Ever since the removal of the headphone jack, finding the best iPhone earbuds has been a little tricky. Either you have to deal with a dongle and not be able to charge your phone, or you have to go wireless. Apple obviously wants you to do the latter, and with that in mind, we figured we’d help you out a bit when it comes to choosing which pair is right for you. If you want the best iPhone earbuds then don’t overthink it, most people should just get the AirPods Pro.

Editor’s note: this list of the best iPhone earbuds was updated on January 18, 2021, to address the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds in the notable mentions section.

Apple’s new AirPods Pro are the best iPhone earbuds

With the release of the AirPods Pro, picking the best earbuds for iPhone users suddenly became a no-brainer. While there are other great options you can choose from later in this list, the seamless integration of the AirPods Pro with any iOS device gives them an obvious edge over the competition.

Apple AirPods Pro

Full Review

Like all other Apple headphones that come with the H1 chip such as the original AirPods or the Beats Solo Pro, pairing to these is as easy as hitting “Connect” on the card that pops up on your device. What sets the AirPods Pro apart from the pack is that these now have silicone ear tips to help you get a better fit and keep them from falling out. They also have some other nifty features like noise cancelling and a transparency mode. The latter uses the microphones to help you hear what’s going on around you, and both features are facilitated by the baked-in DSP.

The case still charges via Lightning cable despite how the included cable is USB-C to Lightning. So close Apple, so close. Still, you can always throw them on any Qi-compatible wireless charger to juice them up which is nice. You can expect about 4.5 hours of battery life with active noise cancelling turned on, and in our full review, we managed to squeeze out just over five hours.

Related: Apple AirPods Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM3

The long stem is much shorter now, and it’s actually functional now: you can squeeze it or long-press it to control playback and toggle active noise cancelling. The original AirPods weren’t our favorite, but they were convenient which is why everyone uses them. The company managed to maintain the convenience aspect while adding practical features that actually put them in competition with some of the other true wireless earbuds that we typically consider to be the best.

True wireless earbuds tend to suffer when it comes to microphone quality; however, the Apple engineers managed to insert a voice accelerometer that works in tandem with the beamforming microphones. Essentially this works to filter out ambient noise, making your voice clearer.

Apple AirPods Pro microphone demo:

Taking into account the ease of use, versatility, and reliable connectivity, Apple’s new AirPods Pro are unsurprisingly the best iPhone earbuds on the market. Say what you will about the one-trillion-dollar company, it knows how to produce products that play nicely with each other. And if you already own a handful of Apple products, the AirPods are the next logical purchase for seamless integration into your daily routine.

What you should know about the best Apple earbuds

There are a few things to pay attention to when picking out the best iPhone earbuds. None of it is rocket science, but minimal attention to detail gets you a long way with your iOS audio headset.

What Bluetooth codec matters most with iPhones?

Although there are plenty of Bluetooth codecs supported by a variety of devices, the only one that you need to care about with regards to the best iPhone earbuds is the AAC codec. Apple doesn’t support aptX or LDAC, so AAC is your only option. And while AAC isn’t CD quality it performs best with Apple devices.

A chart showing the AAC Bluetooth codec's performance on the Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, and Apple iPhone 7; AAC performs best with the best iPhone earbuds because it's reliable on iOS..

AAC performs differently depending on what device is being used. It may be high-frequency sound, but these drop-outs will be audible to younger ears.

Seeing as Apple is Apple and loves proprietary hardware and software, the AAC codec is the only one that’s compatible with the company’s products. If you’re looking at headphones that support aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC, that’s all well and good but won’t be of much help in your quest to find the best iPhone earbuds.

How much does battery life matter?

Upon polling Android Authority readers, we found that a majority of you listen to your music between one and two hours a day. That’s significant, especially when accounting for the listed true wireless models. In order to test true wireless battery life, we use objective measures and subject the earbuds to an infinite loop of pink noise set at an output of 75dB(SPL). That way, we can consistently test each product, allowing for greater testing reliability and minimal variance.

ModelBattery life 75dB (hours)Best iPhone supported Bluetooth codecPrice
Apple Airpods3.45AAC$150
Bose Soundsport Free4.58SBC$200
Sony WF-SP700N2.58SBC$179
Jaybird X47.5SBC$129
V-Moda Crossfade 210.62AAC$350
Sennheiser HD1 Wireless In-Ear11.3AAC$128
RHA MA390 Wireless6.367AAC$69
Optoma NuForce Be Live56.63AAC$99

What if you don’t like how studio-quality headphones sound?

