Single 2nd-generation Apple AirPod Pro
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek
Update, 10/14/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and updated the best picks overall, for the iPhone, and for Android phones.

What to Look For in Wireless Earbuds in 2022

The best wireless earbuds allow for complete untethered use of your smartphone, tablet, or computer, allowing you to enjoy high-quality audio and stay connected via Bluetooth.

In determining what to look for with wireless earbuds, you need to consider four main criteria: comfort, audio quality, battery life, and ease of use.

Today, many wireless earbuds come with active noise cancellation that automatically or manually adjusts based on the level of ambient sound. Good earbuds also have settings that can be toggled to eliminate all or some background noise. Other options come with dedicated smartphone apps that allow you to change EQ presets, configuring the audio exactly as you want to hear it.

In addition, the best wireless earbuds come with a long battery life. We recommend wireless earbuds with six or more hours of juice per charge, long enough to not cause annoyance with constant recharges. Kudos for any wireless earbuds that include a charging carrying case, which can hold up to 20 more hours of power.

In terms of comfort, many wireless earbuds come with silicone ring-tips that adjust to your ear’s shape for a snug, comfortable fit. Don’t forget waterproof protection for water and sweat resistance.

With that said, keep reading to learn more about our picks for the best wireless earbuds in 2021.

Best Wireless Earbuds Overall: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Bose QuietComfort II earbuds on pink and yellow background
Bose

Pros

  • Best-in-class active noise cancellation
  • Redesigned for better fit
  • IPX4-rated water resistant
  • Improved sound quality

Cons

  • Battery life doesn't hold up to competitors

Bose is one of the original major players when it comes to noise-cancelling headphones and earbuds. While Sony was the undisputed leader of this field for a few years, the lead has swung again, this time toward the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.

They may have a somewhat unwieldy name, but the QuietComfort Earbuds II have the best noise-cancelling in wireless earbuds to date. They do a fantastic job of keeping unwanted sounds away, but they also feature a transparent mode that lets you stay aware of what’s happening around you.

The wings on the original model are gone, replaced by a fit kit that lets you add “stability bands” if needed. This makes for a better fit, which improves comfort, but also makes for better noise cancellation and improved sound quality. Speaking of which, the QuietComfort Earbuds II have gotten a major upgrade in terms of sound quality over the originals.

Like the original QuietComfort Earbuds, the new models are splash-resistant, with an IPX4 rating. This is fine for a quick run in the rain, but you want to avoid submerging these in water for any period of time.

When they were first released, the Bose QuietComfort EarBuds II were only available in a single finish, which the company calls Triple Black. Now there is another option available in Soapstone, a silvery white finish.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Bose has reclaimed its throne at the top of the noise cancelling heap, but that's not all that's improved in this redesign. Smoother sound and a better fit help these easily outclass the originals.

Best Wireless Earbuds Under $100: Soundcore by Anker Life P3

People using Anker Soundcore earbuds
Anker

Pros

  • Compatible with Qi wireless charging
  • Comfortable silicone ear tips
  • Low latency gaming mode

Cons

  • So-so battery life

The Soundcore by Anker Life P3 is one of our favorite cheaper options. For starters, the Soundcore by Anker Life P3 offers two adjustable settings configurable through its Soundcore app, including a low latency gaming mode and an Ambient mode with different settings based on different surround noise frequencies. For example, Outdoor Mode cuts out lots of background noise, and an Indoor mode optimizes voice output.

This unit’s battery life is decent, with about 7 hours with active noise cancellation on, 6 hours without, and up to 35 hours with the carrying case. Thankfully, the clamshell charging case has three LEDs to let you know of your power levels at any time.

Just as importantly, the Soundcore earbuds are comfortable. It comes with the choice of five pairs of silicone ear tips in different sizes for everyone. Comfort is just as important as audio quality when it comes to a good pair of earbuds, so this budget option excels in that regard.

Best Wireless Earbuds Under $100

Soundcore by Anker Life P3

Read Review Geek's Full Review

These wireless earbuds come with an easy-to-use smartphone app to adjust settings, active noise cancellation, and a clamshell charging case.

