Apple soft earbuds

Apple soft earbuds DEFAULT

The 5 Best Wireless Earbuds For iPhone - Fall 2021 Reviews

The Beats Flex Wireless are the best earphones for iPhone with a wireless design and at a budget level that we've tested. These colorful and lightweight in-ears have a silicone neck cable design, so you can wear them around your neck when you're not using them. Thanks to their W1 chip, you can also seamlessly pair them with all your Apple devices.

Out of the box, they have a bass-heavy sound profile that packs a touch of extra thump, rumble, and boom to your mixes, making them well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. They have a good build quality that feels durable as well as a stable and comfortable fit. Although they don't have ANC and struggle to block out lower-ranged noise like the rumbles from bus engines, they can help cut down sounds like office chatter. They also have low latency on iOS devices, which is nice if you like to stream video.

Unfortunately, their companion app is very limited, and you can't customize their sound as they lack an EQ and presets. Even though their continuous battery life of 11 hours should last you through a day at the office, they also don't have any power-saving features to help conserve battery life when you're not using them. However, if you don't mind their somewhat simple design, these in-ears offer a versatile performance at a wallet-friendly price point.

See our review


Apple AirPods review: wireless that wows, earbuds that don't

Wireless is the future." That’s how Apple CEO Tim Cook justified removing the headphone jack from the newest line of iPhones. You won’t need a headphone jack in the future, Cook argued, because wires will be a thing of the past.To back up that vision, Apple announced four pairs of wireless headphones at this year’s iPhone event. Three were Beats-branded headphones. But it was the fourth that drew the most attention: truly wireless versions of Apple’s EarPods that cost $159, known as AirPods.

Now, after a few months of delays, the final production version of AirPods is here, and I’ve finally had a chance to test them out. While I found more to like than I expected, AirPods feel very much like a first draft of that wireless future.

One of the first criticisms lobbed at AirPods — even on the day they were announced — was how they seemed too easy to lose. So we have to start with the way AirPods fit, or don’t fit, in your ears.

I cannot get them to stay in my ears for long periods of time. This isn’t a new problem for me — I’ve always had a hard time keeping AirPods’ wired predecessors, EarPods, in my ears. It was a side effect of Apple electing a one-size-fits-all, somewhat open-air design for EarPods, instead of designing earbuds that insert and form a full seal in your ears.

If you’ve had trouble with EarPods staying in your ears, there’s a good chance you’ll also struggle with AirPods. There are slight differences in the shapes, which you can see when you put them side by side — EarPods are a bit more round and AirPods are slightly more contoured, which makes them a bit more comfortable — and Apple says this means AirPods should fit more ears than EarPods.

That doesn’t mean AirPods stay in my ears, though. They don’t. Every time I wear AirPods it’s a constant battle to keep them in. They don’t fall out immediately, and when I first twist them in I can get what feels like a snug fit. But they inevitably slide out, especially in my right ear.

When this happens they wind up dangling on the outer cradle of my ear, where sudden or even not so sudden movements knock them loose. Standing up from my desk, turning my head too fast, chewing through a bag of pretzels, touching down on a runway in an airplane — these are all situations where AirPods popped out of one of my ears because I wasn’t constantly readjusting the fit.

Apple says that they’ve tested thousands of ear shapes and they think this design is robust enough to please most people. The Verge’s senior editor Lauren Goode has almost no problem with them — she’s even been able to work out with AirPods with no troubles. But I can't bring myself to be happy with AirPods because of this issue, and I've been looking forward to wireless earbuds for a while.

Apple is playing a numbers game here. The company is basically saying it thinks number of people who won’t be able to keep AirPods in their ear is small enough that they don’t need to change the design. And it’s a shame, because despite this problem, there is a lot that I like about AirPods — enough that I might have gotten over how strange they look.

For one, AirPods actually sound great, even better than EarPods. Apple claims the audio components are virtually the same between the two products, but there are noticeable differences in the output, especially in the low end. I actually gasped the first time I heard the bass drop in Childish Gambino’s "Me and Your Mama" when using AirPods. The same section didn't sound nearly as dynamic on EarPods.

AirPods reproduce music clearly for such tiny earbuds, though that’s provided you can get them to stay in your ear canal; the sound quality was harder to enjoy as the earbuds slid toward the outer part of my ear.

Apple also deserves enormous credit for solving the two biggest problems with Bluetooth earbuds, and Bluetooth headphones in general: pairing, and providing a robust connection. This is all thanks to the W1 chip that Apple introduced with AirPods and the two other Beats headphones that were announced in September.

W1 makes the initial pairing process with AirPods a breeze — the moment you flip the cap up on the carrying case, a screen pops up on your iPhone asking you to connect. From that point you ostensibly never have to look at the main Bluetooth menu again, because AirPods connect every time you take them out of the case. They’re always visible and accessible in iOS’ Control Center.

The W1 chip erases another Bluetooth headphone headache, too, which is using them across multiple devices. Once your AirPods are set up, it’s as easy as tapping on them in Control Center on whichever device you want to use them with, like iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad. They also are automatically paired with macOS Sierra-equipped laptops.

The other thing that W1 does really well is it solves a problem unique to wireless earbuds. It’s hard to sync audio to two earbuds when you don’t have a wire running between them. Every other wireless earbud company starts by sending the audio signal to one earbud over Bluetooth. And it’s this first step that trips up most products — Bluetooth is awful at traveling through your body. This is why many wireless earbuds so far suffer from constant, irritating hiccups in the Bluetooth connection.

