Best Workout Headphones for iPhone and Apple Watch in 2018

Why the Jaybird X3 headphones are the best

The best wireless workout headphones you can buy.

These days, there are headphones for just about every activity, and working out is no exception. Bluetooth-connected workout headphones have come a long way from the days of 3-hour play time and lengthy charging — today, you can find a number of good options with sweat-proofing, 6+ hours of battery life, a customizable fit, and slim profiles.

When considering workout headphones, we eliminated any headphones that weren’t rated for sweat- and water-resistance — sorry, AirPods and Beats X. If you use any pair of headphones often enough, they will fail; add sweat or water to the equation, and that danger is amplified.

Even “sweat-proof” headphones aren’t sweat-proof forever: The special nano-coating that keeps most sport and workout headphones from breaking after a hard gym session will wear down over time; it’s why you’ll often see reviews of sport headphones with complaints about non-functioning headphones after a certain period of time.

Of the headphones we’ve tested, Jaybird’s X-series has repeatedly withstood heavy sweat sessions more reliably than its competition; I’ve worn them under a roller derby helmet for multi-hour practices, at the gym while lifting weights and running, and even on the beach (though not in the water itself).

The X3 took me longer than other headphones of its type to fit correctly, in part owing to the multiple wingtip and earbud types you can attach, but once I found the right fit, they’ve stayed securely in my ears without issue, whether I was skating, jumping, running, or lifting. The cord can be worn either around the back of the ears or below, depending on your fit and preference; I’ve tried both, and slightly prefer the latter, but your choices may vary.

I also appreciate the X3’s 8-hour battery life, which I’ve received fairly consistently when using the product. Wireless headphone battery life can vary immensely from box specs to actual daily use, but Jaybird’s measurements continue to be near-perfect in that regard. While I wish we’d see an X-series model that had closer to 10 or 12 hours of battery life for distance runners and hikers, I appreciate the size of the X3, as to achieve that size, Apple’s PowerBeats line had to include larger-than-average earbuds (and the weight that goes along with that).

As part of the X3’s slim profile, you do have to use a custom contact-based charger to USB cord, which means remembering the cord (or having to replace it if you leave it behind) when you’re traveling. It’s a minor pain in the grand scheme of technology charging, but if you’re often on the road, you may want a set of headphones that takes a standard micro-USB charger.

The X3 will fail eventually, as its competition has — but that’s a fact of life where workout headphones are concerned. If there’s one hesitation I have when recommending the X3 over something like our budget pick, it would be Jaybird’s warranty team: While X3 models would appear to fail less often than their competition, Jaybird support can be slow to deal with repairs or replacements; though Jaybird offers a one-year warranty covering devices that “fail because of perspiration,” I’ve heard multiple stories from users who had lengthy wait times trying to get Jaybird to replace their headphones.

That said, Jaybird will replace headphones that fail from sweat within a year — competing products like Apple’s PowerBeats 3 have no such guarantee. The process just might take longer than you’d like.

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