Like it or not, Beats headphones are some of the most popular headphones in the world. If you go by the sheer amount of dollars earned, even that might be an understatement. Since the company is a part of Apple and the iPhone hasn’t had a headphone jack since the iPhone 7, it makes sense that all of the Beats products went wireless. Whether you’re looking for yourself or looking to gift them to someone, it’s hard to know what the best wireless Beats are. And because of the pricing, it’s not a decision you should take lightly. So we’ve made this list to help you figure out which wireless Beats products are better than the others, as well as a few technical things you should know before making your purchase.
Editor’s note: this article was updated on December 8, 2020, to address the Apple AirPods Max release, and to include the Jabra Elite 45h.
For most people, the best Beats headphones are the Beats Flex
Hear me out here. Sure, it’s not a pair of over-ear headphones and it doesn’t have that same classic appeal that something like the Solo3 headphones does, but that’s kind of the point. The BeatsX were designed to be discreet and low-key, and the new Beats Flex seem to be a worthy replacement.
Beats FlexFull Review
The Beats Flex keep all of the same features that made the BeatsX such a good choice and improved on the weak points. The neckband is still super flexible and easy to stash away in your pockets without worrying about any cables getting tangled up and the W1 chip makes pairing to Apple devices a breeze.
Beats Flex microphone demo:
Beats’ latest earbuds also now charge via USB-C and have an improved battery life of roughly 12 hours compared to the eight of the BeatsX. Of course, they still don’t have an official IP rating so using them at the gym isn’t the best idea, but at half the price of the BeatsX these seem to be a great deal.
If you’re a commuter take a look at the Beats Studio3 Wireless
If you commute a lot or find yourself on planes often, then you might want a good pair of active noise cancelling headphones. When it comes to Beats, that means the Studio3. These are a large pair of over-ear headphones that don’t only passively block outside noise, but also do so actively thanks to tiny microphones that help them pick up outside noise. We have a whole explainer on how active noise cancelling (ANC) works, so if you want to learn more make sure to check it out. Now while the Studio3 isn’t the best at ANC across the board, it’s currently the only Beats product with any kind of noise cancelling.
Beats Studio3 WirelessFull Review
But besides that, they too feature the W1 chip for easy pairing to iOS devices along with roughly 20 hours of battery life with Bluetooth and ANC. This is reason alone to crown them as some of the best wireless Beats, and it’s more than enough for a flight to most places in the world, so you won’t have to worry about running out of juice mid-flight.
These do suffer from a pretty significant lag when watching videos so if you’re going to be watching on your next flight you might need to hardwire them in. Also, don’t expect great sound here. It’s definitely a sound for a certain kind of person, but if that person is you, then these will do the job nicely.
If you want the classic on-ear style, go with the Beats Solo Pro
When you picture a pair of Beats headphones, you probably think of something like the Beats Solo3 wireless headphones that were previously on this list, but the Beats Solo Pro makes a strong case for why they should be the first thing you think of. Mainly because of the fact that they’re actually a good pair of headphones. Sure, they’re still a bit overpriced, but at least now it doesn’t feel like you’re paying for just the marketing scheme of Beats and are getting a decent product.
Beats Solo ProFull Review
These have Bluetooth 5.0 along with the same H1 chip that you’ll find in the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro headphones for easy pairing, so that’s a plus. Not to mention that they now have decent active noise cancelling, which is impressive for a pair of on-ears and (let’s be honest) a pair of Beats headphones.
Beats Solo Pro microphone demo:
On the downside, these cans are still pretty expensive at $299. Plus they no longer have a 3.5mm input so the only way to connect is wirelessly. If you’re not a fan of Bluetooth for one reason or another, that could be a pretty strong deterrent. That said, if you’re ready for the wireless life and want to give Beats a try, the Solo Pro get the job done.
