In 2016, one of the most prominent tech discussions that occurred among consumers was about the newest iPhone. It wasn’t about a feature included with the device, so much as one that was absent–the 3.5mm headphone jack that has been a standard part of most portable electronics for the past 30-odd years. Most of our headphones and earbuds count on that port being available on all of our devices. Apple’s removal of it from their flagship phone seems to have sent a clear message–wireless is the way of the future.
Since the iPhone 7 has been one of the hottest devices of the year, it seems that the message has taken hold for consumers. With respect to that, we’ve assembled a list of 10 of the best wireless earbuds that you’ll find, going into 2017. There’s a difference between “truly wireless” earbuds and those that aren’t–a distinction that we’ll break down before we delve into our previews.
Read on, if you’re planning on entering the wireless world with a new set of earbuds!
Once laughably cornered as a “lesser” solution to portable audio than a good set of headphones, earbuds have improved by leaps and bounds. You can get some truly excellent audio quality out of these tiny little devices, and you can frequently have it at a lower price than a full-size set of ear cans. That realization hasn’t done much to upset the market–some will always prefer the soft comfort of having their head enveloped by headphones, but commuters and those whose lives are frequently fast-paced might just find that earbuds are better-suited to them.
That said, the transition to a wireless, mostly-Bluetooth standard has been painful for earbud manufacturers. Headphones have been easy. The reasons that they’re enjoyed–and the very architecture of the devices–doesn’t depend on a connecting cord. Once it’s removed, it doesn’t much affect the ways that we wear headphones, thus making for an easy transition. Earbuds, on the other hand, are largely dependent on cords. Since they tend to be rather small, we often keep track of them with the cords that they’re connected to. Additionally, the audio drivers built into them have to be rather small, so it can be helpful to have a cord incorporated. Many even feature volume, playback, and miniature microphone controls built right into the wire assembly.
So, where does that leave wireless earbuds? They tend to come in two varieties. The first, and most common, is a set of earbuds that are still connected to each other by a band or cord. However, they’re not connected to the device that they’re playing audio from, which makes them primarily still a wireless device. The second, rarer form of wireless earbuds don’t have any connective elements at all. They rest inside of your ears, and are entirely separate both from each other and the device that they’re connected to.
In the following article, we’ll give both types attention. There are drawbacks associated with each, and reason that people consider some varieties to be “truly wireless.”
10 Best Wireless Earbuds of 2017
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Aren’t wireless earbuds kind of a new thing?” you’re on the right track. The technology that they rely on–Bluetooth–isn’t without its inherent hiccups, and the relatively small size of earbuds doesn’t help to make them more accessible, especially in wireless situations.
Thus, it should be said that wireless earbuds are still an emerging technology. We’re going to show you the best that you can find, but none of them are perfect, and almost every option on this list can be eclipsed by a good pair of wireless headphones.
Still, if earbuds are your jam, we’ve got 10 recommendations that you need to see!
Before going any further, we’re going to talk about the elephant in the room. The earbuds that were discussed at the same time that Apple announced that it would be removing the headphone jack from its newest iPhone. These little things have generated plenty of controversy, and now that they’re finding their way into customers’ hands, they’re continuing to generate a lot of buzz–for better or worse.
Apple Airpods are built with the “W1 Chip,” a new type of proprietary Bluetooth connection that allows the Airpods to connect wirelessly with other Apple products. That part of the technology works great, but ultimately, it’s still Bluetooth. The same types of interference that mess with other Bluetooth connections affect the Airpods, too. In addition to that, they don’t feature interchangeable tips. If the Airpods don’t fit comfortably in your ears, you’re entirely out of luck with the product.
Worth keeping your eye on, for future iterations and developments? Absolutely. One of the best wireless earbud options out there? Also, yes. The best wireless earbud that you can buy right now? Decidedly not.
While most earbuds are tailored towards specific lifestyles, the Jaybird X3s might just be the last earbuds that you ever need to buy. At least, until a better wireless standard than Bluetooth hits the market.
These are rugged, reliable, and feel great. They offer interchangeable ear tips, a cradle for recharging, and a miniature, onboard control setup that feels quite natural to use while they’re being worn. Oh, and they also produce excellent sound.