In most pairs, after establishing that initial connection, the first earbud relays the signal to the other one. But playback on that first earbud doesn’t start until the sync is achieved, which means you wind up dealing with latency of about 30–50 milliseconds. That’s fine for audio, but it means wireless earbuds often aren’t good for videos or games.

Apple took a totally different approach with AirPods. Each AirPod is actually receiving its own Bluetooth channel independently at the same time, and it’s the W1 chip that handles the syncing. The result is very low latency and also a very reliable connection. This is an approach that every other wireless earbud company avoided, and yet Apple found a way to make it work very, very well.

W1 is Apple at its best — it’s a proprietary technology that solves real problems, helps open up new use cases, and pushes the industry forward. The trade-off is you just have to submit to some ecosystem lock-in.

AirPods lose some of their magic if you use them on Android — pairing and device switching involves the traditional slog through Bluetooth menus, for example. (The earbuds do have optical sensors that pause the music when you take them out, and this works on Android, too.) But the W1 chip is still so good that AirPods were one of the best-performing pairs of wireless earbuds that I’ve tested on an Android device.

Perhaps the thing I liked the best about Airpods, though, is the case. I’ve tested a lot of wireless earbuds so far and my biggest takeaway is that they’re only as good as the case they come with. You always need somewhere to stash the earbuds, and it helps if that case also charges them, too.

The AirPods case is one of the best around. The earbuds magnetically lock in to the point that you can’t even shake them loose, and it offers an extra day or so of battery life. It’s also small, meaning it fits comfortably in almost any pocket, and it’s also white so you won’t lose track of it in a bag.

The ability to constantly charge AirPods is comforting, but the battery life of the AirPods themselves is also fantastic. I got every bit of the five hours Apple promises, and that’s not even considering the fact that you’re almost never going to use these for five hours straight. My typical usage went something like: one or two hours of music playback, which would shave about 10 to 20 percent, and then a quick dip back in case before using them again, where they would be fully charged after only 10 or 15 minutes.

There are a few things about AirPods that I wanted to like but didn’t, such as Siri. Apple’s not the only company trying to bring AI and other smarts right to our ears, but AirPods are one of the first products to actually make it to the market.

Accessing Siri is easy — just double tap one of the earbuds and you summon the digital assistant like a genie. And AirPods do a decent job capturing your queries — that’s part of the reason for the long stems in the first place, to keep the microphones as close to your mouth as possible. But Siri’s inherent limitations — like its often unhelpful answers and inability to handle multiple follow-up questions — ruin the experience. The dream (or nightmare) of the tech from Her is on the horizon, but it’s still very much a dream. Phone calls, at least, work just as well as you would hope.

For all their internal tech, I do wish there were more ways to interact with AirPods. I’ve come to love having quick access to volume, play / pause, and track skipping on earbuds like Bragi’s. You can assign the double tap to perform play / pause in the iPhone’s settings menu, and it’s the default on Android. But the only way to adjust the volume using AirPods is to ask (and wait for) Siri to do it for you or pull out your phone.

Despite great battery life, wireless performance, and good sound, too much of my time with AirPods was spent fighting to keep them in my ears. I couldn’t stare down a bowl of ramen or navigate a puddle of New York City winter slush without worrying that the earbuds would meet their untimely fate. And at $69 a pop to replace a lost unit, it’s not a problem I’d want to deal with. It’s also a problem I’ve never had with any other wireless earbuds I’ve tested — especially because those companies ship an array of tips or rubber fit sleeves with their products.

That might not be the case for you, however. In fact, Apple’s betting it won’t be. So if you share Apple’s wireless dream, and EarPods fit you pretty well, there’s a good chance you’ll like AirPods, too. Just make sure you try them on first.

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales
Video by Phil Esposito
Edited by Dan Seifert

Correction: Apple released four pairs of W1-equipped headphones at the September event, not three, as this article previously stated.

  1. Streamlabs tutorial 2020
  2. Best walmart road bike
  3. Sherlock holmes trailer 2017
  4. Personal upgrade starfinder

Apple's AirPods Pro are the best earbuds you can buy, but for all the wrong reasons

Regular readers will know that I've been testing a lot of earbuds lately. While my daily drivers are a pair of Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro, I've also been using Sony's WF-1000XM3 noise-canceling earbuds and Amazon's Echo Buds with built-in Alexa, both with mixed results. They're good, but both have peculiarities that make them less than ideal.

So much so that I found myself going back to the Liberty 2 Pro buds.

Must-see offer

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro

Active noise cancellation for immersive sound. Three sizes of soft, tapered silicone tips for a customizable fit. Available at Amazon.

Read More

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.

Which brings me to the Apple AirPods Pro buds.

Must read: The ultimate MacBook USB-C accessory just got better

AirPods Pro buds seem to be selling like hotcakes, or maybe that should be changed to selling like AirPods Pro buds, with Apple unable to get me a set for almost a month. However, I went off and spoke to a few people, who went off and spoke to other people, and I managed to get a set delivered overnight.

They arrived, I peeled them from their packaging, and within five minutes I was convinced that they are the best earbuds that money can buy.

Sounds good, right? It isn't.

Let me explain.

Let's start at the beginning. The AirPods Pro are Apple's noise-canceling version of the AirPods. They're smaller and sleeker than the AirPods and come with an even heftier $249 price tag.

There's my first issue. $249 is a lot of money for a set of earbuds. For that sort of money, they don't need to be good, they need to be pretty much perfect.

And they are pretty much perfect.