The best wireless Beats for the gym are the Powerbeats Pro
If you just want some buds for the gym, then you should go with the Beats Powerbeats Pro. These are among the best true wireless buds we’ve tested, and they provide over 10 hours of playtime on a single charge. They have an IPX4 rating that protects against sweat and water damage. Apple packed in its H1 chip, so you can quickly pair your iOS device and automatically switch between devices, so long as they’re all associated with the same iCloud account. also have Apple’s own H1 chip inside, making pairing to an iOS device seamless.
Beats Powerbeats ProFull Review
While these aren’t as bass-heavy as the wired version they’re based on, they still have a decent emphasis in the low end that makes them the perfect gym companion. The only problem with them is the giant charging case that could be two or three times bigger than the one that comes with the Airpods. It also charges via a lightning cable which means that if you don’t already have an iPhone you’re going to have to find a way to carry another cable with you. But if you throw everything in your gym bag it shouldn’t be too much of a problem anyway. Just don’t expect to be able to comfortably carry them in your pockets.
Related: Best workout earbuds
Looking for something else? You might be interested in the Jabra Move Elite 45h
The Jabra Elite 45h is a great alternative to any of Beats’ headsets. Jabra knows a thing or two about consumer audio, and stressed the importance of portability with its Elite 45h headset. This is meant for days-long listening—that’s right, these headphones can last for upwards of 50 hours on a single charge before topping up via USB-C cable.
Jabra Elite 45hFull Review
Battery life isn’t the only impressive feature to be found here: the headset is backed by a great warranty that protects against dust and rain damage. So while the Elite 45h shouldn’t be your immediate workout headset, you can skate by with it in a pinch. The microphone quality is good, and the system effectively rejects off-axis background noise as heard in the audio sample below:
Jabra Elite 45h microphone demo:
What you should know about the best wireless Beats
There are some things that you might want to know before you spend your hard-earned cash. While you can dive deep into any of these topics by reading the full articles linked below, we thought we’d take the important parts and condense them here for the purposes of this article.
Why is the W1/H1 chip so special?
By this point, you’re probably wondering what’s so great about the W1 chip that we keep mentioning and what does it do? Well sorry Android-users, but the W1 chip is Apple specific. It’s a chip that Apple designed in-house to help the newer wireless Beats products (and the AirPods) have fewer issues when connecting wirelessly. Its purpose is to provide some backup to the Bluetooth chipset already in the phone. With the newer Airpods and Powerbeats Pro, it has been updated to the H1 chip.
Both chips help to maintain a more reliable connection, adds better power management so the headphones can last longer, and also makes the initial pairing process way easier by auto-detecting nearby devices with W1 chips and letting you connect to them quickly (with a sweet animation on your phone I might add). Of course, it isn’t going to suddenly make every pair of headphones with a W1 chip perfect, but it does help make not having a headphone jack a little less of a hassle. The H1 chip has all the same benefits but also allows for increased talk time, even better battery management, and the option to say “Hey Siri” in order to activate the voice assistant hands-free.
Bluetooth codecs and AAC
So what is a codec? A simple analogy is that it’s like a language. If two devices have the same language, they can communicate more effectively, which in turn allows for faster data transfer over Bluetooth resulting in better sound. Every Bluetooth device speaks the same baseline language called SBC, but there are a few that are better (including aptX Adaptive from Qualcomm that has the potential to be the best).
Now, this is usually the part where we tell you all about the numerous codecs available and what the difference are (which you can read about here if you’re interested), but none of that matters here. If you’re using an iPhone the only codec you need to worry about is AAC because that’s the only one that Apple uses. The downside is that AAC isn’t the best, and you don’t have any other options if you have an iOS device or a newer pair of Beats headphones due to a long and annoying legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm.
Auditory masking and why some people don’t like Beats
If you speak to anyone who cares about audio (and even us sometimes), they’ll tell you that Beats products sound terrible. But then why do so many people like them? Well, some of it is marketing, but most of the reason is that not everyone enjoys a clear and crisp sound. Depending on your musical tastes, you might just want something with powerful bass. And if you’re commuting or surrounded by noise, lower notes are usually the hardest to hear. For people who are constantly on the go, having headphones that make the lower notes louder is exactly what they want; enter wireless Beats.
