Best true wireless earphones in 2022: top wireless, in-ear buds
The best true wireless ear buds revealed.
When compiling this best true wireless earphones guide, we suddenly thought: what seemed like witchcraft not all that long ago is now just another consumer durable. Three years ago, your choice of truly wireless in-ear headphones was extremely limited but, let’s face it, we were all just grateful such a thing really existed.
Getting music from your phone to your in-ear headphones without a single wire involved? Oh yes please.
UPDATE: We have added the OnePlus Bud Z2 to our list. For under £100 they are fantastic value for money and are decent sounding... if you love a bit of bass that is. They join the OnePlus Buds Pro in our best true wireless earphones list, alongside 18 other great-sounding buds.
Now we’re bombarded with choice and thus can afford to be choosy. Choosy about sound quality, about features, about price… and, of course, about the brand we favour. There’s so much choice, it can start to feel a little confusing. Which is where this test comes in.
We’ve spent months listening to the following true wireless earphones and they are the best-sounding, best-specified and best-value true wireless in-ear headphones around right now.
All of the following had been tested by the audio experts at ShortList and where we can we have linked out to our own in-depth reviews so you can do a little more digging if you really want to. You can read how we tested below our best true wireless earphone list.
Best True Wireless earphones
1. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ
Any B&O device is going to be premium but we weren’t quite expecting just how nice the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ would fit in the ear - they are a dream to wear and use. These are the best-looking true wireless earphones in this guide (albeit a little chunkier than most) and we felt like royalty wearing them out and about. Aside from design precision the sound is good, expansive even. I Don’t Live Here Anymore by War on Drugs was just lovely through the headphones - there’s a real warmth to the audio throughout. We wanted a little more from the ANC, though. It doesn’t block everything out like others on the list but the wireless charging, 6 hours’ playback and another 14 hours from the case, is welcomed. And the accompanying B&O app personalises the sound of the earphones well.
2. Technics AZ60
Technics is well known for its audio quality so we went in with high expectations when testing its latest true wireless buds, and weren’t disappointed. Let’s get a minor niggle out of the way first: these aren’t buds for the gym - they will be fine with sweat but there are better ear buds out there if you are looking for an audio workout friend.
But, if you are looking for a pair of ear buds that look smart in the ear, feel comfortable and offer superb sound, then look no further. Listening to The Band’s Music From The Big Pink was simply beautiful with these Technics on; the guitars and vocals floating as they should. Joy Orbison’s Still Slipping Vol 1 tested the bass and the Technics passed with no issues at all - there was even room to turn up the volume by a considerable amount which is pretty rare for true wireless buds. The ANC on board is strong, too and while 7 hours (quoted) battery life isn’t the best, it is backed by 24 hours' charge in the case. Fast charging is on board, too, and a bonus for those needing to juice up in super-quick time.
3. Sony WF-1000XM4
We knew that Sony wouldn’t disappoint with its latest pair of in-ear headphones. The Sony WF-1000XM4s are a True Wireless masterpiece, taking advantage of high-res audio and making use of Sony’s best in-class ANC. Their new look is smart, too, and much better than the chunk design of before. These really are exceptional earphones and ones we were reluctant to send back.
What our review said: “We are big fans of the Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earphones. A huge amount of audio prowess has gone into the buds. This is coupled with a great-looking, new slimline design and a battery life that is best in the business.”
Battery life (tested): 8 hours, 24 hours with the case
- Read the full Sony WF-1000XM4 review
4. Nothing Ear (1)
The Nothing Ear (1) buds are a super-cheap offering from one of the ex founders of OnePlus. It’s design is a headline grabber (the buds are see through) and while its software needed a few updates to zao the bugs, these are decent-sounding True Wireless earphones for anyone who is on a budget. They certainly aren’t the best we’ve tested but they are offering something different and for that we applaud, well, Nothing.
We have also gotten the Black Edition buds in for review and while they are identical in design and sound, they are our preferred choice when it comes to colour.
What our review said: “The Nothing Ear (1) buds don't feel, or look, like you are wearing a pair of earphones that are almost half the price of the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro or other rivals - and Nothing has to be applauded for that.”