Simple touches -- like Transparency Mode (which allows the outside noise in, which makes it feel like you're not wearing earbuds) coming on automatically when you have one bud in, and noise-canceling kicking in when you add the second -- are welcomed. And these features work and work flawlessly.

But, still, $249 is a lot of cash, especially when you factor in other things which I will come to later.

But it is worth noting that when people are willing to shell out such a big chunk of cash for earbuds that work well, it highlights just how dire the competition has become.

The AirPods Pro are also beautifully engineered. Small, sleek, comfortable, have great audio output while at the same time doing a magical job of shutting out the rest of the world, and are insanely easy to use. Everything from the initial set up to operating the buds is just mind-blowingly miraculous. The clicker for operating different modes is brilliant, and so much better than the touchpad that other companies seem to be using. It offers all the tactile feedback of a button, without being a button.

After fiddling with fickle touchpads for a while, Apple's solution is like a breath of fresh air.

Which brings me to another issue: No other company can compete with Apple in this field because no other company can build support for its product directly into the iOS platform. No apps are needed for the AirPods Pro, and there's no tedious pairing process. You bring the case up to the iPhone, open it, and the buds and case connect automagically, complete with cool graphics.

It's so simple because everything needed to support AirPods has been built into hundreds of millions of iPhones, iPads, and other Apple devices.

It's game over for the other players in terms of earbuds. Just as Apple gave its apps an advantage over other apps in the App Store, Apple has given itself a massive ecosystem advantage. And I doubt that this will be the last area that Apple builds an advantage for itself into iOS.

And this makes me very uncomfortable.

Perhaps it is time for the Bluetooth stack to get an upgrade that allows more modern features related to earbuds because it's clear from my testing that earbuds and headphones that rely on an app offer a poor user experience compared to what Apple can offer.

Sure, it allows Apple to make a supremely remarkable product, but others cannot compete, so the price will always be what Apple deems it to be.

It's a locked ecosystem. Apple allows others a toe into its garden, but the good stuff it saves for itself.

Then there's the hardware. Beautiful in almost every way, comfortable to wear, flawless in the way it works.

But also profoundly limited in how long they will last. After two years original AirPods owners were starting to report that battery life was down to minutes, but you might be lucky and get three or more years or decent usage. But be in no doubt, these are disposable items, and the memory of dropping $250 on the earbuds might still be reasonably vivid by the time they start giving you problems.

Let's assume a worst-case that they last a couple of years, then the AirPods Pro cost you $125 a year, or about $2.50 a week. I'll let you choose whether that's a good value or not.

But be in no doubt, it's unlikely that you'll be passing these down to someone unless the limerence melts away quickly and you get rid of them.

Apple will replace the batteries for $150, but that's a lot of cash, and a significant chunk of the cost of an outright replacement, so I wonder how many will go down the route of getting Apple to fix them.

Forget about trying to repair them yourself, because you'll fail and end up with a bunch of bits. I understand that it's hard to make something that's this small and integrated, and still keep it repairable, but the short lifespan, combined with the zero repairability, makes the AirPods Pro -- and AirPods, along with every other product in this category -- a crime against Mother Nature.

So, yes, the AirPods Pro are great. They are like not wearing earbuds. I never liked the first-gen AirPods -- they just wouldn't stay in my ears -- but these are something I can comfortably wear for hours, and get to the point where I forget they are in my earholes.

Excellent Alternatives to Apple's Airpods!

Best iPhone headphones 2021: budget, premium, wireless

Best iPhone headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best iPhone headphones you can buy in 2021. 

The iPhone is one of the best phones around. With thousands of apps, a user-friendly design and an amazing camera, no wonder it's the handset of choice for millions of people around the world. The biggest draw for us, though, is the brilliant sound quality.

Apple's retired its EarPods, the rather flimsy buds that used to come free in the box, so now is a great time to upgrade to a pair of headphones that will do your iPhone justice. The AirPods are a step up but they still don't match the best wireless models on the market. You've also got the AirPods Max which are pricey, but in our eyes justify every penny.

But your options aren't just limited to Apple. Below, we've selected only the best iPhone headphones from our recent reviews that are compatible with Apple's handset so you can get the very best audio from your iPhone 13, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro Max or any Apple handset for that matter.

Remember: newer iPhones don't have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so some pairs on this list will require a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter (although the majority recommended below are wireless designs). Check you have access to one before you buy.

So which will you choose? Wireless or wired? Noise-cancelling or noise-isolating? In-ear, on-ear or over-ear? Have a look and see which jump out at you.

If you're in no hurry, you might be better off waiting. Apple is prepping the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2, both of which promise to build on the success of their predecessors with extra features and better sound quality. We. Can't. Wait.

1. Sony WH-1000XM4

Quite simply the best iPhone headphones around.


Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 30hr

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Dynamic, detail-rich sound+Sensational sense of timing+Lightweight, comfy and clever

Reasons to avoid

-No IP rating-No aptX support

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones have pretty much everything they need to be the best iPhone headphones going. They're lightweight, comfortable and boast a stable Bluetooth connection and in our opinion, some of the best noise-cancelling  on the market. They won a 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award for their trouble. Oh, and they sound sensational too.

They replace the WH-1000XM3 (below), which were previously the best iPhone headphones we could recommend, but the XM4 raise the bar across the board. In terms of detail, clarity, precision and timing, they're extremely tough to beat.

The Sonys also provide you with a number of useful new features such as Speak to Chat which allows you to talk to people without removing or touching the headphones. A premium pair of iPhone headphones, no doubt, but worth every penny.

