Best Wireless Headphones 2017: 10 of the best Bluetooth headphones

Finding the best wireless headphones for your needs isn’t exactly straightforward. With hundreds of pairs competing for your cash, knowing what’s bad and what’s good can be something of a minefield. 

In our guide, we’ve done the hard work for you. You’ll find our pick of the best Bluetooth headphones available, the cheaper alternatives worth considering, and the best wireless headphones for running and the gym.

Related: Best headphones

 

Why buy a pair of wireless headphones?

The main reason is convenience – wireless headphones offer unprecedented freedom from tangled cables, not to mention headphone jacks. Active noise cancelling (ANC) is a common and useful feature for blocking out noisy environments too, and is well worth considering if you travel frequently.

What do I need in a pair of wireless headphones?

Your first question when buying a pair of wireless headphones is what you need them for and what your budget is. Bigger budgets often (but not always) open to door to better performances and better finishes, while what you use them for will have a big say on the design you should opt for.

In-ear Bluetooth headphones are a great pick for sports, and are often waterproof for outside training (not to mention, you know, sweat). There are more and more that are ‘truly wireless’ too, but keep an eye out for those with plenty of eartips to ensure a snug fit.

Over-ear and on-ear styles are the most popular for day-to-day usage. On-ear are usually a little smaller and cheaper, but by design, they’re not always the comfiest – especially for glasses wearers. Over-ear are better in this respect, but can make your ears hot over long listens. Be sure to read our reviews to see how they fare.

Battery life is another consideration, and will range from over 20 hours on larger over-ear headphones to as little as three hours on completely wireless earbuds. Fine for most commutes, but not as convenient for longer haul journeys. If you’re forgetful when it comes to charging, consider an on- or over-ear style that allows wired playback when the battery runs out. Not all do.

As for getting the best sound quality, look out for aptX or aptX HD support (Sony offers its own solution called LDAC). You’ll need a source device that supports it as well as your headphones, which counts iPhones out, but most Android devices are on board.

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.

 

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Key Features:

  • Over-ear, noise-cancelling headphones
  • 20-hour wireless battery life
  • Google Assistant built in

Bose has a long history of making great headphones, especially ones with active noise cancelling, and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are the latest.

Like their predecessors before them, they’re light and comfortable, so perfect for travelling, not to mention they provide the best noise cancelling on the market.

There haven’t been many changes this time around, but there wasn’t a lot to improve on. There’s still no aptX support (or aptX HD for that matter), but they still sound great, if not quite up to audio standard of the B&W PX or Sony WH-1000XM2.

So what’s new? The level of noise cancelling is now adjustable and Google Assistant is on board for feeding back notification information from your phone. Other than that, it’s business as usual for these hugely capably cans, including a battery life that remains a respectable 20 hours wireless or 40 hours wired.

At the time of testing, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II were available for £329.95

Read the full Bose QuietComfort 35 II review

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Key Features:

  • Over-ear, noise-cancelling headphones
  • 20-hour battery life
  • aptX support

The Sony MDR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless hit a nice sweet spot between the top-of-the-range wireless headphones and cheaper options.

They’re stylish and comfortable, have very good noise cancellation for the price and sound pretty good too. Just make sure you listen to them powered, they’re not so talented when playing passively.

The range of colours will split opinions, but there’s something for everyone, including a black finish for those who like their headphones less flashy. A really great option for any city dweller looking to dull the hubbub without spending a fortune.

At the time of review, the Sony MSR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless were available for £219

Read the full Sony MDR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless review

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Key features:

  • On-ear design
  • 12-hour battery life
  • Collapsible

If you want an all-purpose pair of wireless headphones for less than £100 then the Urbanista Seattle are hard to beat.

While there are headphones out there with better features, including a longer battery life, most will prefer using these headphones day-to-day. They sound better and are flexible, staying on your head during exercise without worry.

Like most headphones in this class, there’s a crowd-pleasing bass boost. The rest of the sound is smooth without sounding soft, and displays decent detail. Overall there’s very little to dislike.

Spend a bit more and you might get a bit more bite in the treble, but at this price there’s very little to grumble.

At the time of review, the Urbanista Seattle were available for £89

Read the full Urbanista Seattle review

Jaybird X3

4 of 10

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Key Features:

  • In-ear design
  • Sweat-proof
  • In-line remote and microphone
  • 8-hour battery life

It took Jaybird a fair few goes to get the formula right, but with the Jaybird X3 it finally combines a super-secure fit, great sound and solid battery life into a complete fitness headphones package.

With a sweat-proof design that won’t budge no matter how vigorous your exercise or workout, these are perfect for running, the gym or any adrenaline-fuelled activities.

Sound quality is right up there with the best running and sports headphones we’ve tested and you can even configure the sound through a companion app. The changes you make are saved directly to the headphones, so you get the sound signature you like no matter what device you pair them to.

At the time of review, the Jaybird X3 were available for £110

 

Read the full Jaybird X3 review

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Key Features:

  • In-ear neckband design
  • aptX support
  • 10-hour battery life
  • Inline remote and microphone

The V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless are a seriously stylish pair of headphones, with swish aluminium-coated earbuds, smart volume controls and a comfy fit.

