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Apple AirPod alternatives: These are the best true wireless earbuds around

best true wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Steve May)

Best True Wireless Headphones: Welcome to TechRadar's guide to the best true wireless and Bluetooth headphones you can buy in 2019.

If you haven't noticed, headphone cables are no longer in fashion. That's because wireless audio sounds better than ever, compression formats for Bluetooth 5.0 are more reliable, flagship smartphones are shipping without headphone jacks, and listeners of all kinds are starting to see the benefits of cordless audio - including no more annoying cables. True wireless earbuds are the next step in audio.

True wireless means there aren't any cables between earbuds at all, so there's no wire or neck band to contend with. Nothing to get tangled in your pocket or caught on your zipper, nothing to whack around your neck in the middle of that run, and also nothing to keep your singular earbuds together. 

True wireless earbuds may be more expensive than simple wireless earbuds and tend not to offer noise-canceling - with the notable exception of the Sony WF-1000XM3 - but that additional upfront cost pays for the convenience of living cable-free. We'd also argue that it's worth spending a bit more to go true wireless, too, as they offer more freedom of movement and tend to be more comfortable over longer periods (see: the Beats Powerbeats Pro).

The Apple AirPods are arguably the first model to truly bring true wireless to the mainstream, offering lots of cool features – as long as you're an iPhone user, that is. Otherwise, there are far better non-Apple options out there in terms of audio quality, battery life, design, and crucially, price. 

The new Apple AirPods Pro are the exception however, with their noise-canceling smarts and improved sound quality landing them a spot on this list.

So, before you buy a pair of the original AirPods, check out our list of the best AirPod-alternatives you can buy in 2019.

What you need to know about Black Friday 2019
It's no secret that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the best times to find fantastic true wireless headphone deals. Usually you'll find that mid-range brands like Jabra get the biggest discounts at retailers like Amazon, but it's worth bearing in mind that Sony, Apple, and Beats have all recently released new models – and that means older models could be discounted.

What is true wireless?

True wireless vs wireless: what's the difference?

Which headphones style is best for you?

Check out TechRadar's exhaustive guides to the best headphones to buy today including the best over-ear headphones, best on-ear headphones and the best in-ear headphones.

For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the best wireless headphones, best wireless earbuds, and the best noise-cancelling headphones.

Need a specific brand? We have guides to the best Sony headphones, the best Bose headphones, and the best Audio-Technica headphones.

Looking for some headphones you can work out with? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones and the best running headphones

Wireless headphones are traditional over-ear or on-ear headphones without the wire – the two earcups are connected by a headband. 

Wireless earbuds – the focus of this guide – have existed for a while now, basically since Bluetooth was invented. Though battery-powered and not physically connected to your phone, they have a cord connecting both buds – and sometimes a band around the neck too. Check out the best wireless earbuds for more.

True wireless earbuds - the focus of this guide –nhave no cord whatsoever. While wireless allows us to wear headphones a few feet away from our music players, True Wireless cuts the cord between the earbuds, giving us true freedom. If you're looking to go full wireless, we also have a round-up of the best true wireless headphones.

Read on for our top true wireless earbuds of 2019.

Best true wireless earbuds at a glance

  1. Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
  2. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
  3. Lypertek Tevi 
  4. Klipsch T5 True Wireless
  5. RHA TrueConnect True Wireless Eabuds
  6. Jabra Elite 65t
  7. Apple AirPods Pro
  8. Beats Powerbeats Pro
  9. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
  10. B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones
  11. Samsung Galaxy Buds
  12. Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW

Sony WF-1000XM3

(Image credit: Sony)

Our top true wireless earbuds

1. Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds

Noise-canceling true wireless headphones that made our dreams come true

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 70g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dome Type | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 6 hours | Battery life (charging case): 18 hours | Wireless range: 30ft | NFC: Yes

Efficient noise-cancellation
Inconspicuous looks
Great fun to listen too
No volume control on earbuds
Not suitable for sports

Considering it's still rare to get noise-cancellation in wired earbuds at all, the fact that Sony has managed to pack it into a pair that are not only wireless, but true wireless is very impressive indeed. 

The Sony WF-1000X manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's very good for a pair of earbuds – it won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you're after a sleek form factor then the compromise is worth it. 

That being said, in spite of a few minor problems we feel that Sony has knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3: Not only are these hands down the best-looking True Wireless headphones out there, but they combine serious noise cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality. If you don’t want the inconvenience of carrying full-size cans, they’re a persuasive alternative.

