Hey AC, what are your favorite headphones these days?
It feels like we write dozens of articles every month discussing all of the best wireless earbuds and headphones you can buy, from over-ear cans with active noise canceling to true wireless earbuds that can fit in the coin pocket of your jeans. There are seemingly endless options to choose from, but what do the writers with most of those options sitting at their desks actually use in their personal lives?
Alex Dobie OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2
Source: Android Central
With the exception of a few short breaks using and reviewing other headphones, I’ve worn my OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 pretty much daily since I first got them in May 2019. Throughout that time they’ve seen me through an awful lot of travel (last year more than this year, obviously), and I’ve found them to be dependable and comfortable, with sound quality good enough for almost anything I’m doing with audio coming out of a smartphone.
They’re light enough to be worn around the neck and not noticed, and the soft rubber tips are comfortable enough to last a marathon Google Meet call, YouTube binge or even a short international flight without discomfort. Audio fidelity doesn’t come close to that of expensive over-the-ear headphones, but for everyday use I’ve found the Bullets Wireless 2 hard to beat — especially considering the price.
- Comfortable design
- Decent sound reproduction
- Great battery life
- No active noise cancellation
- Quick device switching feature is buggy
- Quick pair only works with OnePlus phones
Keep it simple, bud
OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2
Great everyday neckbuds
If you value comfort, simplicity and battery life, OnePlus’s Bullets 2 offer better sound quality and a snugger fit than the recently-released OnePlus Buds, while also selling at a similar price point.
Andrew Myrick Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Source: Joe Maring / Android Central
Since I haven’t spent much time with the WH-1000XM4s yet, the Buds Live have temporarily supplanted my AirPods Pro as my favorite headphones. There’s a little bit of ear fatigue when wearing them for long periods of time, but the new design is a breath of fresh air without having stems hanging out of my ears.
Samsung has done an incredible job with balancing the open-ear design along with being able to customize the sound quality. Being able to hear my girlfriend call for me in the other room, without her getting frustrated when I don’t respond is a blessing in disguise. While I do wish the ANC was a bit better, it’s tough to expect much else with this design since it doesn’t go into your ear canal.
I’m no audiophile, but I do enjoy being able to punch up the bass whenever I’m in the mood. With the Galaxy Wearable app, it’s easy to customize everything to my liking. One great feature is the ability to have your notifications read to you, so you can keep your eyes focused on the task at hand and not worry about whether that email is just destined for the trash can.
- Design is a breath of fresh air
- Galaxy Wearable app unlocks even more potential
- Solid battery life
- May be uncomfortable for some
- ANC isn’t as great as you might hope
So long, Airpods
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
The best for me, for now
With ANC, the customizable EQ and other features found in the Wearables app, along with a sleek design, the Beans are the ones for me, for now.
Ara Wagoner Aukey B60 Magnetic Switch Wireless Earbuds
Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central
It’s written right in my author bio — if you see me without headphones, RUN — so it should come as no surprise that I have two headphones that I rely on in my day-to-day listenings. The first is the adorably cute and long-lasting Bluedio A2 over-ear headphones which are sadly out of production, which I rely on during long days and in colder months, and also the Aukey B60 earbuds, which I use in the hotter summer months and during my shorter excursions to Walt Disney World.
In my theme park essentials roundup, I refer to my B60s as real world earplugs even though they lack active noise cancelling. They block enough passive noise to make crowds bearable for my delicate ears, and the wingtips help the buds stay on even while riding roller coasters and dark ride where the speakers are turned up to 11.
Best of all, while I forget to turn off my Bluedios all the time, turning off the Aukey B60s is as easy as letting them magnetically click back together around my neck. Battery only lasts about 6-7 hours on a single charge — so I can’t quite go a full day in the park on one charge — but since they support USB-C Power Delivery, you can top them off pretty quickly with a battery pack while you’re out and about.
- Easy, intuitive controls
- Wingtips for stable fit
- Comfortable for my smaller ears
- Mediocre battery life
- You can’t buy replacement tips if you lose them
Perfect for the park
Aukey B60 Magnetic Switch Wireless Earbuds
Drop the beat with drop dead simple buds
There’s fancier earbuds out there with noise cancelling or true wireless, but I’ll skip them for ease and comfort any day of the week.
Chris Wedel Samsung Galaxy Buds
Source: Android Central
I picked up the original Samsung Galaxy Buds a few months after release and have loved them ever since. I have tried several different wireless earbuds since buying these, but nothing has fit my ear as well as these do. The fit is the primary reason I have kept going back to the Galaxy Buds. For me, the earbuds are super comfortable, and I have zero concern about them falling out of my ears when working out.
I’m not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination, but I love music and know what I want it to sound like. The sound on the first-gen Galaxy Buds is acceptable, charging wirelessly or via USB C is super convenient, and the stable connection to my devices are all wins in my book. Sure, I would like for these buds to have things like multi-device support, better ambient sound enhancement, and ANC, but the fit and consistency of the Galaxy Buds keep me coming back.
