Wireless headphones have taken a bit of a bashing over recent months, following Apple's controversial decision to rid the latest batch of iPhones of the trusty old headphone jack. HTC followed suit with the U Ultra, and both companies have been subject to plenty of criticism from both consumers and industry experts.
Why the backlash? It's certainly not because people hate wireless headphones. Rather, we all liked having the option of using either wired or Bluetooth headphones, and their ditching of the jack just seems unnecessary, rendering a huge number of headphones useless.
To summarise, wireless headphones are not the enemy. On the contrary, they're an incredibly practical choice for everyone.
Some sets are more focused on sport and exercise – and pack in extra features to do so – while others are made primarily for listening to music, so it’s helpful to think about where you’ll be listening most often. As you'd expect, all of the models in this round-up sound great, though some pairs go the extra mile by including support for special audio technologies, such as aptX and AAC.
Bear in mind though, that getting rid of the wire also means getting rid of the power. It’s important to think about how long you want the headphones to last and remember to charge it when you need to.
1. Monster iSport Victory: £99.95, Currys
Monster has loaded the iSport Victory with pretty much everything you’d want from a pair of wireless earphones. They’re sweat- and water-resistant, keep going for eight hours between charges and drown out the rest of the world with high sound isolation. They also come with a special Turbo mode sound profile for that extra hit of power, handy whether you’re at the gym or strutting into the office on a Monday morning. They’re really light too and three sets of wings and tips come included, so you should definitely find the perfect fit.
2. SoundPEATS QY7: £13.99, Amazon
Bluetooth headphones tend to be more expensive than their wired counterparts, but SoundPEATS has managed to keep costs way down with the QY7 earphones without holding back on key features. Impressively, they’re sweatproof, offer up to five hours of battery life and are available in five eye-catching colour schemes. They’re really lightweight and comfortable too, coming with three pairs of silicon ear tips and six pairs of ear wings to ensure you get a secure fit.
3. Brainwavz BLU-100: £34.50, Amazon
The refreshingly simple-looking Brainwavz Blu-100 shouldn’t be your first choice if battery life is your number one priority, as they offer an average four hours of stamina. However, they make up for that with the inclusion of aptX codec support, which means better-sounding audio. Just make sure your phone also supports the technology before snapping them up. They come with a solid case, which is handy for when you’re on the move, and the excellent Comply memory foam tips that are included mould themselves perfectly inside your ear.
4. Optoma BE Sport3: £59.99, Amazon
Optoma’s BE Sport3, on the other hand, are battery monsters. Ten hours of stamina could potentially see you through an entire week of commutes on a single charge, while rain-, sweat- and dust-resistance means you can use them in all sorts of weather. They fit deeply in your ear, and come with six pairs of wings to ensure they don’t pop out while you’re running. If all that wasn’t enough, the BE Sport3 also comes with AAC and aptX support, to make your favourite songs sound that tiny bit better.
5. Jabra Sport Pulse: £83.47, Amazon
The Jabra Sport Pulse is a serious set of fitness-focused earphones, perfect if you’re a runner who needs a little aural love while you pound the streets. They offer personalised audio coaching as you work out, you can even set your own fitness goals through the accompanying Jabra Sport Life app, and the biometric in-ear heart rate monitor delivers updates as you exercise, giving you that extra push when you really need it. They may look unusual, thanks to the heart rate-tracking tech, but they’re secure enough for outdoor running, thanks to three pairs of different-sized wings.
6. Waterproof Walkman with NFC & Bluetooth: £129, Sony
Sony’s NWZ-WS610 Series is no ordinary pair of wireless earphones. The waterproof set works with a waterproof Walkman – a match made for the pool. Ideal for swimmers, it also offers an impressive seven hours of battery life. The 4GB version is available for £129, but the 16GB will set you back £170. They’re a lot chunkier than the other headphones in this round-up, and aren’t the most comfortable either. If you need a pair for swimming though, these are your best bet.
7. Jaybird X2: £139.99, Currys
Another set for fitness lovers is Jaybird’s X2, which is sweat- and water-resistant, and comes with a clever neckband that keeps the cord out of sight by tightly clipping it away. Eight-hour battery life means you can use them throughout the day, and noise isolation keeps you immersed in your playlist, even when the volume of everything around you goes up. Jaybird offers both silicone and foam tips, so you can experiment with different materials and fits, and the wings make sure they won’t fall out during exercise.
8. AirPods: £159, Apple
Like the Sony set, Apple’s unusual AirPods are a little different to the other entries in this roundup. Five hours of battery life is disappointing at this price, and the ability to control your music with Siri, rather than an in-line remote, definitely splits opinion. Their design is another major talking point, but they’re also quick to pair and slick to use. They’re also more secure than they look, but nowhere near as dependable as the other models included in this round-up, especially for workouts, as they don’t come with wings.
9. Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless: £259.95, Amazon
You expect a lot from a pair of earphones that cost £230, and Bose’s QuietControl 30 set delivers, with up to 10 hours of battery between charges, volume-optimised EQ and noise cancellation you can adjust depending on the situation you're in. It comes in particularly handy if you need to listen out for a train announcement, for instance. They’re a high-end pair for the most discerning of music fans. The collar is unfortunately not as practical as it perhaps should be, feeling bulky and bouncing and twisting its way around your neck as you work out.
10. Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless Headphones: £169.99, Amazon
The latest addition to Sennheiser’s esteemed Momentum range, adding wireless capability to the previous in-ear version. Also added is a lightweight neckband, to which the earphones themselves are attached. We found it sat comfortably without causing any hindrance, although the actual look of it might not be for everyone. Also housed within the neckband are playback controls and a microphone. Sound-wise, it’s what you expect from Sennheiser: pleasingly wide, very textured and hugely versatile. There’s a battery life of around 10 hours, with charge time of around 90 minutes.
The Verdict: Wireless in-ear headphones
If you've never owned a wireless set before and still have your reservations about them, you won't go wrong with the ludicrously cheap SoundPEATS. Monster's iSport Victory is our pick of the bunch though. At just under £100, they can't be described as cheap, but they strike a fantastic balance between stamina, features and value.
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