Battery life is above average, and that compact charging case is pretty slick too. On-ear volume controls similar to the PowerBeats Pro would've been nice, but again, that's really not a deal-breaker in our books.

We reckon the True Wireless jungle has found a new king.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3 review

wireless earbud

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

2. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

Mind-blowing sound without the wires

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 9.2g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 5.8mm | Driver type: Dome Type | Sensitivity: 9.8dB | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 9 hours | Battery life (charging case): 36 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes

Outstanding audio quality
Good value for money
Comfortable design
Control buttons can be annoying to use
No noise cancelation

Cambridge Audio is known for its high-end audio equipment, but until now, hasn’t ventured into the world of true wireless earbuds. Enter the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s: with an outstanding 45 hours of battery life, they combine the brand’s award-winning engineering with the convenience of truly wireless listening. 

For a pair of true wireless earbuds, the sound quality offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s is sensational. In fact, it rivals some of the best over-ear headphones, which is all but unheard of for buds of this size. 

They may not have the noise cancelation technology offered by the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds, but they are $100 (around £80) cheaper – and have a superior battery life. 

They certainly outperform the Apple AirPods, in all respects apart from the lack of wireless charging case. This is a small price to pay for that exceptional audio quality, though, and we think they represent much better value for money, too.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review

true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Lypertek)

3. Lypertek Tevi

Incredible, affordable buds

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Graphene | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 10 hours | Battery life (charging case): 70 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Incredible value
Neutral audiophile-like sound
Great battery life
Design is a bit plain

You may not have heard of up-and-coming audio brand Lypertek yet, but expect to hear a lot from it soon – its Lypertek Tevi true wireless earbuds are among the best we’ve tried, especially given the low price tag.

With USB-C charging, a well-balanced sound, lengthy battery life, and waterproofing, it ticks every box you could ask for, from what are basically a pair of budget buds. The Lypertek Tevi, surprisingly, might just blow you away, punching well above their weight and rivaling buds from some of the biggest audio brands on the planet. 

Consider us pleasantly surprised.

Read the full review: Lypertek Tevi true wireless earbuds review

wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Klipsch)

4. Klipsch T5 True Wireless

Audiophiles will love the Klipsch T5’s sound and build quality

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 8 hours | Battery life (charging case): 24 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Incredible build quality
Warm, detailed sound
Excellent battery life
Deep fit may be uncomfortable

They're not cheap, but the T5 holds their own against the top of the line true wireless headphones - in fact, we'd argue that they're one of the best models on the market right now. We think that because they offer stellar sound, build quality, long-lasting battery life and one of the coolest cases we've ever seen.

Of course, you're buying a Klipsch product because it features the signature Klipsch sound, which is warm, detailed, and never harsh. Acoustic music is lush and detailed, and the detail extends to the highs as well, allowing the headphones to sing in the higher registers without ever being sibilant. 

Battery life is rated at eight hours per charge with the case giving an additional 24 hours. Our testing playing music at 50% volume found 7 hours per charge and the case giving three additional charges no problem. This is a headphone that can last you an entire flight from New York to San Francisco. 

Read the full review: Klipsch T5 True Wireless review 

rha true wireless

(Image credit: RHA)

5. RHA TrueConnect True Wireless Earbuds

Still a fantastic pair of true wireless buds

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 13g | Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 20 hours | Wireless range: 10m | NFC: No

Balanced, detailed sound
Excellent build quality
Reliable connection
Fingerprint magnet
Mushy buttons

Although the TrueConnect is RHAs first true wireless headphone, the company showed they did their research and development by making it one of the best true wireless headphones on the market today. The combination of sound quality, battery life, and wireless reliability means these are a pair of headphones you can rely on everyday. 

The Jabra Elite 65t set the standard for what true wireless headphones should be and, regardless of what RHA has done here with the TrueConnect, they’re still great headphones. Compared to the RHA TrueConnect, the Jabra has more features with its useful ambient noise mode to help with situational awareness and an app that lets you tailor sound. 

The RHA doesn’t have either of those features but we didn’t miss them, thanks to better sound quality and wireless reliability. The RHA also feels more like a premium product than the all-plastic Jabra. 

All said, if you’re shopping for a pair of true wireless headphones, the $170 (£150, about AU$265) RHA TrueConnect should be at the very top of your list.  

