Best Wireless Earbuds for 2019


December 27, 2018    Electronics Gifts Health Travel 

It's Time to Go Wireless!

There have been tremendous advances in headphone technology over the past two decades. First, we went from relatively standardized models with little variation in sound quality to an explosion of models boasting sound fit for hardcore audiophiles. Next, we moved from wired headphones to wireless headphones connected via tether. The true revolution, however, took place with the switch to today's completely wireless sets with standalone earbuds.

  • OUR TAKE
    PROS
    CONS

  • OUR TAKE
    • Great call quality, solid sound quality and a carrying case that holds the longest charge in our comparison. Although we prefer the Jabras, buy these if you will be paring them to a device in the Apple ecosystem for the seamless integration.
    PROS
    • Sit firmly in place in the ear and have great call quality (sound quality is solid but not as good as our top pick).
    • Carrying case has the longest recharge capability in this comparison (enough for 24 hours of listening time).
    • Work seamlessly with other Apple devices.
    CONS
    • No manufacturer water resistance rating.
    • There is a ridge on the top of the earbuds that can cause slight discomfort after wearing for extended periods of time.
    • No active noise cancellation.

  • OUR TAKE
    • Although stylish and easily customizable with respect to ear fit, complaints about sound quality and the shortest case charging capacity in our comparison took these out of the running for our top two spots.
    PROS
    • Low profile styling makes for the best looking earbuds in our comparison.
    • 5 minute quick charge can deliver one hour of listening time.
    • The most customizable fit of the earbuds in our comparison.
    CONS
    • Consumers have indicated the sound quality leaves a little to be desired.
    • Case only has battery capacity to deliver 8 hours of listening time (shortest in our comparison).
    • No active noise cancellation.

  • OUR TAKE
    • The unattractive styling for these relatively bulky units coupled with the worst quick charge performance in our comparison, make these a no go for us. Especially as these are the most expensive (non-sale) earbuds in our comparison.
    PROS
    • Ability to control music and calls directly from the earbuds.
    • Unique tracking function enables you to locate missing earbuds.
    CONS
    • Dated styling and bulky appearance.
    • Worst quick charge performance and second shortest case battery capacity in our comparison.
    • Call audio only plays in right earbud.
    • No active noise cancellation.

How We Chose

Batteries, Water Resistance and Styling

Searching around the web, we found that most wireless earbuds on the market have similar battery lives in terms of the earbuds—as compared to the charging cases—delivering between four and five hours of listening time. We also found that in the price range of today’s comparison (i.e. between $100 and $200), most of the options had impressive sound quality. Ultimately, what led us to distinguish among the sets was styling, water resistance (still don't wear them underwater!), comfort and charging case battery life.

We chose the Jabras as our top pick because the earbuds have the longest (user) reported battery life (with some claiming they last up to 7.5 hours), come with manufacturer-provided water and dust resistance ratings and have attractive styling. The Jabras are also very comfortable and can be paired with Jabra's Sound+ application to provide fitness tracking capability. They also have "passive" noise cancellation (meaning they deaden outside noise by physically blocking it out—think insulation instead of the opposing sound waves used in "active" noise cancellation systems) and HearThrough technology which can "port in" outside sound.

Our runner up, the Apple AirPods, are solid all around earbuds that work seamlessly with Apple devices. Ultimately, they missed out on our top spot because they do not have manufacturer-provided water or dust resistance ratings and can be uncomfortable when wearing for an extended period of time (there is a plastic ridge on the top of the earbuds where the plastic components are fused together that can cause discomfort). This being said, these are great headphones and if you plan to pair with an iPhone, the AirPods should be your top pick because of the integrated features (more on these below).

The Jaybirds are our third pick in today's comparison behind the Jabras and AirPods. On the plus side, they are stylish, customizable for fit and have great quick charge capability (5 minutes delivers 1 hour of listening time). On the minus side, they have limited case charging capacity and a quick search of the web shows many consumers do not feel the sound quality is top notch. At the end of the day, we'd go with the Jabras over these, especially if you will be pairing them with an Android phone.

The Bose set, while noted for their sound quality and tracking ability, were just too clunky from an appearance perspective. They are also have the highest list price at the time of our writing and the poorest quick charge performance in our comparison. Whats worse, they are only able to play call audio in the right earbud, a crucial oversight in our opinion.

Additional Considerations

Important Items To Keep In Mind

Battery Life –All of the units in our comparison will play music somewhere between 4 and 5 hours on a single charge, with some users reporting up to 7.5 hours in the case of the Jabras. However, each pair also comes with a carrying case with its own battery that can recharge the earbuds when you are away from an outlet. These will deliver between 8 and 24 hours of listening time to the earbuds, with the AirPods leading the way (Jaybirds 8 hrs, Bose 10 hrs and Jabra 15 hrs). The difference in case charging capacity is significant among the headphones in this comparison—if you will frequently be away from a power source, consider the AirPods.

Quick Recharge –The units in today's comparison all have quick recharge capability, meaning you can charge the earbuds for 15 minutes (or less) and generally get plenty of play time for a workout session. The Jay Birds will give you 1 hour with a 5 minute charge, while 15 minutes will give you 3 hours with the Airpods, 1.5 hours with the Jabras and 45 minutes with the Bose.

Where you Buy – When purchasing a set of wireless headphones, we would recommend making the purchase through a reputable online merchant. For instance, a search of the web indicates there are customer complaints about receiving refurbished, as opposed to new, AirPods.

Device Compatibility – While all of today’s options are compatible with cellphones using IOS and Android, the AirPods are specifically adapted to work seamlessly with Apple iPhones and provide a number of additional integrated functions such as Siri, automatic syncing once the carrying case is opened and an on screen battery charge indicator. If you have an iPhone, these additional features will likely make the AirPods the best choice for you.

Comfort – Headphones can vary widely in comfort based on personal preference. If you don't like bulkier units, make sure to stay away from the Bose. If you have a unique ear size, the Jaybirds might be a good option as these come with different size ear fins and silicon tips you can use to adjust the fit. Keep in mind that the AirPods are the only units in our comparison which are not adjustable for fit.

Why ReviewDECIDE?

Seriously...

We started ReviewDECIDE on the premise that a great deal of the information required to properly evaluate a given product is already right in front of your (and our) eyes. In fact there is too much information! A crucial skill necessary to picking the best products is instead the ability to cull through the available information, focusing on what should really drive a purchase decision.

To make those crucial determinations as to what matters and what doesn’t, we begin by thinking through what really matters to us when we use a particular product. We then use the that type of product to further refine the features we care about and that we think you will care about too. Next we search the web, looking to manufacturer’s websites, product specifications, consumer reports, expert blogs, research reports and the like to obtain crucial insights and the facts.

Finally, we distill the results of our research and combine it with our own experiences as consumers, professionals, techies, mothers, fathers, hobbyists, designers, software engineers, attorneys (sorry) and more. Ultimately, this process results in the reviews we present to you. We hope you enjoy!

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