Best phone headphones: 25 pairs tested

Top earbuds and over-ear headphones for your mobile

Philips Bluetooth SBH 9000

Price: £100

SBH

Bluetooth headphones have seemed like such a good idea for what seems like decades, but only now are they becoming genuine alternatives to wired cans.

These options are among the most robust we've seen, ticking the boxes in nearly every category - skipping tracks, pausing on the go, changing the volume, and all from touching one of the ear pads.

The fact they're Bluetooth means the track skipping will even work on non-iPhones, which is a real plus, and the cushioned pads sit nicely on the ears without much in the way of sound leaking.

The only downside is they're pretty bass-heavy and lose some of the higher end sounds, but for general music playback or movie watching, cutting the cords with these is a superb experience.

Verdict

Great battery life and an extra 3.5mm wire in the box means you won't have to worry about a lack of sound with these long-lasting headphones.

(Note: The Jabra Sport headphones are also Bluetooth enabled - but they're in the sport section of this test, because, well... isn't it obvious?)

Novero Rockaway

Price: £55

Novero rockaway

These little puppies are a good find simply because they offer three things for cheap: decent sound, wireless connection and a microUSB connector for charging.

The build quality has been lowered a little to compensate, but we like the flat band design (and can be picked up in a rather striking red hue as well.

Verdict

The Rockaways are a quality set of earbuds for the price - the buds in the box aren't the best for fit, and the design is a little large for some ears.

But for £50-ish it's not a problem - and we can heartily recommend these for those looking for something wireless on the go.

Sennheiser MM 550-X

Price: £300

Sennheiser MM 550 X

What to say about these little darlings that properly does them justice? OK, the price is a little bit on the steep side, but when you break down all the extra features you're getting - well, it doesn't seem so hard on the wallet any more.

From the lightweight construction to the reams of gadgetry bundled, out of all the headphones on test these were the ones we reached for on the train journey home.

The noise cancelling element is among the best out there - we noticed the least audio seepage of any of the others on test.

But the reason we're including them in the Bluetooth section is the fact apt-X is included... it's superb when you hear the improvement, and now the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X are rocking the standard, audio quality is about to get a lot better.

We have minor quibbles: the blue flashing light on the side is a little onstentatious, the SRS surround sound 'enhancement' is awful and the removable battery can be removed a little too easily... but these are minor elements.

Verdict

If you've got the cash, buy these headphones without question. Sonically, functionally and aesthetically they're among the best on the market.

Parrot Zik by Phillipe Starck

Parrot Zik

Bluetooth headphones have seemed like such a good idea for what seems like decades, but only now are they becoming genuine alternatives to wired cans.

These Parrot Zik Wireless headphones by Stark are something of a novelty on one hand, thanks to their price, and a jaw-dropping masterpiece in sound quality on the other.

But at no point do they justify their £300+ price point – the Starck design, plus the amount of technological wizardry on board, makes up a bulk of that cost. We're really not sold on the design either, as while we enjoy the look of the swooping lines and metallic finish, on the head they inspire some rather curious looks as people try to ascertain just what you've chosen to furnish your bonce.

However, as we mentioned, the sound quality is excellent, and is enhanced by the associated app for iPhone or Android. Through this platform you can extend the width of sound you're hearing, making it more narrow or expansive depending on what you're listening too, and does have a modicum of an effect.

The bass and treble notes are equally impressive, although don't justify the price tag at all. We've heard better (not much, mind) from cheaper headphones – so remember that you're buying design here as much as sound quality, although the noise cancelling on offer was more than on a par with other headphones in this test.

You are getting some other goodies: NFC pairing is good, but remember to take them off before pairing as you'll get those looks again if you wipe your phone all over your ear to get the sound out.

Another way to get stared at is using the touchpad on the right earpiece to skip tracks, pause and raise the volume – but this was such a delightful feature that we just didn't care.

Sadly, on the best features of the Parrot Zik's didn't work well enough for us. Using a pressure pad, the music will instantly pause when you take them off your head, and does work well. However, when laying on your neck, the music will start up if it accidentally comes into contact with skin, which makes the whole idea pointless.

Battery life is good, but one of the BIGGEST problems we have with these headphones is there's no notification to let you know when the juice is about to run out. This meant a number of frustrated journeys where we didn't have the optional 3.5mm headphone cable or a power outlet. Just a useless pair of fashion-led headphones.

Verdict

Would we recommend the Parrot Zik's to anyone looking to buy a pair of Bluetooth headphones? No – simply because the price is too high. If you've got infinite amounts of money (which is a problem that, sadly, is a growing concern) then you might fancy the stylings of these cans, but in truth, there are better options for the money.

Perhaps another iteration would solve a lot of the problems – better battery management and a tweaking of that neck pad would help – but for now, these are to be gawped at while you buy something a little more sensible.