Already responsible for making some of the best athletic-aimed earbuds, Bose has knocked the ball out of the park with this wireless model. Most reviewers have noticed how well they fit–a design standard inherited by previous, wired version of the same earbuds.
To be sure, there are other earbuds that might deliver slightly better sound, but the build quality of the Bose Soundsport Wireless buds make them a perfect choice for while you’re out running or working out at the gym.
In spite of the impressive name given to this particular model of earbuds, they’re not the best-sounding or best-built that you’re going to find on the market. They are affordable, however, so if you don’t want to spend more than $70 (approximately), the JLab Audio Epic2 earbuds are a great choice
They’re comfortable, strong enough to be a feature of your daily commute, and produce acceptable sound. A few users have reported pairing issues when using them, but if we’re being honest, the fault of this lies more with Bluetooth itself, rather than a particular earbud model. If you’re shopping on a budget and need a great pair of fitness headphones, give these a shot!
These definitely aren’t the fanciest earbuds you’ll find, and they definitely don’t offer the best sound. However, a decent pair of wireless earbuds below that $50 price point are outrageously hard to find, and so it’s hard to do anything but recommend them.
As you can likely see from their name, they’re intended to be a fitness earbud, and for this, they stand up relatively well. They’re a little big for some people with smallear ears, but at their offered price point, it’s hard to find much else to complain about.
Leave it to Anker–a brand that’s catching fire in all of the best ways this year–to come up with a relatively affordable wireless earbud product. They don’t sound as good as more exquisitely crafted products on this list, but if you’re looking to buy a pair of earbuds for less than $50 and want Bluetooth accessibility as part of the package, this is one of the best options that you’re going to find.
They’re particularly great for workouts. Connected by a single rubber cord that’s worn behind the neck, the Anker Soundbuds feature interchangeable tips that help to guarantee they’ll fit your ears, without any trouble.
Though the Beats brand has been incorporated by Apple, the products themselves still stand apart from the rest of Apple’s design prerogative. Thus, it doesn’t matter what type of device you’re using; Beats headphones and earbuds have a reputation for being above average in audio and build quality.
The same can be said of the Powerbeats3 earbuds. They’re sporty, lightweight, and built for an active, moving lifestyle. You can wear them during or commute or during a workout–either will be suitable. Beats’ larger headphone models get a few knocks because of the sheer amount of plastic used in their construction, but the Powerbeats3 are among the most durable earbuds you’ll find!
We’re moving back into the realm of “true wireless” as most people consider it–earbuds that don’t have any connecting wires, either to each other or to the device they’re receiving input from. It’s hard to recommend too many of these earbud models, primarily because they’re outrageously expensive or just don’t stand up to rigorous examination.
For the most part, the Erato Apollo 7 earbuds do pass the necessary tests. You’ll be spending upwards of $200 to get your hands on a pair, but they have the build quality to reinforce this premium price. Additionally, they sound great in almost every environment, and they’re sweat resistant, too! This makes them a great–if expensive–choice for active people.
Here is another pair of “true wireless” earbuds that might break the bank, but will also thoroughly impress. What’s better is the fact that they’re made for fitness, which ensures that they’re designed to fit extra snug within your ears.
Being that one of the primary worries for users of true wireless earbuds is losing one or both (since there’s nothing to connect them), this should be a reassurance. They’re still pricy–over $200–but for what you pay, you’re getting one of the better wireless earbud options out there. Even though they don’t use Apple’s proprietary W1 chip, I would venture that they’re better than the Airpods.
Let’s momentarily ignore the 2016 debacle that was the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. That scandal shouldn’t dissuade you from giving these true wireless earbuds a shot, if you’re in the market for a premium device.
They’re not quite as expensive as other true wireless recommendations on this list, but they sure feel great. The IconX are designed to fit a variety of ear shapes, and they have touch-sensitive controls that–while somewhat difficult to learn–give you a fun, intuitive experience. They’ll work best with Samsung devices, which is practically a given, but they can be paired with any device that uses Bluetooth.
There you have it! The 10 best wireless earbuds (“true wireless” and not) that you can buy, today! Click through to some of our links above if you’d like to get a closer look at any of the models we’ve features in this article, and as always, let us know if you have any questions in the comments, below!