Best Buds For Life – Best Wireless Earbuds 2021: Budget And Premium

The true wireless earbuds market has never been more crowded than it is in 2021. With so many to choose from, finding the best Bluetooth earbuds can seem daunting. But the vast selection is actually a good thing: not only are there excellent picks for everyday buds to carry in your pocket, but you’ve also got a slew of options that prioritize things like noise cancellation, fitness, lengthy battery life, and comfort.

Even if you don’t consider yourself any kind of audiophile, it’s important to find a set of earbuds that sound good to you. This means different things depending on the person: do you want head-rattling bass or something more balanced with an immersive soundstage? You’ll want to find a pair with a good, reliable Bluetooth connection — all of the below picks check off that box — and enough battery life to last you through a normal day of intermittent listening.

Remember that getting the most out of earbuds requires a good seal in your ear. Always try the various ear tip sizes that come with whichever buds you purchase — and don’t be afraid to experiment with different sizes in each ear. Ears are funny like that. Many of these earbuds have apps you can install on your phone to further personalize their sound and controls the way you want.

If you’re looking for the overall best noise-canceling earbuds, you’ll be thrilled with Sony’s WF-1000XM4. They have best-in-class noise cancellation, terrific sound quality, and set a new bar for battery life in the category.

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Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are the best wireless earbuds. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

1. Sony WF-1000XM4

Best noise-canceling earbuds

Two years after releasing its first set of true wireless earbuds, Sony has returned with the redesigned WF-1000XM4. Now smaller and with an IPX4 water resistance rating, the new buds have the most impressive noise cancellation among all competitors — and they still sound phenomenal. Sony also includes memory foam ear tips that offer excellent noise isolation even before the noise cancellation kicks in.

Battery life is another area where the 1000XM4s set a new bar: they can last for up to eight hours of continuous playback with noise canceling turned on, whereas most other NC earbuds top out at around five hours. The case supports wireless charging, and Sony has included its “speak to chat” feature that automatically turns down your audio and enables ambient sound mode when the earbuds detect that you’re talking out loud. Microphone performance remains the weakest aspect of the 1000XM4s, but it’s totally passable if you’re making calls at home.

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Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds are another top pick for noise-canceling earbuds. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

2. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Runner-up noise-canceling earbuds

The QuietComfort Earbuds offer very powerful active noise cancellation, but what’s equally nice about them is how customizable the ANC is. You can choose between 11 different levels of noise cancellation (based on how much of the outside world you want mixed in) and set three favorites to cycle between when you double-tap the left earbud.


Amazon’s Echo Buds 2 are the best noise-canceling earbuds for under $150. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

3. Amazon Echo Buds 2

Best noise-canceling earbuds under $150

Even if you never take advantage of their hands-free Alexa capabilities, the second-generation Amazon Echo Buds still offer a ton of other positives for an aggressively low price. The noise cancellation is better than on the original set — even if it can’t measure up to our top picks — and their revamped design makes for a more comfortable fit in your ears.


The AirPods Pro remain the best wireless earbuds for iPhone owners because some of their best features only work with other Apple products. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

4. Apple AirPods Pro

Best wireless earbuds for the iPhone

There’s no beating the interplay between AirPods and Apple’s other devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The AirPods Pro don’t offer the best sound quality of our top picks, but it’s perfectly satisfactory to many people. And the active noise cancellation is right up there with Bose.

But it really all comes together if you’re in Apple’s ecosystem and also own a Mac or iPad. The AirPods Pro can automatically hop between devices based on which one you’re using, and on iPhone or iPad, spatial audio delivers immersive surround sound when watching streaming video apps. They’re fantastic for making calls with, and Apple continues to pull ahead of competitors when it comes to ease of use.

Here’s a tip: if none of the included ear tips get you a perfect seal, I recommend a set of memory foam tips like those from Comply or Dekoni.


Apple’s AirPods 2 are the best wireless earbuds for making voice calls. Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

5. Apple AirPods

The best wireless earbuds for making voice calls

Thanks to their lengthy stems and reliable microphones, Apple’s open-style AirPods remain the best option if you’re someone who frequently makes calls while wearing your earbuds. They’re a dependable performer whether you’re talking to friends on the phone or co-workers on Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

The AirPods provide a seamless, near-instant pairing process when used with Apple devices and also support features like audio sharing, spatial audio, and private listening if you’ve got an Apple TV.

