The 4 Best True Wireless Earbuds for Going Cord-Free
It’s time to cut the cord forever. You can now get true wireless earbuds that deliver good sound and decent battery life, starting at as little as $50. These are the best true wireless earphones you can buy today.
A Quick Note About Terms
In the roundup below, you’ll find the words “earphones” and “earbuds” used interchangeably. Technically, they are different.
Earphones go into your ear canal and form a tight seal, while earbuds sit in your ear and allow ambient noise. But these days, most manufacturers and consumers don’t differentiate between them, so we won’t either.
1. Best True Wireless Earbuds Overall: Jabra Elite 65t
Who Should Buy It: Anyone who doesn’t have a Samsung phone. People who aren’t on a budget.
It’s rare that every major audio reviewer agrees about something, which makes the Jabra Elite 65t unique in its unanimous recommendation. Unless you’re an audiophile who is finicky about sound quality or you’re on a budget, these are the best true wireless earbuds.
They sound fantastic, with the balanced audio profile you’d expect from earphones at this price. The 5-hour battery life is as good as it gets for true wireless earbuds, and it also supports quick charging to add an hour of use from 10 minutes of charging. Only the Samsung Gear IconX offers more—and that’s when using the built-in memory, not Bluetooth.
The Elite 65t also has the best microphone among all true wireless earbuds, making it the ideal choice for anyone who often takes phone calls. You can also issue voice commands to Google Now, Siri, and Alexa through the earphones.
2. Best Budget True Wireless Earbuds: Soundcore Liberty Lite
Who Should Buy It: Anyone looking for a set of good wireless earbuds that don’t cost too much.
Not everyone wants to spend $150 on a pair of earphones. If you’re looking for something more affordable, but still get all the important features, then go for Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Lite.
Anker has a knack for making high-quality products at a lower-than-average price, which is what the Liberty Lite is. You get a pair of true wireless earbuds that sound good for all types of music, have decent punch in the bass, and feel comfortable to wear for a long time.
I got just over three hours of continuous playback on Bluetooth, which is not bad for this price. Unfortunately, the Liberty Lite does not support fast charging. That means these are great for regular commutes, but if you have a long flight, you’ll want some other headphones with long battery life.
Battery life aside, the Liberty Lite is an undeniably good package for its price. In fact, we would say you should buy these over slightly more expensive options like the Altec Lansing True Evo or Anker’s own Zolo Liberty Total.
3. Best True Wireless Earbuds With Built-In Storage: Samsung Gear IconX
Who Should Buy It: Anyone who has a Samsung phone. Those who want built-in storage to listen to music without their phone.
The Samsung Gear IconX is the only set of true wireless earbuds to go toe-to-toe with the Jabra 65t series. In some ways, it may even be better.
The IconX’s main differentiator is the 4GB of built-in memory. You can transfer songs from your phone to the earbuds, then switch off the Bluetooth connection and still listen to music. Of course, this means no Spotify or other music streaming services, but it extends the earbuds’ battery life by about two hours.
In any case, the IconX has excellent battery life, clocking in over four hours of continuous playback on every reviewer’s test. Plus, it has a quick charge feature like every set at this price.
If you already have a Samsung phone, it makes sense to buy the Samsung Gear IconX. As we’ve said before, buy the ecosystem, not the gadget. The IconX works best with Samsung apps, like the built-in running coach that syncs with S Health to track your fitness.
4. Cheapest True Wireless Earbuds Worth Buying: JLab JBuds Air
Who Should Buy It: Anyone who wants the cheapest true wireless earbuds that aren’t utter trash.
It’s been a long wait for a decent brand to launch a pair of true wireless earbuds at this price point. Both Monoprice and JLab debuted their sets recently, and the JLab JBuds Air edges ahead in audio quality.
That said, with budget earphones, the audio quality is never stellar. The Jbuds Air are “good enough” for most users who care more about the convenience of going truly wireless than the music sounding just right.
The JBuds Air use Bluetooth 4.2 and not the new Bluetooth 5 standard, so the battery life is understandably lower. You can expect about three hours of continuous playback on this set. It also has an IP55 rating for basic water and dust resistance, but given that they’re quite new, no one has heavily tested these. So don’t put too much trust in that rating yet.
With both the Monoprice and the JLabs earbuds, reviewers noted that the slave piece (the left earbud) sometimes dropped connection for a second or two. The microphone on both is also not great, and picks up a lot of ambient noise. It’s fine to take calls in a closed room, but not while you’re out and about.
Given these sacrifices, you might want to consider going for some of the other great Bluetooth earbuds under $50.
True Wireless Earbuds Aren’t for Audiophiles
If you’ve got an iPhone, you must be tempted to buy the Apple AirPods. They even support Siri commands, which makes them doubly useful. But there are plenty of better options at the price of AirPods.
As you can read in our review of the AirPods, it’s difficult to recommend them, especially since so many true wireless earbuds now support Siri. Even the #1 pick, the Jabra Elite 65t, will let you issue Siri commands. In this case, the best gadget trumps staying in the ecosystem.
Unfortunately, if you truly care about sound quality and are used to spending upwards of $200 on headphones, you should skip true wireless earbuds right now. Currently, none of the sets are up to audiophile standards.
There are a few big-name brands that offer great earbuds. And the consensus seems to be that the Master and Dynamic MW07 is the best-sounding of the lot.
But none of these offerings match up to the best headphones for audiophiles . While the convenience of true wireless earbuds is undeniable, well-tuned ears should look past them for a good aural experience.
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