We here at SoundGuys can type until our fingers go numb about the importance of a neutral frequency response, but that isn’t what’s most pleasing to everyone. Yes, if you’re looking to hear the audio as the audio engineer intended, you should use studio headphones, because those products will have the closest thing to a Platonic, flat response. But most of us want our headphones to be fun and reproduce an “energetic” sound, not necessarily an analytical one.

When writing deciding on the best Apple earbuds, the importance of slightly emphasized low-end and treble was taken into account as the former denotes “liveliness,” while the latter facilitates a perceived increase in clarity, to get a better picture of this, read up on the equal-loudness contour.

This isn’t to say, however, that headphones with flat frequency responses aren’t fun. For many, this type of audio reproduction is preferred, even outside the studio. But if you were to conduct your own man-on-the-street style questionnaire—more likely than not—you’d find that passersby prefer an exaggerated response.

The Beats Powerbeats Pro has the best battery life of any iPhone earbuds

If you like the idea of seamless integration with your iPhone but want a more secure fit when you’re exercising, then you should look into the Apple Beats Powerbeats Pro. These sport an earhook design and actual nozzles that insert into the ear canal, which improves sound quality and stability.

Apple Beats Powerbeats Pro

Full Review

Battery life comes in at an insane 10 hours 48 minutes before the earbuds need to be recharged, and even that’s a snappy process: five minutes of charging yields 1.5 hours of playback. Just like AirPods Pro, combined battery life clocks in at more than 24 hours of listening.

AAC support and H1 chip integration ensure lag-free audio streaming. The updated chip also allows for hands-free access to Siri just like the new AirPods. They’re IPX4 rated and come in a handful of colors (black, ivory, navy, and moss) to match your style.

Beats Powerbeats Pro microphone demo:

The Powerbeats Pro are loaded with sensors to streamline operation. Removing the ‘buds from your ears automatically pauses playback, and accelerometers detect when you’re speaking to guide the microphone when you’re in a loud environment. There’s also a button and volume rocker on each earbud, too.

Hush your surroundings with the Sony WF-1000XM3

If the idea of true wireless sounds enticing, the Sony WF-1000XM3 may be the best iPhone earbuds for you. These high-end ‘buds bring noise canceling technology to the true wireless stage. For many, it’s a pity that they don’t offer aptX support; however, this feature is currently irrelevant to iPhone users. All that matters is AAC support, which these have. Plus, while the Airpods Pro is also sporting some pretty good active noise cancelling, Sony is still better at it.

Sony WF-1000XM3

Full Review

Sony, the company that delivered the WH-1000XM4 noise cancelling headphones, impressed us yet again with these earbuds. As depicted by the chart below, the attenuation is remarkable as most ANC headphones struggle with filtering out sub-100Hz frequencies. By successfully reducing low-end ambient noise, the WF-1000XM3’s bass reproduction seems a bit more emphasized than it really is. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most of us prefer increased bass and treble anyway.

Sony WF-1000XM3 microphone demo:

One of the company-touted perks of the WF-1000XM3 is the ability to switch between three sound modes: noise canceling, ambient sound mode, and off. Safe to say, the manual switching process is frustrating at best. But as we smartphone users have come to expect, “there’s an app for that,” allowing you to alternate modes with a few taps. Generally speaking, unlike other true wireless apps, operating the Sony | Headphones Connect app provides functional and easy-to-operate features. Sony allows you to prioritize sound quality at the expense of connectivity, or connectivity at the expense of sound quality.

The Sony WF-1000XM3 noise cancelling isolation chart, which illustrates why its among the best iPhone earbuds.

The Sony WF-1000XM3 noise canceling is highly effective at attenuating low-frequency background noise.

Something to be aware of, though, is the battery life. While a shade under 5 hours will take care of you for your commute, you’ll need to recharge if you tend to listen all day long. Ultimately, each product has its positives and negatives, but if you’re looking for the best iPhone earbuds with active noise canceling, these are it.

The best iPhone earbuds for sound quality are the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2

Like the others listed, Sennheiser’s sophomore true wireless noise cancelling earbuds support AAC for optimal iOS media playback. If you do happen to have an Android device, too, the earbuds also support aptX.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2

Full Review

High-quality codecs aside, Sennheiser knows how to appropriately tune audio products and the 1.5-7kHz dip in frequency response is intentional as this range creates unwanted resonances perceived by the human ear which are only amplified when a proper seal is formed. Unfortunately, isolation isn’t the best and Sennheiser doesn’t include memory foam ear tips, but if you want to improve isolation properties make sure to invest in third-party ear tips.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 microphone demo:

Battery life performance is middle of the road and allows for nearly four hours of constant playback. While this isn’t supremely impressive the included carrying case grants extra charge cycles, before requiring a recharge via USB-C. If you want an attractive pair of earbuds that look as good as they sound, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 is a reliable pick.

