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Best true wireless earbuds 2021 rated: Wire-free Bluetooth audio

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(Pocket-lint) – True wireless earphones have become much more popular over the past couple of years. While completely wire-free earphones existed before the AirPods first launched in 2017, there’s no denying the major impact Apple has had, bringing momentum to the big breakthrough in wireless audio tech. 

Since then, countless other companies – including the best audio brands around – have entered the market and we’ve tested all the big-name options to bring you what we think are the best wire-free earphones available to buy. 

If you’re not yet convinced you want to gamble on wire-free, this list may change your mind. If not, you can always check out our list of best in-ears instead. 

Our pick of the best true wireless earphones to buy today

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

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Bose makes its debut on this list with an absolutely superb pair of earbuds that blew us away on review. They pack in superb noise cancelling, as well as brilliant comfort in the wearing, just as the name suggests. 

Music sounds simply brilliant through the Earbuds, and while the controls aren’t quite so intuitive or helpful as some others, they’re still right up there with the best sets available. 

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Sony WF-1000XM3

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Sony’s first pair of noise cancelling wire-frees were received with a somewhat mixed response, but the newest generation is super. Where these are set apart from their rivals is in ANC. 

Add the over-ear quality ANC to a device with great sound, long battery life and a comfortable fit, and what you have is a winning combination. The look and design of the earbuds might divide opinion, but then that’s true of pretty much any true wireless earphones.

Perhaps the only limitation is that these really are just for music enjoyment. They’re not water or sweat resistant, and the design doesn’t lend itself to being used for workout sessions. Still, the price is comfortably below the big-name audio brands, especially now that they’ve been out for a while, making them an easy recommendation. 

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Beats Powerbeats Pro

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When you combine comfortable design with great sound, long battery life and Apple H1 convenience you get an all-round fantastic pair of earphones. And that’s exactly what the Powerbeats Pro is. 

The more gentle curves and angles in the sculpted plastic casing make a pair of earphones that’s super light and supremely comfortable to wear for long periods. It also happens to have battery life to match, with up to 9 hours of playback outside of the case. 

That’s not all either, with it being Apple-owned, Beats gets access to Apple technology, and that means you get the same H1 chip that lives inside the second generation AirPods. That means simple pairing with iOS devices, and instant pairing with any device using the same iCloud account. 

Then there’s sound, which really is quite impressive given the Powerbeats price point. Lots of bass, but plenty of detail in the highs and mids. The only downside is a lack of decent noise cancelling.

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AirPods Pro

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True wireless earphones have become much more popular over the past couple of years. While completely wire-free earphones existed before the AirPods first launched in 2017, there’s no denying the impact Apple has had, bringing momentum to the big breakthrough in wireless audio tech.

Since then, countless other companies – including the best audio brands around – have entered the market and we’ve tested all the big-name options to bring you what we think are the best wire-free earphones available to buy.

If you’re not yet convinced you want to gamble on wire-free, this list may change your mind. 

Pocket-lintBest True Wireless Earbuds 2020 For Wire-free Bluetooth Audio photo 14

Grado GT220

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Grado didn’t set out to make the most technologically advanced earbuds in the GT220. Bose, Sony, Apple, Beats, et al, have that market sewn up already. Instead the focus was on delivering really good sound in a convenient package that still has some of the modern-day conveniences like wireless charging and touch controls. 

In that regard, Grado has absolutely delivered. The GT220 is a stunning sounding pair of earphones, with battery life that’s up there with the best of them.

If sound is what’s important to you and getting the most enjoyment from your music is high on your priority list then we wholeheartedly recommend the Grado true wireless earbuds. 

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Shure Aonic 215

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If there was a prize for the most unusual pair of true wireless earphones, it’d undoubtedly go to the Shure Aonic 215. The over-ear hook design means fitting them takes a little longer than standard earbuds, and the foam tips need a few seconds to expand and fill the ear entry, but those two elements combined ensure you get a fantastic fit and great passive noise cancelling. 

With the outside world locked out and a lovely snug feeling, you’re locked into music that sounds, frankly, phenomenal. You get a lot of detail, without losing the bass and other frequencies that help make music more enjoyable. 

