It’s been nearly five years since Apple bravely dropped the headphone jack from its phone, and since then, countless companies have followed in its wake. Initially a massive inconvenience, wireless audio has since become second nature. Walk down any street in any city, and it seems like nearly everyone has switched to wireless headphones.
That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, especially if you’ve purchased a high-end phone recently. While budget devices and some mid-range offerings have kept the jack around, most modern flagships feature a USB-C port and nothing else. Plenty of phones include an adapter in the box, but the convenience of wire-free audio is alluring — and wireless headphones have gotten really, really good.
Earbuds like Sony’s new XM4s feature excellent battery life and ANC for blocking out the world around you, while Amazon and Google both offer budget sets for around $100. Gone are the days of sub-five hours of listening time — most sets now offer six to seven on a single charge, with carrying cases offering additional on-the-go power. Meanwhile, on-ear and over-ear headphones can push up to 40 hours of playback, perfect for an entire week of work at the office.
Audio quality has come a long way in the last five years, and an improved sense of comfort — despite all of our various ear and head shapes — helps make wireless gear more accessible to everyone.
Of course, the benefits of wired headphones still stand firm. Even as wireless buds become cheaper, wired sets still feature far more affordable prices, along with lighter designs and premium sound quality in the high-end market. Oh, and they still work on airplanes and with that shiny new OLED Switch that still can’t connect to Bluetooth earbuds without a third-party adapter.
So what do you prefer? Since the first time we’ve run this poll, we’ve split wireless earbuds into TWEs and “neckbuds,” or sets with a connecting cable running behind your neck. We’ve also included bone conduction headphones, which are slowly growing in popularity outside of cycling and other active sports. Feel free to pick as many options as you use on a regular basis.