Choosing the best truly wireless earphones in 2018 is a bit of a tough process. We have been getting sent lots of this style of Bluetooth earphones that have no cables and we have quickly come to realise that most of them, are complete junk. I will be completely honest in my opinion of the current state of this technology and within this article only recommend those that I feel are actually usable. I will tell you right now that there are not many.
Most tech sites write these sort of articles to generate ad revenue but then I also notice that they list earphones that they have never really tried just to satiate a price point. I wont be doing that here because at the end of the day if I don't want you to get ripped off. Companies need to make these sort of products better and there is no point in being an early adopter if the earphones wont sound as good, feel as good, or last as long as a similarly priced set of Bluetooth headphones with a connecting wire or neckband. There are a few good truly wireless earphones on the market right now but there is also a whole lot more that dont deliver on their promises.
The technology is not where it needs to be!
OK so there are a few good products on the market but for the most part there is a whole host of re branded Chinese OEM junk. They are an absolute waste of your money. Let me explain. Ever since apple released the wireless ear pods other companies have jumped into the market with barley passable products to get a slice of the action. There are all sorts of issues with these earphones ranging from poor connectivity, short battery life and the sheer size of them.
In this list we are going to attempt to recommend the ones that actually work but just know for the most part you will get much better sounding, fitting and performing earbuds if you go for a neckband or wired Bluetooth headphone. Unfortunately, we are at the early stages of this type of product and we do expect it to advance rapidly over the next few years but for now be careful when making your purchase
Things to consider when buying completely wireless earphones
Ok so there are a few areas that really stand out when buying this type of earphones.
SIze & Comfort - First of all you want something that fits. A lot of these wireless earbuds are massive and barley fit inside the ear. Apple got this right on the earpods by hanging the battery and receivers from that weird looking pole that hangs down from your ears. Other companies for some reason decided to build outwards and that meant wide profiles and poor balance.
Sound Quality - Over the past year i have tried around 30 pairs of wireless earbuds and 90% of them have sounded absolutely shocking. Not just bad by audiophile terms but in the way that anyone could notice the sound is horrible. Weak anemic bass is the most common thing and is often combined with a thin overall sound.
Next you have a lack of volume, some of these earphones just do not get loud enough to make your music sound enjoyable. Finally you have the pairing issues. Yes some companies have actually sent me earphones where one of the earbuds lags slightly behind the other during playback. For the record they get really mad when we refuse to write a review or recommend them to our readers.
At this point our response has been pretty standard. If you want a good review of your headphones just make good headphones. Do not just do the bare minimum and expect a positive reaction.
Battery Life - I would expect a normal set of Bluetooth earphones to get between 8 and 20 hours depending on how big of a battery they can accommodate on the cable connecting the 2 earbuds. In my experience battery life on truly wireless earphones is bad ranging from 2-3 hours on most units when playing back at moderate volume.
Audiophile On 2018 Truly Wireless Earbud Buyers Guide
Comfort - Excellent
Sound Quality - Good
Battery Life - 5 Hours plus included portable charger
Recommendation - Buy
Apple not the first company to introduce truly wireless earphones to the world but they are one of the first to make a solid working product. They are expensive for what they are but the best solution we have found to date.
A couple of drawbacks do however exist. The Airpods are traditional earbud style earphones and as a result do little to block out external noise. Secondly the styling in the ear is a bit odd looking at first but as we are seeing more and more people wearing them in 2018 the kinda start to look normal.
Comfort - Average
Sound Quality - Good
Battery Life - Not good
Recommendation - Junk... Do not buy
These earphones are truly the definition of a company releasing an unfinished product. The WF1000X was a complete wast of time for us because quite simply it doesn't do anything well.
So frustrated was I by the bad sound, dropouts, nightmare setup, poor batter life and weak noise cancelling that I often wanted to rip them out my ears and throw them against a wall. I think in future models Sony will get this product down to a tea but right now they are just not worth your money.
Jabra Elite Active 65t
Comfort - Excellent
Sound Quality - Excellent
Battery life - 5 hours plus and extra 10 from battery
Recommendation - Very good - Buy
The Jabra Elite Active are my favorite set of wireless earbuds for a number of reasons. Whilst not perfect they do everything to a higher standard than the majority of their competition.
Comfort is excellent with their ergonomicly curved earpieces and the low profile design feels very well balanced. The app is a bit quirky at times but has a number of usefull features and the sound quality is some of the best we have ever tested in this format. Without a doubt the class leaders right now.
Optoma Nuforce Be Free5
Comfort - OK
Sound Quality - Average
Battery Life good - 16 hours with charger
Recommendation - Don't Buy
The Optoma Nuforce Be Free5 on paper is dripping with features. Long battery life with the included charger, APTX support and a IPX5 waterproof rating. The comfort is OK despite the earpieces having some significant bulk on them. One problem however comes with the sound. They are very thing on the bass and the midrange is somewhat veiled. The second issue we came accross was multiple and consistent dropouts and we arent the only ones. Plenty of our readers got in touch complaining about this issue so we couldnt with sound mind reccomend them. A promising start and if it could be sufficiently refined it will be an excellent earphone in time.
Bose SoundSport Free
Comfort - Excellent
Sound quality - Above Average
Battery life - 5 hours
Recommendation - A decent buy but Jabra Elite are better
There was a lot we liked about the Bose Soundsport free earphones and whilst we would recommend them I don't personally like them as much as the Jabra elite.
Sound was good and they actually managed to display some decent bass response but detail was lacking. The highs are nice and smooth and its one of the few earphones on test that displayed clarity here.
Comfort is up there with the best thanks in part to the companies Truegrip ear tips that keep them well seated in the ear canal. We did have issues with the left earpiece cutting out at times though and looking online it seems others have experienced similar (although occasional) dropouts.
JBL Free Truly Wireless Earphones
Comfort - Above average
Sound quality - Average/Below Average
Battery life - 4 hours with extra 20 from charging case
Recommendation - Don't buy - Far to prone to drop outs
The JBL Free have recently been slashed in price and whilst they didn't blow us away in our tests they offer reasonably good value for money if you must own a fully wireless set of earphones.
However these by far had more drop outs than any of the other earphones on this test and over time it got pretty frustrating.
They have a nice shape to them that sits comfortable in the ear and are fairly light weight. Sound is thin and lacking bass but it does come across clearly.
Truly wireless earphones are a great concept but need time to mature. I feel that far to many of these earphones have been released just to meet a deadline and not because they actually improve the user experience. If I was going to buy any it would either be the Apple Airpods and or the Jabra Elite. That is if I had to chose. In reality I wouldn't use any of these as they are significantly outperformed dollar for dollar by Bluetooth and wireless earphones. Its certainly an area I will continue reviewing and looking into in the future but right now they just don't enhance my user experience to justify the expense.