Best wireless earbuds 2022: Our favourite budget and premium earbuds for wire-free listening

Andy White Ben Johnston
23 Aug 2022

Our pick of the best wireless earbuds available for every budget

It's amazing what the best wireless earbuds are capable of thanks to advancements in Bluetooth, noise-cancelling, microphone and audio driver technology.

Sound quality may still lag a little way behind premium wired headphones, but the gap is narrower than ever and wireless earbuds are significantly more portable and practical. Most audio manufacturers include at least one set of wireless earbuds in their lineups, meaning you're spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a pair.

With a huge range of brands and models to choose from, selecting the best wireless earbuds for your needs can be a tricky task. That's where we come in. We're constantly testing and reviewing the latest headphones and this article will break down the very best wireless earbuds on the market.

For those of you that are new to the world of wireless earbuds, we’ve included a handy buying guide detailing all the things you should consider before splashing out on your first pair. If you decide that wireless earbuds aren't for you, you may want to check out our pick of the best headphones or our more specific pages documenting the best Bluetooth headphones, best noise-cancelling headphones, best over-ear headphones and best cheap headphones.

Best wireless earbuds: At a glance

How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

How much should I spend?

As a general rule of thumb, the more you invest, the better the audio quality will be. You can pick up a pair of reasonable buds for under £50 but if you want the very best wireless earbuds you can expect to pay upwards of £250. Cheaper earbuds typically omit advanced features including active noise cancellation, are unlikely to support higher resolution codecs and build quality won't be as high.

Is it easy to get a good fit?

There are two distinct styles of true wireless earbuds. One-size-fits-all buds like the Apple AirPods give you no flexibility in terms of fit - their earpieces either sit snuggly in your ears or feel loose when worn. They're the best choice if you want to leave your ear canals free but they provide little, if any, sound isolation.

A significant proportion of buds now favour the use of silicone tips, which seal off your ear canals and secure the buds in your ears far better. They also have the advantage of providing improved passive noise cancellation. Manufacturers typically provide a range of different-sized tips to help ensure you get the most comfortable and stable fit possible.

Should I worry about which audio codecs are supported?

Codecs determine how Bluetooth transmits information to your device. The SBC codec is pretty much universal across all devices and works just fine, though you'll open up the possibility to listen to higher resolution audio with more advanced codecs such as AAC, which is favoured by Apple, or Qualcomm's aptX, aptX HD or aptX Adaptive codecs. Bear in mind that your output device must also support the codec: iPhone's don't support aptX so even if you own the very best wireless earbuds money can buy, you won't be able to make use of it.

Can I make and receive phone and video calls?

All of the best wireless earbuds come with built-in mics and can be used to make and take calls when connected via Bluetooth. They’re good at picking up your voice but won’t isolate it from ambient sound as well as your smartphone. The number of in-built mics and their quality varies from device to device so bear that in mind if you spend a lot of time on calls.

Can I use one earbud on its own?

Most earbuds have one master and one slave driver so, depending on the way the manufacturer has implemented it, you’ll be able to listen to your music through one of the said earbuds. Others operate independently of one another and therefore allow you to use either at any time you wish.

Any other important features to consider?

IP certification: The best wireless earbuds all come with an IP rating, which reflects their ability to resist dust and water/sweat. If you live in a wet country or plan on using your earbuds while exercising then you'll want to pick a pair that offers protection against these external agents.

Active noise cancellation: We're seeing more and more wireless earbuds incorporating active noise cancellation technology to reduce the impact of external sound on your audio. If you want the most immersive listening experience, ANC should be high on your priority list.

Battery life: Earbuds will always have a stated battery life, as will the case used to charge them. Between 15 and 20 hours of total listening time is around average, though your mileage will vary depending on the volume at which you play your audio. Having advanced features such as ANC active will also drain your battery faster.

Bluetooth Multipoint: This allows earbuds to remain connected to more than one source simultaneously and is particularly useful if you regularly switch between using your buds with your laptop, tablet and phone.

In-ear detection: Smarter earbuds can detect when you take them out of your ears and pause your audio automatically when you do so, resuming when they're put back in. It's a neat feature that's fast becoming a staple inclusion for pricier headphones.

Voice assistant support: If you like to make use of Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri, you should ensure that your earbuds support your voice assistant of choice. Most do nowadays but it's always worth checking!

Touch controls: Don't want to have to dig your phone out of your pocket to skip a track? Well, you're in luck, as many of the best wireless earbuds feature touch sensors that allow fingertip control of your music. Each company implements this slightly differently and you may find certain commands omitted so it's important to ensure the wireless earbuds you like offer control over the features you use most frequently.

