The 8 best wireless earbuds for 2024: Compare AirPods Pro to cheaper options

With fewer devices having headphone jacks, Bluetooth headphones and earbuds have become the norm in recent years. A wireless pair of earbuds means you don’t have to worry about cords getting tangled in your pocket or bag. You just pop them out of their case and into your ears and you’re good to go.

Whether you’re listening to the latest episode of your favorite podcast, or hitting the gym with your playlist on repeat, the right pair of wireless earbuds can make or break your listening experience. 

Just because you’re ditching the cord, doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice performance. Today’s wireless earbuds offer sound quality that’s nearly comparable to many wired earbuds. And with Bluetooth technology getting better and better, you don’t have to worry about frequent dropped connections. 

The wireless earbuds on our list are some of the best-performing, longest-lasting, or best-value out of various models available on the market. If you’re looking for portable sound without the disruption of a Bluetooth speaker, check out our list of the best wireless earbuds below.

Earbuds vs. headphones

One of the first things you’ll want to consider when it comes to selecting the best headphones for your unique sitch is whether you prefer earbuds or headphones. Headphones go over or around your ears while earbuds go inside them and have a much smaller profile. Choosing between the two mainly comes down to style, comfort, and sound quality.

Something to keep in mind is that headphones can squeeze your head and give you a headache if you wear them too long, and while earbuds won’t do the same, they can make your ears feel sore after extended wear. It’s all about personal preference as to which fit you like better.

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10 of the best wireless headphones

Some benefits of earbuds are that they are easier to transport, and because they’re smaller, you don’t have many restrictions headphone users often face when it comes to wearing them. You can also wear wireless earbuds while also wearing a helmet or hat, which is not so easy or comfortable with a pair of headphones.

That said, on-ear and over-ear headphones do provide a better seal and have larger speakers than earbuds, causing them to be the winners in the sound quality department. There’s some give and take when choosing between wireless earbuds and wireless headphones, depending on how you’ll use them and what sort of sound quality you’re looking for.

What to look for when buying wireless earbuds

Battery life is one of the most important features to look at in a pair of wireless earbuds. You don’t want to have to take a break from your music or podcast in the middle of listening because your earbuds’ battery died. You want a pair of buds that have a long playback time as well as a decent extended battery life from the charging case. If the playback battery life is less than five hours, you’re going to have to pop the earbuds back in their case more frequently than you might want. On the bright side, though, charging cases usually work pretty quickly and a fast 15-minute charge will provide you with an hour or more of listening time. And if you prefer wireless charging, look for a pair of earbuds that has that capability.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how the earbuds actually fit. Do you want rubber tips? Ear hooks? If fitted silicone tips don’t sit right in your ears, the original AirPods might be more comfortable for you. PowerBeats Pros are also good if standard earbuds don’t stay in your ears, because they feature over-the-ear hooks to ensure those puppies stay put.

Sound quality and noise reduction or cancellation are also important to consider when buying wireless earbuds. Like we said, headphones are probably going to give you better audio quality, but you can still get some crisp, full sound from earbuds. Brands like Bose, Sony, and Sennheiser are known for their great sound quality, so you can expect their reputations to shine through their wireless earbuds.

Active noise cancellation in wireless earbuds

When wireless earbuds first hit the market, we didn’t see many with noise-cancellation abilities, but now it seems that noise-cancelling earbuds are the standard. This means newer models of wireless earbuds cost a bit more than their predecessors, but in our opinion, the extra cost is worth it.

SEE ALSO:

Best noise-canceling headphones for blocking out the world

Active noise cancellation isn’t the same in earbuds as it is in headphones. Over-ear headphones can create a sound-blocking seal that you just physically cannot get with earbuds. But earbuds with silicone tips still do a pretty good job creating a seal that allows for ANC. It’s definitely enough for blocking out noisy coworkers or a loud, bustling street.

Most earbuds with active noise cancellation also have some form of transparent or ambient mode that you can turn on to hear what’s going on around you.

Choosing the best wireless earbuds for you mostly comes down to your personal preferences, but here’s a guide to help you directly compare the top earbuds on the market based on specs like battery life, style, noise-cancelling features, music controls, and more.


Best overall: Jabra Elite 7 Pro

Who it’s for:

Often, you have to choose between sports earbuds and noise-cancelling earbuds, but not so with Jabra’s elite earbuds. So, if you want a pair of earbuds that’s equally ready for your commute as for long runs, then these are the all-of-the-above earbuds you’re looking for. Jabra’s good-sounding, long-lasting earbuds are great for trips to the gym, taking calls, drowning out background noise, or enjoying music — and they can do all that without a premium price tag.

Why we picked this:

The Jabra Elite 7 Pro are no longer the newest wireless earbuds, but they’re still the best all-around performer under $200.

