Apple has actually gone through with that “no more headphone jack” thing. This could be annoying.
While all wireless headphones continue to suffer from the same problems — higher prices, a reliance on batteries, and generally duller sound than their wired counterparts — those downsides are countered by, well, not having to use cables. For a lot of people, that’s enough.
So, since the future of audio appears to be wireless — at least if you plan on buying an iPhone 7 — we’ve rounded up the best Bluetooth headphones we’ve tested thus far.
The Creative Sound Blaster Jam is one of the few respectable Bluetooth headphones available for less than $50.
Wireless headphones are inherently limited, so it's usually best to pay up for something decent. But if you're really on a budget, the Creative Sound Blaster Jam is probably your best bet.
They're certainly built like a pair of $40 headphones -- 80s-style foam earpads and all -- and they aren't going to handle complex tracks too well, but they're light on the head, and their sound is clearer and stronger than what's normally in this range. Just know that they will leak some noise when you turn the volume up.
If you can spare $30 more, the Jabra Move Wireless are a step-up in just about every regard.
They're another pair of comfortable, fairly lightweight on-ears, but they're more sturdy, and their bass-forward sound brings more life to lots of popular music. They're not going to satisfy audio purists, but for less critical listeners (i.e., most people) they're a good value.
It's a similar story with the Skullcandy Grind Wireless. Their soft earpads sink onto your head, they get a solid 10-12 hours of battery life, and they feel competently put together.
The sound is the highlight, though: It's punchy and exciting, but altogether less coloured than the Jabras above. Bass is tight, treble is crisp, and there's good detail. For a $90 pair of wireless headphones, they're great.
Going further up the on-ear ladder, the $160 Plantronics Backbeat Sense SE is wonderfully comfortable, good-looking, and safe to wear in the rain. They work well for taking calls -- not surprising, given Plantronics' history making Bluetooth headsets -- and they have the nifty ability to (ahem) sense when it's off your head, then play and pause tracks accordingly. Battery life is great, lasting over 15 hours.
Once you have the Sense on, they offer a pleasant, well-balanced profile that works well with a variety of genres. They're on the brighter, more treble-focused side, so bassheads should steer clear, but if you're looking for something like a natural sound, they should satisfy.
V-Moda's full-size Crossfade Wireless, meanwhile, definitely are for bassheads. If you're very into hip-hop or electronica, you should have fun with the Crossfade's powerful lows, which take priority but refrain from being totally overbearing.
The rest of the sound is nicely smooth on top of that. But again, if you're an avowed audiophile, there are better ways to spend $300. (Few of them involve Bluetooth.)
There aren't many $300 pairs that are tougher than this, however. V-Moda touts how the Crossfade's flashy, industrial build meets military-grade standards for durability, so you should be safe chucking them in a bag. Though they're on the heftier side, they're not uncomfortable either. And if nothing else, you can swap out the default earpads if need be.
The Sony MDR-1ABT are a superlatively comfortable pair that tick all the necessary boxes with aplomb.
Dropping $400 on a pair of wireless headphones is a big ask, but the Sony MDR-1ABT are above-average across the board.
While it'd be nice if that cash got you a more luxurious design, the MDR's plastic doesn't feel cheap, and it helps make the whole thing a breeze to wear for several hours at a time. They also get close to 30 hours of battery life, which is excellent.
Pair that with a spacious, well-measured (but not boring) sound profile, and you have one of the few wireless pairs that feel at least close to deserving this high a price tag.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 are the most effective noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones on the market.
The new Bose QuietComfort 35 have an easier time justifying their $350 premium, if only because they get you Bose's world-beating noise cancellation tech.
Noise-cancelling headphones are still only for a certain niche of people, and they still can't tune out everything -- namely, voices and other high pitches -- but if you're absolutely positive you need them, Bose is still the best at shutting out the world around you. It's good enough to be hazardous if you're not paying attention.
Noise cancellation generally degrades sound quality, and Bose has never been known for that in the first place, so definitely look elsewhere if audio fidelity is your main concern. That said, the lively highs and potent bass make for a profile that's good enough for most. It's solid. It helps that the QC35s feel sublime on the head, both lightweight and snug. If you're specifically going for noise cancellation, they have to be your first choice.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless aren't quite as strong from a noise-cancelling standpoint, but they have superior sound.
Though they cost $50 more, their noise-cancelling is still solid, they last for a long time, and they're comfortable. Most importantly, they sound smoother and more balanced, with tight bass and clear highs. If you're in the peculiar spot where you just want the option of noise cancelling, they fit the high-end bill.
We've raved about them in the past, but the Plantronics Backbeat Fit are a great all-rounder in the realm of wireless exercise headphones. They're sweatproof, sturdy, and easy to keep in place. Like the Backbeat Sense above, Plantronics has fitted them with excellent call quality. They even come with an armband case for running with your smartphone.
The sound quality is clean and distortion-free, but it's important to note that the around-the-neck design here is unsealed. That means the earbuds don't dig in your ears so much as they rest outside them. This lets in too much air for there to be any satisfying bass punch, but it also makes it easier to hear your surroundings as you're running around.
Jaybird is likely to release the follow-up to its X2 earphones soon, but for now, they're still one of the few dedicated workout pairs that don't totally sacrifice audio quality. They bring the kind of full bass and overall energy that goes well with a workout, and again, they're lightweight and sweatproof. You even get a lifetime warranty for any sweat-related damages.
The only real downside is that, despite the plethora of eartips in the box and an official video tutorial, they might be tricky for some to get on. If you can make it work, though, they're a pair you can wear in or out of the gym.
We're confident that you'll enjoy any of the picks above, but new Bluetooth headphones are launching at an alarming rate these days. We're testing as many as we can, and we'll be sure to update this list as we find standouts.
We're also looking at the new wave of truly wireless earbuds, many of which are just now arriving. We were mixed on Apple's AirPods, but we'll have word on similar pairs like the Samsung Gear IconX, Jabra Sport Elite, and Erato Apollo 7, among others, very soon.
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