Read on: Best noise cancelling true wireless earphones

If you want plenty of features for less, get the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 resemble the standard Apple AirPods with their stemmed design but these use ear tips to seal to the ear canal. For just $99, you’re afforded good microphone quality, a great fit, and a wireless charging case.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2

Full Review

These earbuds are IPX5-rated, so you can take them to the gym anytime without worry. Touch-sensitive panels make it easy to skip songs, access your virtual assistant, and more. You can even remap the controls in the SoundCore app. They use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and support both aptX and AAC, meaning high-quality wireless audio is supported no matter your smartphone’s operating system.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 microphone demo:

Battery life is above average: you get 7 hours, 5 minutes of playtime on a single charge, and quick charging is also supported. A brief 10 minutes in the case provides you with two hours of listening, which is pretty exceptional. Said case houses a USB-C input and supports Qi wireless charging.

Sound quality is very bass-heavy right off the bat, but this can be adjusted by choosing from any number of Anker’s presets or by creating your own. Isolation is excellent, but this is dependent on finding the best fitting ear tips. If you’re able to do so, low hums and background chatter will be reduced up to 1/2 their loudness.

Ready to spend big? Get the Apple AirPods Max noise cancelling headphones

The Apple AirPods Max and its smart case on a white desk.

The headphones come with its smart case and a charging cable, and nothing else.

The Apple AirPods Max are the company’s debut over-ear noise cancelling headphones, and Apple is confident you’ll want to buy them. So confident, in fact, that they cost $549 USD. While this is certainly cost-prohibitive for many shoppers, those locked into the Apple ecosystem may find the H1 chip conveniences justify the high price.

You might like: Best noise cancelling headphones

We can’t yet speak to the noise cancelling capabilities, but the AirPods Max feature three outward-facing microphones and one inward-facing mic to combat external noise and inner-ear resonances, respectively. This hybrid noise cancelling system rivals that of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Apple’s main competitors in the ANC headphones space.

The Apple AirPods Max house an H1 chip in each headphone to maximize processing power.

Aside from a comfortable fit, and noise cancelling capabilities, you’re afforded access to features like Adaptive EQ and Spatial Audio. The former is technology we’ve seen from the Apple AirPods Pro, and it makes real-time adjustments to the sound profile depending on how well the headset fits. Spatial Audio, on the other hand, is Apple’s take on surround sound and supports 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos content, which is great for movie playback.

The cost is a hard pill to swallow, but if you want noise cancelling headphones that operate seamlessly with your Apple devices, perhaps the AirPods Max are worth the purchase.

Best iPhones earbuds: notable mentions

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds noise cancelling true wireless earbuds rest outside of the charging case on a table and in front of a stack of books.

If you don’t care for custom equalization offerings, the Bose adaptive EQ is great and makes the QuietComfort Earbuds an easy device to use.