The Jabra Elite 7 Pro earbuds are waterproof and sweat and dust resistant, with an IP57 rating. They feature active noise cancellation with battery life that lasts up to 8 hours per charge, even with ANC turned on. Pair the wireless earbuds with the Jabra Sound+ app to customize a music profile, monitor your buds’ charging status, and connect them to your preferred voice assistant. If you take a lot of calls throughout the day, you’ll also appreciate the crystal-clear mic during calls. These earbuds may not be industry-leading in its features, but they still offer really solid quality ANC, sound, mic clarity, and durability. Ultimately at just $200, they provide some of the most versatility at the best value.

Battery life: 8 hours (30 hours total with charging case) | Colors: Gold beige | Noise cancellation: Yes


Best AirPods Pro alternative: Status Between 3ANC

Who it’s for:

Shoppers who want long-lasting, noise-cancelling earbuds that don’t come from Apple. Audiophiles will appreciate the sound performance from the triple drivers on these buds, while anyone can appreciate the long battery life — even with active noise cancellation engaged.

Why we picked this:

Obviously, we’re AirPods Pro fans, but we get that not everyone goes hard for the fruit company. Status’s Between 3ANC earbuds offer a similar experience in a package that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be an Apple knockoff. After testing these buds out for two weeks, we found that although the ANC is a bit on the fuzzy-sounding side, it still does a very comparable job to the AirPods Pro at blocking out sound. As for their audio performance, the triple drivers in these buds make their presence known, delivering deep bass and bright highs. Plus, at eight hours per charge, we never found them running out of battery before we were done using them (the same can’t always be said with AirPods).

The design is modern and sleek, but these rectangular earbuds will definitely stick out more than the AirPods. However, the increased surface area makes touch controls simpler to use (once you get past the learning curve) the single button on each bud makes activating your voice assistant and toggling between ANC and transparency modes simple. While we miss a couple of AirPods features (namely the automatic pause when you remove a bud), but overall, the Status Between 3ANC are worthy AirPods adversaries.

Battery life: 8 hours with ANC, 12 hours without (24 total) | Colors: Off-white, black | Noise cancellation: Yes


Best for all-day wear: Powerbeats Pro

Who it’s for:

These Beats buds combine the best of Apple technology with a more comfortable fit than AirPods. So, if you like to wear your earbuds for extended periods of time, then these Beats are a smart choice.

Why we picked this:

With the same internal tech as AirPods (including Apple’s H1 chip), Beats PowerBeats Pro truly wireless earphones are a good alternative if you aren’t a fan of AirPods’ fit. These earbuds have hooks that go over your ears to keep them in place all day long, while a silicone tip ensures a snug fit inside. Each earbud has volume and track control as well as auto play/pause functions. Not only do the Beats PowerBeats Pro offer great sound quality, they also boast a long battery life — up to 24 hours total with the charging case, and nine hours per charge. While $250 without ANC seems steep, these buds are often on sale for $200 or less (at the time of writing, they’re $150), making them a great choice for someone looking for all-day battery life who doesn’t want to pay ANC prices.

They’re also available in a choice of three different colors for those who want to look their best while listening on the go.

Battery life: 9 hours (more than 24 hours total with charging case) | Colors: Black, ivory, navy | Noise cancellation: No


Best noise cancellation: Apple AirPods Pro

Read our full review of AirPods Pro (second generation).

Who it’s for:

Easily the best wireless earbuds for Apple customers, but also a great choice for anyone searching for premium active noise cancellation. Apple’s active noise cancellation is so good it actually compares to some over-ear headphones.

We we picked this:

The AirPods Pro are popular for a reason — they fit snugly in your ears with a low-profile design, feature active noise cancellation, and a transparency mode, and pair seamlessly with (not just Apple) devices. Out of all the AirPods on the market, the Pros are by far the most worth it, especially if you’re looking for AirPods. In his review, Mashable Senior Editor Stan Schroeder said of these earbuds, “These are the first pair of earbuds I’d actually consider taking on an airplane (instead of my much larger and clunkier over-ear headphones).” And now that they have USB-C charging, they’re even more of a no-brainer.

They also happen to be sweat and water-resistant, meaning you can put them through their paces while getting your workout on. They include four sets of silicone tips to fit ears of all shapes and sizes. While they are pricey, the AirPods Pro go on sale for $50 off pretty regularly.

Battery life: 6 hours (more than 30 hours total with charging case) | Colors: White | Noise Cancellation: Yes


Best premium buds: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Who it’s for:

If you can justify their price tag, you’ll be the proud owner of the best-sounding buds on your block. Audiophile-worthy headphones may cost $500 or more, but Sennheiser’s premium-sounding

Why we picked this:

Even pricier than Apple’s AirPods Pro, Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds live up to the brand’s reputation for outstanding sound quality. The mid-tones are clear, bright, well-balanced; the bass is super bold (but doesn’t rattle your skull); and high notes don’t sound tinny. Our friends at PC Mag (also owned by our parent company Ziff Davis) deem the audio of these earbuds “some of the best audio performance we’ve heard in the category [of wire free earbuds].”

