The Radio Times logo
We may earn commission from links on this page. Our editorial is always independent (learn more)

Best wireless earbuds 2022

Shopping for wireless earbuds? There's never been more choice – so make sure to read our guide to the best models, based on hands-on testing.

Getty Images Stock
Published: Friday, 25th March 2022 at 1:45 pm

Many laptops, smartphones and tablets no longer come with a headphone jack – a fact that has led to the increasing popularity of wireless earbuds.

Advertisement

Compact and convenient, these must-have accessories are perfect for commuting, home working and gym sessions – able to pair with your device via Bluetooth and provide a hands-free experience. In 2022, there is more choice than ever.

That choice includes both brand and price point - and thankfully there are now a lot of true wireless earbuds that can provide solid audio for well under £100.

From the higher-end Apple AirPods Pro to the more affordable Earfun Free Pro 2s, we have tried every type of earbud to get a feel for the pros and cons of the tech – testing sound quality, build quality, app performance, battery life and more.

In this guide, we are breaking down the best wireless earbuds that you can buy in 2022 from a range of top brands, including Apple, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, Jabra and Sennheiser. You can be assured that we have been hands-on with each one.

So no matter what your budget is, we will have something for you. If you want to keep the costs low, be sure to check out our guide to the best budget wireless earbuds.

Best wireless earbuds at a glance

Here’s our pick of the best wireless earbuds. Read on for a more in-depth look at each of these excellent-quality devices.

The best wireless earbuds in 2022

Sony WF1000-XM4, £199

Best all-round earbuds

Pros:

  • Amazing sound quality
  • Great battery life
  • Reliable connectivity

Cons:

  • Only two tip choices
  • Lack multipoint pairing facility
  • Adaptive sound control frustrates

The Sony WF1000-XM4s are a seriously impressive set of earbuds from Sony, building on the success of their predecessors, the XM3 earbuds.

They’re expensive but deliver top-notch sound quality, a great fit and impressive active noise cancellation. They also pack a fantastic battery, an IPX4 rating and — ultimately — they’re just a top-notch product built to a high standard. We loved testing them and recommend them highly if they’re not out of your budget.

Read our full Sony WF1000-XM4 review

Apple AirPods Pro, £189

Best overall Apple earbuds

AirPods Pro

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Quick and easy set-up
  • ANC works well

Cons:

  • Limited battery life
  • A little expensive

The Apple Airpods Pro earbuds surpass the standard Airpods in terms of quality and capability. The Pro offers noise-cancelling tech, an excellent sound profile and smooth ease-of-use if you’re pairing with an iPhone. Read our Apple Airpods vs Airpods Pro article if you’re unsure which of the two devices to purchase.

Read our full Apple Airpods Pro review

AirPods 3rd gen, £159

Best affordable Apple earbuds

If you don't need active noise cancellation and want to save some money on one of the newest models, we can easily recommend the AirPods (3rd generation), which don’t have the silicone tips of the more expensive version, but retain the top audio quality and iOS integration. As we wrote after testing: "The AirPods 3 are a great-sounding pair of wireless earbuds with a wealth of features and a pleasingly tactile design. When twinned with other Apple tech the user experience is silky smooth, though some of this may be lost on Android handsets."

Read our full Apple AirPods 3 review

EarFun Free Pro 2, £69.99

Best budget earbuds

Pros:

  • Affordable, under £100
  • Great audio quality for the price
  • Compact charging case

Cons:

  • There’s no dedicated app
  • No fun colour variants
  • Touch controls can conflict

The Free Pro 2s really stand out when it comes to value for money. They might not have the cache of a better-known brand, but this set of wireless earbuds from Hong Kong-based EarFun gives rival sets from Skullcandy and Huawei a serious run for their money. Noise-cancelling technology at this price point was once unheard of – but that’s no longer true, and on these it happens to be pretty good, too.

Read our full EarFun Free Pro 2 review

Sony LinkBuds, £149

Best for unique design

Sony LinkBuds

The Sony LinkBuds really do stand out from the crowd, with a unique design that includes a small hole to allow in some sounds from the outside world. That makes them a great option for home working, too. As we wrote after testing: "Wear them at home and you can enjoy podcasts and music, but still hear the doorbell! Wear them in the office and you'll be able to jump in and out of calls, but still hear your colleagues in the room. As a result they're an interesting proposition.”

Read our full Sony LinkBuds review

Beats Powerbeats Pro, £219.95

Best earbuds for workout sessions

Powerbeats Pro review

Pros:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Rich sound that isn’t bass-reliant
  • Smooth OS compatibility

Cons:

  • No noise-cancelling tech

One question that many people ask before investing in a set of earbuds is: ‘Will these actually stay in my ears?’ It’s a legitimate question, and all the more so if you plan to use your earbuds at the gym or while out running. For peace of mind, the Powerbeats Pro are a perfect choice: in the Beats tradition, they feature a hook-like design that you fix over your ears rather than into your ear canals. Just as importantly, they’re a good piece of audio tech, helped in no small part by Apple’s own H1 chip, which offers smooth compatibility for any users of iOS.

Read our full Powerbeats Pro review

Beats Fit Pro, £199.99

Best overall Beats earbuds

The new Beats Fit Pro earbuds RadioTimes

Pros

  • Wing tip design is great
  • Contains Apple’s H1 chip
  • Works well with Android and iOS

Cons

  • No wireless charging case
  • Not quite as comfortable for longer use
  • No vocal alert for switching modes

The Beats Fit Pro have a wing-tip design that keeps them locked in place and secure when you are exercising, but they are also great for general use thanks to the great sound, Apple H1 chip and enhanced Android compatibility via the Beats app.

