This is your complete guide to finding the best wireless headphones for you. In our guide you'll find our no.1 pick of the best Bluetooth headphones for most people, the cheaper alternatives worth considering, and the best wireless headphones for running and the gym.
The no.1 reason is convenience – wireless headphones offer unprecedented freedom from cable tangles. Active noise cancelling (ANC) is a common and very useful feature, and wireless headphones will work with any phone that has Bluetooth, so it doesn't matter if your phone doesn't have a headphone jack anymore! Thanks, Apple.
Battery life ranges from around 20 hours on larger over-ear headphones, but can be as little as three hours for earbuds. Using Bluetooth will drain your phone's battery faster than a normal set of headphones, too. Sound quality is generally worse than similarly priced wired headphones, so you pay extra for the convenience. Look out for aptX support for improved wireless audio quality.
If you're not 100% sure wireless headphones are right for you, we recommend you take a look at our best headphones round-up as well.
A journalist and audiophile with over 10 years experience reviewing headphones and plenty else besides, Andrew Williams has loved and endured the best and the worst of the headphone world. Reliably snooty about Apple's 'FailPods', Andrew is so hardcore he has his ears syringed every year to ensure he can hear every detail. Yes, that is unpleasant, but you can't fault his commitment.
Our Wearables & Fitness Editor, Richard lives in the gym. He can deadlift 200kg and notes that body fat measuring gadgets don't work on him because he "doesn't have enough fat" – #firstworldproblems. He's also a proper audio geek, not to mention the owner of many a fine waistcoat, making him the perfect man to judge the sound, style and workout credentials of any headphones.
Over-Ear: These are headphones that cover your ears entirely.
On-Ear: Headphones that rest on the outside of your ears. They're normally smaller and lighter.
Earbuds / In-Ear: Either old school buds that rest in your ears, or ones you insert into your ear canal for improved passive noise cancelling and sound quality.
Passive Noise Cancelling: Where noise is blocked simply by isolating your ears from the outside world.
ANC: Short for Active Noise Cancelling, where microphones detect and cancel out ambient noise.
HRM: Short for Heart Rate Monitor, which is built into some headphones designed for runners and the gym.
aptX: A wireless audio codec that offers superior wireless audio quality on supported devices. Many phones support it, but iPhones don't.
While we endeavour to review all the best wireless headphones possible, we can't cover them all. If you own a pair you think are worthy of consideration, please reply to the "Featured Comment" with your nomination and why you think we should consider them. We can't guarantee we'll look at all of them, but we'll do our best.
There are, however, some headphones – good and bad – we omitted for specific reasons because while we could make this list 20 products long, that would help no one. Here are a few of them and why they're not here:
Apple AirPods: Innovative they may be, but the AirPods need a little work before they get on our list. Fitting issues are numerous – some, but not all, people find they just fall out and there's no silicon tip options to help. Sound quality is middling, though we'd probably excuse that if they fitted more reliably. A black option would be nice, too.
Beats Solo3 Wireless: Like the AirPods, the Solo3 Wireless feature the W1 wireless chip, which takes all the pain out of pairing with the iPhone 7. At 50 hours, battery life is outstanding, but as ever sound quality is bass heavy and lacking subtlety. Build quality is poor for such expensive headphones, too. Better than the AirPods if you insist on perfect Apple integration, but not a patch on the Sonys or Bose at the same price.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless: Tough one this. Great sounding headphones, but they're a few years old now and cost about the same as our top picks. Good noise cancelling, but not as good as the Bose, and they're not as refined or clever as the Sonys. Still, if you find them at a good price then don't hesitate.
Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless: They look the business and sound great, but can't match our top picks at the same price. It's a similar story for the P5 Wireless.
Sennheiser PXC 550: Another not quite good enough story. These are Sennheiser's best ANC wireless headphones yet, but it's a tough game out there and someone has to lose, even if it is on penalties in extra time. PS: That's an overtime field goal for our American cousins. Love you guys.
Parrot Zik 3.0: Look lovely, but just six hours battery life means they don't belong in this company.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2: As noted earlier, these very good wireless headphones aren't quite cheap enough to be great value or good enough for price to be no object. Try hard to look more stylish than the originals and don't really succeed.
Onkyo H500BT: Worth an honourable mention if you'd like on-ear headphones that won't break the bank, though we had problems with spotty Bluetooth.