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Master and Dynamic MW07 Plus

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If you’re all about looks, having something a little unique and soul-enriching sound, look no further than the Master and Dynamic MW07 Plus. We fell instantly in love with them on first look at the polished chromed case and stayed in love when we put them in our ears. 

They’re super comfortable to wear, thanks to a unique in-ear fin design that grips securely without letting you know it’s there. You can barely feel them in your ears, and yet they don’t ever feel like they might fall out. 

Then there’s the sound. They’re truly fantastic to listen to. Lots of bass, dynamic detailed sound and great soundstage overall makes this the pair for those that just want to get lost in the music. 

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Apple AirPods 2

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For iPhone users, the AirPods have been a smash hit. Despite the unusual looks, a combination of intelligent design choices and convenience make these very easy to recommend. The H1 chip ensures it pairs really easily with your iPhone, while they also automatically pair with any other Apple device using the same iCloud account. 

They’re easy to get out of the portable charging case, which in itself, is well designed and easy to carry around. Perhaps its only weakness is that the sound isn’t quite as dynamic or pleasing as the others on this list. But as we’ve found out so many times in consumer electronics, convenience often wins out against sheer quality.

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Jabra Elite 85t

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Jabra has been in the true wireless game as long as anybody, and it seems to fit in a great middle-point between the budget end and the flagship earphones. It’s not an expensive pair, but wireless performance is exceptional and the sound is really good. 

You get HearThrough for listening to ambient noise around you, plus support for Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. 

Add you get 7.5 hours of music playback from a full charge and a compact design, and you have a truly versatile pair of wireless in-ears from Jabra. 

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Sony WF-XB700

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If what you need in a pair of wire-free earphones is the best sound and performance for the money, Sony’s WF-XB700 are a truly fantastic option. The sound is dynamic, loud, fun and really easy to recommend. 

To get to the low price point without losing out on sound quality, Sony built the XB-series wire-free earphones from some pretty rough looking plastic, but they do sound great, the wireless connectivity is super. With up to 9 hours of battery from a full charge, they last really well too. 

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Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport

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Bang & Olufsen’s E8 Sport true wireless ‘buds set themselves apart from the usual crowd by looking and feeling ultra-premium. These in-ears also just happen to be waterproof, practical and durable too. It’s a great combination, plus the sound profile and fit is superb.

Combine that practicality with B&O’s signature sound and an app that lets you customise the equaliser to your liking, and you’ll find this is probably the best-sounding pair of workout headphones on the market.

Except, thanks to that premium styling, you can wear these buds during your commutes to work with your business attire and nothing would look out of place. How’s that for premium and versatile?

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Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

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Sennheiser took some time to get into the wire-free game, but it was worth the wait. In addition to other benefits, you get longer battery life and noise cancelling added to the mix. 

You get aptX and Bluetooth 5.0 for solid, reliable connectivity as well as an app that allows really intuitive control over your sound profile.

The pair comes in a portable, neat carrying case covered in a grey textured fabric that opens and snaps shut easily. Touch controls can be a tiny bit fiddly, and the three-hour battery life isn’t the best, but certainly good enough for daily use. They charge quickly too. 

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Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch

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The audio on offer here is super the audio from them is super – vibrant, punchy and hugely enjoyable.

Plus there’s a manual equaliser (EQ) to adjust the sound to match your own desire though the sound is dependent on the fit.

However, we had some connection issues while we don’t think the design is that practical. Even so, for the price you’ll be hard pushed to find anything as dynamic as these.  

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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

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So you don’t want to spend big to get a decent pair of wire-frees? That’s where Samsung’s latest attempt comes in, the newest in a line of in-ears from the company.

These are reasonably priced and with nice specs that bring active noise cancellation and really impressive call quality to make them great for someone who moves around a lot but needs to take calls. 

The older Galaxy Buds+ are also very solid and can be found increasingly affordably if you want to save some cash, too. 

Writing by Cam Bunton. Editing by Dan Grabham.

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Date: 14 May 2021
Author: Cam Bunton