Read the full review: RHA TrueConnect review

jabra elite

(Image credit: Jabra)

6. Jabra Elite 65t

One of the best true wireless headphones you can buy

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 25 hours | Wireless range: 8m | NFC: No

Excellent battery life 
Balanced sound quality 
Limited eartip selection 
Limited water resistance 

If you want a pair of high quality truly wireless earbuds that aren’t the Apple AirPods, then the Jabra Elite 65t should be at the top of your list. 

After spending over a month with them, we came away impressed with the well-rounded package that Jabra managed to create: The earbuds offer a subtle, mature look and a reliable wireless connection, which isn’t always the case with truly wireless earbuds. Plus, they sound great compared to the competition. 

If you only have the budget for one of these, go for the Elite 65t. 

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t review

cheap AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

7. Apple AirPods Pro

The perfect earbuds... for Apple fans

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 5.4g | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): Up to 5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 24 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes

Good noise cancellation
Better fit than AirPods (2019)
Good for tracking hearing health
More expensive than better rivals
USB-C charging cable in box
Can get loose during workouts

Apple has launched its new true wireless earbuds, bringing active noise cancellation, a (finally) much better fit, and an improved design, in a bid to lure more iPhone users into the true wireless fold.

However, at $249 / £249 / AU$399, they’re pretty pricey too, and as such can’t be called the very best wireless headphones out there.

That said, if you’re an iPhone user looking for some well-fitting earbuds with strong sound quality, you could do a lot worse than the new AirPods - the redesign means they’re far less likely to fall out, and the additional microphones provide strong noise-canceling (particularly when commuting), as well as a useful Transparency mode, which really does let the outside world in.

The sound quality of the AirPods Pro has certainly improved since the previous iteration – there’s a notable emphasis on vocals and bass, meaning these earbuds are better for pop fans than those that enjoy a more natural presentation that lends itself to classical music or more orchestral sounds.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro review

beats powerbeats pro

(Image credit: Beats)

8. Beats PowerBeats Pro

Impressive-fitting workout ‘buds from Beats

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 9 hours | Battery life (charging case): 16 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Easy pairing with iOS
Immaculate fit
Enjoyable sound
Case is fairly bulky
Limited noise isolation

The new PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones aren't exactly the earbuds analysts have been predicting, sure, but they are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out. 

That said, they are - in our opinion - Apple’s best true wireless earbuds to date thanks to small additions like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their longer battery life and their superior sound quality. If we had to choose between wearing these and the AirPods around the house or office, these are what we’d wear.   

Read the full review: Beats PowerBeats Pro review

true wireless

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

9. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless

Great sound and style

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 72.6g | Frequency response: 5-21,000Hz | Drivers: 7mm | Driver type: Beryllium | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 4 hours | Battery life (charging case): 12 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Strong full-range sound
Stylish design
Case comes with two full charges
Imprecise volume control
Could be more comfortable

Sennheiser enters the race with its Momentum True Wireless earbuds. An extension of its reputable Momentum range, these cordless buds offer Sennheiser's trademark high-fidelity audio in a gorgeously sleek package.

You only get four hours of charge in the earbuds, but the carry case will be able to charge them two times over on top of that, giving you 12 hours in total when on the go.

The main thing holding these back is the price: at £259 / $299 (about AU$400) they're almost double the cost of the Apple AirPods. You do get a range of touch-based controls to stop you reaching for your phone every time you want to skip or pause a track, but the act of prodding things in your ear could be more comfortable – while the volume control is oddly imprecise.

Overall though, Sennheiser's first true wireless earbuds combine style and sound like few others.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless review

bang & olufsen

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

10. B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones

Pricey wireless earbuds that sound absolutely wonderful

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 13g (combined) | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 5.7mm | Driver type: Electro-dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 4 hours | Battery life (charging case): 8 hours | Wireless range: 100ft | NFC: Yes

Good audio quality 
Exceptional design 
Easy to setup 
Can feel a bit snug 

Let’s get one thing out of the way – the B&O Beoplay E8 are one of the nicest-looking and most expensive wireless earphones you can buy. 

At $299 (£259, AU$449, AED 1,199) you can throw in a bit more cash and splurge for one of our favorite noise-cancelling headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 $349 (£259, AU$499, AED 1,449), which give you better battery life and a richer sound. But if you’re looking for a something to take to the gym and have the cash to burn, then the Beoplay E8 might be just what you’re looking for.   

