The Best Headphones for Your Smartphone in 2021

Ever wondered which headphones would perfectly capture the proper bass and vibrations of rock music? Or what pair could display the highs and lows of a magnificent film score? When it comes to our home set-ups, our speakers alone just aren’t up to the job. Read on to find the best headphones in 2021 for your smartphone, whatever the activity.

Different headphones serve various purposes - some are built for people on a budget, while others are designed to deliver high quality audio. Use our list to find the right headphones for you:

  • Best for movies
  • Best for gaming
  • Best for classical music
  • Best for rock music
  • Best for pop music
  • Best for music production
  • Best for exercise 
  • Best for those on a budget

What to look for

When buying headphones, there are a few things you should be aware of so you know what to look for. 

Type

Do you want in-ear headphones or over-the-ear? In-ear headphones, also known as earphones, are little buds that rest just inside the ear. Over-the-ear headphones are larger cushioned pads that (predictively) sit over your entire ear, and are usually connected via a headband that sits over your head. 

In-ear headphones can cause irritation or soreness to some, with over-the-ear usually being more comfortable for longer periods of time. However, over-the-ear are bulkier and not suited to things like exercise, whereas the smaller buds are lightweight and easy to tuck out of the way. 

Both types have their pros and cons, and it normally comes down to personal preference. 

Wired versus wireless

Wired headphones use a cable to physically connect to your device, usually with a 3.5mm jack that plugs in. However, some phones (like the iPhone 8 and above) don’t have the right port anymore, so keep this mind before making a purchase. 

If you want a cable-free experience, wireless earphones are your go-to. They connect wirelessly via Bluetooth, giving you more freedom than wired versions. The trade-off is that they only have limited battery life before needing a recharge. Apple AirPods are a well-known example. 

Music ‘jargon’

Reading technical product descriptions can be difficult, especially when unfamiliar terms are thrown around and you don’t know what they mean. Let’s break down the most common phrases so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

  • Frequency - The range of sound that is produced. The higher the Hertz, the higher the pitch; the lower the Hertz, the lower the pitch. Headphones that cover a wide frequency are usually capable of producing clearer, more fluid sound: low range, midrange, high range / low frequency, mid frequency, high frequency.
  • Noise isolation - Not the same as noise cancelling. Isolation means that the headphone sits between your ear and the area of outside noise, not that it absorbs the sound and silences it. You may still have interference. 
  • Impedance - The resistance to an electrical current. The higher the impedance, the clearer the sound. Measured in ‘ohm’.

Best for movies - Sennheiser RS175-U Digital TV Wireless Headphones

Wireless range of up to 100m

Noise cancelling headphones

Expensive - £230

These Sennheiser over-the-ear headphones are a superb choice for immersing yourself in the magic of cinema, all from your sofa! You can connect the headphones to your device via digital or analog input using the multipurpose transmitter. With their noise cancelling technology, you can fully embrace the sound being transmitted from your television, without any disruptions or external sound interfering with your experience. 

The headphones are designed to enhance your TV’s audio with various listening modes like surround sound and bass boost, delivering a concert-like experience from your living room. 

If you’re going to be watching a film, you’ll need something that’ll be comfy for at least a couple of hours. The closed back and around-ear design of the Sennheiser headphones provide cushioned pads to maintain comfort and softness. 

For £230, it’s an investment - but perhaps one that’ll be worth it if you want that cinema-from-home experience. 

Best for gaming - Razer BlackShark V2 Pro

Microphone attached 

Sound isolation

Customisable audio technology 

Expensive - £180

If you’re a gamer, then you need the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro over-the-ear headphones. For £179.99, they are designed to enhance your audio experience by providing crisp, clear, detailed sound. Created with 1.4GHz wireless connection, you’ll never find your sound lagging behind your picture, staying at the top of your game 24/7. 

The 50mm titanium drivers are designed to replicate high, mid, and low audio frequencies to offer you clear and deep layers of sound, from bass to trebles. The detachable 9.9mm microphone is noise cancelling too, so your voice will be clear and crisp when chatting online. 

To really enhance your gaming experience, the headphones feature advanced 7:1 surround sound, giving you next-level immersion. 

The design of the cushioned ear cups cancels out any external distractions so you can stay focused, whilst the breathable, sweat-proof foam keeps you comfy as you play. 

Best for classical music - Sennheiser HD 599

Focuses on midrange frequencies to capture classical instruments

No need for amp 

Velour ear cushions

Expensive - £180

The Sennheiser HD 599 were designed for true audiophiles. For £180, you’ll benefit from the ergonomic acoustic refinement (E.A.R.) technology that provides you with uncompromised, clear, high-quality sound. 