Battery life (tested): 5.5 hours, 24 hours with the case
- Read the full Nothing Ear (1) review
5. Grado GT220
US audio company Grado doesn’t jump into new fangled categories and that’s why it has taken its time to configure the right pair of earphones for the True Wireless market. Enter the Grado GT220 - one of the nicest-sounding True Wireless buds around. If you can forgive the rather chunky case (which does mean awesome battery) and the flashing LED light when they are on you will be rewarded with a rich sounding pair of earphones. There may not be ANC on board but the seal offers a good deal of natural noise cancelation and your tunes will sound simply magnificent through them.
What our review said: “what you do get is one of the best-sounding true wireless buds on the market - they offer rich audio that immerses you.”
Battery life (tested): 6 hours, 30 hours with the case
- Read the full Grado GT220 review
6. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+
The original Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s were our pick of the best True Wireless earphones of 2019, so it’s fantastic to see that these buds match their predecessor in every way plus add a little bit extra. They are fantastic-sounding, comfortable True Wireless earphones. Yes, they lack ANC but the sound that comes from them from what is a really affordable price point is just unreal - as is the battery life.
What our review said: “Comfortable enough for both running in (they are sweat resistant) and using day to day, with a sound clarity that really impresses, they are a joy to wear and to listen to.”
Battery life (tested): 7 hours, 35 hours with the case (more in low powered mode)
- Read the full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ review
7. Jabra Elite 85t
If you are looking for a pair of True Wireless earphones that are primed for sports use, then these are for you. Jabra has created a fantastic running headphone, one that has superb ANC and buds that can be kept in the ears for long periods without them hurting your ears.
What our review said: “The Jabra Elite 85t range does pretty much everything right in terms of noise cancellation. They allow you to hear just enough of the outside world when needed but when the ANC kicks in, it’s powerful.”
Battery life (tested): 5 hours, 25 hours with the case
Read the full Jabra Elite 85t review
8. Jabra Elite 7 Pro
The second Jabra true wireless earphones on this and for good reason: the audio company is just so good at offering decent-sounding, long-lasting ear buds. Here, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro have a firm focus on making sure your calls sound as good as possible through the buds. This is thanks to something called Multi-Sensor Voice. Couple this with ANC that’s adjustable and what you have is a brilliant all-rounder in the audio department.
And then there’s the battery life - this is also best in class, at 35 hours’ total playback, with 9 hours from the earphones alone.
Not everything is perfect, though. We have heard better ANC and these are earbuds that have been tuned to favour bass-heavy tracks - they are slightly bulkier than many on this list, too, but that will be because of the bigger battery so we are happy to put up with the extra girth.
9. OnePlus Bud Z2
OnePlus has impressed us this year with its audio offerings. The OnePlus Buds Pro are currently our go-to true wireless earphones and these are the latest from the phone giant. The OnePlus Z2 come in just under £100 which means they are one of the cheapest we have tested. For this you get an incredible 38 hours of battery life (case included), decent ANC (active noise cancellation), Dolby Atmos support and sweat resistance. Audio wise, these have definitely been tuned with bass in mind. Listening to Jackie by Yves Tumor, the song sounded as if we were listening to it live with our ear next to the speaker. The same with the bass-laden I Go by Peggy Gou.
Looks wise, we prefer the style of the Nothing Ear (1) range. The gloss of the obsidian black pair we tested was a bit much and they do stick out a little in the ears. But these are small niggles for what is a well-made, decent sounding pair of ANC buds
10. Nura NuraTrue
One of the most technologically advanced True Wireless earphones we have ever seen, the Nura NuraTrue earphones use the sound profiling the Australian audio company is famed for, making sure that you get the best sound you can from these earbuds. Yes, they are expensive but if you want top-notch ANC and sound quality, then these are for you.
What our review said: “The results, from an audio point of view are fantastic - and as we have come to expect from the brand. The design of the earbuds is a touch bulkier than we would have liked but they make a statement - and a decent one at that.”
Battery life (tested): 6 hours, 24 hours with the case
- Read the full Nura NuraTrue review
11. OnePlus Buds Pro
The OnePlus Buds Pro True Wireless earphones are the most surprising we have tested - in a very good way. They are premium-looking, really reliable ANC-cancelling earphones that give pretty much every bud on this list a run for their money. Yes, they are from OnePlus - and you will get the most out of them if you are a OnePlus phone user - but they really are serious contenders for the best True Wireless buds around.
What our review said: “They are a decent choice not just for OnePlus users (although you will get the best benefits if you are in this club) but those looking for a smart-looking, great-sounding pair of true wireless earphones.”
