As we enter 2021, the true wireless earphones segment has seen some big launches. Although Apple hasn’t launched anything new since the AirPods Pro, other brands such as Sennheiser and Sony have been hard at work. Apart from the high-profile launches, we’ve also seen affordable players such as Xiaomi enter the space in India, as well as some impressive options from brands such as JVC, Huawei, OnePlus, Vivo, and Realme, to name a few.
Although there’s definitely demand for high-end products, we’ve seen some big shifts in the affordable and mid-range segments as well. We have a new top pick in the mid-range segment, and some noteworthy new entrants in the premium space as well. Read on to find out what our current top picks are when it comes to the true wireless earphones space in India, updated in January 2021.
How do true wireless earphones work?
Up until the advent of true wireless technology, wireless headphones and earphones have had some kind of connector between the left and right channels, be it a wire or a headband. With true wireless earphones, even this short cable is gone, and each earbud features its own battery, DAC, amplifier and Bluetooth chip. The earbuds individually connect to the source device, or a dominant earbud that is connected to the source then also connects with the second earbud to provide the digital signal.
This way, each earphone is able to work independently, yet the two function together to ensure that the listener gets stereo sound output from the source device. The obvious advantage of this arrangement is the convenience of a completely wire-free listening experience, which improves comfort and ease of use. This is a boon in many usage scenarios, including while working out, in crowded places, on your commute, or when you want to use your earphones while lying down.
True wireless earphones often also include built-in microphones, which makes it possible to use them as hands-free devices with your smartphone. Provided the microphones are good enough to pick up sound over a slightly longer distance, this makes true wireless earphones the most discreet and effective way to have call conversations on the move. And while the additional components may make the earbuds a bit heavier than typical earphones, many new options have compact, light-weight designs that are comfortable and don’t rely on winged tips or ear hooks to stay in place in your ears.
Best true wireless earphones: Apple AirPods Pro
Our favourite true wireless headset you can buy today is the Apple AirPods Pro. Yes, it’s expensive at ₹ 24,900. However, for that price, you get features and sound quality that, in our opinion, are unmatched in the segment. The AirPods Pro is a big improvement over previous AirPods and competing headsets, thanks to one big feature – active noise cancellation. This makes the headset a lot more useful than most other true wireless options, and improves your ability to hear the sound even in the noisiest of environments. There’s also Transparency mode, which lets in outside and ambient sound in the most natural sounding way we’ve heard on any earphones to date. We found the sound to be engaging, immersive, and clean.
Much of the improvements in these earphones can be credited to the in-ear fit, which makes for better noise isolation and a more immersive listening experience. The AirPods Pro is also incredibly flexible, and is able to adjust to different tracks on the fly for a comfortable, yet entertaining sound. As expected, the AirPods are meant to be used with Apple devices and work best if you have an iPhone or iPad. That isn’t to say they won’t work on Android smartphones or computers, but certain features will only work with an Apple iOS device. But regardless of what device you use it with, the AirPods Pro is an easy and engaging pair of true wireless earphones.
Buy: AirPods Pro
Best under ₹ 15,000: Jabra Elite 75t
Danish audio manufacturer Jabra is best known for its professional audio headsets, but its consumer range is equally good and often underrated. One of its newest products in India is the Jabra Elite 75t, which is a premium true wireless headset priced at ₹ 14,999.
Although the Jabra Elite 75t doesn’t quite match the AirPods Pro, it does give the regular AirPods (2nd Gen) a run for their money thanks to a more secure in-canal fit. There’s no aptX or LDAC Bluetooth codec support, but AAC means the sound will be good enough regardless of what source device you use. The sonic signature is bass-heavy, but the sound is clear, crisp, and very enjoyable. As with other Jabra products, voice call quality is excellent on the Jabra Elite 75t, making this one of the best pairs of true wireless earphones to own if you spend a lot of time on the phone.
Although the Jabra Elite 75t didn’t have active noise cancellation at launch, the company has impressively managed to roll out the feature through a software update. This makes the Jabra Elite 75t among the best true wireless earphones you can buy for less than Rs. 15,000, giving options such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and Sony WF-1000XM3 strong competition in the sub-Rs. 15,000 price segment.
Buy: Jabra Elite 75t
Best under Rs. 10,000: Lypertek Tevi
If you haven’t heard of Lypertek before, we’re not surprised. This small and relatively unknown brand is making waves in audiophile circles with the Tevi, its first pair of true wireless earphones. Priced at Rs. 6,999, the Lypertek Tevi is our current top pick of true wireless earphones priced under Rs. 10,000, thanks to the balanced and natural sound on offer.
