How to Choose Headphones for Mobile: The Buyer’s Guide

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With headphones being popular for music listening and gaming, we often overlook an important reason that headphones come in handy: for our phones. Especially as we need to be hands-free while driving or be able to talk on the phone while doing other things, ensuring the best quality in your headphones will make conversations clear for both parties. 

These are some of the factors you should consider when choosing headphones for mobile: 

  • Design preference
  • Great sound quality and speakers
  • Clear microphone that does not pick up ambient noise
  • Bluetooth connection for easy use
  • Comfort 
  • Best value for overall quality 

I’ll dive into the details of how you should choose headphones for mobile as well as some recommended headphones you should check out that satisfy those requirements. I have done tons of research hours and comparisons for you so you can compare the best headphone choices, and choose one that best meets your needs for calling and using media on your phone.

Best Headphones for Mobile  

I have compiled my favorite headphone selections that work really well with your phone for making phone calls, as well as listening to music, voice recording, and any other application you would benefit from great speakers and a microphone. 

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds 

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The wireless earbud offering by Sony is one of the best on the market as it delivers on sound quality, noise cancellation, and convenience. The Sony earbuds emphasize their noise-cancelling technology, which is impressive considering their small size. This will require forming a proper seal in the ear canal to block out outside noises. 

The efficient design makes it easy to operate controls on the headphone itself, and connection to Bluetooth is quick and reliable. Opting for these earbuds is the next best option in quality if you prefer in-ear technology over bulkier over the ear headphones. 

What I Like 

  • Battery Life: Get up to 24 hours of use with a quick charging battery and a convenient charging case. 
  • Ambient sound technology: The headphones identify when there are lots of ambient noises in the environment, which triggers the headphones to block these noises out. 
  • Portability: Very small and compact, these headphones are small enough to be kept in your pocket easily. 

What I Don’t 

  • Microphone technology: The speakers are great at blocking out sounds but could be improved in picking up the user’s voice on phone calls. 
  • Volume control: You cannot control the volume of audio directly from the headphones and must do so from your device. 

Bose 700 Noise-cancelling Headphones

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Bose is a consistent performer in headphone technology, specifically for music listening. I have selected the Bose 700 Noise-cancelling Headphones as one of the best headphones for mobile because they deliver for all listening and calling uses. These are wireless headphones that offer varying levels of noise cancellation, high-quality sound features, and a high-tech microphone. 

These are over the ear headphones that are designed to be comfortable and worn over extended periods of time. They are beautifully designed with sleek finishes and extra padding, coming in multiple colors. Bluetooth connectivity is simple, and the headphones deliver even at it’s higher price point. 

What I Like 

  • Battery Life: On a full charge, the Bose headphones provide up to 20 hours of functionality before recharging. 
  • Microphone technology: The built-in microphone also uses noise-cancelling technology to block out unwanted surrounding sounds.  
  • Comfort: Being both lightweight and padded, you can wear these headphones for hours without pain or irritation. 

What I Don’t 

  • Expensive: While you are paying for great quality, many consumers opt for other headphones as these are one of the most expensive on the market. 
  • Larger size: As with most over the ear headphones, these are not a compact option compared to other headphone options. 
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Quick Note: In previous articles, I recommend the Bose 700’s closest competitor, the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, as my personal favorites because of their amazing sound, noise cancellation, and insane battery life. However, for the purpose of this article (mobile calling and listening) I give the slight edge to the Bose 700s because of how the company has built the mic system in these headphones from the ground up, which is extremely clear and truly fantastic at cancelling background noise during calls.

Apple AirPods Pro 

Apple AirPods Pro Recommended Top Earbuds

If you are an iPhone user, you’ve probably used or seen others with tiny white wireless earbuds in their ears. These are a much more convenient option than the standard cord headphones that are provided with an iPhone. Bluetooth technology, compatible charging with your phone, and strong sound quality have made these a popular headphone. 

If budget is a stronger part of your consideration, I would recommend you check out the Apple AirPods alongside the newer AirPods Pro because they still offer good value for their lower price point. But if you don’t mind the higher price tag, the Pro model offers great sound-cancelling technology and improved clarity. Both pairs are excellent options for headphones specifically designed for phone usage. 