They’re much more than just a pretty face, with a 10-hour battery life (including a 15-minute quick charge function) dual microphones for clearer calls and a vibration motor in the neckband that buzzes when you receive a call. They even promise sweat-proofing for when you’re in the gym.

All that and they sound good too. In fact, they are among the best-sounding neckband headphones we’ve heard.

The slight let down is the Bluetooth performance is just okay – we noticed a few more blips than the very best at this price. Still, it was minimal enough not to annoy, and the rest of their performance easily gains them a spot on our recommended list.

At the time of review, the V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless were available for £139

Read the full V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless review

Key Features:

  • On-ear design
  • aptX support
  • 15-hour wireless battery life
  • Collapsible

The AKG N60 NC Wireless are a petite pair of on-ear noise-cancelling headphones aimed at travellers and commuters alike.

Their lightweight, collapsible design makes them much more portable than their larger over-ear competition, and their 15-hour wireless battery life is more than acceptable for their size – plus they’ll work passively too.

As far as noise cancelling, the N60 NC Wireless can’t quite compete with Bose levels of quiet, but it does enough to dull the outside world to little more than a murmur.

They sound great too, offering a punchy, detailed and well organised performance that’s both fun and expressive. A formidable little package that’s certainly worth considering.

At the time of review, the AKG N60 NC Wireless were available for £250

Read the full AKG N60 NC Wireless review

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Key Features:

  • On-ear design
  • aptX support
  • 30-hour battery life
  • NFC connectivity

Joining the Urbanista Seattle in the sub-£100 category are the Audio-Technica SonicFuel ATH-AR3BT, a superb pair of inexpensive wireless headphones that sound great. They don’t have the flashiest features, but their audio performance more than makes up for it.

Their lightweight, on-ear design is comfy, stylish and solidly built, despite being mostly made from plastic. You’ll get some slightly fiddly on-ear controls on the left earcup, where you’ll also find NFC for quick pairing.

With a full charge, they’ll offer up to 30 hours of wireless charging, which is hugely impressive at twice the price. Their performance is equally excellent, jumping all the hurdles of cheap headphones with ease.

This means they offer a clean hiss-free sound, solid connection and a neutral EQ that’ll work well with lots of genres. You’ll get a touch more dynamism from a pricier pair, but there’s plenty to love here – particularly their price tag.

At the time of review, the Audio-Technica SonicFuel ATH-AR3BT were available for £99

Read the full Audio-Technica SonicFuel ATH-AR3BT review

Sony WF-1000X

8 of 10

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Key features:

  • Wireless earbud design
  • Noise cancellation
  • Three-hour battery life (six more via charging case)
  • aptX HD support

If you want a pair of in-ears that cut the cord, the Sony WF-1000X are the first truly wireless earbuds we can heartily recommend.

Putting sound quality first, they’ve taken a few elements from last year’s excellent (over-ear, wireless, noise-cancelling) Sony MDR-1000X and crammed them into a tiny nugget small enough to sit in your ear.

Not only are they head and shoulders above any wireless earbud headphones we’ve heard to date – they’re good enough to replace a lot of wired rivals – but they are also the first of their kind to feature noise cancellation.

This means that not only do you get excellent sound and total freedom of movement, but also the ability to shut out other people’s racket. If this is the future of wireless earbuds, count us in.

At the time of review, the Sony WF-1000X were available for £200

Read the full Sony WF-1000X review

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Key features:

  • Over-ear, noise-cancelling design
  • 22-hours wireless battery life
  • aptX HD support
  • Wear sensor for autoplay 

The Bowers & Wilkins PX are B&W’s first crack at a set of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones, entering a challenging market to take on the likes of the Bose QC35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM2.

To differentiate itself, B&W focuses on its core strengths of luxury design and audiophile sound quality – but with some impressive tricks up its sleeve too.

Those tricks include adaptable noise cancellation and a clever wear sensor, which will detect when the headphones are on your head and when they are off, pausing playback accordingly. They’re even smart enough to know when you lift an earcup for a quick chat.

Noise cancellation can’t compete with the likes of Bose or Sony, but that is more than made up for by its audio performance. If you want the best-sounding, most musically proficient pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones available right now, these are it.

At the time of review, the Bowers & Wilkins PX were available for £330

Read the full Bowers & Wilkins PX review

Sony WH-1000XM2

10 of 10

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Key Features

  • Over-ear, noise-cancelling headphones
  • 30-hour wireless battery life
  • aptX HD support
  • Capacitive touch controls

We think the Sony WH-1000XM2 are the great all-round wireless headphones. They sound brilliant, are incredibly comfortable and have superb noise cancelling.

They’re also stacked with features – Quick Listen mutes your audio and plays the outside world directly through your headphones – useful for checking for train or air plane announcements.

Ambient Sound does the same but lets you continue listening to your music as well, which is good for cyclists, while capacitive touch controls let you control playback by tapping and swiping on the right ear cup.

There’s a whopping 30 hours of battery for wireless playback (and up to 40 hours wired), plus more noise-cancellation customisation via the Sony Headphones app. Excellent all-rounders that put up an strong fight against impressive competition.

At the time of testing, the Sony WH-1000XM2 were available for £330

Read the full Sony WH-1000XM2 review

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