Best Wireless Earbuds Under $50: Soundpeats T3

Person wearing soundpeats earbuds
Soundpeats

Pros

  • Excellent bass
  • Intuitive touch panels on both earbuds
  • Includes three ear tips

Cons

  • So-so battery life
  • No low-latency mode for gaming
  • Plastic feels a bit cheap

The Soundpeats T3 is a great pair of?cheap wireless earbuds, boasting many of the same features as higher-priced models for a fraction of the price.

Like most, the entry-level Soundpeats T3 offers active noise cancellation, touch controls on both earbuds, and decent sound, especially indoors. However, the bass and lower mid-tones are a lot sharper than higher treble tones, so the audio isn’t quite perfect. It also comes with three ear tips to accommodate different ear sizes, equally comfortable for children and adults to wear.

One knock on the Soundpeats T3, however, is its limited battery life, good for up to 5.5 hours of playtime with ANC on or off. Its charging case is also good enough for two charges, which is less than the usual three or four top-offs from competitors.

For heavy-duty users, longer battery life headphones like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds may be a better option.

Best Wireless Earbuds Under $50

Soundpeats T3

The Soundpeats T3 earbuds offer active noise cancellation, three ear tips, and excellent all-around value.

Best Wireless Earbuds for iPhone: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Apple AirPods Pro 2 with iPhone
Kris Wouk / How-To Geek

Pros

  • Sound quality is improved over the originals
  • ANC is miles ahead of the original AirPods Pro
  • Transparency mode is better than ever
  • Resigned case has a built-in speaker to help find it
  • Both case and earbuds are now IPX4-rated weather resistant

Cons

  • Call quality isn't the best

People sometimes complain about the Apple “walled garden,” but one benefit of this is tight integration across the company’s hardware ecosystem. Nowhere is this clearer than the second-generation Apple AirPods Pro. While they sound great with any device you pair them with, they’re designed to work best with Apple products.

Apple has updated the AirPods Pro with improved audio components and a new H2 chipset. They’ve also got new controls, though you’d be hard-pressed to spot them. Swiping up and down on a capacitive touch strip on the stems now acts as volume control, and even as I was reviewing the AirPods Pro, I never found myself accidentally adjusting the volume.

Thanks to the new H2 chip, the active noise cancellation is a major improvement from the original AirPods Pro. Apple’s Transparency mode has always been miles ahead of the competition, and here it’s better than ever with the new Adaptive Transparency mode that automatically lowers loud sounds that could damage your hearing.

Instead of multipoint Bluetooth, Apple uses its own system based on iCloud to let the AirPods Pro connect to your other Apple devices. This is seamless, even compared to well-implemented multipoint, and it makes swapping between your iPhone and iPad an effortless process.

Another way the AirPods Pro are tailor-made for iPhone users is integration with Apple’s Find My app. Thanks to the same U1 chip used in AirTags, you can now find your AirPods and their case in the Find My app. A new built-in speaker in the case helps you find it if it’s lost on the couch.

Best Wireless Earbuds for iPhone

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

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It may not look like much has changed with the second-generation Apple AirPods Pro, but they bring great sound quality, vastly improved ANC, and the best Transparency mode in the game.

Best Wireless Earbuds for Android: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Person useing Galaxy Buds 2 with Flip 4
Samsung

Pros

  • Vastly improved sound compared to older models
  • Intelligent ANC
  • IPX7 rated water-resistant
  • Great integration with Samsung phones

Cons

  • Some features are exclusive to Samsung devices

Because many manufacturers produce Android phones, it’s hard to find wireless earbuds that tightly integrate with your phone. Samsung’s Galaxy devices are very popular, but even if you have a phone from another brand, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will work well with your Android device.

While previous Galaxy Buds models didn’t always sound the best, Samsung got it right with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. While they’ll sound good with any device, Samsung users have it even better. Instead of the standard SBC Bluetooth codec, Samsung uses its own Samsung Seamless Codec, which offers higher-resolution audio, more comparable to Sony’s LDAC.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro feature ANC and Ambient modes. They also feature what Samsung calls Intelligent Conversation mode. Instead of acting like a standard transparent mode, the earbuds detect your voice, automatically deactivate noise cancellation, and lower the volume. This feature exists in other headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM5, and it’s often useful.

