Many factors go into buying a new pair of true wireless headphones, and it’s easy to overlook the waterproof rating when shopping around. Whether you’re breaking a sweat at the gym or happen to get caught in a rainstorm, your headphones’ waterproofing will ensure they keep going, even if they happen to get a little wet. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earned their spot as the best overall waterproof headphones, though you do have other compelling choices to consider. Here are the best waterproof headphones you can buy right now!
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Source: Daniel Bader/Android Central
The Galaxy Buds Pro went back to the past as a reference point for designing its most rugged wireless earbuds yet. While similar in form factor to the Galaxy Buds and Buds+, these were made a little larger and with more rigid materials to deliver their IPX7 rating. That heightened water and sweat resistance level is great for runs and workouts, but not good enough to go swimming in. And saltwater is a no-go as well.
All that extra real estate isn’t just for making the Buds Pro tougher. With two active noise cancelation (ANC) settings and four Ambient mode settings, you have effective ways to block out or blend in background noise. Both can also work in tandem with a feature like Voice Detect, where the audio volume lowers to turn on Ambient mode once you start talking and hear others without touching the earbuds or your phone.
Larger drivers do their job in bringing a thicker and crisper soundstage, and you still have the option to adjust that through the six equalizer presets in the Galaxy Wearable app. Unfortunately, Samsung still hasn’t seen a reason to make the EQ customizable to create your own presets. Another benefit is the excellent call quality that is consistently clear and stable. It’s just the wonky touch controls that don’t always do what they’re supposed to when controlling music or phone calls. In another first, Samsung includes 360 Audio using Dolby Head Tracking technology to create a virtual 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound when watching shows and movies coded for it.
The only issue with all that is that the battery life can’t crack five hours per charge when ANC is on. Leave it off, and it can go up to eight hours per charge. Those numbers aren’t terrible, but not as good as other Samsung earbuds. You do get another three charges from the case, which itself charges via USB-C or wireless charging. You could quick charge in a pinch before a workout by plugging in for five minutes to get you about an hour of playback.
- IPX7 water and sweat resistance
- Excellent sound
- Effective ANC
- Comfortable design
- Spatial 360 Audio
- Reliable microphone quality
- Lower battery life than before
- Finicky touch controls
- Needs custom EQ
Best Value: TaoTronics SoundLiberty 53
TaoTronics makes a point of marketing the SoundLiberty 53 true wireless earbuds as an ideal choice for the active crowd. And why not when you can back it up with an IPX8 rating, a rarity for any pair of headphones. Note that variants are going around, and the 2020 version is the one that brought in the new rating and also included USB-C for charging.
Once again, in the form of true wireless buds, the SoundLiberty 53 have a lot going for them. For one, they sound better than their price implies, so they get off to a good start as budget headphones that way. They support both AAC and SBC codecs, which is great. And they even let you use one earbud solo for mono listening, particularly if you prefer to do that for phone calls. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re comfortable to wear on top of all that. The only catch is that the touch controls can be finicky.
Plus, battery life enters ridiculous territory when the case can manage 44 hours on its own. Add up to six hours for the earbuds themselves, and you’ve got a pretty long way to go before you have to recharge the case. Put all of the pieces together, and you get a high level of value with the SoundLiberty 53.
- IPX8 waterproof
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Playback touch controls
- 50 hours of total battery life
- Now have USB-C
- Incredible price
The Letscom U8L are as budget as it gets in a category like this, and that’s good news if you’re looking to save a few bucks before heading to the water or an intense workout. These are wireless in the sense they don’t need to plug into a headphone jack, but they still have a cable binding the two sides together. The IPX7 waterproof design is critical to keeping these going when active and is a big highlight here.
They do sound good for the price and were clearly built for the active crowd, meaning you will get plenty of bass and not as much mids and treble. That’s often the case for sporty earbuds, and with the stability and tight seal the U8L manage, you should feel the thump of the bass pretty easily. There’s no ANC, but there is wind reduction through the mics to help keep phone calls clearer, which mostly works.
Battery life is stellar at up to 15 hours per charge, which is more than pairs costing a lot more. The only downside is you will have to charge them up again every time using a Micro-USB cable.
- Plenty of bass
- IPX7 waterproof
- Comfortable and stable ear hooks
- Free carrying bag
- Available in a bunch of colors
- Good battery life
Best for Running: Jaybird Vista
Source: Android Central
Jaybird has been down this path before through its portfolio of workout-focused earbuds, and the Vista are real standouts. Starting with the IPX7 waterproof rating and MIL-STD 810G durability, these earbuds manage to stay rugged within a reasonably small frame. Designed to nicely fit most ears, getting a tight seal makes a big difference in what kind of sound you get from them.
Despite only supporting one Bluetooth codec, they sound good and can get loud enough to listen in louder environments. There’s good bass in the default audio, but Jaybird’s app takes that to whole other levels. An active community creates EQ presets that you can apply to the earbuds, or create your own, to give them a new sound. There’s a lot to choose from, no matter what genres you like most. Save what you like and select them anytime. You don’t always see that kind of customization in most earbuds these days.
Battery life is decent at up to six hours, though the case is limited to just an extra 10 hours. It is reasonably small, and you can quickly charge them via USB-C. Unfortunately, no wireless charging, but unlike many other earbuds cases, they have a lanyard to attach to your bag or person.
- IPX7 waterproofing
- MIL-STD 810G durability rating
- Comfortable fit
- Decent battery life
- App-based EQ options
- Quick charge via USB-C
- Only supports SBC audio codec
- No auto-pause feature
- No ambient sound mode
- No wireless charging
Best Design: Mpow Flame Lite
The Mpow Flame Lite do away with all cords and go truly wireless, yet retain the ear hooks to help with stability, especially if you plan to be really active with them. While priced a bit higher than some of Mpow’s other earbuds, they are still pretty budget-friendly under the circumstances.
