Best True Wireless Earbuds (February 2018)

This Synopsis

The true wireless earbud market was slow to start but now has good traction thanks to adoption from major headphone companies, like Bose, Sony, Bang & Olufsen, and Jaybird. However, most of these are first attempts right now, and that means performance is all over the place. So if you don’t want to wait to join the wire-free portable audio world, then it’s valuable to know which choices you should be looking at – that’s what this Synopsis is for.

The Short List

Sony WF-1000XBose SoundSport FreeApple AirPodsSamsung Gear IconX (2018)Jaybird Run
Sony WF-1000X True Wireless EarbudsBose SoundSport Free True Wireless EarbudsApple AirPods True Wireless EarbudsSamsung Gear IconX 2018 True Wireless EarbudsJaybird Run True Wireless Earbuds

The Rundown

Sony WF-1000X – Best Sounding

The WF-1000X is Sony’s entry into the true wireless earbud market. Sony has a great reputation in the audio game, and the WF-1000X is evidence of that. These are arguably the best sounding true wireless earbuds in this list. However, their functionality do suffer from first-gen syndrome like most of the others in this class. Namely, the measly three hour battery life and iffy connectivity can be a deal-breaker.

Advantages

  • Premium aesthetics and sturdy build
  • Variety of custom silicone and foam tips
  • Earpieces are comfortable and stay in place
  • Premium carrying case that charges earbuds through three full cycles
  • Active noise-cancellation (a rarity)
  • Superb sound quality for this type of headphone

Downsides

  • Only three hours of battery life at a time, if even
  • Carrying case is relatively large
  • Wireless signal randomly cuts off
  • Not waterproof (most of the competition is)

 

Also See: Sony WF-1000X True Wireless Earbuds Synopsis


Bose SoundSport Free – Best Engineered

Likewise, the SoundSport Free is Bose’s first crack at the true wireless earbud. Bose has always maintained excellent sound quality, and the SoundSport Free are no exception. That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, though. They’re almost comically large and are the most expensive in this list.

Advantages

  • Healthy battery life ~ 5 hours
  • Notable sound quality
  • Reliable wireless connection
  • Water/Sweat-resistant (IPX4 rating)

Downsides

 


Apple AirPods – Best Functioning

Debuted with the iPhone 7 (and the murder of the headphone jack), the Apple AirPods have held up really well to the uprising competition over the lengthy time. Everyone can agree that they’re far from the prettiest true wireless offerings out there, but sales show that people can excuse that for a seamless, clean, and finely-functioning device.

Advantages

  • Competitive pricing at $160
  • Healthy battery life ~ 5 hours
  • Easy to use (seamless pairing and solid touch controls)
  • Small carrying/charging case
  • Reliable wireless connection
  • Great Bluetooth distance range

Downsides

  • Not most comfortable
  • Not the best-looking
  • Not great for working out (they’re prone to falling out)
  • Doesn’t isolate noise well
  • Low-end bass is lacking

 


Samsung Gear IconX (2018) – Best All-Rounder

The Gear IconX (2018) is the only true wireless earbud on this list that is a second-gen version. This means that while all the others bear something that says “beta”, the Gear IconX has an edge when it comes to refinement. It’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades, checking all the boxes and doing them well.

Advantages

  • Healthy battery life ~ 5 hours
  • Robust construction and sweat/water resistance (IPX2 rating)
  • Notably secure fit – great for rigorous work-outs
  • Fitness tracking features
  • ~ 4GB internal storage for offline music

Downsides

  • Not the cheapest at $200 (but you can find them for ~ $185)
  • Touch controls can be iffy in real use
  • Decent, not exceptional, sound quality

 


Jaybird Run – Best for Working Out

Jaybird doesn’t have a lengthy history like some others on this list, but when it comes to wireless audio, it has proven itself a strong competitor. The Run is its first completely wireless earbud, and it manages to carry over lots of the good things Jaybird is known for, like inspiring audio quality and an active-minded design.

Advantages

  • Competitive pricing at $180 (but you can find them for ~ $160)
  • Very sturdy and waterproof build
  • Comfortable and secure fit – great for rigorous work-outs
  • Decent 4 hour battery life rating
  • Jaybird app that lets user customize sound signature

Downsides

  • Carrying/Charging case is bulky
  • Only one button to control playback
  • Not the most stable Bluetooth connection
  • Bluetooth range is average

 

Final Thoughts

True Wireless Earbuds on Amazon

In general, true wireless earbuds are a little difficult to recommend right now. Every offering out there has compromise, primarily in the form of battery life and connection reliability. They also aren’t cheap, and you’d certainly be getting more for your money if you opt for a wired variant, especially when it comes to sound quality. Even wireless earphones that have a bridged wire perform significantly better.

This just the nature of emerging technology. We’re sure that in a couple years true wireless earbuds will catch up. But if you can’t wait to dive in, we hope this list will help out in narrowing the decision. The last thing we want is to drop a couple hundred and be left regret and/or headaches. These select few are the best to minimize that.

Also See: Best Wireless Noise-Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones

Josh is so enthused about tech that he writes about it. After time at several tech publications, he launched The Synops - concise and quality gadget synopses with information that readers want to know and details they want to see. You can also follow him at on Twitter (@joshnor713) and Google+ (+JoshNoriega). Email any inquiries to josh@thesynops.com.

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