2020 was the year that the 3.5 mm headphone jack finally died for most mainstream phone buyers. While it was struggling to hang on there for a while, anyone looking to upgrade their device, will need to invest in some new audio accessories. Thankfully as Bluetooth has evolved, so have the headphones and features they offer to audio lovers. From THX to active noise-cancelling, the mobile wireless audio space has never been more exciting.
With so many players looking to jump in on the wireless audio bandwagon, we have taken the time to select the best and brightest from the slew of options currently available to consumers. From Samsung, to gaming brands like Razer, if you have a new phone and want something audio on the go, CGM has selected the best of mobile audio currently on the market.
Price: $259.99 (on sale for $178.99 at participating retailers)
CGM Score: 9 / 10
Ever since Apple’s AirPods exploded in popularity, the wireless headphone market has trended heavily into a lightweight and portable wireless devices. The result has been several similar headphones from across the board, but also many that have improved on the base concept with each new iteration. That is certainly the case with Huawei’s Freebuds 3, as they deliver a simple yet powerful wireless headphone experience in a familiar-looking package.
Specs-wise, the Free Buds 3 boasts a BT/BLE dual-mode Bluetooth 5.1 SoC, HUAWEI’s Isochronous Dual Channel transmission technology, and a 356 MHz audio processor. They also utilize a 14mm driver that makes for a well balanced and surprisingly bass-filled listening experience. Listening to music on the Freebuds 3 is a treat, and one that is comparable to many of the best over-ear headphones on the market.
At $259.99 the Huawei Freebuds 3 is a premium pair of earbuds and ones that are worth the steep price tag. The sound quality is comparable to high tier headphones, and the ANC elevates the core experience. The lack of unique design and showstopping features limit the Freebuds 3 from being a giant leap in the grand scheme, but they still manage to be a fantastic pair of earbuds that improve on their predecessor. Simply put, The Huawei Freebuds 3 should be the top choice for Android users looking for a great pair of wireless earbuds.
CGM Score: 8.5/10
With most companies moving their smartphones over to Bluetooth and the 3.5mm headphone jack feeling like a thing of the past, it is no wonder more companies are working on some form of wireless headphones. From the AirPods, to the offerings from Razer and OnePlus, it seems like the market is saturated with options. However, even in this crowded landscape, Samsung aims to stand apart, with the Galaxy Buds Live.
While testing, it was impressive how well the Galaxy Buds Live actually fit. I am normally skeptical of gimmicky designs, and nine times out of 10 they don’t deliver on any of their promises. Thankfully Samsung bucked this trend and made an odd design that works. The headphones fit well, feel comfortable, and even though they may seem ridged in design, they can be worn for long periods without any issue or discomfort, something I did not expect.
The Galaxy Buds Live feel like a notable step up from previous models. They are clear, crisp and have enough power behind them to make even the most exuberant music provide an enjoyable soundtrack to your day. From spoken word to instrumental, the Galaxy Buds Live have a soundscape far wider than their size or look would indicate.
The Galaxy Buds Live are a major leap forward in wireless headphones for Samsung, but they did not stick the landing on all areas. While I love the comfort and sound from the headset, I wanted more from the ANC feature to really make them rise above. That being said, if you want some stylish headphones for the gym or while on the go, these headphones are fantastic; but if you want something to drown out the noise of the office, you may want to look elsewhere.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro
Price: $268.99 (on sale for $208.99 right now at participating retailers)
CGM Score: 8.5/10
Huawei have built one of the more impressive wireless headphones to date, with a sleek style, good call quality and fantastic active noise-cancelling. With easy to use side controls, a solid app and user experience, and an overall good value, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro feel like the best android audio experiences to date.
Boasting a large 11 mm ultra-magnetic dynamic driver, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro deliver fantastic audio for most use cases you could have on the go. From Audiobooks to Spotify, all audio sounds crisp, clear and full of nuance and depth. The noise cancellation ads to the experience ensuring even when on the go, or in a noisy environment, little will interrupt your immersive listening experience.
Even music that has depth and complexity managed to have enough sound separation to offer a rich audio experience. While it did fall short of some of the more advanced headphones we have used, and did not have as wide a sonic stage as we saw on the Razer Opus, it still managed to deliver enough audio clarity to make all but the most discerning buyer happy. It is only annoying some of the more advanced audio settings are set though the app that currently is only available for Android.
It is amazing to find a pair of wireless headphones that go above and beyond in terms of features and quality, and Huawei have managed that with the FreeBuds Pro. From fantastic in call audio, to clear and crisp media playback, they have managed to pack a lot into these small earbuds. While it does fall short in terms of audio quality compared to other offerings, and currently has no app offering on iOS, if you want a fantastic general set of wireless earbuds for your new Android phone, the FreeBuds Pro hit the perfect balance.
CGM Score: 9/10
It is hard to imagine when we all used to attend conferences and travel on plans, but this was a reality not long ago, and I wish I had the Razer Opus when I used to do these mythical activities. The newest in the THX audio accessories, the Razer Opus headphones, are built for people who love audio and love it while on the go. With active noise cancelation, amazing audio clarity and a stylish mobile design, it is hard to find fault with the new Bluetooth headphones.
Thankfully the Razer Opus is so comfortable because once you put them on you won’t want to take them off, thanks to the staggering audio quality. It is silly to think I was skeptical if these headphones would deliver on the promise of presentations and press releases, but they do more than deliver. The sound stage for music is open and vibrant. You feel the expanse of the music, there is a clear world of sound just beyond the headphones and it is filled with depth and clarity.
From a company known for gaming gear, it is odd to see a headphone that does everything but multiplayer gaming so well. These are some of the best headphones I have used for under $500, and they are truly a stunning piece of audio tech. With the help of THX, a great design, and an overall quality, Razer has crafted headphones that need to be heard to be believed. If you are looking to make a mobile audio upgrade, do yourself a favour and invest in some Razer Opus headphones.
Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro
CGM Score: 9.5/10
With the Opus released earlier this year, Razer blew us away with the quality that could be delivered via mobile Bluetooth. Packing greeting sounding headphones, that were both comfortable and feature rich all for under $500 was a great audio offering. Now Razer is updating their Hammerhead True Wireless, bringing the THX certification, active noise cancellation (ANC), a low-latency gaming mode to the Bluetooth earbuds, and they sound amazing. If you are in the market for new earbuds and want to avoid Apple products, Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro hit all the right notes.
Featuring a similar soundscape as the Opus although in a much smaller package with a 10 mm driver, the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro offers punchy bass that lets you feel each level of the music on offer. The headphones do well in all music styles, although the impact is felt with music or audio that can feature synths or other beat heavy music. This is not to say that the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro cant handle more complex audio, giving good warmth and depth to classical and acoustic offerings, giving a wide enough sonic stage to make even the minute tones come though crystal clear.
This being a Razer product, it features all the bells and whistles you have come to expect from the brand. Not being satisfied delivering a “good enough” audio option, the True Wireless Pro feature everything you would hope, from customization of the EQ (THX is by far the best in our opinion), easy touch controls and a IPX4 rating, and a selection of audio tips ready for whatever case you will have with these earbuds.