True wireless headphones have many advantages, almost to the point of becoming the standard today. Here are our recommendations.
Sony’s new wireless headphones are the logical successor to the WF-1000X. They are not the WF-1000X2 or 3, but the WF-1000XM3. A letter that inevitably reminds us of the excellent audio headphones from the same manufacturer, which have become known for their audio quality, but especially for their very effective noise reduction system. Sony was very clever for the job, it simply took the technology of the WH-1000XM3 to adapt it to a smaller format. The result does not reach the level of the headphones with a headband that completely covers your ears, this reduction is actually good compared to other in-ear earphones on the market and already allows you to cut down a lot on external distractions.
Autonomy is gargantuan, by the way. Sony announces 6 hours with noise reduction activated and 8 hours without, for a total of 24 to 32 hours with the rechargeable case. These figures were verified in our test of the WF1000XM3, where we were able to use the manufacturer’s headphones for about 28 hours before recharging the box. A great performance that puts it unquestionably at the top of the basket. If we can nevertheless regret the absence of wireless charging, we must nevertheless be reassured with the efficient fast charge which promises 10 minutes of charge for 90 minutes of listening.
In terms of functionality, the most notable feature is the Quick Attention mode, which allows you to reduce sound and hear surrounding noises by simply touching the dedicated touch area. In addition, the WF-1000XM3 now natively embeds Google Assistant. You’ll be able to make calls or chat with the voice assistant without removing the earbuds.
GOOGLE PIXEL BUDS (2020)
The solution made by Google
The 2020 Pixel Buds are Google’s new wireless headphones. They obviously improve the formula of those of 2017 by first removing the cord that previously connected the two earpieces to become, thus, True Wireless. They are comfortable to wear every day and come with 3 sizes of silicone tips to fit your body. There’s also a touch zone on each earpiece to manage your music. It’s pretty responsive, but Google Assistant will do the same if you don’t feel like lifting a finger.
What we like about Google headsets is simply how easy they are to use. From the first time you open the box next to any smartphone running Android 10, the pairing is done automatically and in seconds, just like Apple AirPods. So there’s nothing new in that, but it’s so convenient. Note that the new Pixel Buds are Bluetooth 5.0 compatible for better connection stability.
They then have the merit of offering a well-balanced sound, with deep bass, powerful mid-range and sufficiently clear trebles. However, some of you may regret the lack of the manufacturer’s signature sound. Nor do they offer any noise reduction, either active or passive. No, Google wanted to do the opposite of its competitors by adding microphones to its Pixel Buds to hear what’s going on around you. It’s handy when you’re on the street, but much less so on the subway. They compensate with an adaptive listening system that automatically increases the sound when there is too much noise around you.
As far as autonomy is concerned, however, it has nothing to be ashamed of in the face of the biggest names in the market. This is estimated at around 24 hours with the case and 5 hours with the earphones. It is more than comfortable, especially since its fast charge (via USB-C) allows you to recover more than 50% of the battery in 10 minutes. Wireless charging is also included.
SENNHEISER MOMENTUM TRUE WIRELESS 2
After a first version that was struggling to keep up with the competition, Sennheiser is now revisiting its copy with some talent thanks to the Momentum True Wireless 2, which features active noise reduction to match the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple Airpods Pro as the main new feature. Following the example of what the firm offers on headphones, it comes to position itself as a real alternative to the tenors.
Unfortunately, this ANC is not yet really up to the level of its two competitors. Clearly, Sony and Apple are doing better. On the other hand, they are holding the candy high on the sound with notably an excellent rendering of the bass. This is a very good point for True Wireless headphones which are not always excellent in these frequencies. We also appreciate the comfort of the earphones and their very discreet design. Finally, the software part is particularly complete.
However, there is no multipoint Bluetooth, which is still handy for connecting several devices. Last fault, if the autonomy is in the average range without noise reduction (6 h 30), it drops to about 4 h 30 when activated. The recharging box is not compatible with wireless charging, it is imperative to pass the USB C connector. It allows the earphones to be recharged about 4 times. Finally, we have very correct earphones for those who are looking for audio quality and comfort as a priority. Even if you have to pay a high price.
APPLE AIRPODS PRO
For the iPhone
The AirPods 2 did not have active noise reduction, it is now offered on the AirPods Pro, released at the very end of October 2019. However, this is not the only addition of these Pro models. On the contrary, it is a major redesign of the AirPods.
The design has evolved to significantly reduce the length of the characteristic stem on Apple’s earphones. They’re now less conspicuous (or more discreet if you prefer), and we’re switching from button earphones to in-ear earphones. This was mandatory to offer active noise reduction.
Of course, AirPods keep this extremely convenient pairing with the iPhone. Apple product obliges, the symbiosis is perfect with iOS. Like their predecessors, the AirPods Pro also work with Android, with noise reduction. For those interested, we have also made a tutorial on how to use Apple AirPods (Pro) on Android.
To learn more about the AirPods Pro, you can find our video test below.
