Soundcore Space A40
These little headphones have great sound, excellent noise cancellation and long battery life. But they don’t support a voice-activated assistant like Alexa or Siri, and touch control is slightly limited.
The Soundcore Space A40 beats the competition with a great combination of performance, features and price. Sound quality is nice out of the box, but if that’s not your ideal, there are a few ways to tweak the sound using the Soundcore app. The small, lightweight earbuds should fit most ears comfortably, and 10 hours of battery life on a single charge is impressive, especially for such small earbuds. The pocket-sized charging case lasts for an additional 40 hours of power and supports wireless charging. You can use both headphones separately and there are six microphones to ensure clear phone calls and a natural-sounding listening mode. Dual device connectivity allows you to effortlessly switch between listening to music on your laptop and taking calls on your phone. An IPX4 waterproof rating means your headphones are protected from a little rain or sweat, and an 18-month warranty protects you from unexpected mishaps. While the active noise cancellation isn’t the best we’ve tested, it’s still excellent.
The touch controls work reliably and are customizable in the app, but they don’t offer everything: You’ll have to choose one feature, like reverse, that you want to skip. To use the phone’s voice-activated digital assistant, you’ll need to tap the controls to activate it; this pair doesn’t always heed the wake-up call. If this is a feature you really want, consider one of our great tips instead.
Beats Fit Pro
These headphones sound great, fit securely and offer the convenience of hands-free Siri voice control. However, they lack dual-device pairing, and the rugged case can’t be charged wirelessly.
If you’re an Apple fan who wants all the pairing and voice control convenience of AirPods, but is looking for better all-around performance, the Beats Fit Pro is for you. This pair can transition seamlessly between your commute, workplace and gym. The Fit Pro sounds great, with somewhat boosted bass and excellent vocal clarity, and the built-in microphones do a good job of reducing wind and background noise. Active noise cancellation successfully reduces the volume of aircraft/train engines, vacuum cleaners and air conditioners. If you want to keep one ear open, you can use either earbud alone, and six hours of listening time is decent (though not as good as our other picks). The charging case lasts another 18 hours, but it lacks wireless charging and isn’t as small as we’d like.
These headphones are water-resistant enough (IPX4) to provide protection for most activities, and flexible stabilizer wings keep them securely in place. Our test panel found the winged design to be comfortable and liked the extra security it provided, but people who are sensitive to ear pressure may not like how the wings feel.
Like the AirPods Pro, they offer easy pairing and exchange connections with iCloud-connected Apple devices, as well as touchless “Hey Siri” voice control. Physical buttons control track skipping, phone calls, and volume on Apple devices; some button customization and one-touch pairing is available for use with Android devices (if you download the Beats app). The main disadvantage of these headphones is the inability to pair them with two devices at the same time (such as a phone and a laptop), but with the ease of switching connections, this is less of a problem for Apple users. Apple guarantees Beats headphones against manufacturing defects for one year from the date of purchase.
JBL Reflect Aero TWS
This pair offers a choice of voice-activated Alexa or Google Assistant control, as well as good sound and excellent noise cancellation. But touch controls have some annoying limitations.
If you want a pair of true wireless headphones that support Alexa or Google Assistant voice control, you’ll love the JBL Reflect Aero TWS. This is a top pick in our guide to exercise headphones, as the winged earcups stay securely in place, are simple to operate and are waterproof and sweatproof, with an IP68 rating. However, the Reflect Aero TWS goes beyond exercise. The sound is good out of the box and you can fine-tune it to your preference using the equalizer controls in the JBL mobile app. The pair’s eight-hour battery life is solid for true wireless headphones, and the pocket-sized case offers an additional 16 hours of power (though we wish it supported wireless charging). The active noise cancellation is very effective and if you need to hear your surroundings, listening mode is within reach. Or, if you prefer, you can use only one earpiece at a time. Six microphones ensure clear phone calls, and you can connect a pair of Reflect Aero TWS to two devices at the same time.
Like the Beats Fit Pro, this pair uses stabilizing wings to help keep the earbuds in place. JBL includes three sizes of wings, so you can choose the one that fits your ear most comfortably. Our testers found the fit to be comfortable, but people with very small or sensitive ears may tire of the pressure of the wings over time. Although the Reflect Aero TWS touch controls are easy to learn and use, we wish they could adjust the volume, playback, noise cancellation and listening function, but unfortunately you’ll have to choose one of these functions. omit. If anything goes wrong, JBL covers this pair with a one-year warranty.
Choosing a budget
EarFun Free 2S
This affordable pair is packed with features and performs respectably well, but sound quality and features fall behind the best competitors.
If you want completely wireless headphones that cost around $50, the EarFun Free 2S are the best pair we’ve found. EarFun gives you a lot of premium features for the money, including above-average IPX7 waterproofing, a Qi-compatible charging case, a solid seven-hour battery life on a single charge, and an 18-month warranty. The Free 2S is the successor to our previous budget pick, the Free 2. Most of the specs are the same, but the new headphones are noticeably smaller and use a newer version of Bluetooth. The Free 2S headphones have a full set of touch controls, and the quality of the background noise-canceling microphones rivals headphones costing $100 or more.
However, this pair is not perfect. It lacks advanced features like active noise cancellation and listening mode. And while the Free 2S is less bulky than its predecessor, the chassis is smooth and has less grip than other designs, so people with very small ears may struggle to fit. In addition, touch controls are more demanding than physical buttons.