  • Amazon Echo BudsIt may seem odd to see an Apple AirPods competitor listed here, but make no mistake, the Echo Buds remain a great option for iPhone users who are beholden to smart home tech. They’re compatible with Siri and Google Assistant, but hands-free access to virtual assistance is only available through Alexa. They’re water-resistant and use Bose noise-reduction technology to improve sound quality.
  • Apple AirPodsWhile they’re no longer the flagship model of AirPods, the original AirPod design seemed to work for plenty of people. They don’t have any of the cooler new features of the Pro, but they are cheaper.
  • Beats Flex: These earbuds are the successor to the BeatsX, equipped with Apple’s W1 chip for reliable connectivity, a 12-hour battery life, magnetic housings, and audio sharing with other Beats headphones or AirPods.
  • Beats Powerbeats: These afford nearly all of the same features as the Pro model for $100 less; users benefit from the integrated H1 chip, water-resistance, and even better battery life since these are standard wireless earbuds.
  • Bose Sport Earbuds: This is one of the latest true wireless earbuds Bose has to offer, featuring a sleek design, IPX4 water-resistant build, and intuitive touch controls.
  • Bose QuietComfort EarbudsThis is Bose’s latest flagship true wireless earbuds—delivering excellent active noise cancelling in an IPX4 water-resistant build. These buds are essentially the in-ear version of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
  • Jabra Elite Active 75tDurability is the name of the game with these IP57-rated earbuds. Not only do they operate via Bluetooth 5.0, they also support multipoint connectivity. This means you can connect them to two devices at a time. Other features include quick charging, excellent mic quality, and automatic ear detection. If you’re willing to sacrifice some durability for a few bucks, the Jabra Elite 75t is also a great option.
  • Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro: By far, the coolest feature of these earbuds is the AI-enabled TicHear and TicMotion technology. The former of which allows users to say, “Hey Tico” for hands-free access to Siri or Google Assistant. That’s right, Mobvoi worked out a clever way to sidestep H1 chip or Google Assistant integration.
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: Samsung’s Galaxy Buds lead the true wireless pack in battery life and have much-improved microphone quality over the first-gen model. If you want AAC support, a whimsical design, and wireless charging for less, get these.
  • Sennheiser CX400BTIf you like the idea of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, but don’t want to pay a premium for noise cancelling, consider these earbuds instead. The CX400BT’s sound profile is idential to the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 with a more urban design and cheaper price.
  • V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex: Arguably some of the most durable headphones on the market, the Crossfade 2 Codex include both aptX and AAC support. Plus, you can customize nearly everything about these cans, even the screws.

Test data

ModelBattery life 75dB (hours)Best iPhone supported Bluetooth codecPrice
Apple Airpods3.45AAC$150
Bose Soundsport Free4.58SBC$200
Sony WF-SP700N2.58SBC$179
Jaybird X47.5SBC$129
V-Moda Crossfade 210.62AAC$350
Sennheiser HD1 Wireless In-Ear11.3AAC$128
RHA MA390 Wireless6.367AAC$69
Optoma NuForce Be Live56.63AAC$99

Similar to algebraic proofs, we have to show our work. As it applies to earbuds and headphones alike, seal matters. A poor fit, and thus a poor seal, will noticeably degrade audio quality. One of the first things to go? Bass. Since the only awarded noise canceling best iPhone earbuds are the Sony WF-SP700N, they’re the only pick here that use small microphones to cancel out noise. The others filter out ambient noise passively, relying strictly on a proper fit.

How we tested the best iPhone earbuds

We made sure to subject each candidate and pick to our battery of objective testing which includes isolation, frequency response, and battery life. We respect that listening is a subjective experience, while also acknowledging that sound can be measured and discussed objectively at the same time.

Yes, our trio of tests are fundamental, but they analyze what consumers care about the most as it applies to the best iPhone earbuds and wireless earbuds in general. Regarding battery life readouts, your mileage will likely vary as it depends how loudly you’re listening to your music. In order to combat this variance, we subject each unit to a constant 75dB(SPL) output. Additionally, in most cases, you can improve isolation by using third-party ear tips.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

A photo of Chris sleeping in a bed, while using the Bose Sleepbuds, which didn't make it as the best iPhone earbuds, near an air conditioner.

While we don’t usually sleep on the job, we will if a product calls for it like the Bose Sleepbuds.

Working at SoundGuys serves as each of our day jobs; yes, it is a dream. We get paid to listen and test as many products as possible while constantly researching, which means that our opinions aren’t influenced by the companies manufacturing them. If we don’t like something, we say it. Simple as that.

Additionally, each of us has several years involved in the audio community, and after having kept up with the audio industry for years, we’re able to easily tell the gimmicks from the goldmines. If you have the time or desire, feel free to read our full ethics policy here.

Next: Best cheap true wireless earbuds

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between the Beats Powerbeats Pro and Beats Powerbeats?

The Beats Powerbeats Pro offer additional features over the standard Powerbeats, including a prolonged battery life, true-wireless design, and an IPX4 water resistance rating. This expanded feature set does come at a cost, putting both earbuds in two different price brackets. Make sure to read Lily's article for a more detailed comparison between the two earbuds.

Are the AirPods Pro better than the regular AirPods?

The AirPods Pro offer additional features over its non-pro counterpart, such as active noise cancelling and interchangeable ear tips. We have actually compared the two earbuds in a previous article.

Can I use these true wireless earbuds with Android?

Yes, any of the listed wireless products are also compatible with Android and any Bluetooth-enabled device. We selected our picks as the best iPhone earbuds because they have iOS-friendly features like AAC support or, in the case of the AirPods Pro, H1 chip integration.