True Wireless Earphones (TWE) are completely zero-wire. The 2 earbuds from each ear transmits audio either through Bluetooth or Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI).
I have been reviewing dozens of true wireless earphones. Just for the past 2 months, I have already tested 3, and expecting another one coming next week.
If you just want the convenience without concerns about sound quality or other usability issues, unbranded TWEs from AliExpress or Lazada can cost as low as S$20.
Other than sound quality, there are a few areas that you might need to consider:
- How long can the battery last? Other than the time taken to drain battery, does the battery retain charges over time, and does the charging system continue to function well?
- How good will the earbuds transmit audio to each other? Do they work well in environments?
- Are the accessories easily replaceable?
The most important function of TWE, other than the audio quality, is the battery life. If the buds last only 1 hour, you cannot even finish a movie. Then you have to place them onto the case to charge, and meanwhile, you can’t use them. Then next question: how long do they take to charge? Hopefully not another hour.
The other important issue is whether both earbuds can receive audio reliably without any frequent dropouts. Interference will definitely occur once a while, but if it happens to frequently, you will probably get so frustrated that you will stop using them altogether.
The other consideration is the charging system. While most wireless earphones charge using standard micro-USB cables plugged directly to the earphones, TWE earbuds charge through a special case which is plugged to a power source via micro-USB cable. If the case stops working, or worse, if the charging conductor malfunctions, the earbuds will not be able to charge anymore.
To get a decent pair of TWEs backed by good design, well-thought functions, and after-sales service, you should expect nothing less than S$80. If you are only willing to pay for anything lesser, then you should just forget about quality or user experience and be prepared to write-off the purchase within a few months. But if it lasts longer, well, good buy, and pray that it lasts longer, because when it’s eventually broken, you won’t be so lucky with the next cheap one. I’m not saying branded earphones will work better, but at least they have an after-sales support to resolve any lemon sets.
Because with TWEs, the points of failure are more than standard wireless earphones, which are a little more than direct wired earphones. Therefore, it’s more important to ensure the TWEs you buy come with a good warranty program, or have replacement parts that can be purchased easily even after warranty.
So next time when you come across cheap true wireless earphones, think carefully about the risks. The product will be a gem if it delivers long battery life, receives good reviews on audio transmission, and has a reliable charging system, preferably with direct USB charging, albeit rare.
I review dozens of true wireless earphones. Head to my website to read my reviews. Link here.