If you've purchased one of Apple's new iPhone 12 models, you may have discovered that Apple is no longer including earbuds — or any sort of headphones — in the box. The 3.5-millimeter headphone jack has been missing from the last few iPhone iterations, and now that the wired EarPods are no longer included, shifting to wireless headphones feels like an even more obvious option.
Here are some great headphones and wireless earbuds you can use with your new phone.
WHAT Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise-canceling headphones
THE COST $349.99
AVAILABLE FROM sony.com
Sony's earlier WH-1000XM3 model was great. But if it had a weakness, that was its voice-calling capabilities, particularly in noisier environments. The new WH-1000XM4 improves in that area and adds multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to two devices — such as your phone and PC — at the same time. This means that if a call comes in while you're using the headphones with your computer, the audio will switch to your phone when you answer the call.
WHAT Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
THE COST $299.95
AVAILABLE FROM en-us.sennheiser.com
The second-generation Momentum True Wireless 2 aren't cheap, but they're better all around than the originals, with a slightly smaller, more comfortable design, active noise canceling that rivals that of the AirPods Pro, improved battery life (up to 7 hours versus the original's 4) and better noise reduction during calls. And if you don't like them in black, a white version is now available.
Most importantly, though, the Momentum True Wireless 2 have the same stellar sound offering clearly superior sound quality to the AirPods Pro.
WHAT Beats Flex
THE COST $49.99
AVAILABLE FROM apple.com
Here it is, version 2.0 of Beats' once-popular BeatsX neckband-style wireless earphones, but with a new name and a much cheaper price tag (half that of its predecessor).
The Flex instantly becomes an affordable, Apple-friendly wireless alternative to the AirPods, which start around $130 for the standard version with a wired charging case (but will be selling for as low as $99 this holiday season). The good news is they sound better than both the original BeatsX and standard AirPods. They also work well for making calls and have better battery life than the original.
The bad news? The design is passe in a world now dominated by true wireless earbuds.
They're available in black or yellow at launch, with gray and light blue arriving in early 2021.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: executive editor David Carnoy and copy editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com