Companion apps: Many companies have downloadable applications designed to enhance the audio experience provided by their products. Each offers a different range of customisation options though the most common are the ability to remap touch controls and select between different EQ presets.

The best wireless earbuds to buy in 2022

1. Sony WF-1000XM4: Best wireless earbuds overall

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

Sony's latest true wireless earbuds are the complete package, delivering smart, effective noise cancellation, excellent audio quality and a whole host of useful features. Those familiar with their predecessors will immediately notice that the fourth-generation model has undergone a significant design makeover and the changes Sony has made are all very welcome.

The earbuds have a more appealing aesthetic and are 10% smaller than the WF-1000XM3, while the charging case is a lot more compact, too. Powered by a new Integrated Processor V1, the WF-1000XM4 now support Hi-res audio via Sony's LDAC Bluetooth codec and they sound superb no matter what you're listening to. Noise cancellation is equally impressive and can be set to adjust itself automatically based on where you are and what you're doing.

Features like Speak-to-Chat, which pauses your audio as soon as your voice is detected, help elevate the user experience above that any other earbuds on the market offer and there's even hands-free support for Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant for those that can't live without their voice assistant.

Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 41g charging case; Battery life: 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

2. Creative Outlier Air V3: Best wireless earbuds under £50

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

Thanks to some successfully implemented upgrades, the Creative Outlier Air V3 steal the best-value earbuds crown from their predecessor, the Outlier Air V2. The intuitive and responsive touch controls now boast customisation options and microphone quality has been improved, too. Battery life has also seen a boost and now clocks in at roughly 40 hours.

The Outlier Air V3 offer fantastic audio considering their affordable price and are compatible with Creative’s Super X-Fi technology, via which you can create a personalised sound profile using holographic modelling. Sadly, you can only take advantage of the tech when listening to locally stored music in the SXFI app, but it provides a wonderful listening experience for those with large music libraries saved to their devices.

Read our Creative Outlier Air V3 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.2g per earbud, 69.8g charging case; Battery life (total): 40hrs; IP rating: IPX5

Buy now from Amazon

3. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Best wireless earbuds for noise-cancelling

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

Bose’s QC Earbuds offer the best active noise cancellation of any earbuds we’ve tested. ANC functions on a ten-point scale ranging from full transparency (0) to total immersion (10) and at 10, they reduce external noise by a significant amount. You can switch between three levels of your own choosing by simply double-tapping the left earbud and touch controls are well implemented on the whole, with the option to change volume by sliding your finger up or down the buds available in the Bose Music app. 

Audio is equally impressive, with the QC Earbuds delivering a superbly balanced sound profile that’s immersive without ever feeling claustrophobic. The buds also benefit from Bose’s Active-EQ, which automatically adjusts the bass and treble based on your volume, ensuring music sounds great no matter how loud it is.

Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review for more details

Key specs - Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8.5g per earbud, 76g charging case; Battery life (total): 25hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

4. Apple AirPods Pro: Best wireless earbuds for Apple users

Price: £239 | Buy now from Amazon

The AirPods Pro are the most popular true wireless earbuds on the market and for good reason - they're Apple’s finest headphones to date and improve on the original Airpods in every way. They offer impressive active noise cancellation, which is adjusted automatically with the help of both inward and outward-facing microphones. This does mean they lack the customisation options of some other ANC earbuds but the noise cancellation is so effective that this isn’t a big deal.

Sonically, they’re a little light in the bass department – vocal-heavy tracks are where the AirPods Pro really shine – but overall, their sound quality rivals that of the best true wireless earbuds around. They come with three sets of silicone tips to ensure a secure fit regardless of ear shape and are sweat and water-resistant, making them a fine choice for gym-goers.

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.4g per earbud, 46g charging case; Battery life: 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

5. Oppo Enco Free 2: Best wireless earbuds under £100

Price: £89 | Buy now from Amazon

Produced in collaboration with Danish Hi-Fi company Dynaudio, the Oppo Enco Free 2 deliver audio defined by well-articulated mids and detailed instrument separation. As well as offering four EQ profiles, Oppo includes a clever “personalised sound boost” function, which analyses your hearing and tweaks audio based on how well you pick up certain frequencies.

Touch controls are employed strategically to maximise functionality – adjusting volume, for instance, is achieved by sliding a finger up or down either earbud rather than using double or triple taps. Rounding out an impressive list of features are effective wear detection and active noise cancellation. The latter, in particular, is very good for the price, and puts a significant dent in external sound.

