Update, December 24, 2020: This list was updated to include the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2.
iPhones handle wireless audio a bit differently than Android smartphones. If you don’t get the right pair of iPhone earbuds, you may run into connectivity issues, lag, or low-quality audio. Rather than banging your head against the wall from endless trial and error, we looked at the best iPhone earbuds to make your decision easier.
The best wireless iPhone earbuds:
- Apple AirPods Pro
- Apple Beats Powerbeats Pro
- Sony WF-1000XM3
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
- Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list regularly as new iPhone earbuds launch.
1. Apple AirPods Pro
When choosing wireless earbuds for your iPhone, the AirPods Pro really are a no-brainer. They not only offer seamless integration with any iOS device, but they are also a much-improved version of the AirPods. The Pro version features a new design with silicone tips that keep the earbuds in your ears.
The AirPods Pro offer active noise-cancelling, which can be toggled by squeezing the stems of the earbuds. There is also transparency mode on board, allowing you to hear noises from your environment. Battery life is good too, at around 4.5 hours with active noise-cancelling enabled. Microphone quality is quite good, and can certainly get you through quick phone calls. The only downsides are that the charging case uses lighting instead of USB-C, and the rather hefty price of the earbuds. But if you want convenience and a product that just works, the AirPods Pro are the earbuds to get.
2. Apple Beats Powerbeats Pro
If battery life is the thing that matters to you the most, the Apple Beats Powerbeats Pro are the earbuds you need to get. They take everything that’s great about the AirPods, and improve upon their shortcomings. Don’t be put off by the unconventional design either. The ear hooks and distinct nozzles provide a stable fit, which is necessary for exercise.
The standalone battery life is the Powerbeats Pro is the best around: you get 10 hours, 52 minutes of playback on a single charge. When you place the buds in the case for just five minutes, it nets you 90 minutes of playback. The Powerbeats Pro also use the H1 chip, which ensures a lag-free audio streaming and gives you hands-free Siri access. The earbuds automatically pause playback when removed. There’s even a volume rocker on each earbud, earning them a deserved spot among the best iPhone earbuds.
3. Sony WF-1000XM3
If you want to block out the hustle and bustle of the big city, look no further than the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds. These wireless buds are not only comfortable and stylish, but they also offer the best noise-cancelling on the market. You can switch between three sound modes: noise-cancelling, ambient sound mode, and off. You can even prioritize sound quality at the expense of connectivity, or vice versa.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 buds also support automatic ear detection. You only need to remove one earbud to pause playback, which is a great feature. So is the ability to pair them through both NFC and Bluetooth. Their battery life is not terribly impressive. Most of the time you will get around five hours, but they do support fast charging. Another downside of the Sony WF-1000XM3 is the lack of water or sweat-resistance. They are not workout-friendly earbuds. If that doesn’t bother you, however, they are still among the best iPhone earbuds you can get.
4. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
If audio quality is your top priority, then the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 buds are your best choice. These earphones reproduce clear, accurate audio, which puts them among the best iPhone earbuds you can get. Their build quality is superb too — they’re elegant, and durable thanks to an IPX4 rating. The active noise-cancelling is very good, and outperforms that of the AirPods Pro and SonyWF-1000XM3 alike.
Read more: The best true wireless earbuds
The feature-rich app works on both Android and iOS, and offers an identical experience on either operating system. Although there’s plenty to play around with in the app, including a custom EQ module, it’s a bit clunky to use. You can access your preferred smart assistant directly from the touch controls, but if you want hands-free voice access, you should consider the Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro.
5. Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro
The Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro headset brilliantly circumvents the need for an H1 chip by way of TicHear and TicMotion technology. The former enables users to say, “Hey Tico” to access their favorite assistants, including Siri. The latter lets listeners use head gestures to answer or decline calls; it’s convenient but not nearly as useful to me as “Hey Tico.” The earbuds support both aptX and AAC for high-quality Bluetooth streaming, which is all well and good but doesn’t mean much given the nozzle-less design. Since the buds don’t seal to the ear, external noise permeates the barrier and degrades audio quality, rendering the Bluetooth codec support nothing more than a marketing point.
Battery life isn’t great: you get just 3 hours, 39 minutes of listening on a single charge which falls short of the Apple AirPods. They support quick charging and just five minutes in the USB-C grants one hour of playback. Regarding sound quality, the dynamic drivers amplify bass and low-midrange notes, presumably to account for the poor fit.
What you should know about iPhone earbuds
When it comes to iPhones, the only Bluetooth codec that matters is AAC. If the iPhone earbuds don’t support AAC streaming, you’ll experience some audio-visual lag and lesser audio quality.
Although the H1 chip maintains a stable connection between compatible devices, true wireless connectivity is still shaky. Unless you get the AirPods or Powerbeats Pro, you’ll probably experience connection stutters. It’s annoying but par for the course.
Battery life matters, but only so much. According to our previous poll, a majority of you spend between one and two hours a day listening to music. Although true wireless battery life is relatively poor, they should have enough battery life to satisfy most listeners.
For the best sound quality, get a good fit
A proper fit greatly improves audio quality. If your earbuds are falling out because the ear tips are too small, audio quality will suffer dramatically. This most obviously impacts bass reproduction, which is why open-fit earbuds tend to amplify bass notes much more than any other frequency range.
Athletes should look out for IP ratings
Some of these models received an IP certification. This means that they’ve undergone rigorous testing to ensure some degree of water-resistance. This is a must-have if you plan to exercise with them.
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