True wireless earbuds are some of the most popular tech purchases right now. Originally a segment of premium products, true wireless earbuds are today available in all shapes and sizes. Many good true wireless earbuds are also now available at an affordable price point.
However, with so many true wireless audio options out there, choosing the right one for you can be difficult or overwhelming for some. If you’re in the market looking for a new pair of true wireless earphones, here are some pointers to keep in mind to ensure you buy the right pair.
Brands and pricing
Probably the most important point to look at is what brands are you considering. While casual listeners need not shell out extra bucks to buy an audiophile-level product, it is still crucial to get TWS earphones from a good brand that you trust. Brands that have a big product lineup and have been making audio products for years are likely to produce good quality earbuds that will last longer, offer better sound and more.
On the other hand, spending the right amount of money is also more important. If you buy a product that is too cheap and then realise it doesn’t offer the kind of sound quality you expected, you end up wasting that amount as well as your time. Try to find the right balance between a recognised brand and an affordable price. Don’t forget to look out for offers and sales.
The design is the next most important thing when buying new true wireless earbuds. When it comes to a product that is going to continuously hang out of your ears for presumably a long amount of time at a stretch, it is crucial that you get a design that you’re comfortable wearing and the right fit.
If the buds are too big, they might be painful for you to wear. If they’re too small, they may fall out. This is especially important with plastic earbuds like the Apple AirPods or the OnePlus Buds, which do not feature silicone tips. If you’re unsure about your fit, it is best to look for options that come with multiple sizes of replaceable ear tips.
If you plan on using your earbuds for the gym or during runs, you’re also better off with buds that have extra mechanisms to stay snug. Check out options like the Amazfit PowerBuds, which have optional ear hooks.
Features and gestures
Almost every product you encounter while buying a new pair of TWS earbuds will have a few standout features. However, it’s best to stick to the features that are relevant to you. For instance, if you have no intention of using your earbuds in the shower, don’t go looking for a product with the best water resistance, and look for something that sounds the best at that price point instead.
Some key, must-have features to look out for are the ability to control music playback and calls, trigger voice assistants, quick pairing and reliable connectivity. If you’re buying a pair in 2021, it should have at least Bluetooth 5.0 and gestures.
Speaking of which, also not that touch-based gestures are not for everyone. If you plan on using your buds while in bed, during sports or around water, touch-based gestures may occasionally fail to get triggered or worse, trigger without your intention. Earbuds with physical buttons that you can click to trigger have more control but may lose out on water resistance as a result.
Sound quality, call quality, and audio-codec support
Good TWS earbuds should have a rich, balanced sound that is neither lacking in bass nor too bass-heavy. To make sure that your music doesn’t sound hollow, look at the size of the drivers used in the earbuds. 6mm drivers are known to be decent but if elements like instrument isolation and richer sound matter to you, look for at least 10mm drivers on each end of the earbuds.
Also, look at the mic-reception quality. Your TWS earbuds could sound really good, but fall apart in quality when you make a call. To us, that is a bad pair of TWS buds. If you plan on using your earbuds a lot for calls and multiplayer gaming, look for products that have either multiple mics or good ANC (Active Noise Cancellation).
If you’re willing to spend more money on higher-end products, also look at the audio-codec support you get on the earbuds. Mid-range quality earbuds will usually support the SBC codec, but if you want better, higher resolution audio, you must look for products that support AAC, AptX or LDAC codecs.
Battery life (Case and Earbuds)
Battery life is crucial and there are no two ways about it. The more battery capacity your buds have, the longer they will work on a single charge. The more capacity your case has, the more times it will be able to charge your buds. Also, note that most brands that advertise a number when talking about battery life are usually talking about music playback time. For calls, that number will usually drop down a bit.
An ideal pair of TWS earbuds should have a minimum of 4-5 hours of battery life on the buds, and a case that can charge them over completely at least thrice. Anything below that is also acceptable but if you’re a power user, you may find yourself looking for a charger too often.