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Finder's team of experts spent hundreds of hours testing and reviewing headphones. For each pair, we considered the design, performance, battery life and overall value for money.
Our editorial team selected the Bluetooth headphones on this list based on the results from our testing as well as real customer reviews and key product features.
If you want the freedom to listen to your favourite music or podcasts without the hassle of wires, what you need is a good set of Bluetooth headphones. While some smartphones still support a 3.5mm headphone jack, many don't, but every single modern smartphone does come with Bluetooth audio support.
There's a huge array of Bluetooth headphones on the market. While they all support the core Bluetooth wireless standard, their audio quality, build and features differ and can suit many different kinds of users.
If you're after a pair of Bluetooth earbuds, see our guide for the best wireless earbuds.
The best Bluetooth headphones you can buy right now are Sony's new WH-1000XM4 noise-cancelling over-ear wireless headphones. On top of sounding fantastic and having some of the best noise cancellation in the market, the WH-1000XM4 headphones have ambient noise settings that automatically adjust based on your location. If you want to have a conversation while wearing your headphones, all you have to do is start talking and your music will pause automatically.
You can read our full review of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones here.
Apple's AirPods Max run neck and neck with the Sony WH-1000XM4s, and in some ways they're better headphones for pure music listening. Battery life is exceptional and they're very comfortable to wear for a long period of time as well. There's a small downside in the carrying case, which is a weird and not very protective option, but the bigger issue here is that the AirPods Max are a pricey set of Bluetooth cans. However, if you can meet their asking price, you won't be disappointed.
You can read our full review of the Apple AirPods Max here.
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Bose has a reputation in the noise-cancelling space that makes it the almost-default choice for folks looking for top-quality audio without distraction. The Quietcomfort QC35 IIs are older in Bose's lineup now, but that makes them more compelling in our view, because while their audio quality is top-notch, their asking price has tumbled down to a much more affordable price point.
If you do want the best that Bose can make in a wireless headset now, a lot of reviewers agree that the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are the option you should go for. They're stylish, rated well for audio throughput and call quality – and slightly less so for battery life – but like most premium Bluetooth headphones, they're not inexpensive.
Before it had the AirPods Max, the AirPods Pro were the top of the Apple in-house audio family. They're still a great option if you do favour in-ear Bluetooth rather than full headphones, and especially if you're using them for exercise. Smaller buds often struggle with decent noise isolation, but the noise cancellation (and general audio quality) of the AirPods Max is top notch.
Read our full AirPods Pro review here
Sony's effective equivalent to the AirPods Pro are the WF-1000XM3s and the upcoming (at the time of writing) WF-1000XM4 headphones. The newer XM4s look great from early reviews, but the benefit here if you step back a generation is that you still get superb sound, great battery life and nice noise cancellation at a cheaper price point.
You can read our full Sony WF-1000XM3 review here.
Sony offers quite a wide range of Bluetooth headphones at a variety of price points, but it's not just what you pay that it differentiates on. The WF-XB700's claim to fame is enhanced bass, making them a good option if you're keen on more thumping music, or want a lightweight set for working to the beat. Battery life is also very good, although they can be a little fiddly if you want to pair to multiple devices.
You can read our full review of the Sony WF-XB700 headphones here.
Apple didn't invent bud-only Bluetooth headphones, but the iconic design of its AirPods has allowed it to dominate the category ever since the first pair hit the market. We like the generally balanced sound of the AirPods a lot, but what we like even more is how Apple has taken the base design and iterated on it to make it even better over time. If you're pairing your AirPods with an iOS device, you get easy notifications, Siri support and even wireless charging. That's a newer feature, but Apple also sells the wireless charging case separately, so that even owners of older AirPods can enjoy hassle-free charging.
You can read our full review of the Apple AirPods (2019) here.
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Beats has a reputation as a "style" choice in the headphone space, as well as providing headphones heavily tailored towards bass frequencies. That's fine if you're into specific music styles, but it's less appealing for more general music and audio use. The new Beats PowerBeats Pro headphones subvert that expectation with a more balanced sound and a build that's tailored towards fitness users. The battery life is exceptional, although that does mean that the battery case is also exceptionally large. If you don't like the style of Apple's AirPods and want more than they offer, the PowerBeats Pro headphones are an easy recommendation.