JABRA ELITE 75T
The mid-range option
In 2018, Jabra’s Elite 65t was one of the best true wireless headphones available on the market. The brand returns in 2020 with the Elite 75t. A new improved version, smaller, more autonomous and correcting some of the flaws of the previous generation while keeping the good ideas.
The 75t once again combines design and comfort while ensuring a good fit in the ears. The firm has significantly adjusted the case by adopting a much more practical magnetic closure and it can now be recharged via USB-C. As before, there are also physical buttons for track control on the earpieces.
They also have the merit of being in the upper middle range in terms of autonomy with a little over 7 hours on a single charge according to our tests. The box will add about 2 full refills. Jabra, on the other hand, did not include noise reduction, which partly explains the price difference with Sony’s work. You should also know that there is a version with a wireless charging box if you have the necessary equipment.
Of course, the 65t is still an honourable solution if you want to reduce the bill. They are sold at around 130 euros.
JABRA ELITE ACTIVE 75T
The Sport option
If you’re looking for true wireless sports-oriented headphones, the Jabra Elite 75t is available in an ‘Active’ version. The Active version is almost identical to the 75t “just about anything”, but with an additional IP57 certification for improved water and perspiration resistance. You get the same audio quality, USB C case and design for the same fit. It’s a shame that Jabra didn’t think it would be useful to slightly revise the design to ensure a better fit in the ears, even though the 75t are already satisfactory in this respect. Like the classic version, the Active version can also benefit from a wireless charging box. If you are looking for sports earphones in general, you can also consult our guide to the best sports earphones.
SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS MORE
With wireless recharge
The original Galaxy Buds were already a good mid-range solution, the Galaxy Buds+ are… even more so. Slightly more expensive than its predecessor, this new version makes a few changes in the air while keeping the good main idea: the presence of wireless charging. An advantage that its main competitors, the Jabra Elite 75t, can’t claim. Qi-compatible, it will work with any charging station… and any smartphone with reverse charging, including the recent Samsung S-Series and Notebooks.
Despite this handy addition, Samsung hasn’t put audio quality aside, especially bass, thanks to the addition of a second transducer in each earphone. These are probably the right headphones to recommend if you like low frequencies, but note that the highs and mids are still present. As we say in our Galaxy Buds+ test, they are good for the whole audio spectrum… provided you find the right tips.
End caps are oh so important, because like its competitors in this price range, the Galaxy Buds Plus does not include active noise reduction! On the other hand, since they are in-ear earphones, the passive isolation is much better than on (non-professional) AirPods. This is where the size of the earmolds comes into play, they have to fill the ear canal to reduce the surrounding sounds, but also improve the audio quality, especially the bass.
If you’re afraid you won’t hear anything anymore, don’t worry, there is a pass-through mode that picks up sounds from the outside. The software is also well designed, and pairing with Samsung terminals is child’s play. Finally, as far as battery life is concerned, the Buds+ lasted nearly 11 hours on a single charge during our tests and the box will double this value. You should know that they can also be recharged by wire via USB-C. You can find all the details in our test of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.
HONOR MAGIC EARBUDS
The best for less than 100 euros
With his Magic Earbuds, Honor has succeeded in the tour de force of offering headphones for less than 100 euros with active noise reduction that works well. The latter is effective primarily due to their in-ear design, which offers good passive isolation in the first place. That’s exactly what the Huawei Freebuds didn’t do – and that’s what got them down.
Two more good points to note. They are comfortable in the ears with good support, and the quality of the calls is there. On the other hand, it’s a little more disappointing on the sound. Honor still has some progress to make on this point, but considering the entrance ticket requested, these mistakes are partly forgivable.
Finally, the autonomy is not crazy and there are some problems with the Bluetooth connection. It’s a bit of a shame, but the Magic Earbuds are still highly recommendable headphones for those with a budget of 100 euros maximum.
XIAOMI REDMI AIRDOTS
Champion of value for money in the smartphone field, Xiaomi through its subsidiary Redmi, has also transformed the wireless headphone trial with the AirDots. These earphones are offered at a very low price, less than 30 euros, but obtain very satisfactory results.
No miracle, at this price, they’re obviously not at the level of the higher-end models, there are obviously some concessions to be made. These True Wireless are minimalist: there is no active noise reduction, no deep tuning or luxurious codecs. Just Bluetooth 5, an SBC codec and a microphone to make calls. These, however, are able to filter out surrounding sounds to be better understood by the person you’re calling.
When it comes to sound quality, the AirDots are fulfilling their contract: they don’t saturate at full volume, but force a little too much on the bass, which tends to chew up the rest of the frequencies. Having said that, the whole thing is quite respectable considering its contained price. As for the autonomy finally, count about 4 hours of operation per recharge, knowing that the box is capable of recharging it 3 times for a total autonomy of about 14 hours. Finally, the pairing is solid, with little or no disconnection during use.
For more information on Xiaomi Redmi AirDots, you can check our handy guide.