Using ANC reduces in-ear battery life to just four hours, but aside from that lacklustre stamina, there’s very little to not like about these earbuds.

Read our Oppo Enco Free 2 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 47.6g (case and buds); Battery life: 30hrs; IP rating: IPX5

Buy now from Amazon

6. Beats Fit Pro: Best wireless earbuds for exercise

Price: £199 | Buy now from John Lewis

With wingtips to help hold them snugly in your ears, the Beats Fit Pro are our number one pick if you're looking for true wireless earbuds to use while exercising. It's not just a secure and comfortable fit that makes them a great pick for exercise, however. An IPX4 rating means they'll withstand a sweaty gym session without any issues and the active noise cancellation on offer does a great job reducing the impact of external distractions.

Sound quality is highly impressive, too. The Fit Pro have a weightier bass response than their stablemates the Studio Buds and there's less harshness in the treble frequencies. Like most Beats headphones, the Fit Pro play particularly nicely with Apple devices. They house the company's H1 chip and this enables a range of useful features, including shared listening with other Beats users, hands-free Siri and full spatial audio support.

Read our Beats Fit Pro review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.6g per earbud, 55.1g charging case; Battery life (total): 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

7. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Best wireless earbuds for Galaxy users

Price: £219 | Buy now from Amazon

The Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung's best true wireless earbuds yet, offering great audio quality, a comfortable fit and a whole host of useful features, including IPX7 waterproofing and active noise cancellation. ANC falls short of other options on this list - the QC Earbuds, Sony WF-1000XM3 and Huawei FreeBuds all do a better job at blocking out sound - but the Buds Pro shine when it comes to compatibility with Galaxy devices.

When paired with a Galaxy smartphone running the latest One UI 3.1 tech (currently only Samsung's S21 range) you can make use of 360 Audio, Multi-mic recording and auto-switching between your various Galaxy devices. There's one-touch access to Samsung's proprietary voice assistant Bixby and the buds also make use of the company's Bluetooth codec, Scalable, which supports hi-res streaming and minimises dropouts by adjusting the bit-rate based on your connection strength.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6.3g per earbud, 45g charging case; Battery life (total): 18hrs; IP rating: IPX7

Buy now from Amazon

8. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3: Sennheiser's best wireless earbuds yet

Price: £220 | Buy now from Argos

The Momentum True Wireless 2 sat on this list for quite some time but have now been surpassed by the third-gen model, which sport a new design. That design may divide opinion - it's certainly less premium than that of the Momentum True Wireless 2 - but it's also more ergonomic and the fit, though fiddly at times, is very comfortable.

Active noise cancellation is more effective than it was on the Momentum True Wireless 3's predecessor and Sennheiser has introduced a clever new feature whereby you can have the buds switch noise-cancelling and sound modes when you move between certain locations. Sound quality - always a strong point of Sennheiser headphones - is excellent and there are a number of ways of tweaking it via the revamped Smart Control companion app.

They don't beat the Bose QC Earbuds for ANC or the Sony WF-1000XM4 for smarts and sound quality, but the Momentum True Wireless 3 are right up there with the best wireless earbuds on the market.

Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6.5g per earbud, 67g charging case; Battery life (total): 28hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

9. 1MORE EVO: Best mid-range wireless earbuds

Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

1MORE has released a number of true wireless earbuds this year and the EVO are the pick of the bunch. Audio quality is superb, with the EVO demonstrating effective stereo separation and excellent levels of clarity across the frequency spectrum. Better still, they support Sony’s LDAC codec so you can enjoy high-resolution audio streaming on compatible devices.

In-ear battery life is a respectable eight hours with ANC off, while the charging case provides a further 20 hours of use. These figures fall to five-and-a-half hours in-ear and 20 total with ANC on but it’s worth taking the hit, as the noise cancellation is impressive, putting a significant dent in most day-to-day distractions.

The EVO’s only real drawback is their lack of customisation options. Touch controls can’t be fully customised and 1MORE’s SoundID technology, while effective, isn’t as accessible or flexible as the standard graphic equaliser favoured by most competitors. Despite those minor gripes, the EVO are some of the best sounding and most fully-featured earbuds you can get for the money.