Much of the credit for the good sound quality goes to support for the aptX Bluetooth codec, along with excellent tuning that favours detail over excessive thump and power. The resulting sound is clean, enjoyable, and as natural as you can expect on a pair of earphones priced under Rs. 10,000.
Apart from delivering excellent sound quality, the Lypertek Tevi looks decent, has great battery life, and is IPX7 rated for water resistance, making this perhaps the best all-round pair of true wireless earphones you can buy right now. If your budget is lower than Rs. 10,000, there isn’t a better true wireless headset you can buy than the Lypertek Tevi right now.
Buy: Lypertek Tevi
Best true wireless earphones for battery life: Samsung Galaxy Buds+
While true wireless earphones are extremely convenient, battery life is still a bit of a pain point; the small size of the earphones makes it hard to put large enough batteries into them. However, Samsung appears to have made some progress on this front with the Galaxy Buds+.
The successor to last year’s Galaxy Buds, these earphones also happen to be the best option to buy if you own a modern Samsung smartphone, thanks to support for the Scalable Bluetooth codec. Improvements in the drivers makes this an excellent sounding headset for ₹ 13,990.
With the earbuds offering an impressive 11 hours of use per charge in our testing, the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ is the only headset in our list capable of true all-day, uninterrupted listening. The charging case offers just one additional top-up to the earphones, but this is entirely acceptable given the long run the earphones themselves are capable of.
Buy: Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Best true wireless earphones under Rs. 5,000: Oppo Enco W51
Priced at Rs. 4,999, the Oppo Enco W51 is our new top pick in this price segment for one big reason – functional active noise cancellation on true wireless earphones at a previously unimaginable price. Although the quality of the active noise cancellation is nowhere near as good as you’d get with more expensive options, it’s good enough to make the listening experience a bit cleaner and easier.
Interestingly, you also get Qi wireless charging for the case, IP54 dust and water resistance, and sound quality that is cohesive, energetic, and detailed. The Oppo Enco W51 earphones are also comfortable and pretty good for voice calls. Although slightly let down by average battery life and strange touch controls, the pros largely outweigh the cons with the Oppo Enco W51. This is the true wireless headset you should buy if you’re on a tight budget.
How we picked the best true wireless earphones
We’ve reviewed or used a wide range of true wireless headphones, including popular options from major electronics manufacturers, as well as options from traditional audio brands that have been in the business of making headphones and earphones for many years. We also took into account specifications, codec support and price to come up with our top recommendations.
True wireless earphones form a relatively new product segment, and we’ve had a chance to test most of the new options. Apart from the earphones themselves, we’ve also paid attention to the charging cases that come with these options. The cases usually offer additional battery backup, and also make for a convenient and safe way to carry your earphones when not in use. With all of these points in mind, we’ve selected our list of top recommendations, as well as other options to look out for as listed below.
Also consider these true wireless earphones
Huawei Freebuds 3i: Priced at ₹ 9,990, the recently launched Huawei Freebuds 3i is one of the most affordable true wireless earphones to come with active noise cancellation. The three-microphone system also promises better performance on voice calls.
OnePlus Buds Z: Priced at Rs. 2,999 gets almost everything right, making this the most impressive pair of true wireless earphones you can buy on a budget. USB Type-C fast charging is a particularly impressive feature for less than Rs. 3,000.
Sony WF-1000XM3: At ₹ 20,000, Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM3 offers the absolute best active noise cancellation you can find on a pair of true wireless earphones. Sound quality is good, but not quite as good as what Apple and Sennheiser have to offer.
Realme Buds Air Pro: Realme’s latest true wireless earphones are also its most impressive yet, offering active noise cancellation, app support, and good sound for less than Rs. 5,000. Although not quite as good as the Oppo Enco W51, this is a solid pair of earphones for the price nonetheless.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2: If you have an Android smartphone to take advantage of the aptX Bluetooth codec, this is the absolute best-sounding pair of true wireless earphones that you can buy right now. It’s expensive, though, at ₹ 24,990.
1More ColorBuds: With aptX codec support and balanced armature drivers, the 1More ColorBuds is among the better sounding true wireless earphones at under Rs. 10,000. There are some connectivity issues, and the app needs some improvement.
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