While wireless over-ear headphones have been saving us from Tangle Rage™ for some time now, when it comes to really making our lives easier on the go, only the portability of in-ears will do.
The Apple Airpods were not the first of their kind to cut the wires by any means, but their arrival at the end of last year did give the in-ear industry a nudge in the right direction. Now it’s playing catch up, and fast.
That can only be a good thing for Android users. While the Airpods will work with Android phones, so much of their functionality is geared towards iOS that we’d argue your money is better spent elsewhere.
Not sure where to start? Read on for a lowdown on some of the best wireless in-ears on the market right now.
Onkyo W800BT - Best for sound quality
The Airpods were but a twinkle in Tim Cook’s eye when Onkyo released the W800BT earphones in 2015. But despite being a bit older than many of their rivals, the W800BTs could still teach most of them a thing or two about sound.
Music sounds clear and expressive and there’s plenty of detail, with enough space around voices and instruments that things never sound congested. The bass is suitably rich and rumbly too, but it doesn’t impress itself on the rest of the frequency range, which is clean and well balanced.
What you won’t get here is a lot of features. The stylish buds might look the part while sitting comfy in your ears, but there are no on-ear controls for your music, nor any sweatproofing for use in the gym. The three-hour battery life is bested by a lot of its competitors now too, though its included case will charge them five times over from scratch.
We also had niggles when using them for anything other than music. A poor built-in mic means call quality is poor, while video content also suffers with lip-syncing issues. But if making the most of your music is your key focus, you’ll struggle to find better for out-and-out sound quality.
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Jabra Elite Sport - Best for sports
As their name might suggest, Jabra is aiming the Elite Sport at the gym bunnies among you, with some fancy features up their sleeve to give you a helping hand during workouts.
Their design is pretty bulky, which ensures a snug fit – not just for staying put when you’re on the treadmill, but also for reading your heart-rate. This doesn’t make them the comfiest in-ears we’ve worn, though, and after an hour or two you might need to give your ears a rest.
They work with the Jabra Sport app, which records your heart-rate to create an informed workout report, but can also set you up with a training plan or talk you through one of its pre-programmed cross-training sessions. There are even some activities where the Elite Sport’s sensors can count your reps for you, and pretty accurately too.
The heart-rate monitor, on the other hand, doesn’t have the accuracy of some more accomplished fitness wearables. It’ll give a good enough idea for casual gym goers, but no more.
The Jabra Elite Sport haven’t forgotten they need to sound good either, with a crisp, clear performance and plenty of bass kick.
There’s not quite as much airy detail here as you’ll get with the Onkyo W800BT, nor are they as explicit with dynamics, but they’re well organised, with a good balance and no sharp edges in the treble. A very pleasant surprise indeed.
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