As we wrote in our Beats Fit Pro review: “[They] are a pricey but feature-rich set of wireless ANC earbuds that find a sweet spot between existing models in the line-up. Essentially they take many of the abilities of the AirPods Pro and put them into a smaller frame that will be appealing for anyone who spends hours exercising.”

Jabra Elite 85t, £169.99

Best for noise limitation

Jabra Elite 85t review

Pros:

  • Great sound quality
  • ANC works very well
  • Comfortable and secure fit

Cons:

  • Left earbud doesn’t work on its own

Our experts have tested both the Jabra Elite 75t and the Jabra Elite 85t from the Danish brand – and while they’re both exceptional earbuds, it’s the higher-end 85t buds that we decided to include in our best wireless earbuds list. The Elite 85ts offer great active noise cancellation, IPX4-rated water resistance, built-in Alexa, and an impressively snug fit. The Jabra Sound+ app also makes for the perfect compliment: a nerve centre where you can tweak EQ levels and also make use of a series of pre-set modes that include bass boost, focus and commute modes.

Read our full Jabra Elite 85t review

Grado GT220, £199

Best earbuds for sound quality

Grado GT220 review

Pros:

  • Brilliant sound quality
  • Good battery life
  • Intuitive touch controls
  • Lightweight and comfortable

Cons:

  • Quite chunky
  • No active noise cancellation
  • No in-ear detection

If the quality of sound is the most important thing in a pair of earbuds, the Grado GT220s are a great choice. Their custom-made 8mm polyethylene terephthalate dynamic drivers in these earbuds deliver a brilliant depth of sound and one that also makes voice sound clear and crisp. Our experts would have liked to have seen in-ear detection and active (rather than passive) noise cancellation included in the earbuds – but these are, without a doubt, the sonic connoisseur’s choice.

Read our full Grado GT220 review

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, £279.99

Best premium earbuds

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review

Pros:

  • Great sound quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Good battery life
  • Sleek design

Cons:

  • A little pricey

The priciest earbuds on this list are, arguably, a little too pricey. But Sennheiser is a truly heavyweight audio manufacturer, and if any brand earns its stripes at this price point, it’s this one. These are premium earbuds in the best possible sense: the Momentum True Wireless 2 offer you a robust build, adjustable EQ in the brand’s app, superb ANC and a level of sound that outstrips the AirPods Pro.

Read our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review

Sennheiser CX True Wireless, £85

Best affordable Sennheiser

Sennheiser CX True Wireless earbuds

If you don't want to pay the £250-plus for the flagship Sennheiser earbuds, then we think you should definitely check out the CX True Wireless as an alternative that now sells for under £100. As we wrote after testing: "At the new sub-£100 that the CX True Wireless buds now seem to occupy, they're a very good purchase. During testing, we found them highly listenable and enjoyed using the earbuds.”

Read our full Sennheiser CX True Wireless review

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, £89.95

Best earbuds for battery life

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Brilliant sound quality
  • Long battery life
  • IPX5 water-resistant

Cons:

  • No active noise cancellation

Cambridge Audio’s Melomonia 1+ earbuds deliver a lot of pros for a relatively small price of entry. Our experts were particularly impressed by the well-balanced sound provided by the buds, the hefty 45 hours of battery life and the inclusion of physical buttons. A notable absence here, perhaps, is noise-cancellation tech – but we really don’t believe this to be a deal-breaker, not at the cost of under £100.

Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

How to choose the best wireless earbuds

  • Work out how much you’re willing to spend. You’ll find wireless earbuds on the market for as little as £30 and as much as £1,000. But, for a pair that delivers an assuredly high-quality level of sound, device compatible and ease of use, we’re going to give you the ball-park figure of £200. The good news is that you’ll find a wealth of excellent budget-friendly options at most retailers, and you’ll find a couple of great options in this list for less than £120.
  • Consider the features that are important to you. Audiophiles will likely say that a good pair of earbuds are all about sound quality – but in reality there are a host of other features to take into account. Do you want to customise that sound in an app? Do you want effective noise-cancelling tech? Do you need a pair of earbuds that offer high levels of water resistance?
  • Keep an eye out for earbuds deals during sales periods. The prices we’ve listed below are, for the most part, RRP-based figures, but you’ll often find wireless earbuds discounted. This is especially the case during periods like Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday when retailers price-match.
  • Open-minded about colour? To expand on the previous point: a lot of the wireless earbuds come in a range of colours, and you’ll often find that drops are only applied to specific tones. Yes, it’s rarely the most crowd-pleasing options that have the best discounts – but if aesthetics aren’t your top priority, then definitely make sure you click through each colour on a product page.

How we tested budget wireless earbuds

It’s not just earbuds that we put to the test at RadioTimes.com. Our experts also regularly review smartphones, smartwatches, TVs, speakers, tablets, soundbars, printers and smart home devices. That’s a lot of different types of tech, but each time you’ll always receive the same honest and unbiased advice.

Each time we test a pair of earbuds, we judge it by the same standardised set of criteria. We do this to make sure we don’t overlook any of the product’s strengths or weaknesses – we know it’s easy to get too hung up on particular aspects.

Each of our reviews featured a star rating out of five, and to one decimal point. This overall score is one the average of five different criteria: ease of set-up, design, features. sound quality (which are double-weighted) and value for money.

Advertisement

Looking for home audio? Don’t miss our guide to the best soundbar you can buy now. In need of tech present ideas? Head straight to our tech gift guide.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content