Read the full Sony WH-1000XM4 review

2. Panasonic RZ-S500W

A hugely talented and affordable pair of iPhone headphones.


Bluetooth version: 5.0

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 6.5 hours (+ 13 hours from charging case)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Expansive detailed presentation+Excellent noise cancelling+Superb touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-Fit could be an issue for some

Panasonic isn't a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of the best iPhone headphones. But perhaps it should be. The 2021 Award-winning RZ-S500W are the company's first foray into wire-free earbuds with noise cancelling and they're sensational performers for the money.

Specs are thorough, with the noise-cancelling tech joined by an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5 hours from the buds and 13 hours from the charging case). A 15-minute USB-C quick-charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback. The touch controls on each bud are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to control your music and switch between noise-cancelling modes with zero fuss.

You also get five sizes of ear tips to help with fit. We found this a little hit and miss, so we would definitely experiment and consider mixing the sizes if it means getting a more secure fit.

Both noise-cancelling and sound quality are excellent. There's plenty of agility through the low end and loads of texture across frequencies. Music sounds clear and there's a great deal of refinement on show, which is to be welcomed at this price level. To sum up, these Panasonic earbuds are superb for the money.

Read the full Panasonic RZ-S500W review

3. Apple AirPods Max

Stellar sound and noise-cancelling – at a price.


Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 20hr

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Weight: 385g

Reasons to buy

+Superb sound and noise-cancelling+Cinematic spatial audio+Exceptional build quality

Reasons to avoid

-Near-pointless case-Audio cable not included-Practically Apple-only

Apple's first over-ears certainly aren't cheap but they don't put a foot wrong when it comes to sonics. In fact, their detail and spaciousness puts them among the very best iPhone headphones we have ever tested – no wonder they won a 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award.

They do work with non-Apple products, but you’ll miss out on most their unique features. Namely cinematic Spatial Audio, which provides a convincing virtual surround sound experience from 5.1, 7.1 and even Dolby Atmos content.

Apple's use of premium materials delivers excellent comfort but it does mean the AirPods Max are around 100g heavier than the Sony XM4 (above), which might be something to consider. Some may find the design quirky but you can't argue with Apple's superb build quality.

Overall, these iPhone headphones are an absolute triumph, albeit a very expensive one.

Read the full Apple AirPods Max review

4. Sennheiser IE 900

Sennheiser's flagship iPhone headphones set high standards.



Connector: 3.5mm, 2.5mm, 4.4mm

Cable length: 1.2m

In-line remote and mic: No

Bluetooth: No

Noise-cancelling: No

Sensitivity: 123dB

Weight: 4g (each)

Reasons to buy

+Detailed, articulate sound+Refined yet entertaining presentation+Clever engineering

Reasons to avoid

-Cable transmits noise-No in-line remote

Sennheiser’s IE 900 headphones will appeal to purists who want to get the best audio possible from a high-quality source. They come packaged like premium in-ear headphones with six ear tip options and three cables with a choice of normal 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm connectors. The only thing they don't have is an in-line remote.

Sennheiser's engineers have chosen to go with a single driver rather than the more fashionable multiple unit approach that many rivals take and it's made with rigidity and low resonance in mind. And the results are fantastic. They’re impressively clear and open sounding, able to dig deep into the production of a recording. They sound confident and insightful too, revealing layers of low-level information and organising every track they're faced with into a structured and cohesive whole.

Partner them with a high-quality outboard DAC, such as the Chord Mojo and use good quality files and you'll hear just why the IE 900 justify their hefty price tag.

Read the full Sennheiser IE 900 review

5. Sony WF-1000XM4

Sensational in-ears with excellent noise-cancelling and Bluetooth connectivity.


OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 8 hours (24 hours with charging case)

Finishes: 2

Reasons to buy

+Clear, detailed bass performance+Wonderful sense of musicality+Comfortable+Class-leading battery life

Reasons to avoid

-Missing Sony’s Multipoint feature-Lacking ear tip choices-No aptX HD

The WF-1000XM4 produce one of the most dynamic, detailed and balanced performances we've heard from a pair of wireless in-ear headphones. These 2021 Award-winning Sonys deliver bass notes that are crisply defined and ooze texture, while vocals sound refined and extremely natural. They deliver tunes with such a sense of musicality that it's infectious and keeps you coming back for more. And you'll have plenty of time to be entertained thanks to the class-leading eight-hour battery life.

The Sonys are comfortable to wear too and you get great noise isolation from the ear tips and fantastic noise cancelling from Sony's Integrated Processor V1.

IPX4 water resistance comes as part of the WF-1000XM4 package, as does Sony's Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android. Plus there are Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat modes, which both allow you to have a conversation without removing the earbuds. If you want a fantastic pair of in-ear iPhone headphones that won't tangle you up in wires, you need to try these Sonys.

Read the full Sony WF-1000XM4 review

6. Klipsch T5 M Wired

A brilliant pair of iPhone headphones that won't break the bank.


Connector: 3.5mm

Cable length: n/a

In-line remote and mic: Yes

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: No

Noise-cancelling: No

Reasons to buy

+Impressive, comfortable fit+Detailed, dynamic sound+Even tonal balance

Reasons to avoid

-Can generate cable noise-No volume control

Klipsch knows how to make a decent pair of affordable in-ears. In 2018, it was the Award-winning R6i II that delivered the sonic goods, but Klipsch's latest release, the T5M Wired, are even better. Not only are they extremely comfortable (which helps), they're also extremely musical and fun to listen to. They won a 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award, they're that good.