In addition, they feature active noise cancellation for an immersive listening experience without distractions. The seven-hour battery life can be extended on the go up to an additional 21 hours with the charging case. These are the wireless earbuds for true audiophiles. Plus, you’re able to customize the touch controls on the earbuds. Quite frankly, these earbuds offer some of the best sound quality money can buy, coupled with durable build quality and modern design. 

Battery life: 7 hours (28 hours total with charging case) | Colors: Black, white | Noise cancellation: Yes


Best for Alexa integration: Echo Buds

Check out our full review of Amazon’s Echo Buds.

Who it’s for:

Fans of voice control and Amazon’s ecosystem of smart products will appreciate the Echo Buds. The second-generation buds are a big step up from the first iteration, offering active noise cancellation and Alexa integration at an ultra-affordable price.

Why we picked this:

If you have any other Amazon Alexa products, you already have the app needed to control the Echo Buds. The earbuds work seamlessly with Alexa to stream music, play Audible books, make calls, and get directions. Unlike their first generation, these Echo Buds also have good active noise cancellation, which at just $119, makes them an incredible bang for your buck. As Mashable Tech Reporter Alex Perry wrote in his review of the buds, “It’s not unusual for Amazon’s self-made products to come in at cheaper prices than the competition, but in this case, the product’s quality is high enough to bring serious value.” Echo Buds are also compatible with Siri and Google Assistant. Those concerned about privacy will appreciate the built-in privacy controls, including the ability to mute the mics.

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Battery life: 5 hours (15 hours total with charging case) | Colors: Black, white | Noise cancellation: Yes


Budget pick: Anker Soundcore Life P3i

Who it’s for:

Anyone looking for affordable earbuds under $50 that still deliver solid sound, competitive battery life, and easy connectivity.

Why we picked this:

For those looking for a set of wireless earbuds that won’t break the bank, the Anker Soundcore Life P3i are an excellent choice. Coming in at under $60, they still include many of the features of more expensive buds, including active noise cancelling, multiple microphones for improved call quality, and 10mm drivers for punchy bass. Listeners can choose their preferred EQ settings from more than 20 different options and customize a sound profile via the Soundcore app. For a quick boost of power when you’re on the go, charge for just 10 minutes to get up to 2 hours of playback.

Battery life: 9 hours (36 hours total with charging case) | Colors: Black, off-white | Noise cancellation: Yes


Best waterproof earbuds: Jaybird Vista 2

Who it’s for:

The Jaybird Vista 2 earbuds are built for durability and designed for those with active lifestyles.

Why we picked this:

The Jaybird Vista 2 are not only IP68 waterproof, sweatproof, and dustproof, they boast MIL-STD 810G freeze, shock, and impact resistance. These earbuds feature a sports fit and come complete with three sizes of interchangeable eargels for a comfortable all-day fit. Two beamforming microphones in each bud let you make calls and give voice commands with ease, while the SurroundSense function amplifies ambient sound to increase safety. Active noise cancellation, and customizable EQ profiles via the Jaybird app let you customize your sound.

Battery life: 8 hours (24 hours total with charging case) | Colors: Black, navy, gray | Noise cancellation: Yes


How we tested the best wireless earbuds

Not all of the earbuds on this list were hands-on tested, but rest assured, all were deeply researched and evaluated based on their specs, customer reviews, and professional reviews. Every pair of earbuds with a linked review has been hands-on tested by a Mashable reporter or editor, and the Status Between 3ANC earbuds, a recent addition to this roundup, were tested for this article specifically.

People can use earbuds for a lot of difference reasons, so we looked at a multitude of factors when deciding which buds were actually the best of the best:

Noise cancelling capabilities: Of course we love to see active noise cancellation as a feature on any pair of headphones or earbuds, but not all ANC is built the same. We looked for buds that did a decent to excellent job with ANC, rather than buds that just provided some fuzzy white noise and called it a day.

Sound quality: Earbuds are going to have a harder time reproducing the sound quality of over-ear headphones, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to sacrifice sound if you’re going for a pair of buds. While not every pair on this list can boast perfectly deep bass, we made sure to choose earbuds that at least have decently rounded out sound.

Battery life: Most cases come with at least 20 hours of additional charge (unfortunately the Echo Buds don’t hit this mark, but they make up for it in other ways). However, if you’re someone who uses your earbuds constantly or sleeps in them (we do too sometimes, don’t worry), a longer per charge battery life is key.

Durability: This might not be the most important factor to everyone, but we’re willing to bet that if you’re paying $100-plus for your earbuds, you’re hoping they’ll at least last a couple of years. For those who are planning on bringing their earbuds along to the gym or on runs, a pair of earbuds that a) are at least water- and sweat- resistant and b) won’t break if they fall out of your ears and hit the ground is a must.

Comfort: A pair of earbuds is no good if they aren’t going to actually stay in your ears. That’s why we looked for buds with at least one or two extra ear tips.

Usefulness of special features: A connected app that allows for adjustable EQ probably isn’t worth the extra cost for someone who doesn’t consider themselves a big audiophile. We looked at what special features each of these buds offered, and how well they aligned with who they were marketing to.

By 111 Tech

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