If bulky headphones aren't the music accessory for you, then a discreet pair of earbuds might just cut it. You can pocket them on runs, slip them into any bag, and even clip them to your jeans. With a rechargeable case, wireless earbuds give you the extra battery you need, to see you through another podcast episode or a chapter of an audiobook.
Before we dive into our options, it'll be worthwhile to settle on a design that works best for you. The terms earbuds and in-ear headphones are used interchangeably, but both can differ in form. Would you prefer the sealing form factor of in-ear headphones or the comfort of classic open earbuds? The Apple AirPods are a good example of the latter.
Reza Moradi, audiovisual producer and instructor at Canadian University Dubai with over 10 years of experience, explained: "In-ear headphones are placed inside the ear canal, where the tips create a better hold and sealing from surrounding noises. Earbuds, in contrast, sit in the concha of the outer ear". By design, open earbuds allow you to listen to the traffic and nearby chatter, so they can be useful when you're out and about.
Your in-ear pair, which plugs the ear canal, might come with various tips to cater to different ear sizes. Moradi recommends foam over silicone tips, if you wish to truly block out ambient sounds. Foam ear tips are also considered more comfortable than their silicone counterparts. Do note, however, that they're naturally less durable against water or sweat.
Another deciding factor is how good your earbuds are at active noise cancellation (ANC). Our expert says that depending on the brand, a decent pair can cancel about 85 to 90 per cent of the noise in your environment. Moradi picks Apple's AirPods Pro (second generation) and Bose's QuietComfort Earbuds II for excelling at creating a quiet audio bubble.
We've listed our expert's best recommendations below, along with other wireless earbuds loved by Amazon reviewers. Shop with a Prime membership to save on delivery charges.
1. Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort® Noise Cancelling Earbuds II
- Great active noise cancellation (ANC)
- Charging case provides up to three extra charges
- Aware Mode allows for transparency
- Comes with three pairs of stability bands and ear tips
- Connectivity issues, say reviews
Bose's QuietComfort range is a household name among audiophiles, especially when we talk about the brand's over-ear headphones. In case you missed it, we named the Bose QuietComfort 45 wireless headphones the comfiest pair of 2023. Enjoy the same comfort levels, with the wireless Earbuds II. These in-ear headphones tailor noise cancellation and sound performance according to the unique shape of your ear canal. You have the option to either tune out your surroundings completely or switch to Aware Mode to keep an ear out for traffic. Moradi also likes the buds' smooth touch controls, which let you answer calls, adjust volume and control music, with a swipe. And, if you have the charging case on you, the earbuds can power through up to 24 hours of non-stop music. Reviewers who work in noisy environments say the noise cancellation is impeccable.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh99.92 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh69 and two years for Dh113.
2. Best for Apple Users: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
- Good bass profile
- Improved active noise cancellation than the previous generation
- Locate the charging case with Precision Finder
- Up to 30 hours of playback
- Comes with four pairs of ear tips
- No significant improvements to battery life from its predecessor
If you haven't upgraded to the latest installation of AirPods Pro yet, now's your chance to snag a great deal on Amazon. Released in 2022, the second generation uses the all-new H2 chip for smarter noise cancellation and enhanced audio quality. Like our best overall, these earbuds have adaptive transparency to help you tap into the world around you, so that you're aware of what's happening in your vicinity. You get to control playback and volume levels from the stem by swiping up or down. Although they have an open earbud form factor, the AirPods Pro do come with silicone tips at the end for sound sealing. The buds are stored in a re-engineered MagSafe charging case, which works with the Precision Finding feature on your iPhone, as well. Buyers in the reviews love how punchy the bass sounds and strongly recommend the pair to those with an Apple ecosystem, for the added ease of use.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh65.58 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh46 and two years for Dh75.
3. Best for Noise Isolation: Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds
- Decent active noise cancellation
- Foam ear tips for better noise isolation
- Up to eight hours of battery life, without the charging case
- Tweak sound preferences via the Equaliser feature
- Ear tips are not suitable for small ears, say reviews
Fans of Sony's ever-popular WF-1000XM4 headphones are going to love its earbud variant. The wireless in-ear buds use the same Integrated Processor V1 chip to cancel noise, and this is enhanced by two noise-sensing mics on each ear. As seen in the over-ear headphones, the Sony earbuds automatically pause music when you strike a conversation, and then resume on their own, once you're done. You don't have to switch between transparency modes, either - the device lets in ambient noise for you by picking up where you are and what activity you're engaged in. Unlike our Bose and Apple options, these earbuds last a whopping eight hours without the charging case. The best part about the WF-1000XM4 buds is the foam ear tips that offer better noise isolation than silicones. Reviews attest to the sealing effect, adding that they've successfully participated in conference calls in crowds. Some do note that the fit might be incompatible with small ears.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh50.71 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh40 and two years for Dh66.
4. Best for Samsung Users: Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro Bluetooth Earbuds
- Uses three mics to track and cancel noise
- Features a woofer and tweeter
- Up to 18 hours of battery life, with the case
- Water resistance rating of IPX7
- Clear call quality
- Small surface area for touch controls
The latest Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro pack a woofer, tweeter and two-way speakers into a single driver. You're getting access to all high, mid and low frequencies, through the pair. The buds perform the best with the Samsung Seamless Codec on the pairing device, so Galaxy users will be able to tap into the full 24-bit audio. They feature three mics to cancel noise and automatically activate Ambient mode, whenever you speak. Once you pop the buds into their case, you get up to 18 hours of battery life, but they only last for five hours without the case, if the ANC is in use. Compared to our preceding picks, this pair boasts a higher water resistance rating of IPX7. Reviewers say the Buds2 Pro are an excellent value for money, when it comes to the music and call quality. Some have worn them on runs and report no complaints. They also point out the seamless, fuss-free connection with Galaxy devices.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29 and two years for Dh47.
5. Best Budget: SoundPEATS Life Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds
- Value for money
- Cancels noise up to 25 decibels
- Dedicated low-latency gaming mode
- Additional sound tweaking options from the app
- Total battery life of 25 hours, with case
- Maximum volume can be low, say some reviews
Buds with ANC technology come with a premium price tag, but, luckily, there are budget options out there that won't break the bank. SoundPEATS' Life earbuds can dampen external noises down to 25 decibels, which is as quiet as whispering. These buds feature a surprisingly large 12mm driver, bringing you deep bass and high trebles. They carry all the bells and whistles of their expensive counterparts, such as touch controls, transparency mode and noiseless phone calls. Smartphone gamers will love the dedicated game mode - it reduces real-time latency to 60 milliseconds, so there's no chance of an audio hiccup mid-play. The stylish leather-grain case powers your buds for up to 25 hours. For the price, reviewers are impressed with the sound quality and noise cancellation. They recommend the SoundPEATS app for further audio tweaking if, for instance, you prefer a deeper bass. Some also opt for these to keep as a spare pair in the bag, in case they've forgotten their go-to earbuds.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh19.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.