If you like to listen to music, podcasts, or other audio content on your mobile device, you have many choices for how to get the sound from the device to your ears. They include headphones, which cover your entire ear and offer the best sound quality, wired earbuds, which are easy to grab and go because they don’t need to be charged, and wireless earbuds, which give you the same quality as wired earbuds but without the ungainly cord.
In addition to decent quality and hands-free operation, wireless earbuds provide convenient listening in a wide variety of situations with a very small form factor. For example, you can use them while exercising at the gym, on your morning commute, or working at locations ranging from a retail store to a factory to a software development firm.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a pair of wireless earbuds, you have yet another choice to make — which brand to buy. No one product will be right for everyone, so let’s take a look at the factors to consider to determine which one best fits your needs.
The first consideration to explore is how much you’re willing to spend on a set of earbuds. They range in price from $50, which gets you a decent set with effective noise cancelation, to $300, which gets you higher-end performance. Popular Apple AirPods Pro are at the high end of the scale, at $249, while Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are about $200. Google’s Pixel Buds are a little less pricey at $179 and have gotten very good reviews.
Are the more expensive brands worth it? That really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’ve never used wireless earbuds, consider buying a less expensive pair to see how you like the product generally, then upgrading if you like it and want different functionality.
Wireless earbuds offer the convenience of interacting with your mobile device without having to handle it every time you want to make an adjustment. The best brands include methods for controlling volume and performing other actions such as turning on or off the sound and answering a phone call. Typically, you use tapping or swiping motions to activate these controls.
Waterproofing is a feature you may or may not need. If you will be using your earbuds for exercise, moisture from sweat could be an issue. Likewise, if you might be wearing them in rainy or otherwise wet conditions.
Noise cancellation could be important if you want to block out sound other than what you’re listening to on your device. However, if you’ll be using your earbuds in situations in which you need to be aware of your surroundings — such as bike riding on busy streets or navigating crowded city environments — it might not be as important for you.
Typically, the more expensive wireless earbud models provide the best listening quality. But keep in mind that you don’t always need great quality and other factors might be more important. For example, if you want to wear your earbuds around the house for doing chores, household sounds like appliances and children might interfere anyway, so you might be a little less concerned with great sound quality. Things like ease of operation or fit might be more critical.
If you’re truly concerned about sound quality, you might consider using headphones instead of wireless earbuds. Even the best earbuds won’t compare with over-ear headphones in this area.
One of the challenges with wireless earbuds is that they need to be charged. That means they can also run out of charge at the most inconvenient times. The less access you have to plug in your charging case, such as on long commutes, the more battery life you need. Look for a product that offers at least 3 hours of active listening time, and that is on the low end. Also, find one that includes a charging case, so you can get more juice on the go.
The fit of wireless earbuds is important since they are inserted directly on and can be in your ears for long periods. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can pick the ones that feel best to you. Some designs are better for certain activities. For example, wireless earbuds with an ear hook design are likely to stay put during vigorous exercise. Others might be better for light exercise, listening to music while sitting, or talking on the phone.
Within the category of wireless earbuds are earphones, which are inserted directly into the ear canal. This design may be better for comfort as well as keeping the device inserted, especially if you’ll be moving around. Another consideration with fit is the lightness of the earbuds. Bose earbuds are known for their feather-light weight.
Wireless earbuds, the newest type of listening device for mobile devices, are highly convenient for many uses. Because so many brands are available, you need to consider what you’ll actually be using them for and how important certain factors are, versus others. Use the guide here to determine your preferences, then shop for the earbuds that will be your perfect listening instruments.