What I Like 

  • Sound Quality: Even for such small earbuds, they offer considerable depth and base, especially compared to their wired counterparts. 
  • Portability: These headphones are incredibly lightweight and are kept in a compact carrying case that is easy to transport. 
  • Easy connection: You can easily check the charge of the headphone from your phone screen and the Bluetooth connects when you place the buds in your ears. 

What I Don’t 

  • Microphone quality: These headphones could improve a little on their microphone quality as they are sufficient for phone calls but the other end may have difficulty hearing at times. These are not great headphones for recording audio. 
  • Easy to lose: Because the earbuds and case are quite small, they can be very easy to lose. This may not be the best option for those who are prone to misplacing things.  

AKG Y500 On-Ear Headphones

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For on-ear headphones, the AKG Y500 set emphasizes both low and mid-range frequencies for an overall dynamic and full sound. You can also control the sound to block out ambient noises and audio levels directly from the ear can. If you need to tune in quickly to your surroundings, a button lowers the sound so you can still enjoy audio without losing awareness. 

The lightweight technology also makes these on-ear headphones comfortable for long-term use. Both the speakers and microphone technology are of high quality, making phone calls clear for both parties. This is an overall strong selection that delivers in nearly every category for a solid pair of headphones. They are offered in both wired and wireless options. 

What I Like 

  • Speedy charging: Not only do the headphones last up to 33 hours on a full charge, but it only takes 5 minutes to gain an additional hour of charge. 
  • Sleek design: For on-ear headphones, they are well sized for a stylish look and are easy to use with accessible controls. 
  • Connect two devices: If you are working on your phone and computer, you can connect to both at once and easily switch between the two devices when necessary. 

What I Don’t  

  • Expensive: These are not a cheap pair of headphones, but the quality across the variety of metrics mentioned could justify the cost. 

1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

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The 1More Triple Driver In-Ear headphones are one of the top wired options that deliver all-around quality at an affordable price. This is definitely one of the best headphones as far as value is concerned. As the name suggests, the three drivers located in the headphone work to provide optimal bass as well as audio clarity. 

The headphones are designed to fit the ear, so you won’t run into problems of them falling out, especially with different-sized silicone buds provided. Beyond the sound quality, the corded microphone focuses on the voice speaking into the control panel, avoiding ambient and outside loud noises. 

What I Like 

  • Affordability: Offered under $100, the price point is very attractive to users who are looking for comfort and quality without paying too much. 
  • Durable: The cable is constructed to withstand pressure and pulling, keeping the headphones intact for longer. 
  • Sound-engineering: Tuned by Grammy-winning sound engineers, the quality of the sound system is a key component of the design.

What I Don’t 

  • Ambient noise: These are not effective noise-cancelling headphones, and you may pick up louder sounds in the environment while listening. 
  • Short life: While the construction is strong, consumers have found that the quality of sound may diminish over time. 

How to Choose Headphones for Mobile 

Choosing headphones for mobile comes down to six important factors that all contribute to a great product. Many manufacturers consider all of these and try to include the highest levels of each in their headphones. The value of the various components will come down to what should be expected out of great headphones, as well as your personal preference. 

Design Choices 

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At this point I have provided for you quality options for headphones that emphasize overall quality, comfort, and value. Headphones come in a variety of designs that vary in terms of function and overall preference. Choosing specific headphones for mobile use will not only come down the features they provide but the style that best suits your needs. 

The most common designs of headphones used for pairing to a mobile device include: 

  • Over the ear headphones: These are typically the largest style of headphones as they need to surround the ear for effectiveness. Typically these are designed for an optimal audio experience, particular for music. High-quality pairs are usually made with leather for comfort and offer noise-cancelling technology. 
  • On the ear headphones: With a similar design to an over the ear, the on-ear headphone sits on your ears with a less bulky headset. These are a great middle-ground between large over the ear headphones and in-ear headphones. They offer more noise cancellation than an earbud and can often be more comfortable. 
  • In-ear headphones: With small rubber cones, these headphones fit inside your ear canal. These offer great sound quality while being easily portable. The in-ear technology offers noise cancellation but may be uncomfortable in the ear after extended use. The silicone cones on the tips come in multiple shapes and sizes but may not sit well in everyone’s ear. 
  • Earbuds: These are your most standard headphones that are placed in the ear but not into the ear canal like the in-ear design. These are a preferred option for phones because they are easily portable, can be worn one at a time, and are fairly comfortable over extended use. The primary drawback is ambient noise that may distract you from the sound output at lower volumes. 

