With all that’s good and great in the world of iPhone, there are some drawbacks, namely the lack of a headphone jack. If you’re still lamenting its omission and are in search of the best iPhone earbuds available, we have you covered.

Editor’s note: this list was updated on November 8, 2018, to include the Mobvoi TicPods Free and account for relevant Bluetooth information and price fluctuations.

The Apple AirPods are the best iPhone earbuds

Inside the AirPods is Apple’s proprietary W1 Chip, meaning that connection drops seldom occur. Although the sound quality isn’t top-notch—even with AAC support—wireless headphones are only as good as their connection, making these the best iPhone earbuds available. And, as if you weren’t already shoulder-deep in the Apple ecosystem, the W1 Chip allows for the AirPods to simultaneously connect to all of your Apple devices and switch between them sans hiccups.

Apple AirPods

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What’s more, these true wireless earbuds include a carrying case that doubles as a charging case, extending the already long battery life of the earbuds. And, upon removal from the case, the AirPods automatically connect to your iPhone. Even if you’re not a fan of the AirPods—after all, they do look strange—you have to give Apple credit where credit is due; these are convenient.

By the bye, battery life is phenomenal. Our objective testing recorded that the AirPods provide 3.45 hours of playback time—which is above average for true wireless earbuds—and it’s the additional four charges afforded by the case that make these the best iPhone earbuds. On top of that, 15 minutes of charging equates to three hours of playback time. Neat stuff.

But what about the microphones? True wireless earbuds tend to suffer in this department; 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. Not only is this good news for your weekly unproductive conference call, but it makes the whole Siri command thing that much easier.

Taking into account the ease of use, versatility, and reliable connectivity, Apple’s AirPods 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.

Related: Best true wireless earbuds

What you should know about the best iPhone 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.

AAC: The codec that matters

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.

SBC aptX aptX HD AAC LDAC bluetooth codecs profile audio

Represented is the max transfer rate (kbps) of each respective Bluetooth codec (greater is better). Each waveform depicts a transfer rate of 100 kbps.

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.

We care about battery life, but only so much

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 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

Listening should be fun

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 this best list, 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 BeatsX is the best bang for your buck when it comes to the best iPhone earbuds

If paying upwards of $140 for AirPods seems steep, congratulations, we’re working with similar budgets. Abysmal finances aside, the BeatsX offers many of the AirPods’ premium features at a more reasonable price.


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See also:

Best wireless Beats headphones

Let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we? A big reason for the price discrepancy between these and the AirPods is that they’re fundamentally different products. While the AirPods swagger from the ear canals of many with their truly wireless prowess, the BeatsX traditional wireless technology makes the ‘buds seem like an old hat. Familiar, reliable, but old nonetheless.

AAC support ensures that audio streaming is a lag-free process. There isn’t any perceptible lag, unlike what you’d experience with the Plantronics Backbeat 500 Fit. That combined with the integrated W1 chip means that the headphones are able to maintain a stable connection. Take those things into account with the Class 1 Bluetooth technology that allows for an astounding 100-meter connectivity range, and you have yourself a mighty fine package.

Hush your surroundings with the Sony WF-SP700N

If the idea of true wireless sounds enticing, but the poor isolation from the AirPods is a turn-off, the Sony WF-SP700N may be the best iPhone earbuds for you. These IPX4-rated ‘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.

Sony WF-SP700N

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Sony, the company that delivered the WH-1000x M2 noise canceling 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-SP700N bass reproduction receives a hefty dose of emphasis. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most of us prefer increased bass and treble anyway, which these earbuds feature by emulating the ISO 226:2003 equal loudness contour.

One of the company-touted perks of the WF-SP700N 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 others true wireless apps, operating the Sony | Headphones Connect app provides functional and easy-to-operate features. What I used most was toggling between sound quality modes. Sony allows you to prioritize sound quality at the expense of connectivity, or connectivity at the expense of sound quality. Nifty stuff.

best iPhone earbuds - Sony WF-SP700N: A screenshot of the app's controls and interface.

A great, self-aware feature of these true wireless ‘buds is the ability to choose between prioritizing sound quality or connectivity, making them one of the best iPhone earbuds.

