Update, 5/11/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best wireless earbuds for the iPad and iPhone that you can buy.
Wireless earbuds have taken over in the years following Apple’s decision to omit a headphone jack on the iPhone 7. In the years since, we’ve had several revisions of AirPods and a flood of affordable, third-party wireless earphones, many of which parrot the AirPods design.
The truth is, AirPods will always deliver a superior user experience to non-Apple branded headphones when paired with an Apple device. The same is true for Beats, which Apple purchased in 2014. These earbuds pair effortlessly with your iPhone or iPad and can be used across devices seamlessly. You can also locate them using Find My if they go missing.
Unfortunately, AirPods are also expensive. You’re paying for a user experience that no other earbuds can provide since Apple controls the ecosystem, but it can be a hard sell for those on a budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of good alternatives for the cash-strapped and AirPods averse.
Features like active noise cancellation, where ambient sounds are stripped out of the mix using microphones and software, are now much more commonplace and available on third-party earbuds. Many earbud models also support wireless charging and some can take advantage of fast charging to quickly provide an hour of listening from only a few minutes’ charge.
If listening to music in the highest possible quality is what you’re most concerned about, wireless earphones might not be the best choice. Or rather, music on your iPhone, in general, may not be the best choice. The iPhone doesn’t currently support high-resolution audio codecs like LDAC, which means any music sent to your earphones will be compressed.
For that reason, wired headphones still provide the best listening experience for audiophiles or anyone interested in streaming lossless music.
With that settled, let’s get into which wireless earbuds can give you the best experience on your iPhone and iPad.
Best Earbuds Overall: AirPods Pro
- ✓ Better than the original AirPods in almost every way
- ✓ Some of the best noise cancellation on the market
- ✓ Transparency mode is neat
- ✓ Support for spatial audio
- ✓ Decent battery life with a case that can charge wirelessly
- ✓ Designed specifically for use with Apple devices
- ✗ Expensive for what you get
- ✗ Only available in white
Apple’s wireless earbuds are an obvious choice if you have an iPhone. The Apple AirPods Pro takes the no-nonsense connectivity of the standard AirPods and adds some impressive active noise cancellation and silicon in-ear tips that make a nice tight seal in your ear canal.
Audio quality is good, though you’d be forgiven for expecting a little more in this price range. A feature called “Adaptive EQ” uses an inward-facing microphone to adjust the sound for your particular ear canal. The AirPods Pro are also ready for use with spatial audio sources and supports head-tracking for immersive listening experiences.
These earbuds use the improved H1 chip to make pairing to Apple products painless and audio dropouts a thing of the past. You only need to pair your AirPods once for them to work with all of your devices, which isn’t common with third-party competitors. They’re IPX4 water-resistant and get around 5 hours listening and over 24 hours with the included wireless charging case.
The worst thing about the AirPods Pro is that they’re very expensive, perhaps even overpriced. However, as Review Geek discusses in their AirPods Pro review, there’s arguably no better pair of truly wireless earbuds for Apple users provided if you’ve got the cash to spare.
Apple Airpods Pro
AirPods Pro are expensive, but they have great noise-canceling and other features that help to stand apart from the pack.
Best Budget Earbuds: Skullcandy Sesh Evo
- ✓ Decent, if a little bass-heavy, sound quality
- ✓ Tile integration for finding lost earbuds
- ✓ Passable battery life with USB-C charging and rapid charge
- ✗ Sound quality falls short of pricier models
- ✗ Quality control could be an issue with some reviewers reporting defective units
Cheap wireless earbuds are often plagued with issues like poor battery life and frequent audio dropouts, not to mention disappointing sound quality. The Skullcandy Sesh Evo manages to deliver solid performance and decent sound quality at around a quarter of the price of a pair of AirPods.
Skullcandy’s earbuds are basic but represent good value for money when compared with Apple’s offerings. You’ll get five hours of listening, with an extra 19 hours from the USB-C charging case. You can use each earbud solo, and each has a microphone for voice calling and talking to Siri.
Some reviewers report that the Sesh Evo earbuds tend to be a little bass-heavy, but that’s fairly normal for the Skullcandy brand and similarly priced models. At this price range, you miss out on features like noise cancellation, but for about $50, there’s not a lot to complain about.
One neat feature normally not seen at this price range is integration with Tile so that you can locate your earbuds if they go missing and a Tile user happens to walk past. That’s pretty neat, especially if you already invested in the Tile Bluetooth tracker ecosystem.
Skullcandy Sesh Evo
The Skullcandy Sesh Evo earbuds are inexpensive and get the job done. Just don't expect all the features of more expensive models.
Best Earbuds for Travel: Jabra Elite 75t
- ✓ Active noise cancellation with transparency mode
- ✓ Decent battery life with USB-C charging
- ✓ Customize the sound using Jabra's iOS app
- ✓ IP55 water resistance and two-year warranty
- ✗ Can't use one earphone alone
No two trips are the same, and there’s no one-size-fits-all pair of earbuds for every traveler. With this in mind, the Jabra Elite 75t true wireless earbuds strike a great balance between features and affordability, with enough battery life to get you from JFK to LAX.