Read our 1MORE EVO review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.7g per earbud, 47g charging case; Battery life: 28hrs; IP rating: IPX5

Buy now from Amazon

10. Apple AirPods 3: Best open-fit wireless earbuds

Price: £169 | Buy now from Amazon

A list of the best wireless earbuds wouldn't be complete without the Apple AirPods - buds that have helped transform the wireless audio market. Launched alongside the iPhone 7, the original AirPods brought Apple's line of wearable tech to prominence and heralded the steady decline of smartphones featuring a 3.5mm audio jack. This third-generation version is Apple's best yet, vastly improving sound quality while adding support for Spatial Audio and refining the buds' design.

They're contoured to snugly fit the shape of your ears and fit better than ever, while the incorporation of force sensor controls located on the stems makes it a breeze to execute commands. Battery life of the buds clocks in at up to six hours of audio playback, with the charging case taking total playtime to around 30 hours, which is ample. As we've come to expect from previous iterations, the AirPods integrate seamlessly into the Apple ecosystem, pairing instantly with iPads and iPhones and offering hands-free support for the company's Siri voice assistant.

If you want don't want their ear canals filled while listening to music, the Apple AirPods 3 are simply the best wireless earbuds around, particularly if you own an iPhone.

Read our Apple AirPods 3 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4.2g per earbud, 40g charging case; Battery life: 30hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

11. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: Best audiophile wireless earbuds

Price: £325 | Buy now from Amazon

The B&W PI7 bring something completely new to the table in the form of a charging case capable of audio retransmission. Plug it into an audio source that lacks Bluetooth connectivity and you can broadcast audio straight to the buds. It’s an innovative feature that works wonderfully well and has meaningful practical applications.

Audio quality is exceptional, too. The buds are beautifully balanced, delivering powerful yet controlled bass, crisp vocals and sparkling trebles without any hint of harshness. Noise cancellation isn’t class-leading but does a good job at reducing ambient sound and there’s an automatic setting if you want the earbuds to actively adjust the level of ANC provided at any given moment.

The B&W PI7 may be exceedingly expensive but they’re also exceedingly good. If you have the cash and want the finest true wireless audio around, these are the buds to buy.

Read our Bowers & Wilkins PI7 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8g per earbud, 50g charging case; Battery life (total): 20hrs; IP rating: IP54

Buy now from Amazon

12. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus: Best-sounding earbuds under £100

Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon

Best wireless earbuds: Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus

If you've got £100 to play with and prioritise sound quality over anything else, these are the true wireless earbuds to buy. They feature a High Performance mode that increases their dynamic range and widens the soundstage and the effect is rich, detailed and expansive audio unmatched by other earbuds in the 1 Plus' price range.

Should you wish to tweak the EQ you can do so within the companion app, where you'll also find six EQ presets along with the option to customise the controls. Unlike most earbuds these days, the 1 Plus opt for physical button presses rather than touch controls but these work excellently. We didn't fit the fit quite so impressive but you get a great selection of eartips to choose from, which should ensure most people are able to achieve a secure and comfortable fit.

Read our Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 50g charging case; Battery life: 35hrs (High Performance mode); IP rating: IPX5

Buy now from Amazon

13. House of Marley Redemption ANC 2: Best eco-friendly wireless earbuds

Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon

While sustainable earbuds may sound like a contradiction in terms, none try harder to earn their eco credentials than the House of Marley Redemption ANC 2. Crafted with sustainable materials, including bamboo, recycled plastics and wood composite, the Redemption ANC 2 are kinder to the environment than most and look uniquely stylish, too.

The Redemption ANC 2 are also excellent earbuds in their own right. The audio quality is spectacular, with deep, resonant bass and a dynamic, articulate midrange. If something doesn’t quite hit the right notes for you, the Marley app offers a ten-band graphic equaliser, allowing you to create and save your own tuning or pick from one of the eight presets.

Battery life is middling, and the codec support is limited to just SBC, but aside from these small issues, the House of Marley Redemption ANC 2 are well-rounded and great-sounding earbuds that are kinder to the planet than most.

Read our House of Marley Redemption ANC 2 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 45g charging case; Battery life (total): 24hrs; IP rating: IPX5

Buy now from Amazon

14. Beats Studio Buds: Best-value Beats earbuds

Price: £129 | Buy now from Amazon

The Beats Studio Buds have no business being as cheap as they are. The slim, lightweight design makes them a comfortable fit that won’t fall out, the audio quality is some of the best we’ve seen at this price point, and an IPX4 rating marks them safe from splashes – perfect for a trip to the gym or a walk in the rain. Even the active noise cancellation, while admittedly not quite on par with the most premium earbuds, is solid enough to drown out the din of your daily commute.