They sound detailed and dynamic with an even balance and accurate sense of timing. The only slight negatives are the amount of cable noise generated if you don't use the supplied clothing clip and the fact that you can't change volume via the one-button control/mic. If you can live with that, they'll do your iPhone proud.

Read the full Klipsch T5 M Wired review

7. Earfun Air Pro

Earfun adds noise-cancelling to its five-star budget earbuds recipe.


Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 7hr (+18hr from case)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Solid, accurate bass weight+Effective noise cancelling+Classy build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-Harsh upper midrange

This Pro variant takes the standard – and excellent – Earfun Air and adds active noise cancelling (ANC), more mics and larger drivers. That all adds up to a better sonic performance as well as clearer voice calls – very handy if you're out and about in noisy environments.

And considering the spec sheet, the price remains jaw-droppingly low – a staple of Earfun's approach.

The headphones pair easily, and they're comfortable enough for even the longest of conference calls. The controls are a doddle to use, too. Two taps on the right bud pauses or resumes playback; three skips to the next track. Double tapping the left earpiece accesses Siri on your iPhone and also answers or ends a call. The crucial function you’ll want to practise is a triple-tap of that left earpiece, as this scrolls between the Earfun’s noise-cancelling, ‘normal’ and ‘ambient sound’ modes.

They're built to survive a downpour, too. All in all, it’s a lot of tech and durability for not a lot of money.

Read the full Earfun Air Pro review

8. Google Pixel Buds A-Series

The new Pixel Buds get an A-grade from us.


Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 5hr (+20hr from case)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Well-rounded, clean sound+Comfortable+Reliable connection

Reasons to avoid

-No volume touch control on buds-No noise-cancelling

Google's latest in-ears are packed with features and come in at a very low price which is an attractive package in itself. But how do they sound?

The Pixel Buds A-Series are light and comfortable, and they do a good job of isolating you from the outside world. They are vented, though, so some background noise inevitably creeps in. Your colour choices are either white or 'Dark Olive'.

Battery life is pretty standard at around five hours, plus another 20 or so provided by the carry case. IPX4 water resistance means they should be ok for exercising too.

They put in an admirable sonic performance and produce a clean, carefully measured sound that doesn't grate or overwhelm. Dynamics are very decent too. Google's track record with in-ears isn't the greatest, but the Pixel Buds A-Series are a welcome surprise, and get the What Hi-Fi? seal of approval. Great for Android devices, and still very good iPhone headphones too.

Read the full Google Pixel Buds A-Series review

9. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

Plus-suffixed sequels with new features and big shoes to fill.


Bluetooth version: 5.0

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 45 hours (low power mode)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Extra dynamic expression+Great clarity+Slick app support

Reasons to avoid

-No noise cancelling

The Melomania 1 Plus have some big shoes to fill given the popularity of the originals. But we're glad to say that they hit the spot.

They boast app support, customisable EQ settings and the British audio firm's innovative High-Performance Audio Mode. Your colour options are white and black.

Like the originals, the real selling point is battery life. The 1 Plus provide a whopping nine hours from one charge, and you get an additional four charges from the carry case. That makes 45 hours of total run time. The fact there's no noise-cancelling onboard helps to explain the marathon battery life, as the tech can be a real drain.

The Melomanias deliver an impactful and expansive musical performance. They sound clear and more dynamic than their predecessors and there's a smidgen more detail too. If you want an affordable and accomplished pair of iPhone headphones, Cambridge Audio's offering definitely warrants a closer look, and listen.

Read the fullCambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

10. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Pricey, but arguably the most refined-sounding iPhone earbuds we’ve tested.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: N/A

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 7 hours (28 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Refined, mature sound+Lightweight and comfortable+Nice to use

Reasons to avoid

-Price-Timing can be bettered-aptX support but not HD

If your budget allows, this premium pair of earbuds is perfect for the iPhone. The design is excellent: those slim earpieces don't protrude too much, and, more importantly, they're comfortable enough for long listening sessions.

The noise cancelling works extremely well and gives the best in this list a run for their money. The Sennheisers are nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece which control music playback and other features.

Battery life is competitive, with a single charge giving seven hours of playback and the charging case providing an additional three charges.

So design and features are excellent and so too is sound quality, which is extremely refined and sophisticated. Highs and lows are composed and controlled but dynamics aren't sacrificed. The Sennheisers present a detailed soundstage with impressive scale and authority. They're a little pricier than other iPhone headphones, but if your budget can stretch, you won't be disappointed.

Read the full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review

11. Apple AirPods Pro

Apple's own effort is the perfect partner for an iPhone.


OS support: iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 5 hours (19 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Comfortable fit+Impressive noise-cancelling+Balanced sound

Reasons to avoid

-Noise-cancelling impacts timing-Key rivals sound better

The AirPods Pro are a fine alternative to the standard AirPods you'll find further down this list. They're pricier, but you get better sound quality, an improved level of comfort and excellent noise cancelling.

Each bud has a force sensor on the stem – squeeze it to activate Siri, answer calls, skip a track, etc. The only disappointment is that Siri is the only method for adjusting volume without reaching into your pocket for your phone. 

Battery life is a claimed five hours for the earphones with another 19 hours from the charging case. In a hurry? A five-minute charge will give you another hour of listening.

The AirPods Pro earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant but they don't sound as good as the Sony WF-1000XM4. But if you're an iPhone user, you're going to want to give these superb wireless earbuds an audition. They're a joy to use.

Read the full Apple AirPods Pro review

12. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Bose's best buds yet deliver an energetic sound and brilliant noise cancelling.


OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 6 hours (18 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Exciting, entertaining sound+Superb balance+Impressive noise cancelling

Reasons to avoid

-Average battery life

These premium buds are great all rounders and capable of impressive musicality. They pair well with iPhones, or any smartphone for that matter, and offer six hours of playback (the case provides another 12 hours, for a total of 18 hours' playback).

Their not-so-secret weapon? Bose's remarkably-efficient, adjustable noise-cancelling technology. It provides 11 grades of noise cancelling from zero (off) to 10 (maximum) and works incredibly well. You can even cycle through the grades by double-tapping the touch-sensitive earpiece.

Apple's AirPods Pro sound good, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds sound even better, conveying a sense of enthusiasm and excitement that's undeniable. From full-bodied bass to precise rhythms, Bose's unobtrusive noise-cancelling tech allows every note room to shine.

Apple users will find that the AirPods Pro deliver a more seamless iOS experience. But if you want the best combination of sound quality and noise cancelling in your iPhone headphones, we would opt for the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.

Read the full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review

13. Sennheiser CX 400BT

Another excellent addition to the list of best iPhone headphones.


Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 7hr (+13hr from case)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Lively, detailed sound+Lightweight fit+Excellent value for money

Reasons to avoid

-Battery life below the best-Not waterproof

The CX 400BT are an affordable and sonically gifted pair of headphones that will work swimmingly well with any iPhone.

They're not water- or sweat-resistant but they do boast Bluetooth 5.1 support and a mobile app, neither of which is a given at this level. The former promises high-quality, far-reaching Bluetooth transmission, while the latter opens doors to EQ adjustment and control customisation.

The controls are simple for voice calls, too. Just tap the right earbud once to activate your phone’s voice assistant or accept incoming calls, twice to jump forward a track or rejects calls, or hold it down to increase volume. Battery life is seven hours, which is decent but can be bettered in this company.

Sound quality is where the Sennheisers excel, though. They produce a detailed and lively sound with bags of energy and enthusiasm. For the money, it's hugely appealing – earbuds of this standard aren't to be sniffed at.

Read the full Sennheiser CX 400BT review

14. Sony WF-SP800N

A fine pair of noise-cancelling buds that aim to please everyone.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: N/A

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 9 hours (+ 9 hours from charging case)


Earbuds apple soft

Best iPhone earbuds

Ever since the removal of the headphone jack, finding the best iPhone earbuds has been a little tricky. Either you have to deal with a dongle and not be able to charge your phone, or you have to go wireless. Apple obviously wants you to do the latter, and with that in mind, we figured we’d help you out a bit when it comes to choosing which pair is right for you. If you want the best iPhone earbuds then don’t overthink it, most people should just get the AirPods Pro.

Editor’s note: the article was updated on July 12, 2021, to include the Sony WF-1000XM4, Master & Dynamic MW08, and Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen), which replaced the Sony WF-1000XM3, Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, and Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2.

Apple’s new AirPods Pro is the best iPhone earbuds

With the release of the AirPods Pro, picking the best earbuds for iPhone users suddenly became a very clear choice. While there are other great options you can choose from later in this list, the seamless integration of the AirPods Pro with any iOS device gives them an obvious edge over the competition.

Like all other Apple headphones that come with the H1 chip such as the original AirPods or the Beats Solo Pro, pairing to these is as easy as hitting “Connect” on the card that pops up on your device. What sets the AirPods Pro apart from the pack is that Apple includes silicone ear tips and a software-powered ear tip fit test (iOS only) to ensure that you’ve found the right fit. You also get other nifty features like noise cancelling and a transparency mode. The latter uses microphones to help you hear what’s going on around you.

The case still charges via Lightning cable despite how the included cable is USB-C to Lightning. So close Apple, so close. Still, you can always throw them on any Qi wireless charger to juice them up which is nice. You can expect about 5 hours of battery life with active noise cancelling turned on.

Related: Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4

The long stem is much shorter now, and it’s actually functional now: you can squeeze it or long-press it to control playback and toggle active noise cancelling. Microphone quality is very good for a set of earbuds, but the mics can’t completely nullify wind noise.

Taking into account the ease of use, versatility, and reliable connectivity, Apple’s new AirPods Pro are unsurprisingly the best iPhone earbuds on the market. Say what you will about the one-trillion-dollar company, it knows how to produce products that play nicely with each other. And if you already own a handful of Apple products, the AirPods are the next logical purchase for seamless integration into your daily routine.

What you should know about the best Apple earbuds

There are a few things to pay attention to when picking out the best iPhone earbuds. None of it is rocket science, but minimal attention to detail gets you a long way with your iOS audio headset.

What Bluetooth codec matters most with iPhones?

Although there are plenty of Bluetooth codecs supported by a variety of devices, the only one that you need to care about with regards to the best iPhone earbuds is the AAC codec. Apple doesn’t support aptX or LDAC, so AAC is your only option. And while AAC isn’t CD quality it performs best with Apple devices.

AAC performs differently depending on what device is being used. It may be high-frequency sound, but these drop-outs will be audible to younger ears.

Seeing as Apple is Apple and loves proprietary hardware and software, the AAC codec is the only one that’s compatible with the company’s products. If you’re looking at headphones that support aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC, that’s all well and good but won’t be of much help in your quest to find the best iPhone earbuds.

How much does battery life matter?

Music lovers: how long do you listen to your headphones each day?