With an IPX7 rating to keep everything safe and functional whenever the Flame Lite get wet, the ruggedness comes in handy in any number of scenarios. They are comfortable to wear over longer periods, with four sizes of ear tips to help get the best passive noise isolation. They also sound good out of the box, with a nice balance that preserves the bass enough for you to hear clearly. Battery life is rated at about five hours per charge, which fluctuates largely based on volume levels. You do get another five charges out of the case, plus charging via USB-C. Plug in for two hours, and they should go from empty to full. Just bear in mind that the case is bigger than most to accommodate the size of these earbuds.
The sound quality is pretty balanced for something in this price range, though you should expect a skew towards bass. Upgrading the Flame Lite to Bluetooth 5.0 does help with range and efficiency, though that’s now an expectation for budget earbuds, too. Unlike other Mpow pairs, there are no other color variants to choose from, but that could change in the months to come.
- IPX7 waterproof
- Comfortable and secure ear hooks
- Plenty of battery in the case
- Good, balanced sound
- Good price
- So-so battery life
- Very large case
Best Sound: Sony WF-SP800N
Sony’s WF-SP800N were made for active users, though it would’ve been nice if it bumped up the IP55 rating a bit to make these even more resistant to water and sweat. They should still hold up well for runs and workouts, and there’s a good level of comfort when wearing them during those active sessions.
Fortunately, there’s good sound to play through your ears. The mids and highs are warm and bright, with a decent level of bass from the start. If you use Sony’s Headphones Connect app, you can utilize the equalizer to tailor the sound more to bring out the part of the spectrum you like most. Sony chose not to include the aptX codec or even its own LDAC, but you do get AAC, at least. The onboard controls are finicky because of how inconsistent the touch surfaces are, so the app also comes in handy for that reason too.
If you want to cancel out some background noise, you can do so by turning on ANC. The Adaptive Sound Control has four modes to apply the effect on its own, but you’re probably better off doing it manually. No matter what you do, battery life is going to be superb. You get up to nine hours per charge with ANC on — up to 13 hours with it off. The case only holds one extra charge and can’t do wireless charging, so you’ll need to keep a cable handy when the time comes.
- Bass-heavy sound
- ANC support
- Comfortable fit
- App-based EQ options
- Decent IP55 protection
- Long battery life
- Finicky touch controls
- No wireless charging
- No aptX or LDAC codecs
Best On-Ear: Adidas RPT-01
Source: Joe Maring / Android Central
Earbuds usually make the most sense for waterproof headphones because of their smaller size, and they’re easier to find. On-ear headphones may not be as common under this niche, so if do you like this kind of style, you may want to give a serious look at the Adidas RPT-01.
Adidas probably isn’t the first company you think of when it comes to headphones, but the popular brand put some thought into making the RPT-01. It made the knitted ear cushions and inner headband removable and washable for starters, ensuring all that built-up sweat won’t stay there. The IPX4 water resistance is enough to not be shy in breaking a sweat with them, so it’s a wise move, though a more durable body would’ve been awesome.
The bass-heavy sound signature was expected, though you can go a different direction through the equalizer in the Adidas Headphones app. There’s even an option to integrate Spotify Premium into it. The onboard control knob is pretty easy to manage onboard controls. Battery life is excellent at up to 40 hours per charge, and a USB-C port for those times when you need to refill it.
- Gorgeous, unique design
- Comfortable on-ear fit
- Easy-to-use control knob
- Up to 40-hour battery life
- Washable, removable fabric
- Only IPX4 water-resistance
- Fabric can be tight to remove
Best Bone Conduction: AfterShokz Aeropex
Source: Russell Holly / Android Central
Bone conduction headphones may be something of an acquired taste, but should you be into that — and looking for some durability — the Aeropex may be just what you had in mind. These have an IP67 rating for resistance to dust and up to one meter of water (for no more than 30 minutes).
Since bone conduction headphones don’t cover the ears, sound spreads out across the entire pad when wearing these so that more of the audio comes through. That design improves the bass, which is usually the hard part for headphones like these. Even with that, it can’t match the kind of performance you’d have with in-ear and over-ear headphones, but it’s going to be the best you can find right now.
Battery life holds up well with up to eight hours per charge. Onboard controls do their job, so you can play/pause or bring up Google Assistant without much fuss. It’s just that turning the headphones off or trying to redial the last phone number feels more complicated because of the squishy buttons and their combo functions. You might encounter unintended presses and functions because of it.
AfterShokz uses its own “Audrey” voice assistant to set up pairing, which works well with non-Android devices, but Android’s Fast Pair may have been the simpler option. Beyond the few drawbacks, the Aeropex cover the right bases, which is why they’re the best pair to go with if bone conduction is your thing.
- Comfortable fit
- Good audio quality
- Lower pad vibration
- Works with Google Assistant
- Solid battery life
- Water resistance
- Squishy buttons
- Voice pairing assistant is just OK
- No customization options
Your options for waterproof headphones are far from limited. You just have to look for an IP rating on your headphones of choice, and luckily, a lot of options have one these days. This list just highlights a few of our favorite ones — including the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro as our overall top choice.
So much about these headphones work well that way, be it their waterproofing or something else. The IPX7 rating offers ample day-to-day protection, and so long as you treat them right, they should last a long time. Battery life isn’t as extensive as others, but it should be enough to get you through a run, walk, hike, bike ride, and more. Add the sound quality, comfy design, and Galaxy Wearable app, and it’s easy to see why the buds are so great.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.
Joe Maring is Android Central’s Senior Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He’s been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1!
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