Don’t get us wrong, we love the convenience of Bluetooth earbuds and have rounded up many of our favourites in our lists of the best AirPods alternatives and cheap headphones, but they’re not perfect and we think there are loads of great reasons to keep a pair of wired earbuds in your kit. For one, they won’t run out of juice, and that’s a major selling point if you’ve ever realised your AirPods just died ahead of a long trip where you can’t live without them.
While some wireless headphones have made progress in this area, we’d always suggest picking an old-fashioned wired pair if you want low latency too. Even a minuscule delay could be noticeable while you’re watching telly or, most crucially, while you’re on your umpteenth replay of Breath of the Wild on your Nintendo Switch.
Wired earbuds with in-line microphones are also far better for your Zoom calls (this is the reason we’ve always got a pair on hand) and will deliver better sound quality at a lower price without all the Bluetooth compression that can affect your music. This last point is one that audiophiles will notice most, but it’s still an important consideration if you want to get the most out of your playlists. Better headphones make all the difference. Our list may not include some of the best audiophile in-ear monitors, but we’ve included a couple of the best wired earbuds that really deliver in this area.
Without further ado, here are our picks for the best wired earbuds to buy in 2023, for the basics including great sound, call quality and comfort:
Best budget wired earbudsPanasonic TCM115E Read More
Best all-rounder wired earbuds1MORE Triple Driver Read More
Another solid budget pickSony MDREX110APB.CE7 Read More
Best basic wired earbuds for durabilitySoundmagic E50 Read More
Best basic wired earbuds for bassJBL T110 Read More
Are wired earphones making a comeback?
Apple may have “courageously” killed off the headphone jack in its iPhones back in 2016 when it launched the iPhone 7 (a move that was mercilessly mocked before being imitated by every other major manufacturer soon afterwards), but the trusty 3.5mm port is a longstanding connector that is seriously reliable and capable – and has existed since 1968. There’s a reason why it’s still present on laptops, several tablets, gaming consoles, recording equipment, portable music players, and certain Android phones.
No audiophile or music producer would ever really entertain the notion that the headphone jack is obsolete. Wired headphones have also made a bit of a comeback over the last couple of years, with Gen Z and fashionable celebs flocking back to the corded Apple buds or “retro” wired headphones as part of their aesthetic. On the other hand, politicians like Kamala Harris avoid Bluetooth buds for some of the same reasons we’d recommend using a wire: they’re better for calls and – even if this is less likely to affect most of us – they’re less of a security risk compared to using anything wireless.
Sadly, it’s unlikely you’ll find a flagship phone in 2023 with a headphone jack, although a number of mid-range contenders still have the port. It’s rare to find a jack on some of the top tablets too, like most of Apple’s iPad range. So, you’re going to have to invest in a dongle or two (or a USB-C hub if you’re hooking up loads of accessories to your tablet).
The good news here is that these adapters are often cheap and excellent. Whether you’ve got a USB-C connector or a Lightning port on your phone, we recommend going with Apple’s own-brand adapters. They’re just consistently rated as some of the best value audio adapters around, besting Google’s rival dongles in tests and proving just as capable as bigger and more expensive audiophile gear.