Battery life (tested): 6, 34 hours with the case - plus quick charging.
Read the full OnePlus Buds Pro review
12. Apple AirPods Pro
We are surprised as you are that the Apple AirPods Pro haven’t had an upgrade yet. But, then again, they are still fantastic earphones with some of the best noise-cancelling technology on the market right now. And, if you own an Apple device then they work seamlessly flitting between your various Apple-based products.
Battery life (tested): 4.5 hours, 19 hours with the case
13. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW
A superb-sounding pair of noise-cancelling earphones, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW true wireless buds really shone in our tests. They come with a decent range of ear tips, a sleek protective case but, for us, it’s all about the sound. The new Lana Del Ray album sounded luscious throughout and we couldn’t get over just how good Disclosure’s DJ Kicks album was through these buds - the bass throughout was extraordinary. the noise-cancelling isn't the strongest around but it did well to get rid of most unwanted sound when we were commuting. The only thing lacking is battery - at 4.5 hours we were left wanting more, but you do get 13.5 hours more from the case.
14. Panasonic RZ-S500W
With one of the cheapest price points in this list (now, they have come down in price), we weren’t quite prepared for just how good the Panasonic RZ-S500W true wireless earphones are. The sound we got from them was something else. Given these are Panasonic’s first stab at offering noise-cancelling true wireless buds it’s fantastic to see/hear that it has got pretty much everything right. The noise cancelling is strong, blocking most unwanted sound. The audio is rich and immersive - Little Simz epic album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert was breathtaking throughout with the treble notes and bass equally given an opportunity to impress. The vocals were clear, too, with the earbuds picking up each and every nuance in the rapping.
Looks wise, there’s a sleekness to the buds - we like the metal trim around the side which adds detail to what is otherwise a simple setup. There’s a total of 19.5 hours’ playback when it comes to battery which isn’t the best on the list but should do you for even long journeys.
15. Jaybird Vista 2
We were hoping to find a pair of true wireless earphones that are truly built for those who love the outdoors (and sports in general) and thankfully we have found them in the Jaybird Vista 2. These are the more resilient earbuds we have tested in this list. They look fantastic, rugged and ready for your next adventure, with military-grade durability, and have a great ‘lock’ in the ear, thanks to their sports-friendly design. These will survive pretty much anything you will throw at them, too. With an IP68 rating they are waterproof, sweatproof, dustproof and can survive the cold. Sound-wise, there are better options but there are customisable EQ profiles to get the audio right for your ears and we were really pleased with the results - James Blake’s Friends The Break Your Heart soared throughout our listen in the gym through the Vista 2 buds.
Couple their durability with 24 hours’ battery life (including the case) and what you have is a fine pair of true wireless earphones.
16. Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC
Our heads aren't usually turned by sports brands trying to get into the audio market. There's usually a bit of 'stick to your lane' when devices are revealed, but the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC have decent audio pedigree. That's because they have been produced by the same Swedish company behind Urbanears and Marshall's headphone brand - Zound Industries. The result is a pleasing true wireless offering that's geared up for running and the gym.
The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC (no, we aren't a fan of the name either) range comes in at £170 (there is a cheaper non ANC version for £85), has around 4.5 hours' battery life and around 15.5 hours in the case. The earphones look good, with the iconic three-band branding on the stem of the ear buds, and they are unobtrusive in the ears. The Adidas-branded case looks great, too, and the ANC works well. We're also a fan of the Awareness Mode - where you can hear things without taking the earbuds off - and the silicon bud tips make for a comfortable fit.
Audio-wise, these are bass heavy, which is usually the case for sports earphones, and they lack a little bit of the clarity that some of the other sound-focused earphones on this list. But couple its decent ANC with a robust design that's sweat and water-resistant, and the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC are a pair of true wireless earphones we would happily have in our gym bag.
17. Devialet Gemini
One of the most premium True Wireless earphones we tested, the Devialet Gemini takes the huge audio knowledge the French tech company has and squeezes it into a great-looking, even better sounding pair of earphones. They are a little chunkier than most so will stick out of your ears but only just but the superb active noise cancelling they offer means you don’t mind. These are well designed earphones for the audiophile in your life.
What our review said: “These are good-looking, big-sounding noise-cancelling earphones that offer a quality that you would expect from Devialet.”