Because mobile phones offer a wide range of functionality that will require sound output, the design of the headphone you choose will largely depend on desired outcomes. Not only should you be looking for great sound quality but a powerful microphone as well. Over the ear headphones have the best speakers and offer great microphone capabilities as well. 

Design has a large impact on the other factors that are important in choosing the best headphones for mobile. Selecting a design is a combination of choosing the qualities they provide from efficiency and sound perspective as well as comfort and aesthetic that will fit well into your lifestyle and needs for the headphones. 

Sound Quality 

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One of the most important factors when choosing any type of headphones is sound quality. Because many people place calls and listen to their music on the same device, you want a headphone that will clearly pick up the caller on the other end and also transmit your voice back to them. 

It is important to note that sound quality is the result of the quality of both the headphones and the phone you are using. You may be using excellent headphones, but the phone itself does not transmit the highest sound quality. If listening to music, this is largely impacted by the type of sound file being played. For phone use, file differences are not typically a crucial consideration.  

Sound quality is subjective as different users prefer various styles of sound that are offered in headphones. For mobile phones, headphones should provide clarity first and foremost. If you plan to use your headphones for music, the speakers can be designed to emphasize different styles of sound. 

Sound quality can be broken down into different styles that allow the audio to be perceived uniquely:  

  • Bass-heavy: These headphone speakers will really pick up the bass notes in audio and emphasize the lower notes. Your low frequencies are enhanced, and mid frequencies are muted. 
  • Flat and consistent: There is little depth found in these speakers, and they offer a simple output where frequencies are not emphasized. 
  • Dynamic punch: Lower bass frequencies are enhanced, so a lively sound is produced. Mid frequencies are typically more neutral but not depressed or emphasized. 

Sound quality comes down to preference. When shopping for headphones, look for ones that emphasize clarity, especially as you’ll need them for making phone calls. You can dive more deeply into the style of sound they emit if music or another audio listening will be done with your headphones. 

Clear Microphone

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Not only do you want to hear what is coming through the headphone, but your output is important. A quality microphone should be considered, especially if you will be making lots of phone calls. Clarity not only means that your voice can be picked up by the microphone, but it also blocks out ambient sounds. 

Gaming headsets have been specifically designed with great microphones for clear communication among players. These headsets are often too bulky to wear for phone use, so most will opt for a smaller system that does not have a protruding microphone. Newer headphone technology has made it possible to pick up your voice without a mouthpiece. 

The two most common options for microphones are Bluetooth and wired. Bluetooth microphones are built into the headphone itself, offering a compact and convenient system, but also compromise quality. Wired headphones have the microphone located on the cord. The location may be more difficult for picking up your voice, especially in crowded locations. 

Microphone quality should be largely considered when choosing headphones for mobile in these conditions:  

  • Recording needs: If you need to record interviews, speeches, or other important audio recordings on your phone, this quality needs to be high. 
  • Professional calling: For frequent and important work calls, you want microphones that are reliable, even in loud environments. 
  • Mobile gaming: For gameplay on your phone, a strong microphone will keep you better connected with other players. The recording of gameplay is also enhanced with greater audio quality. 

Bluetooth Connection 

Bluetooth headphones have become increasingly popular because they are convenient and don’t require you to be attached to your phone. This is a great solution for hands-free calling and listening as well as being easy to set up and use. Many of the headphone options on this list use Bluetooth technology because they are of high quality as well as more user friendly. 

If convenience and freedom are something you value in choosing headphones for a mobile phone, we recommend looking at wireless headphones. You don’t have to worry about a wire getting tangled or caught on something while you are using them. You can more easily multi-task when not having to hold the phone with a cord. 

Bluetooth headphones for mobile are one of my top considerations and recommendations because they offer: 

  • Portability: Wireless headphones are easy to transport and do not need to be consistently attached to a phone for use. 
  • Convenience: They are very straightforward and easy to set up without the cord getting in the way. 
  • Competitive pricing: This technology is inexpensive and can be found in headphones of all price ranges. 
  • Compatibility: You can connect almost any Bluetooth device to your headphones, making them useful for phones as well as computers. 

The specific headphone you choose will vary in its specifications, but most wireless headphones will work within 30 feet of your phone. You can step away from your desk and still be connected on a phone call or listening to music. Bluetooth headphones also have excellent battery life because this transmission requires very little energy to operate. 

