Best true wireless earbuds: our pick of wireless AirPod alternatives


True Wireless vs. Wireless: What's the difference?

Real wireless headphones – Those you see in this manual have no string at all. While we can wirelessly carry headphones just meters from your music player or phone, True Wireless cuts the wire between the earphones and gives us complete freedom.

Wireless headphones On the other hand, for some time, basically since Bluetooth was invented as a standard. Although they are battery-powered and not physically connected to your phone, they have a cord that connects both buds – and sometimes a band around your neck. If you do not want to dispose of the cable completely, read our best guide for wireless earphones here.

If you have not noticed, the headphone cables are no longer in fashion. That's because wireless audio sounds better than ever, Bluetooth 5.0's compression formats are more reliable, flagship smartphones are delivered without a headphone jack, and listeners of all types are beginning to see the benefits of wireless audio-including annoying cables. Real wireless earphones are the next step in audio.

Correctly wireless means that there are no cables at all between the earphones, so there is no wire or neckband to deal with. Nothing that could tangle in your bag or catch on the zipper, nothing that could hit your neck in the middle of the run, or anything that holds your unique earphones together.

Genuine wireless earphones may be more expensive than simple wireless earphones and, with the exception of the Sony WF-1000XM3, offer no noise cancellation, but this extra up-front cost pays off for the convenience of a wireless life. We would also argue that it pays to spend a bit more to get wireless as they provide more freedom of movement and are more comfortable over extended periods of time (see: Beats Powerbeats Pro).

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We picked the best real wireless earphones – but first we talk to the elephant in the room: Apple AirPods. These are the true wireless headphones that all others are compared to, and as such they are worth being informed about before we look at the other better options.

(To update: The iPhone 11 start came and went without mentioning the rumor Apple AirPods 2 – When will we see Apple's next real wireless earphones? Here is Everything we know about the AirPods 2 so far.)

Apple AirPods (2019)

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

Faster pairing

Wireless charging

Handsfree "Hey Siri"

The wireless charging case costs extra

Audio did not improve

Identical design to the originals

The second-generation Apple AirPods, the AirPods (2019), are not all that AirPods 2 we had hoped for, but still some cool features.

They still have the iconic design of the original AirPods (a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view), and the sound quality has not changed at all. Most of the upgrade comes from the new H1 headset chip, which improves connectivity and battery life and enables a new voice activation feature called "Hey Siri".

The AirPods (2019) also come with an optional wireless charging case, so you can use a Qi-compatible charging mat to power the case instead of plugging a cable into the Lightning charging port on the bottom of the case.

Like their predecessors, they are super easy to pair, but they are very optimized for use with iPhones.

The best true wireless earphones give you more flexibility when it comes to the device of your choice, offering superior sound quality and a sleeker design.

The fact that it is expensive headphones, can also be avoided. For that kind of money, we think you can find better products elsewhere – especially if you want to pair with something other than an iPhone.

We're still waiting for the AirPods 2, which will hopefully fix some of the issues we've seen with the original pods. In the meantime, read on for our favorite alternatives …

What are the best real wireless headphones?

Sony WF-1000XM3

(Credit: Sony)

1. Sony WF-1000XM3 Genuine wireless earphones

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

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