Not all Bluetooth headsets are created equal, as we’re sure you know. But it’s not just about the quality of audio they offer, it’s also about the functionality and limitations they impose.

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What do we mean exactly?

Bluetooth headphones are great. They let you stray from a smartphone, MP3 player, or audio device you are connected to. They’re remarkably useful when you’re on a run, or during a workout. You don’t have to worry as much about tangled wires, nor do you have to worry about keeping your phone handy. For the most part, you can keep your phone in your pocket – or smartwatch on your wrist – and the headphones play audio wirelessly.

There is one caveat, however. Many Bluetooth headphones still have wires, despite claiming to offer a ‘wireless’ experience.

If you want a truly untethered setup, your best bet is to look at ‘True Wireless’ Bluetooth earbuds.

What’s the Difference?

The distinction seems trivial, at least on the surface. Wireless Bluetooth is wireless Bluetooth, right?

Wrong.

Many wireless headphones – including some marketed as “In-Ear” – still have a wire connecting the two ear pieces. That means that even though they do transmit audio wirelessly to and from a connected device, you still have to worry about tangled cables and limitations.

They are arguably better than conventional headphones which must be plugged into a device at all times. But again, if you want a ‘truly wireless’ experience, earbuds are the way to go.

It makes more sense if you take a look at some examples, so let’s do that.

These TaoTronics Bluetooth headphones, for instance, still have a wire that goes from one earpiece to another. Usually, it is worn behind the neck with the two earpieces on your ears. They have a wire, so that’s not truly wireless at all, is it?

Believe it or not, that’s the same design as most ‘Bluetooth Headphones’ you’ll find on the market. They still have wires somewhere. What you’re really looking for – or should be – are ‘True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds’. All of these earbuds, for example, are ‘truly wireless’ and don’t have wires anywhere.

Since “In-Ear” Bluetooth headphones currently hold 64% of the total headphone market share, that’s a huge number of products to sort through. Especially, if most of them still have wires!

What About Battery Life?

It stands to reason when a device is ‘truly’ wireless it runs on battery power and must be charged. That also means the device can and will be limited by how long that battery lasts.

If you have a pair of earbuds that will only last for two hours of playback, for instance, you can’t go on a run, workout, or do anything that takes longer – or else you run the risk of not being able to use them.
Naturally, this can give most people the impression that true wireless earbuds are worse since conventional headphones derive power from the audio port they are plugged into. You never have to charge regular headphones, after all.

But manufacturers of these earbuds have done something quite intuitive. Most of the earbuds in the list we shared above have decent battery life of 3 hours or more. As a bonus, many include a portable charging case.

In other words, you can also charge up the case and get an additional charge or two for your earbuds even when you’re not near an outlet. They work exactly like a portable battery pack for your phone.

How neat is that? Did we mention that most – not all – wireless earbuds come bundled with a portable charging pack for no extra charge?

I Still Don’t See the Big Deal, So What?

We’re sure some of you are still wondering why ‘true wireless’ is so convenient so we’ll spell it out for you.
Let’s say you’re in your backyard doing yard work. Imagine you’re doing strenuous work that has you sweating, getting down in filth and dirt, and could potentially ruin your smartphone. With regular headphones, you would need to keep your phone in your pocket, despite any dangers or risks it might face. With true wireless Bluetooth earbuds, however, you can leave your phone many feet away – like on a patio table – but still remain connected, and listening to music.

In other words, your phone is safe, but you still get to listen to some jammin’ tunes. You could argue that the same would be offered by Bluetooth Headphones too – you know, the ones that still have wires. While that’s technically true, you’d still have to contend with that wire setup while doing your work. If you’re shucking rocks, dirt, or getting deep in the filth, that can be a real hassle.

This is just one example of many that we could offer. Think of all the different times, events, and places where ‘true wireless’ would be a boon. There are so many!

So, the next time you’re looking at headphones, remember there is a difference between ‘Wireless Bluetooth Headphones’ and ‘True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds,’ as confusing as that may be.