Which are the best true wireless (TWS) earphones you can buy in India right now? The options vary depending on your budget, and we’ve picked out the best TWS earphones across price categories, key features, and specific requirements.
Although the last year saw some impressive innovation and growth in the true wireless earphones segment, things have slowed down a bit in the past few months when it comes to big ticket launches from major brands. That said, there have been some important new products launched in recent months from Indian and global brands alike.
Active noise cancellation continues to be a key feature that buyers look for when choosing true wireless earphones across price segments, but new innovation in the form of advanced codec support and features built for certain devices and platforms could be the big trend going into 2022. We’ve refreshed our top picks across price categories for true wireless earphones, with new products from Sony, Samsung, and OnePlus, and here are our top picks.
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
Despite being over two years old now, our favourite true wireless headset remains the Apple AirPods Pro. Although it’s still a bit expensive at around Rs. 20,000 in India, the AirPods Pro still feels very current and competent in the face of increasing competition, and the addition of MagSafe-compatible wireless charging with new purchases keeps things relevant, especially if you use an iPhone and other Apple accessories.
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 true wireless earphones for Android: Sony WF-1000XM4
The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a flagship true wireless headset in every sense, and has one key factor that sets it apart from other similar products – LDAC Bluetooth codec support. This makes it particularly well suited to use with Android smartphones, and the sound quality on offer is indeed among the best that you can get with this form factor. Good ANC, a functional app, and other useful features make this a capable true wireless headset.
Although the fit feels a bit precarious because of the size of the earpieces, and control customisation options are limited, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is among our top picks because of its support for LDAC, which works stably and without any connection issues. The sound is detailed and entertaining, making this perhaps the best pair of true wireless earphones you can buy right now – if you have an Android smartphone.
Best true wireless earphones under Rs. 15,000: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
While many might suggest that the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is a better-sounding true wireless headset than the Galaxy Buds 2 (and we do agree), the latter is the better pick in our opinion for one key reason – a much more comfortable fit. Priced at Rs. 11,999 in India, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is practically as good as the Pro model, and also supports the Scalable Bluetooth codec, which offers better sound quality when used with Samsung devices.
Thus, if you’re using a Samsung smartphone or tablet, the Galaxy Buds 2 should be your top pick for its all-round performance. Although inadequate water resistance and the lack of app support on iOS do somewhat hold it back, it’s still a good pair of true wireless earphones. Regardless of your source device, you’d get good sound, decent ANC, and a very comfortable fit within a budget of Rs. 15,000. This makes the Galaxy Buds 2 worth picking up.
Best under Rs. 10,000: OnePlus Buds Pro
OnePlus’ most expensive audio product thus far, the OnePlus Buds Pro is an impressive pair of true wireless earphones for its price of Rs. 9,990. With capable active noise cancellation and a good app, the Buds Pro is an excellent pair of earphones for the price. It also supports Dolby Atmos and low-latency gaming, but only when used with OnePlus smartphones.
The pressure-sensitive controls work well, the fit is comfortable, and the sound is fun and energetic, making this a great pair of earphones to buy even if you don’t own a OnePlus smartphone. Minor drawbacks such as the plain-looking charging case and awkward smart mode for ANC aside, this is quite easily our favourite true wireless headset for under Rs. 10,000.
Buy: OnePlus Buds Pro
Best affordable true wireless earphones: Realme Buds Q2
Among the most affordable true wireless earphones with active noise cancellation, the Rs. 2,499 Realme Buds Q2 is among the best value-for-money options you can buy right now. While the ANC performance is basic, it’s functional and does make a reasonable difference that helps make listening a bit easier in all kinds of environments. There’s also app support through the Realme Link app, making this a feature-filled pair of earphones for the price.
Sound quality and battery life, while not exceptional, are decent enough, and the earphones look good thanks to the reflective touch sensitive area on the outer sides of the earpieces. While we found the low-latency mode a bit underwhelming and the soundstage a bit closed, this is still easily the best pair of true wireless earphones you can buy at under Rs. 3,000 when it comes to features and capabilities.
Buy: Realme Buds Q2
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
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.
Jabra Elite 85t: Jabra’s latest true wireless headset is priced at Rs. 17,999, and is its most advanced one yet with great sound, good ANC, and all-round performance. It’s just a bit expensive, compared to the excellent Oppo Enco X.
OnePlus Buds Z2: Priced at Rs. 4,999 in India, the replacement to the OnePlus Buds Z features active noise cancellation and delivers a punchy, fun sound, making this a worthwhile pick for under Rs. 5,000 especially if you have a OnePlus smartphone.
Nothing Ear 1: Perhaps the best-looking pair of true wireless earphones you can buy right now, the Nothing Ear 1 is also pretty good when it comes to sound quality, ANC, and app support, and costs Rs. 6,999.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series: Just like AirPods but for Android smartphones, the Rs. 8,999 Google Pixel Buds A-Series work particularly well with Google Assistant, and produce detailed and clean sound. There’s no ANC, though.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Samsung’s flagship true wireless headset is an excellent option with advanced codec support and very good sound quality for around Rs. 10,000 – if you can get used to the tricky design and fit.