, wearing them for long periods of time can cause ear fatigue.

Read our full review of the Jabra Elite 65t, here.

Battery: five hours per earbud; 10 hours from the charging case
Sweat resistant: IP55
Charge: micro-USB
Key features: Sound+ app lets you customize EQ; four-mic array; works with voice assistants

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Best for the Active Professional: Jabra Elite Active 65t

Verdict: The Jabra Elite Active 65t are more sweatproof versions of the Jabra Elite 65t truly wireless earbuds. They sound identically, which is terrific, and they work well for taking calls and exercising. Essentially, these are ideal for active professionals. If you like the style and the fit of the Jabra Elite 65t, and are cool paying the extra $20, which is essentially just an insurance policy against sweat, then these are great. Otherwise, you could buy the non-active alternatives and love them just the same.

Read our full review of the Jabra Elite Active 65t, here.

Battery: five hours per earbud; charging case holds an extra 10 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Sweat resistant: IP56
Charge: micro-USB
Key features: Sound+ app lets you customize EQ; four-mic array; works with voice assistants

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Best Overall: Apple AirPods

Verdict: AirPods might be the best first-generation product that Apple has ever released — and that’s saying something. The charging case is by far the most compact and polished of any other true wireless earphones. The AirPods instantly pair with your iPhone or iPad thanks to its ingenious W1 chip. And the battery life is borderline extraordinary. AirPods were one of the first true wireless earphones released, in late 2016, and nearly a year and a half later no other product has been able to overtake these. The only two downsides to them are one, you need an iOS device to get the most out of them; and two, they’re not water-resistant, so if you’re running or working out while listening to them, you’re putting them at risk. However, the bottom line is that these are the best true wireless earphones available.

Read our full review of the Apple AirPods, here.

Battery: five hours per earbud; charging case holds 24 hours of total charge
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0
Water Resistance: no
Charge: Apple lightning
Key features: W1 chip allows quick pairing to iPhone or iPad; optical sensors detect play/pause when you place or remove from your ears; double-tap to activate Siri

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Best for Working Out: Jaybird Run

Verdict: The Jaybird Run are a solid option for anybody looking for true wireless pair of earbuds, especially for running or working out. They work seamlessly with both iOS and Android devices. They sound great (five percent TDH, frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz), plus you can tweak the sound signature through the companion app. And they’ll fit anybody’s ears. If you’re willing to spend around $180 or a little less, which is still fairly expensive, then these a stellar sweat-resistant alternative to AirPods.

Read our full review of the Jaybird Run, here.

Battery: 4 hours per earbud, 8+ hours with charging case
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Water Resistance: Yes
Charge: micro-USB
Key features: work with Jaybird MySound app

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Best Budget Option: Anker Zolo Liberty

Verdict: The Zolo Liberty wireless earbuds are significantly cheaper than all others, yet performance stacks up quiet well — especially because they have feature that others lack. They have 5.5mm graphene dynamic drivers and the sound is very good, with a frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz. There’s no app to deal with, which I found refreshingly simple. And they’re compatible with your phone’s voice assistant, such as Siri and Google Assistant. They aren’t the best looking earbuds and the charge case is huge, but you won’t find a better budget pair of wireless earbuds. Plus their battery life is terrific.

Read our full review of the Anker Zolo Liberty, here.

Battery: 3.5 hours per earbud, charging case holds 24 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Sweat resistant: IPX5
Charge: micro-USB
Key features: compatible with Siri, Google Asistant and Alexa (soon)

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Honorable Mention: Samsung IconX (2018)

Verdict: Samsung’s second-generation IconX earbuds have a couple features that really stand out. They charge via USB Type-C, which, as a MacBook Pro and Nintendo Switch owner, I find great. They also can fast-charge: put them in their case for 10 minutes and you’ll get an hour of listening time. The audio quality isn’t as good as other wireless earbuds, admittedly, but they do offer the most secure fit of any wireless earbuds that I’ve tested. If you use Samsung’s Health app, the earbuds offer neat fitness and coaching features, and the earbuds can track metrics such as calories burned, distance traveled and speed even without your smartphone. The other downside is with the charging case, as sometimes the earbuds stay connected to your phone even when you’ve locked them in their case, which drains the case’s battery significantly. However, if you’re looking for true wireless earbuds for running that sound pretty good and stay in your ears, these will do just fine.

Read our full review of the Samsung IconX, here.

Battery: roughly four hours per earbud, charging case holds roughly 8 hours of extra charge
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Sweat Resistant: yes
Charge: USB-C
Key features: multiple sensors (accelerometer, heart rate); 4GB of internal storage; swipe gestures; compatible with Samsung Health app

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