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Apple’s AirPods have an open-style design that keeps you aware of your surroundings while your tunes are playing. And they provide the best experience of any wireless earbuds when making calls.

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By the nature of their design, the bass leaves a little to be desired and the AirPods do let in a lot out of outside noise — but some people prefer having that awareness, even if it means cranking the volume up at times.


The Jabra Elite 75t are the best wireless earbuds if you want to pair with two devices simultaneously. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

6. Jabra Elite 75t

Best wireless earbuds for multitasking

Jabra is pretty much the only company making true wireless earbuds that support “multipoint” for two simultaneous Bluetooth connections. So you can pair them up with a phone and your laptop or tablet at the same time. Jabra’s mobile app offers a ton of customization over the controls, EQ, and even includes bonuses like white noise or nature sounds if you’ve got situations where they’d be handy.

Jabra’s Elite 75t earbuds offer pleasing bass-heavy sound, reliable performance, and can connect with two devices — like a phone and laptop — at the same time.

The newer Elite 85t earbuds add more effective noise cancellation to the mix, but the 75ts are on sale so frequently that they’re still the go-to pick if multitasking is important to you. They pack a wallop when it comes to bass — but not to the point where it overwhelms the rest of the mix.

Jabra backs them with a two-year warranty in the event you experience any hardware issues. (I’ve had a 75t bud stop taking a charge out of nowhere, so it can happen.)


The Powerbeats Pro have been around for some time now, but they still rank as the best earbuds for running. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

7. Beats Powerbeats Pro

Best wireless earbuds for working out

Nothing has managed to unseat the Powerbeats Pro as the best fitness earbuds since their release in 2019. Their ear hook design keeps them planted on your ears during intense exercise, they can endure your sweatiest workouts, and the nine hours of continuous battery life should get you through just about any marathon. And the sound quality is killer, with plenty of bass to keep you motivated and moving.

The Powerbeats Pro are a perfect workout companion with their lengthy battery life, powerful bass, and sweat resistance.

And since Beats is owned by Apple, the Powerbeats Pro can also take advantage of features like audio sharing, auto device switching (like the AirPods Pro), and a dead-simple pairing process.


The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus can last for up to 11 hours on a single charge, which blows away many competitors. Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

8. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Best wireless earbuds for battery life

They can last 11 hours on a single charge. That’s what I consider marathon battery life for true wireless earbuds, and few other companies have managed to keep up with the longevity of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus. They lack active noise cancellation, so that helps them keep playing for longer, but even then, 11 hours is quite a feat. Like the Jabras, these are often on sale and easy to grab at a discount. They make for a good AirPods alternative if you’ve got an Android phone — particularly a Samsung one.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus offer marathon 11-hour battery life, a lightweight comfortable fit, and satisfactory audio quality.


Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2 are the best wireless earbuds in terms of sound quality. Photo by Jon Porter / The Verge

9. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Best wireless earbuds for sound quality

Sennheiser’s second swing at true wireless earbuds improve on the original Momentums with a more comfortable fit and the addition of active noise cancellation. But everything about these earbuds is second fiddle to their sound quality: the Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds put out dynamic, expressive, and wonderfully detailed audio. They’re the sort of buds that will bring out things in your favorite music you haven’t noticed before.

But that upgraded sound quality comes for a hefty $300 price. If you want arguably the best sound that true wireless earbuds can deliver, these are it. But all of these other picks sound plenty good in their own right.

Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds offer sublime sound quality and satisfactory noise cancellation.


You’re not going to find any silicone ear tips that can match the UE Fits and their custom tips, which mold to match your ear shape in seconds.

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Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

10. UE Fits

Best wireless earbuds if comfort is everything

If you often have difficulty finding ear tips that fit your ears comfortably, it doesn’t really get better than the UE Fits. These earbuds include special tips that mold to the shape of your ear during a 60-second fitting process that you activate with UE’s app. They get warm during molding (but not uncomfortably so) and you can feel them adapting to the contours of your ear canal.

Once the process is done, you’re left with custom earbuds with a fit that’s as close to perfect as you’ll ever find — unless you visit your local audiologist for a professional mold, and that gets expensive fast. Ultimate Ears has a fit “guarantee” and will send you a second set of tips should your first molding attempt go awry. The UE Fits are quite good, last for up to eight hours of continuous playback, and they’re rated IPX4 for water resistance.

The UE Fits come with unique ear tips that permanently mold to the unique shape of your ears in just 60 seconds. This allows for a much better fit that you can comfortably wear for hours.

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