According to Review Geek’s review, the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds deliver the excellent audio quality you’d expect from a pair of wireless earphones in its price range. The silicon tips form a seal with your ear for great passive isolation while being comfortably fitting, and you can tweak the response using the equalizer in the Jabra Sound+ app for iPhone and iPad.
These earbuds have active noise cancellation that suppresses background noise (like the hiss of an airplane) for uninterrupted listening. They also offer a transparency mode like that seen on the AirPods Pro, allowing you to toggle ambient audio without having to remove your earphones.
You’ll get around 7 hours of audio on the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds, for a total of 24 hours of playback when paired with the included charging case. You can even choose from a variety of color combinations, from low-profile all-black buds to an eye-catching gold beige. All and all, a good buy for travelers.
Jabra Elite 75t
The Jabra Elite 75t has great audio quality and battery life for the price, making them a great choice for traveling.
Best Workout Earbuds: Beats Fit Pro
- ✓ Same Apple H1 chip as the AirPods for easy pairing and switching
- ✓ Active noise cancellation and transparency mode
- ✓ Adjustable ear hook for a snug fit
- ✓ IPX4 sweat and water resistance
- ✗ Hook design might not be to everyone's tastes
- ✗ Beats can still be a little bass-heavy for some genres
Beats has been a subsidiary of Apple since 2004, which means that headphones like the Beats Fit Pro are effectively Apple headphones. They use the same integrated H1 chip as Apple’s AirPods so you only need to pair them once for them to work with all of your Apple devices since they sync over iCloud.
The Beats Fit Pro design relies on an adjustable ear hook to anchor the headphones in place, which should prevent them from slipping out even during vigorous exercise. They are much smaller than workout headphones that use a clip design, which makes them and the charging case pocketable. Since they’re designed for exercise, the headphones also have an IPX4 sweat and water resistance rating.
Like the AirPods Pro, the Beats Fit Pro earbuds have on-board active noise cancellation which means they can remove a lot of background noise. They also have a transparency mode, which allows you to hear the world around you without having to take them out of your ears—though you’ll still need to pause the music for this to work properly.
You’ll also get support for spatial audio since the Beats Fit Pro uses sensors to track your head position which makes listening to Dolby Atmos music, movies, and TV shows even more immersive. You’ll get around six hours of battery life on a single charge, with an extra 18 hours in a fully charged case. You can fast charge them for 5 minutes to get around an hour of playback in a pinch.
One alternative to the Fit Pro is the Powerbeats Pro which uses the same Apple H1 chip for simple pairing and switching between devices. Instead of an adjustable hook, a clip is used to secure these in-ear headphones in place. They’re quite a bit larger and they lack active noise cancellation and support for spatial audio, so they fall a bit short of the Fit Pro but they may still be a good option.
Beats Fit Pro
Beats Fit Pro earbuds are great for working out with their built-in hooks, active noise cancellation, and IPX4 water and sweat resistance.
Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM4
- ✓ Possibly the best active noise cancellation in this price bracket
- ✓ Good battery life, even with ANC enabled
- ✓ Good sound quality that can be customized using Sony's app
- ✓ Water resistance on a par with AirPods Pro
- ✗ Despite support for LDAC, iPhone users miss out
- ✗ More expensive than AirPods Pro
- ✗ No easy pairing or deep iOS integration
The Sony WF-1000XM4 offers best-in-class active noise cancellation at a price point to match. With the WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds, Sony combines its Integrated Processor V1 with earbud tips that make a tight seal with your ear to minimize external audio.
The earbuds support the high-resolution LDAC Bluetooth codec, though iPhone users will have to fall back on the lossy aptX until Apple adds support for the format (if that time ever comes). There’s also a bone-conducting sensor to make sure you can hear what’s going on, even in boisterous environments.
Sony promises 8 hours of battery life with ANC enabled, with an additional 16 hours in the case. The case charges wirelessly via USB-C, with fast charging for the buds (5 minutes for an hour of listening). An IPX4 water-resistant rating brings these in line with AirPods Pro, and you can even customize the sound profile with Sony’s free Headphones Connect app on iPad or iPhone.
Compared with AirPods Pro, Sony’s earbuds offer superior noise cancellation at the cost of user experience. There’s no simplified pairing process as seen on headphones that use Apple’s proprietary H1 chip, so expect a little more resistance when it comes to using these across devices.
Review Geek rated the Sony WF-1000XM4s 9.5 out of 10 in its review, complimenting the earbuds’ incredible sound quality, best ANC in its class, and an excellent Ambient Mode.
The WF-1000XM4 earbuds have an integrated processor and special tips to take the ANC to the next level.
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