Battery life (tested): 6 hours, 18 hours with the case
- Read the full Devialet Gemini review
18. Sennheiser CX True Wireless
Sennheiser CX True Wireless have just been superseded by the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless but we think the originals still have enough style and substance to be recommended. Packed with innovative audio tech and the industrial design German tech giants Sennheiser is famed for, these are a decent pair of True Wireless earphones.
Battery life (tested): 8 hours, 26 hours with the case.
19. Huawei FreeBuds 4
We used to be dubious about earphones from companies that are best known for their phones, but Huawei has been busy perfecting its audio tech and it shows. These are rigid True Wireless earphones so that may put some people off but we found in our tests that they were a comfortable fit and the sound from them is utterly impressive. There is decent active noise cancelling on board as well.
What our review said: “The FreeBuds 4 are another solid effort for Huawei, with solid being the operative word.”
Battery life (tested): 2.5 hours, 20 hours with case
Read the full Huawei FreeBuds 4 review
Best true wireless earphones: how we selected
To make sure we were testing the best true wireless earphones correctly, we reviewed the most popular, most high-profile, most realistically priced, and most downright desirable true wireless in-ears on the market, establishing the most popular price points and expected features.
And, of course, to separate the merely wireless from the true wireless. Some in-ear headphones are ‘wireless’ inasmuch as they don’t need a physical connection from your music player to the earphones themselves. But the earbuds tend to be wired to each other, usually via a cable that runs around the back of the wearer’s neck. That’s a test for another day - here we’re concerned solely with true wireless headphones, a left and a right earbud connected to nothing but the inside of your ear.
Features-wise, there’s more to consider than you might at first imagine. For a product so specific in its function, a true wireless headphone can be absolutely loaded with features. Touch-sensitive controls on the earbuds themselves, for instance: there’s not much point in having true wireless headphones if you have to fish out your smartphone every time you want to change tracks or adjust the volume.
Voice-control is a consideration, too. And don’t underestimate the importance of battery life, both of the earbuds themselves and the carry-case in which they charge.
Price also plays a big part, naturally enough. While it’s possible to pay as little as £50 for a pair of true wireless in-ear headphones these days, the compromises (both in terms of audio quality and connectivity - little is more frustrating than wireless headphones that keep losing their connection to your smartphone) are, we think, too great. No, the real action starts once you get into three figures - that’s where big brands with big reputations lurk, as well as the more intrepid specialists.
Ultimately, though, it always comes back to sound quality. Yes, wirelessness is a big convenience - but we can’t imagine persevering with a pair of true wireless in-ears if the sound they make doesn’t satisfy.
No matter the scenario in which you wear your true wireless earbuds — during a commute, during a workout, during the working day — we’ve explained what’s what to help you select the true wireless in-ears that are perfect for you.
Best true wireless earphones: how we tested
As we said, it always comes back to sound quality - and that’s a pretty subjective thing. If you like it punishingly bassy, or flat and undynamic, well… it’s not for us to tell you that you’re wrong. Not overtly, anyway. But in any case, it’s sound - frequency response, tonality, bass control, soundstaging, separation and so on - we give most significant weighting to.
Specification is important too. We took Bluetooth codecs into account (they can impact on battery life almost as much as on sound quality), and we considered the quality of the control app. We also considered the simplicity and effectiveness of the touch-controls.
Battery life - actual battery life, rather than that claimed by the manufacturer - is a vital consideration too. And not only the battery in the headphones themselves. Each and every pair of headphones in this list comes with a charging case that stores some additional power.
We’ve also gone to lengths to test the robustness of the wireless connection - because although some true wireless headphones are quick to pair with your phone and then sound good with music, they can lose their link with your player quite easily if it’s in a bag or a pocket. Which, we’re sure you’ll agree, rather defeats the whole ‘wireless’ point.
Call quality is a consideration, too. Ideally you’d like to be able to answer (or reject) calls without taking your phone from your pocket or bag - but what are these headphones like in terms of telephony? Can you hear your caller? Can they hear you?
Aesthetic considerations, rather like sound quality, are a subjective area. And, to be frank, it’s an area we’re much happier to leave to your own discretion. We feel on far safer ground dismissing one pair of headphones against another on the basis of sound than we do on the basis of their appearance.
- The best rock albums of all time, ranked.