Emphasized bass comes with a few downsides, mainly due to the human ear. If you make one note louder than another, our brains tend to delete the lower one. This is called auditory masking. So if you wear headphones that make all of the lower notes louder, then you’re going to lose some quality elsewhere. This is why Beats headphones usually aren’t for audiophiles. If you want headphones so you can hear every little detail in your songs, then Beats isn’t for you. But if you’re just going to the gym and need some bass to help you power through it, then look no further.
But what about the AirPods?
Even though they aren’t technically a Beats product, the AirPods are still made by Apple and come with some of the features that makes Beats so exciting. Plus, they’re not as expensive as most of the Beats products. The downside is that they are true wireless earbuds, so the odds of losing one accidentally are pretty high. But if you can manage, they’re super convenient and have become surprisingly popular despite their weird design.
Should you get the Apple AirPods Max?
The Apple AirPods Max come at a high cost, $549 USD to be exact, and they’re likely only suited for listeners who are heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem. If you fancy yourself more of an operating system-agnostic, then the AirPods Max are hard to justify. Many of the noise cancelling headphones’ features stem from the H1 chip, which only works with Apple devices. If you want to experience seamless device switching, access Siri with just your voice, and more, you’ll need at least one Apple device.
Apple is riding the wave of success from the AirPods and AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds, so it makes sense for the company to price its debut over-ear headphones so high. For most listeners, though, something from Beats or any number of other audio companies will be a much better bang for your buck.
Are all Beats wireless headphones noise cancelling?
The answer here is no, not all. Beats wireless headphones have active noise cancelling. On the bright side though, if that’s what you’re after then there is a simple answer. There are only three products from Apple that have active noise cancelling: the Beats Solo Pro, the Beats Studio3 wireless, and the Apple AirPods Pro. I know, the AirPods aren’t technically under the “Beats” brand, but you’d be making a mistake by discounting them just because of the branding. They’re actually a really solid pair of buds.
If noise cancelling is your top concern, then it’s worth checking out some of the other top competitors because while Beats products do seem to be improving when it comes to noise cancelling, they’re still not better than some others. For fans of in-ears like the Beats Flex, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is a solid pair of active noise cancelling earbuds that—while expensive—provide an immersive listening experience in a compact form factor. If money is no object, consider the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, which offers even better sound quality than Sony and Beats’ offerings, with added noise cancelling functionality.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Listening to and comparing as many headphones as possible is our day job. The SoundGuys team loves audio, but we also know that everyone has different preferences. Which is why we try to test objectively so that regardless of our personal preferences, you get the facts about which products are worth spending your money on. We also have years of experience in audio between us, with Chris even heading up testing phones (as well as other things) over at our sibling site Android Authority. Make sure to check out our ethics policy as well if you’re interested.
Next: Best Beats alternatives
Frequently Asked Questions
The Beats Studio3 Wireless is the company's first attempt at a pair of active noise cancelling headphones. While the feature certainly works, its attenuation of ambient noise doesn't quite hold a candle to the Sony WH-1000XM3, or even the Bose QC 35 II. If active noise cancelling headphones are on the top of your wish list, you may want to consider Sony or Bose's offerings—which are similarly priced to the Beats Studio3 Wireless.
Unfortunately, audio codec support is limited to AAC and SBC on Beats headphones. This means that unless you're using an iOS device, you have no choice but to use the SBC codec. If you want a more detailed explanation, check out Lily's guide to understanding Bluetooth codecs.
You'll need to download the Beats app for Android on the Google Play Store. From there, you can control key device features (such as noise cancelling, if supported) and update your product's firmware.
Marketed at a similar price bracket, it can be difficult to choose between the two. Fortunately, we compared the two "pro" headphones awhile back.