While you won't find noise-cancellation here, you will find a longer-lasting battery life of around four hours alongside Bluetooth 4.2. The E8 come with a stylish carrying case, and you can tweak the sound to your liking using the accompanying Beoplay app on Android and iOS.

Even without tinkering around with ToneTouch, the E8 sounds crisp and clear. Bass feedback will depend on how snug you’re wearing the E8s, but was acceptable for earphones of this size. If you’re able to look past the price point, then then Beoplay E8 is a great investment. It’s super compact, offers great audio, and looks great – what more could you ask for?  

Read the full review: B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones review

samsung galaxy buds

(Image credit: Samsung)

11. Samsung Galaxy Buds

Small buds with a big sound

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 5.6g per bud | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Drivers: 5.8mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (on-board): 6 hours | Battery life (charging case): 7 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes

Comfortable, secure fit
Stylish design
Easy to pair and use
Ambient sound can be irritating
Touch controls not always accurate

It feels as though Samsung has finally got it right with the Galaxy Buds, and they represent serious competition for the Apple AirPods in terms of design, sound, and ease of use. 

We loved the pearlescent effect on the buds outer housing and the sleek design of the case, and we found they felt comfortable and secure. 

The sound quality offered by these true wireless buds is also very good indeed, with deep bass, and a wide open soundstage; although, audiophiles may want to look elsewhere for a more natural sound treatment, as the Galaxy Buds do sound very warm.

The downside here is that other features that are available on the app like ambient noise and the equalizer presets are useful to have, but didn’t always work as effectively as we hoped. These features are also pretty much out of bounds for iOS users, as you can only download the app on devices running Android 5.0 or later. 

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Buds review

wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

12. Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW

Big on bass, big on battery life

Acoustic design: closed | Weight: 8g | Frequency response: 5Hz - 40kHz | Drivers: 10mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 110 dB | Impedance: 16 ohms | Battery life: 45 hours (with case) | wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Sound great
Punchy bass
Long battery life
Weighty
Fit takes some getting used to
Fiddly case

With a promising battery life and well-managed bass enhancement over Audio-Technica’s usual neutral sound, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW true wireless earbuds have a lot going for them. 

They've one of the most complete and well-rounded sound profiles we've seen from true-wireless earbuds, and that's despite the claimed bass enhancement. It's a very enjoyable sound that they make.

However, they are let down a bit by their fit – mileage will vary of course depending on your preferred bud style and the size of your ears, but all will find the fiddly case fit will annoy over time. Still, the quality audio here may be a worthy trade-off.

Read the full review: Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW review

What about the Apple AirPods?

cheap apple airpods deals prices

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple AirPods (2019)

The ones to beat

Acoustic design: Open-back | Weight: 4g (38g with case) | Driver type: Dynamic **Battery life (on-board):** 5 hours | Battery life (charging case): 20 hours | Wireless range: 10m | NFC: No

Faster pairing
Wireless charging
Hands-free ‘Hey Siri’ functionality
Wireless charging case costs extra
Audio hasn't improved
Identical design to the originals

It's been a big year for the Apple AirPods; in March, the true wireless earbuds were given an upgrade to give us the AirPods (2019), and most recently, Apple announced the Apple AirPods Pro

The second generation Apple AirPods, the AirPods (2019), aren't a huge improvement on their predecessors, but they still sport some cool features, that may make them worth buying if you're an iPhone user in particular. 

They still feature the iconic design of the original AirPods (a good or bad thing depending on your point of view), and sound quality hasn't changed at all – it's lively, but not on par with the best true wireless earbuds in this guide. The bulk of the upgrade comes from the new H1 headphone chip, which improves connectivity and battery life, and allows for a new ‘Hey Siri’ voice activation feature.

The AirPods (2019) also come with an optional wireless charging case means you can use a Qi-compatible charging mat to power the case, rather than sticking a cable into the Lightning charging port in the bottom of the case. 

Like their predecessors, they are super easy to pair, but they are very much optimized for using with iPhones. The best true wireless earbuds give you more flexibility when it comes to your device of choice, and can offer superior sound quality – as well as sleeker designs. 

There’s also no getting away from the fact that these are an expensive pair of headphones, and for that kind of money we think that you can find better products elsewhere – especially if you're looking to pair with anything other than an iPhone. 

Read the full review: Apple AirPods (2019) review

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