One area Samsung is ahead of most of the competition is weather resistance. While many wireless earbuds feature IPX4 weather resistance at best, the Galaxy Buds Pro 2 feature IPX7 water resistance. This means that in addition to your workout, they can also handle a quick dunk in a puddle.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are available in three color options: White, Graphite, and Bora Purple.

Best Wireless Earbuds for Android

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro bring better sound quality and a tough build. They work with any phone, but you'll get the most out of them with a Samsung Galaxy phone or tablet.

Best Wireless Earbuds for Workouts: JBL Reflect Flow Pro

JBL Reflect Flow on pink background
JBL

Pros

  • Active noise canceling and ambient mode
  • Great battery life
  • Rated IP68 water and dustproof

Cons

  • Not as small and light as they could be

Listening to music while working out might not make it easier, but it can help make it more enjoyable. If you want high-quality earbuds that stay in your ears while you run, lift or cycle, the JBL Reflect Flow Pros are hard to beat.

The Reflect Flow Pros have everything you expect from modern, high-quality sports earbuds. Active noise canceling helps to block out external noise, with Smart Ambient mode available if you need more awareness of your surroundings. The IP68 waterproof rating means you don’t need to worry about running in the rain or getting sweaty.

The earbuds are reasonably small and light at 14 grams, though they are not the lightest. While few earbuds are heavy, lighter buds tend to stay in your ears better when using them during sports or exercising. But to help keep them in place, these JBL earbuds come with 4 different-sized Powerfins, silicone stabilizers that fit the shape of your ear.

The clever JBL Headphone app for iOS and Android allows you to create an even better experience by testing for sound leakage and suggesting ways to reduce it. You can also use the app to customize touch actions as a pair or on each earbud.

When fully charged, the earbuds have up to 10 hours of battery life, depending on whether you are using ANC. The small and light case can fully charge the earbuds twice, giving you up to 30 hours of playtime before you need to plug in. More than enough for even the longest run, workout, or gym session.

Best Wireless Earbuds for Workouts

JBL Reflect Flow Pro

High-quality waterproof ANC earbuds, that are perfect for listening to music during a run, gym session, or any vigorous activity.

Best Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony XM4s on green background
Sony

Pros

  • Excellent battery life (~8 hours per charge)
  • Intuitive, tap-based touch controls
  • Charges wirelessly using Qi-compatible pads

Cons

  • Not the smoothest pairing process

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a noise-canceling dynamo. It offers multiple sound modes to control the amount of outside sound to let in based on where you are. Holding slight pressure on the left earbud even lets you change the noise-cancellation settings, so you can let some of your background noise in as needed.

Plus, polyurethane tips mold to your ear canal, providing a perfect seal for even better noise isolation.

To help with noise cancellation even further, the Sony WF-1000XM4’s dedicated smartphone app (Headphones Connect) offers an air-tightness test that provides feedback on fit using a test tone

Best Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM4

Read Review Geek's Full Review

Enjoy multiple sound modes and comfortable polyurethane tips that mold to your ear canal for even better sealing.

The Best Wireless Earbuds for iPhone and iPad of 2022

Best Earbuds Overall
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Best Budget Earbuds
Skullcandy Sesh Evo
Best Earbuds for Travel
Jabra Elite 75t
Best Workout Earbuds
Beats Fit Pro
Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds
Sony WF-1000XM4
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Ray Prince is a freelance writer with more than four years of experience covering automobiles and technology, writing for publications such as Gadget Review, Hybrid Cars, Auto Guide, and Vehicle History.
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Russ is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about technology. He loves exploring and figuring out how complex things work, and sharing that knowledge with others, something he has been doing online and in print for more than 15 years. When not writing for How-To Geek, Russ can usually be found planning his first novel or taking something apart to see how it works.
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