Something to be aware of, though, is the poor battery life—yes, even for true wireless—and finicky charging case. The only thing more mundanely annoying thing than removing your earbuds from the case only to realize that they never charged in the first place is hearing your neighbor’s nuclear launch-themed alarm go off far earlier than he does. 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 exercise are the Jaybird Tarah

The Jaybird Tarah takes what fans loved about the X4 and made it more affordable. The Tarah is a “Made for Google” product, meaning that it’s ensured to work with Google devices like the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

Jaybird Tarah

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Just like the X4, the Tarah is IPX7 water-resistant, so it can withstand being submerged in one meter of water for up to half an hour. What’s more, the builds are nearly identical with the Tarah being a bit more rounded, whimsical. Connectivity is reliable, to a point. There weren’t any complete drops experienced but if you want the best connectivity, stick with the AirPods.

best iPhone earbuds: Image of the Jaybird Freedom 2 in front of an iPhone with the Jaybird ap open.

You can fine-tune your EQ preferences via the Jaybird MySound app.

If you’re the odd-man-out who doesn’t like boosted bass in workout earbuds, you can adjust that via the Jaybird MySound app. A neat feature being that you can save EQ presets to the earbuds, so the audio will sound the same from any source device. This isn’t going to be as comprehensive or granular as the Sony WH-1000x M3 app, but it gets the job done.

Related: Best workout earbuds

If you want something that vaguely resembles the AirPods, grab the Mobvoi TicPods Free

Mobvoi’s debut true wireless earbuds feature a similar stem design as the AirPods with better sound quality, good battery life, and a nice carrying case. The biggest downfall of the TicPods Free are the silicone ear tips, but you can always invest a few extra bucks into some third-party ear tips.

Mobvoi TicPods Free

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To operate controls, just follow the list of swiping and tapping gestures that allow for playback and call controls. Regarding connectivity, well, AAC isn’t CD quality, but it does perform better with iPhones than any Android device.

According to our testing, and Chris’ keen ears, the TicPods Free produce a bass-heavy sound signature. If you’re having trouble achieving this, memory foam ear tips are a quick fix. What’s more, the earbuds do provide noise cancelling capabilities that work a bit. If you want top-end noise cancellation, look into the Sony WF-SP700N instead. On the whole, these are a great value for iPhone earbuds.

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.

best iPhone earbuds - Optoma NuForce Be Sport4: The earbuds in a test head's ears.

We use objective readouts to determine the best iPhone earbuds frequency responses.

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.

Notable mentions

Best iPhone earbuds - Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear Wireless: The earbuds on a wood table with sunglasses in the background and a Swiss Army knife in the foreground.

The Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear Wireless earbuds are a neckband style earbud that’s comfortable and flexible, both of which are great for all-day use.

  • Sony WH-1000X M2: If you need some of the best active noise canceling headphones available, look no further than the WH-1000x M2. If Chris likes them, it means something.
  • 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.
  • Optoma NuForce Be Live5: If the BeatsX is appealing but you want ‘buds that are more durable (IPX5) and support both aptX and AAC Bluetooth codecs, the Be Live5 is a fashion-forward pick.
  • Sennheiser HD1 Wireless In-Ear: Sennheiser is a well-respected brand and for good reason. These earbuds impressively negotiate build and sound quality while simultaneously offering us consumers an affordable price.
  • RHA MA390 Wireless: This is one of the best values you can get. It includes aptX and AAC support, IPX4 certification, and features an iOS compatible mic and remote.
  • Pioneer Rayz: Maybe you’re not ready to forgo wired listening. If that’s the case, then these are an affordable pair of lightning cable earbuds. If you want them with noise canceling those are available for a slightly higher price.
  • Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8This pair of true wireless earbuds include AAC support and features a more traditional true wireless earbud design. Listeners can control when to hear surroundings via the transparency functionality.
  • Bose SoundSport FreeIf you’re in the market for true wireless workout earbuds, these are a great bet. They have a solid standalone battery life and fit well despite their size.

Why you should trust us

Best iPhone earbuds: A photo of Chris sleeping in a bed, while using the Bose sleepbuds 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

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