— Android Authority (@AndroidAuth) August 7, 2018

Upon polling Android Authority readers, we found that a majority of you listen to your music between one and two hours a day. That’s significant, especially when accounting for the listed true wireless models. In order to test true wireless battery life, we use objective measures and subject the earbuds to an infinite loop of pink noise set at an output of 75dB(SPL). That way, we can consistently test each product, allowing for greater testing reliability and minimal variance.

What if you don’t like how studio-quality headphones sound?

We here at SoundGuys can type until our fingers go numb about the importance of neutral frequency response, but that isn’t what’s most pleasing to everyone. Yes, if you’re looking to hear the audio as the audio engineer intended, you should use studio headphones, because those products will have the closest thing to a Platonic, flat response. But most of us want our headphones to be fun and reproduce an “energetic” sound, not necessarily an analytical one.

When deciding on the best Apple earbuds, the importance of slightly emphasized low-end and treble was taken into account as the former denotes “liveliness,” while the latter facilitates a perceived increase in clarity; to get a better picture of this, read up on the equal-loudness contour.

The Beats Powerbeats Pro has the best battery life of any iPhone earbuds

If you like the idea of seamless integration with your iPhone but want a more secure fit when you’re exercising, then you should look into the Apple Beats Powerbeats Pro. These buds sport an ear hook design and actual nozzles that insert into the ear canal, which improves sound quality and stability.

Apple Beats Powerbeats Pro

Battery life comes in at an insane 10 hours, 48 minutes before the earbuds need to be recharged, and even that’s a snappy process: 5 minutes of charging yields 90 minutes of playback. Just like AirPods Pro, combined battery life clocks in at more than 24 hours of listening.

AAC support and H1 chip integration ensure lag-free audio streaming. The updated chip also allows for hands-free access to Siri just like the new AirPods. The earphones have an IPX4 rating and can get through even your hardest workouts.

The Powerbeats Pro is loaded with sensors to streamline operation. Removing the buds from your ears automatically pauses playback, and accelerometers detect when you’re speaking to guide the microphone when you’re in a loud environment. There’s also a button and volume rocker on each earbud, too. If you’re a sporty iPhone owner, get the Powerbeats Pro.

Hush your surroundings with the Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony really thought this one through. The foam ear tips beget excellent noise isolation, which significantly improves the noise cancelling performance and sound quality. The ANC is among the best available in true wireless earbuds right now, so if top-notch noise cancelling is your main criterion, you can’t pass up the Sony WF-1000XM4.


The Sony WF-1000XM4 has a fairly accurate frequency response with de-emphasized treble notes. While you might want to adjust the equalizer settings if you’re not keen on the loud bass levels, Sony’s Headphones Connect app makes that a breeze. Tidal, Deezer, and Amazon Music HD users among you will get to enjoy spatial audio with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format.

Because the foam tips guarantee a good seal, isolation and ANC are incredibly effective on the Sony WF-1000XM4.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a great pair of earbuds for everyday use. Its nearly 8-hour battery life will get you through almost a full workday of nonstop listening and the USB-C charging case can top you up two more times and some. You can even recharge the case wirelessly if you own a Qi power mat. The microphone is decent and the speech detection feature improves call quality further.

If you love taking your earbuds out and about, the Sony WF-1000XM4 won’t let you down. The IPX4 water resistance rating means you won’t have to worry when you get into a light rain, and wearing the Sony WF-1000XM4 while working out is no problem, either. Again, the foam ear tips save the day by providing an extra tight fit.

Stand out with the well-designed Master & Dynamic MW08

There’s more to the Master & Dynamic MW08 than unique design. These earbuds also impress passersby with excellent build quality, not least because they sport an IPX5 water resistance rating. You can’t take the MW08 for a swim, but intense workouts or light showers shouldn’t be a problem.

Master & Dynamic MW08

One of the best features of the Master & Dynamic MW08 is its call quality. Three microphones separate speech from background noise, producing a clear sound. While the playback sound quality is fine overall, it does emphasize bass levels, and there’s no way to adjust EQ settings. You can switch between different ANC modes in the Master & Dynamic Connect app, which also lets you activate the auto-off timer and in-ear detection.

The ANC is much better than in previous models, but it’s lacking in sub-bass frequencies. A tighter fit could have improved the noise isolation in the higher frequencies, as it does with the Sony WF-1000XM4, but the good thing is that you can easily upgrade your ear tips.

As an iOS user, you’ll only care that the MW08 includes AAC, but in case you do have an Android device kicking around, you should know that it also supports aptX and features Bluetooth 5.2.

Read on: Best noise cancelling true wireless earphones

Control your smart home with the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)

You wouldn’t get a pair of Amazon Echo Buds if you didn’t want to use Alexa, or would you? Not only will you gain an in-ear digital assistant, but with ANC, IPX4 rating, and a battery of Alexa app features, these earbuds also happen to be quite affordable for what they offer. And you can set them to use Google Assistant or Siri, if you prefer.

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)

Let’s get the bad news out of the way: the sound isn’t great, but it’s good enough. You can fix it using the equalizer within the Alexa app. Here, you’ll also find the Ear Tip Fit Test, which helps you identify the best ear tips to use with your Amazon Echo Buds. Remember that a good seal improves sound isolation, which in turn improves sound quality.

Those tight-fitting ear tips help tremendously with blocking out environmental noise. ANC can take the edge off of whatever still gets through. With ANC enabled, the Amazon Echo Buds mute the kinds of background sounds you’re likely to encounter during your commute. You can toggle ANC settings using the capacitive touchpad on either earbud or the Alexa app.

Isolation and noise cancellation are quite good with these earphones, and among the best at the sub-$200 price point.