It is important to note that Bluetooth headphones may not deliver the same quality of sound that a directly wired set will. This is not incredibly noticeable unless you are looking for elite sound quality for music listening. Bluetooth will still deliver great sound across all use features but could be improved even more with a wired pair of headphones. 


person wearing headphones comfort priority choosing gizbuyer guide

Because consumers are on their phones for multiple hours daily, you’ll also want to consider a pair of headphones that can be comfortably worn for extended periods of time. This goes back to your preference in the headphone style. On-ear is typically the most comfortable as they are placed on the ear without being too tight. In-ear headphones usually fall towards the bottom. 

Headphones have a tendency to hurt your ears after extended use, which is something you will want to avoid if you spend hours wearing them. The following factors will influence the amount of comfort that is offered in a headphone: 

  • Shape and design: The physical structure and shape largely influence comfort. If the headphone fits too snugly over the ear or earbuds feel like they are going to fall out, the design itself may be to blame. 
  • Material Used: The types of padding used will help to make speakers more comfortable. Many over the ear headphones use leather over the earpieces and a cushioned headband to improve the overall wear. Exposed plastics should be avoided as they are hard and uncomfortable. 
  • Weight: Heavier headphones may be more uncomfortable as they place more stress on your head and neck. Lightweight options are usually better for longer wear or if you use them while exercising. 

If you intend to use your headphones for multiple hours throughout the day, I recommend placing comfort at the top of your list. Comfort is emphasized in headphone design without compromising sound quality. You should look at individual reviews by consumers for the headphones you select as they often emphasize this metric in their rating of the product. 

Value for Quality 

I include value as the final important metric in choosing headphones because there are so many quality options on the market that can be found at reasonable price points. As headphone technology continues to improve, quality is not always dependent on price. While there are plenty of excellent and expensive options, but you can find great headphones for less. 

If you are not willing to spend hundreds of dollars on headphones, you may sacrifice comfort and some quality, but these are not incredibly noticeable for a wide variety of options that compete in all the categories I have mentioned above. 

Expensive headphones may be worth it for you if you want to take advantage of the best technology on the market. I recommend investing in good headphones if you will plan on using them a lot and care about achieving the best sound quality and clarity. 

Tips for Picking Headphones 

Beyond looking at the metrics mentioned in this article for what to look for in headphones, you should also know where to look for them and use your resources to choose the best pair. Here are some important tips to help you make the best choice: 

  • Identify your priorities: It will be easier to sort through the overwhelming number of headphones if you know what you are looking for. If comfort is a priority, and you don’t like how earbuds feel, you can eliminate this entire category. 
  • Look at user reviews: You should look at the reviews of headphones that interest you on multiple websites. Websites may be receiving funding to promote certain products over others, so you should double-check on other sources to confirm these reviews. 
  • Head to an electronics store: Online purchasing can be convenient, but you may be able to make a better decision if you look at the headphones in person. You can try them on yourself and compare lots of pairs at once. Ask the salesperson lots of questions and what their recommendations are as they are very familiar with the products and what people end up purchasing. 
  • Compare pricing: Once you have identified the headphones you like, look for them on multiple websites and brick and mortar stores. You may be able to find better deals from some retailers rather than others who carry the same product line. 

These strategies should be applied to purchasing almost any product so you can make the best decision and get the most value out of your purchase. This is no exception when it comes to headphone purchases, where you should be narrowing down your choices by headphone features as well as price point. 

Choosing Headphones for Mobile 

Picking your headphones should come down to the elements mentioned above that are important to you. If you are looking for the overall best headphones mentioned, I recommend checking out the Bose Noise-cancelling Headphones 700. For a more convenient and sleek option that is compatible with any device, my overall choice is the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds. 

Whether your purpose is to simply make phone calls where clarity in speakers and microphones is key, or you want the best sound quality for music listening, you should be looking at comfort, quality, and design at a price point you find most valuable for your needs.

John Hammer

Hi i'm John Hammer, Founder and Author of Gizbuyer Guide. Ever since the original Xbox, PlayStation, and iPhone I've purchased and worked on all kinds of consumer tech products, gaming gadgets and operating system softwares. To this day my curiosity has never left, and my aim is to guide and share my knowledge on technology as I continue to experience the latest of the consumer electronics industry.

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