Best wireless headphones for 2021
Most wireless headphones work using Bluetooth. The best Bluetooth headphones are comfortable and have enough battery to see you through several long-haul flights. Most importantly, they don’t sacrifice sound quality for wireless convenience.
In our independent lab tests we've uncovered the best wireless headphones that sit over, in or on your ear. Our experts have handpicked some of our favourites that we recommend in the tables below.
Best wireless over-ear headphones
Over-ear headphones completely surround your ear – they're larger than other pairs, but can be more comfortable to wear and often offer extra features. Many over-ear wireless headphones are noise cancelling too, blocking out external noise.
Pricing and recommendations correct as of January 2021.
Best on-ear wireless headphones
On-ear headphones rest on top of your ears, rather than surrounding them. This allows the earcups to be smaller, but they can be less comfortable to wear over longer periods as the earcups put pressure on your ears.
Best wireless in-ear headphones
The most compact and lightweight type, in-ear headphones form an acoustic seal around your ear canal, while earbud headphones rest on your outer ear. Earbud headphones are usually very cheap pairs – they can be easier to fit, but tend to leak more sound to your surroundings. One exception is the Apple Airpods, which are wireless earbud headphones.
Wireless headphones to avoid buying
The convenience of wireless headphones won't count for much if you get a pair that can't produce great audio. The worst models we see at our test lab are bad enough to induce headaches, with harsh sound and uncomfortable fits. Make sure you check the table below so you can avoid some of the worst offenders.
Wireless headphones FAQs
Will wireless headphones work with any smartphone?
Pretty much, yes. The vast majority of wireless headphones – and all the models featured in the tables above – use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your phone. Bluetooth is a universal standard, so you'll be able to transmit music from any Bluetooth-enabled phone, laptop or tablet to any pair of Bluetooth headphones.
Things do get slightly more complicated, as there have been different Bluetooth standards released over the years. The later versions allow music to be transmitted in higher quality and use less battery power. Don't worry though: if the headphones and the music source are both compatible they'll automatically use the higher-quality version.
How do you charge wireless headphones?
Most wireless headphones now have a built-in rechargeable battery, and typically come with a charging cable ending with a standard USB socket. To charge such headphones from the mains, you usually need to purchase a USB plug adapter with a power output (watts) suitable for your device, as these aren't typically provided in the box.
Most headphones will charge from a standard USB charger plug like those supplied with mobile phones. For example, if you already have an Apple 5W USB power adapter for charging your iPhone, you can also use it to charge your . Choose any reputable brand for the adapter - it rarely needs to match the brand of your headphones. Some headphones will support higher power adapters for faster charging.
Can wireless headphones sound as good as wired?
The reasons are complicated but, in short, yes, wireless headphones can sound just as good as a wired pair for most people's purposes. The thing that matters most for sound quality is the physical design of the headphones. The best wireless headphones are capable of playing music in CD quality and above, and it's a matter of scientific debate whether we can even hear differences in quality above this.
How does Which? test and recommend wireless headphones?
We use a panel of five experts to judge every pair of headphones on their sound quality, comfort, durability and how much sound they leak. We also look at how stable the wireless connection is between the headphones and smartphone or MP3 player, to make sure you get uninterrupted music.