- Fantastic fit
- Strong device connection
- Multiple ways to charge the storage case
- Missing ANC
- The ambient sound setting doesn’t work well
- Doesn’t offer multi-device support
Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Stability in uncertain times
The Galaxy Buds+ take what the original Galaxy Buds started and push it further. The comfortable shape remains, but the microphones are improved and the battery life is nearly doubled.
Daniel Bader Google Pixel Buds
Source: Android Central
Surprise, surprise: the Android guy is choosing the Google earbuds. But seriously, after spending months and months singing the praises of the Jabra Elite 75t (which are still great!) I’m all-in on Google’s way of looking at the earbud world.
Not only are the Pixel Buds incredibly comfortable, but they have the best gesture system I’ve experienced in a pair of earbuds, meaning that, unlike the Galaxy Buds+, I don’t find myself accidentally pausing my music while adjusting them in my ears.
They also sound pretty great, with a dynamic and fun sound profile that suits my tastes just fine. You can use each bud independently, which is awesome, and the egg-shaped charging case has just enough additional power to ensure that, in the unlikely event I run out of batteries in the buds themselves, a few minutes gets me going again. Plus, wireless charging — put this in everything, please.
Google’s also making a case for hands-free Google Assistant in a way I haven’t really found before. Of course, you need an Android phone to take advantage of it, but being able to quickly “Hey Google” at nothing as you’re walking down the street and have your earbuds ping and quickly action your command is kind of life-changing. Plus, they’re freaking adorable.
I do wish there was an equalizer in the app, and that there was active noise cancelation, and that Google would let me change gestures, but those are minor inconveniences in an otherwise near-perfect set of earbuds.
- Ridiculously comfortable
- Sound great
- Awesome Android-only features
- Very decent battery life
- Lack ANC
- Occasional connectivity issues
Google Pixel Buds
Google, but your bud
Google made up for the terrible first-gen Pixel Buds with a truly wireless sequel, and the 2020 competes beautifully with the best from companies like Samsung, Apple, Jabra and Sony.
Harish Jonnalagadda Creative Outlier Gold
Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central
After testing a dozen or so wireless earbuds, I settled on Creative’s Outlier Gold for my daily use. Finding the perfect fit has been the biggest issue for me, and the Outlier Gold’s angled design provides a comfortable fit that doesn’t hurt my ears even after wearing them for extended use.
Other than the fit, I like the Outlier Gold for the battery life. I constantly forget to charge wireless earbuds, and with a combined battery life of 39 hours, I only have to plug in the Outlier Gold once every few weeks. The earbuds themselves last well over 12 hours on a full charge, and that’s more than enough for my use case. The sound quality itself is pretty great; these earbuds have a warm and inviting soundstage and come with AptX and AAC.
- Insane battery life
- Very comfortable
- Great sound
- Mushy control button
- Plastic design
Battery for days
Creative Outlier Gold
Don’t worry about the battery
The Outlier Gold feature an angled design that nuzzles into your ear to provide a comfortable fit, and they deliver outstanding battery life. The audio quality is fantastic for what you’re ultimately paying here, and you even get IPX5 water resistance.
Hayato Huseman Sony WH1000XM3
Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central
I’ve spent more time with Sony’s third-generation over-ear cans than any with other headphones in the last year. Back when frequent travel was still within the realm of possibility, they were my go-to pair of headphones thanks to the combination of incredible noise canceling, great sound quality, and comfort. The passthrough audio feature has also proven invaluable during situations like when the in-flight announcements come on during a flight.
Since we’ve all been stuck at home, I’ve certainly been using these headphones less, favoring my smaller, lighter, and wireless Galaxy Buds+. But lately I’ve been coming back to the 1000XM3, which are far more comfortable for long work shifts, and offer the option to go wired to eliminate latency when I’m editing video. I’m currently awaiting shipment on Sony’s followups, the WH1000XM4, which offer some long-requested perks like dual device pairing. In the meantime, though, these headphones remain glued to my head.
- Phenomenal noise canceling
- All-day battery life
- USB-C charging
- Fantastic sound quality
- Folds down to a more compact size
- Expensive for casual listening
- Can only pair to one device at a time
My next set
My favorite headphones, now even better
The WH1000XM4 improves upon the 1000XM3 that I already love, with simultaneous dual device pairing and even better noise canceling.
Jeramy Johnson 1More ColorBuds
Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Centra
The low-price to mid-tier true wireless earbud landscape can be a bit hit or miss, but occasionally you find a gem amongst the rubble, and I feel like that’s what I discovered when I tried on the 1More ColorBuds.
Coming in at around $100, I have equated these TWEs to the latest batch of mid- to low-tier Android phones that punch well above their price point. The ColorBuds look, feel, and sound comparable to buds that are $50-$80 more than what they retail for, but I still consider them just at the edge of the “affordable” range. You’re not going to get wireless charging jere, but you do get water and sweat resistance, customizable tap controls, and a very comfortable fit. These are the buds I’ve been reaching for every time I leave the house for a hike over the past few weeks, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised each time.