These headphones are perfect for classical and orchestral music as they can pick up every little bit of detail - Sennheiser claim once you try them you’ll never go back! The focus on the midrange frequency means each instrument is clearly distinguishable.

The open-back design immerses you in the audio as if you were truly at the theatre, rather than just drilling it into your ears. As for build-quality, the headphones look extremely stylish and are comfy to boot. The soft ear cushions have been professionally designed to stop any pressure from building up on your ears. 

Best for rock music - V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless

Memory foam earpads

30 minutes FastCharge

14 hours playback time

Expensive - around £200

It’s a must that rock headphones can pick up and emphasise deep bass that underpins the genre.The V-Moda Crossfade 2 features 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers to produce deep bass and elevates the most common sounds in rock bands e.g. guitars, bass, vocals.

Most impressively, these V-Moda headphones are Hi-Res Audio certified when cabled, creating a close resemblance to the original recording. You’ll feel completely immersed in the sound and can listen for up to 14 hours before recharging. On top of all this, the noise cancelling technology makes this one of the best headphones around for avid rock fans. 

Best for pop music - Philips Audio SHP9500 

Affordable at only £61

1.5m removable cable

The Philips Audio SHP9500 headphones are a great choice if you like the security of plugging your headphones directly into a device. You can listen to pop music while studying or commuting, with high quality and distortion-free HiFi audio. 

The 50mm neodymium drivers are designed to produce smooth, clear, and tonal sound for a fully immersive experience. The Philips headphone focuses primarily on producing mid-range sound that covers the major type of audio present in pop songs. 

The breathable cushions of the headphones are designed to fit over your ears comfortably, and trap the sound within for an immersive experience. The steel headband is durable and strong, yet flexible enough to adjust for your head size, and features a double layered cushion inside for maximum comfort. 

At just £61 from Amazon, these are quite good value compared to others on the market. 

Best for music production - Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Designed specifically for studio use

Velour ear pads

Price of £130 might be too much 

Handcrafted in Germany, these noise-cancelling Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones have been specifically designed for studio environments, with a core focus on mixing and editing music. If you’re a music editor, engineer, or sound enthusiast, then the DT 990 Pro are one of the best and most affordable headphones on offer to you.

At around £130, these headphones are packed full of music-enhancing technology that elevates your experience whilst working. The tonal depth of mild bass and powerful trebles is achieved through the spacious and open design, offering users very clear high and low frequencies. With the DT 990’s you’ll be able to detect even the smallest of changes while working on your next track. 

The padded ear pads are adjustable to suit your ears and provide comfort for those long hours in the studio. The spring steel headband is also sturdy and durable, reducing the risk of any damage after long uses in the studio. 

Best for exercise - Anker Soundcore Spirit Pro

Wireless, so you don’t have to deal with cables whilst exercising

Sweatproof withIP68 waterproof rating

Adjustable ear tips to find your right size

These wireless earphones from Anker are perfect for sport fanatics. With an IP68 waterproof rating and built-in Sweat Guard feature, you don’t need to worry about any sweat or water damaging the earphones. This makes them suitable for those intense gym sessions, or sunny runs. 

You can adjust the size of the earbuds using the various EarWings and EarTips that come with it to find the most comfortable fit for you. As they’re wireless, nothing will get in your way whilst you’re trying to exercise

In terms of sound, aptX technology enhances the overall quality of the music, while the Dual EQ Modes lets you intensify the sound when you need that extra motivation. 

One of the niftiest features is the built-in magnets, allowing you to wrap the headphones around your wrist when not in use. With 10 hours of playback, your gym session won’t get interrupted by a dead battery. 

True Wireless Earbuds are also a great choice for a budget option. At only £18, they have noise cancelling technology, 25 hours playback time total, 8mm speakers, and a waterproof, slim design suitable for exercise. 

Best for those on a budget - Mpow Wireless Headphones

Super cheap - £20

IPX7 waterproof 

Noise cancelling

These Mpow in-ear headphones can be picked up for as little as £18, which is a fantastic price for what they have on offer. 

In terms of functionality, they are lightweight and come with four sizes of memory-foam ear tips, making them comfortable to wear for long periods. Their IP rating means they are completely waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about sweat or other liquids breaking them. 

With built-in noise suppression and noise cancelling microphones, you can listen to your music distraction-free for up to 9 hours. Even if they run out of juice, they only take 90 minutes to completely recharge. The sound quality doesn’t suffer thanks to its CSR Chip and EDR technology, providing enhanced bass. 

Other headphones

That’s our wrap for the best types of headphones you can get in 2021 - which one is your favourite? These might be the best in class, but that doesn’t mean that’s everything out there. If you’re after some budget-friendly wireless headphones, there are plenty available at Asda. 

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