The app is core to the Amazon Echo Buds. In addition to all the features mentioned above, you can use it to find your earbuds, enable wake words, customize tap controls, gather workout data, access live battery data, or switch to power-saving mode.

The one thing to be mindful of is that the battery life per charge is just under 5 hours. That’s enough for most people, but if you travel frequently or want to use your Amazon Echo Buds for more than just your commute, it might be a deal-breaker.

Ready to spend big? Get the Apple AirPods Max noise cancelling headphones

The headphones come with a smart case and a charging cable, and nothing else.

The Apple AirPods Max is the company’s debut over-ear noise cancelling headphones, and Apple is confident you’ll want to buy them. So confident, in fact, that they cost $549 USD. While this is certainly cost-prohibitive for many shoppers, those locked into the Apple ecosystem may find the H1 chip conveniences justify the high price.

You might like: Best noise cancelling headphones

This hybrid noise cancelling system rivals that of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Apple’s main competitors in the ANC headphones space.

The Apple AirPods Max house an H1 chip in each headphone to maximize processing power.

You also get access to features like Adaptive EQ and Spatial Audio with head tracking. The former is a technology we’ve seen from the Apple AirPods Pro, and it makes real-time adjustments to the sound profile depending on how well the headset fits. Spatial Audio, on the other hand, is Apple’s take on surround sound and supports 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos content, which is great for movie playback.

The cost is a hard pill to swallow, but if you want noise cancelling headphones that operate seamlessly with your Apple devices, perhaps the AirPods Max is worth the purchase.

Best iPhones earbuds: notable mentions

If you don’t care for custom equalization offerings, the Bose adaptive EQ is great and makes the QuietComfort Earbuds an easy device to use.

  • Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: This affordable set of true wireless earbuds has one of the best microphone systems around, outperforming those double the price.
  • Apple AirPods: The original AirPods design works for plenty of people but if you’re going to pay for an Apple product, get the Pro model instead.
  • Beats Flex: This is the successor to the BeatsX, equipped with Apple’s W1 chip for reliable connectivity, a 12-hour battery life, magnetic housings, and audio sharing with other Beats headphones or AirPods.
  • Beats Powerbeats: You get nearly all fo the same features as the Powerbeats Pro for a more reasonable cost.
  • Beats Studio Buds: Apple packed great sound quality into these great fitting and compact earbuds. The Beats Studio Buds also support quick pairing with Android devices and charge via USB-C.
  • Bose Sport Earbuds: This is one of the latest true wireless earbuds Bose has to offer, featuring a sleek design, IPX4 water-resistant build, and intuitive touch controls.
  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: This is Bose’s latest flagship true wireless earbuds—delivering excellent active noise cancelling in an IPX4 water-resistant build. These buds are essentially the in-ear version of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
  • Jabra Elite Active 75t: Durability is the name of the game with these IP57-rated earbuds. Not only do they operate via Bluetooth 5.0, they also support multipoint connectivity. This means you can connect them to two devices at a time. Other features include quick charging, excellent mic quality, and automatic ear detection. If you’re willing to sacrifice some durability for a few bucks, the Jabra Elite 75t is also a great option.
  • Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro: By far, the coolest feature of these earbuds is the AI-enabled TicHear and TicMotion technology. The former of which allows users to say, “Hey Tico” for hands-free access to Siri or Google Assistant. That’s right, Mobvoi worked out a clever way to sidestep H1 chip or Google Assistant integration.
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: Samsung’s Galaxy Buds lead the true wireless pack in battery life and have much-improved microphone quality over the first-gen model. If you want AAC support, a whimsical design, and wireless charging for less, get these.
  • Sennheiser CX400BT: If you like the idea of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, but don’t want to pay a premium for noise cancelling, consider these earbuds instead. The CX400BT’s sound profile is identical to the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 with a more urban design and cheaper price.
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2: Among true wireless earbuds, it’s tough to top the sound quality, controls, and fit of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2.
  • Sony WF-1000XM3: A great option for athletes and commuters alike. This well-designed pair of earbuds will isolate you from the world when you want it.
  • V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex: Arguably some of the most durable headphones on the market, the Crossfade 2 Codex includes both aptX and AAC support. Plus, you can customize nearly everything about these cans, even the screws.

How we tested the best iPhone earbuds

We made sure to subject each candidate and pick to our battery of objective testing which includes isolation, frequency response, and battery life. We respect that listening is a subjective experience, while also acknowledging that sound can be measured and discussed objectively at the same time.

Learn more: How we test

Yes, our trio of tests are fundamental, but they analyze what consumers care about the most as it applies to the best iPhone earbuds and wireless earbuds in general. Regarding battery life readouts, your mileage will likely vary as it depends on how loudly you’re listening to your music. In order to combat this variance, we subject each unit to a constant 75dB(SPL) output. Additionally, in most cases, you can improve isolation by using third-party ear tips.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

While we don’t usually sleep on the job, we will if a product calls for it like the Bose Sleepbuds.

Working at SoundGuys serves as each of our day jobs; yes, it is a dream. We get paid to listen and test as many products as possible while constantly researching, which means that our opinions aren’t influenced by the companies manufacturing them. If we don’t like something, we say it. Simple as that.

Additionally, each of us has several years involved in the audio community, and after having kept up with the audio industry for years, we’re able to easily tell the gimmicks from the goldmines. If you have the time or desire, feel free to read our full ethics policy here.

Next:Best cheap true wireless earbuds

Beats Studio Buds vs. Airpods Pro: Which Should You Buy?


Now discussing:


1905 1906 1907 1908 1909