- Very comfortable
- Stay in place
- Fun color options
- IPX5 water and sweat resistance
- No wireless charging
- Case feels a bit cheap
1More set of earbuds to try
A gem amongst the rubble
The 1More ColorBuds are a pleasant surprise in the mid-range true wireless earbud space. While they don’t have all of the bells and whistles, they’re comfortable, sound good, and last a long time.
Jerry Hildenbrand Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro
Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central
I used to hate earbuds, but now I find myself using them more and more. Part of the reason is that earbuds sound better than ever, so I don’t need a big pair of earmuffs on the side of my head like a roller disco king.
These are my go-to buds because they are comfortable and don’t fall out of my ears. I often watch a movie or listen to music in bed and I need to stay quiet because my wife is not an insomniac like I am. I pop in my Liberty 2 Pros, give them a little twist so they lock in place, and everything is cool. Sometimes I’ll fall asleep with them in and find them still in my ears when the alarm goes off.
- Great sounding
- Don’t pop out very easily
- The microphones aren’t great (call quality)
- No audio passthrough mode
My favorite buds
Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro
As good as wired
Anker has built the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds the right way, and Bluetooth 5 with aptX support means you’ll miss the headphone jack a little less. These are my earbuds of choice.
Joe Maring Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central
The Galaxy Buds Live are one of the newer additions to my ever-growing collection of wireless earbuds, and the minute I started using them, I knew they were going to be a new favorite of mine. As someone that mostly ignored the previous Galaxy Buds and Buds+ because of their generic and uninteresting design, the Buds Live came in as a much-needed breath of fresh air.
All of the fundamentals about the Buds Live work as you’d expect for premium wireless earbuds. They sound amazing, battery life is great, microphone quality is top-notch, and Samsung’s companion app is chock-full of helpful features. All of that stuff is great, but what really sold me on the Buds Live is that design. The bean-like shape really is unlike anything else we’ve seen before, and along with being as cute as can be, it also allows the Galaxy Buds Live to be insanely comfortable. Because of that and the open design that allows me to still a FedEx delivery person or my dog barking at someone outside, the Buds Live are a perfect fit for my day-to-day workflow.
It’s true that active noise cancellation on the Buds Live is pretty weak compared to other earbuds, but that’s honestly fine with me. I have other headphones that I can use when it’s safe to work at coffee shops again and when I need to travel for press events, but for staying home and listening to music/podcasts, the Galaxy Buds Live have proven to be darn-near perfect.
- Excellent comfort for all ear types
- Clear, well-balanced audio
- Powerful companion app
- Reliable battery life
- They look like beans
- ANC is disappointing
Embrace the beans
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
I love my beans and you will too
Whether you’re here for the excellent audio, great battery life, or comfy design, the Galaxy Buds Live are the bee’s knees.
It’s all about wireless
True wireless earbuds are clearly the most popular choice amongst the Android Central team, and in particular, the Galaxy Buds+ received more than one mention. Even neckbuds haven’t completely phased out of our usage! Of course, there’s still a place for over-ear headphones as well, but particularly these days when none of us are traveling, they’re not quite as convenient as they once were.
Maybe once travel reopens (we can dream, right?), over-ears and headphones that place a high priority on active noise canceling will see a resurgence on our ears, but in the meantime, it’s all about convenience and unobtrusiveness above all else.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Alex Dobie is global Executive Editor for Android Central, and is usually found in the UK. He has been blogging since before it was called that, and currently most of his time is spent leading video for AC, which involves pointing a camera at phones and speaking words at a microphone. He would just love to hear your thoughts at email@example.com, or on the social things at @alexdobie.
Andrew Myrick is a freelance writer at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.
Ara Wagoner is a Writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes Google Play Music with a stick. When she’s not writing help and how-to’s, she’s off dreaming about Disney and singing show tunes. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.
Chris Wedel is a fan of all things tech and gadgets. Living in rural Kansas with his wife and two young boys makes finding ways to get and stay online tricky. By utilizing his years of experience with the tech and mobile communications industries — success is assured. When not conquering connectivity challenges and testing new gadgets, he enjoys cruising a gravel road in his UTV with some good tunes.
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he’s writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there’s a correlation. You can often find him tweeting.
Harish Jonnalagadda is the Regional Editor at Android Central. A reformed hardware modder, he now spends his time writing about India’s burgeoning handset market. Previously, he used to ponder the meaning of life at IBM. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and videographer for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman. Got a tip or inquiry? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeramy Johnson is proud to help to Keep Austin Weird and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he’s not writing about Amazon products and services, he’s defending his relationship with his side-chick Alexa to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.
Jerry Hildenbrand is Android Central’s resident nerd and proud of it. There’s nothing he can’t take apart, but many things he can’t reassemble. You’ll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.
Joe Maring is Android Central’s News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He’s been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Send an email to email@example.com!
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Published at Fri, 21 Aug 2020 17:01:41 +0000