While they’re easily some of the best-value wireless earbuds that Android users can buy, those who predominantly use Apple products may want to look a little closer. The lack of Apple’s H1 chip means that features like auto-pairing across all your devices or shared listening aren’t included here, so if that’s important to you, you’re better off opting for AirPods.

Read our Beats Studio Buds review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5g per earbud, 48g charging case; Battery life: 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

15. NuraTrue: Best for personalised sound

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

Like their stablemates the Nuraphone and NuraLoop, the NuraTrue's unique selling point is that they're able to analyse the way you hear and create a sound profile that takes into account your sensitivity to certain frequencies. The whole process takes less than five minutes and the results are very impressive. Audio quality is right up there with some of the best earbuds around and the NuraTrue have a few other things going for them, too.

They're strikingly designed, extremely comfortable to wear and their use of rubber wingtips ensures they remain in your ears during even the most vigorous of exercise. An IPX4 rating for water resistance further reinforces their credentials as gym or workout earbuds, while decent noise cancellation makes them an appealing choice for those that don't want their audio disrupted at home or further afield.

The NuraTrue don't dethrone Sony's WF-1000XM4 as our favourite true wireless all-rounders, nor do they dislodge the Bose QC Earbuds as the most effective noise cancellers. But both of those options are more expensive and if you've only got £200 to play with, you'll be hard pushed to find better true wireless earbuds.

Read our NuraTrue review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 7g per earbud, 37g charging case; Battery life (total): 34hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

16. Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0: Best wireless earbuds for battery life

Price: £99 | Buy now from Amazon

The Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 stand out from the crowd thanks to their incredible battery life. The buds themselves offer up to ten hours of audio playback, with the case containing a further six charges, for a whopping total of 70 hours listening.

That stamina doesn’t come at the expense of audio quality either, as even on the standard profile, the PurePlay Z3 2.0 deliver punchy, energetic audio with detailed mids and a spacious soundstage. For anyone unimpressed by the stock tuning, Lypertek’s PureControl app features a user-friendly equaliser with a handful of presets to choose from, as well as two custom profiles if you want to play around with the EQ yourself.

The other ace up the Z3 2.0’s sleeve is their support for the LDX (Lypertek Definition Expander). This offers a widened soundstage and additional detail and the difference between it and the standard profile is astounding. It’s the PurePlay Z3 2.0’s secret weapon and elevates them to some of the best-sounding in their price bracket.

Read our Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: Not specified; Battery life: 70hrs; IP rating: IPX7

Buy now from Amazon

17. Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW: Solid sound and bumper battery life

Price: £142 | Buy now from Amazon

Audio-Technica is a relative newcomer to the wireless earbuds market, but the brand has been making studio-quality headphones for decades now. The same focus on audio quality translates well into the ATH-CKS50TW, delivering a sonic profile that is defined by a wide soundstage and crisp vocals. Support for Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is also present here, aiming to project different elements of the track around your head for a more immersive listening experience.

The ATH-CKS50TW also boast class-leading battery life. The buds last for an impressive 20 hours, and the case provides a further 30. Activate noise cancellation and you’re still looking at around 15 hours in-ear.

There are a few drawbacks – the noise cancelling isn’t the best that we’ve ever seen, the controls can be fiddly and the case, while offering extensive battery life, is on the chunky side. Still, if stamina and sound quality are the key things you look for in a pair of earbuds, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW will serve you well.

Read our Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8g per earbud, 60g charging case; Battery life (total): 50hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Amazon

Best wireless earbuds: Honourable mentions

While the following products didn't quite make it onto our best wireless earbuds list, they're still solid choices and will have particular appeal to some customers.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Price: £80 | Buy now from Argos

If you want earbuds with exceptional Google Assistant integration, look no further than the Pixel Buds A-Series. Simply utter “Hey Google” to access everything from audio controls to sports results and real-time language translation courtesy of Google Translate.

Read our Google Pixel Buds A-Series review for more details

Oppo Enco X

Price: £132 | Buy now from Amazon

The Enco X are among the comfiest earbuds we've tested and have a compact form factor that makes it easy to forget you're wearing them. Their ANC is impressive, too, while IP54 water resistance makes them a solid choice for exercise.

Read our Oppo Enco X review for more details

Creative Outlier Pro

Price: £85 | Buy now from Creative

With the inclusion of ANC and even better battery life, the Outlier Pro are Creative’s most complete earbuds to date. They’re not quite as good value for money as the Air V3, but are well worth considering if you want fully-featured buds at a reasonable price.

Read our Creative Outlier Pro review for more details

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