Not yet rated
The Beats Solo breaks a few Beats rules. They're not hyper-expensive, and they're not tuned almost exclusively towards bass optimisation as so many Beats products from years prior were. They're also available in a funky range of colours, giving them a lot of appeal. If you hanker for that Beats style on a budget, they're a solid option.
You can read our full Beats Solo Pro review here.
Bluetooth transmits data, such as music, over short ranges. When Bluetooth was first introduced, the technology behind it only supported very simple low bitrate mono audio, which worked for Bluetooth headsets, but didn't offer the sound quality that audiophiles had come to expect from high-end headphones.
However, Bluetooth has since been refined and updated to deal with the challenges of delivering stereo music in decent quality to wireless headsets.
Each pair of Bluetooth headphones is slightly different from the next. Some sit snugly in your ear, while others sit on top or over them. Which type is better is subjective, so you'll have to decide for yourself which suits you the best.
Here are some more details about the three main types:
For more information, check out our guide to all types of headphones.
If you're planning on picking up a pair of Bluetooth headphones, there are a few things you should consider first:
Some Bluetooth headphones can last for well over a day of full use, while others can go flat in just a few hours. The longer the battery life, the better. However, there's usually a trade-off to longer battery life, such as a higher price tag, larger charging case or bulkier headphones. Also, using features like active noise cancellation can drain the battery life more quickly.
The best way to get a sense of the audio quality of a pair of headphones is to listen to several different types of music while wearing them. If you can't try them on in person, read expert reviews to find out how they compare to other models. Keep in mind, paying more doesn't always get you better sound, but budget pairs rarely come with high-quality audio.
Choosing comfortable headphones can be challenging, especially when buying online. If you can, try them on in-store for as long as you can since wearing them for just a few minutes won't necessarily be a good indicator of how they'll feel after hours of wear. If you do buy online, check the returns policy in case they aren't as comfortable as you hoped.
Some headphones offer basic noise cancellation with little more than a white noise feature that blocks out some audio, while others offer active noise cancellation (ANC) features that listen to your environment and provide a more complete enclosing soundscape. Some headphones also offer noise isolation that blocks out sound using the shape of the headphone or in-ear suction.
Headphone controls allow you to adjust the volume, pause, play and more. Some headphones have dedicated buttons or scroll wheels to adjust volume, whereas others have touch-sensitive sides that let you pause and play or skip and go to the previous song. You might want to play around with the controls in-person to see which kind you prefer.
You can get budget Bluetooth headphones for less than $50. These models don't usually offer noise cancellation or long battery life. High-end headphones from leading brands can cost $700 or more, but you don't necessarily have to pay that much to get everything you want. There are lots of headphones that cost between $150 and $500 offering quality audio, decent battery life and a variety of features.
Not all Bluetooth headphones are built the same. Many of the cheaper options on the market come with plastic shells and sport less comfortable materials. Some more expensive options feature rigid metal designs and come with supportive ear tips or cups.
Bluetooth doesn't work underwater so you can't wear Bluetooth headphones swimming, but waterproof headphones can still come in handy, especially if you want to wear them to work out.
Most on-ear and over-ear headphones come with a Micro-USB or USB-C charging cable. In-ear headphones, on the other hand, usually come with a charging case that powers up the earbuds when you store them away.
If you travel with your headphones or like to store them in your gym bag or purse, you'll need a carrying case to protect them from being bashed around. Some headphones include a carrying case in the box, but it might not be as durable as you'd like, especially if it's a budget pair.
Higher-end Bluetooth headphones usually offer support for high-end audio codecs that can make a significant difference in the overall audio quality. iPhone/iPad users can get higher-resolution playback with the AAC codec, while Android users should look for aptX or aptXHD.
The specific steps to pair your Bluetooth headphones to your mobile phone or other device depend on the type of headphones and the type of device.
Generally, pairing involves the following steps:
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
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If you're a fitness fanatic who finds true wireless earbuds a pain, Bose's Frame Tempo sunglasses might be just what you're looking for, but they're pricey and not really suitable for folks who already wear prescription glasses.
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