There was a time when every time we wanted to listen to music or use earphones, we had to get into a “battle-untanglé”, where we would have to spend minutes, if not hours, doing the tedious task of untangling earphone wires. But just as we suddenly developed this collective dislikement for bezels, the same happened with wires. With Apple removing the 3.5 mm audio jack from its iPhones in 2016 and introducing the AirPods, the earphone industry immediately became hostile to the existence of wires. Companies jumped on the wireless boat and started creating “true wireless earphones” with more dedication than ever before.
But what does it mean to have truly wireless earphones? Like the name suggests, true wireless earphones eliminate any kind of wire that may exist between the two buds. Unlike many wireless earphones (generally Bluetooth ones) that come with neck bands attaching one bud to another, truly wirefree earphones consist of two separate, unconnected by wires, earbuds, offering a different level of convenience altogether. Sounds extremely comfortable and convenient? Well, this rose also carries its share of thorns. So, before you give in to the temptation and invest a bomb to get a truly wireless earphone experience (and it does cost money), here are six things you should know:
They DO fall out
Different companies have implemented completely wireless technology on their Bluetooth earphones in different ways, and this difference is most evident in the design department. Apple’s AirPods come in a standard size with no ear tip option whereas companies like Sony, Jabra, Bose and Bragi have true wireless earbuds that come with variable ear tip sizes to fit different ears. But while companies have tried different approaches to make these little audio buds stay put in our ears, one cannot deny the fact that they easily fall out. No matter what the ads say, true wireless earphones do fall out of ears. Though they are supposed to bring flexibility and more movement to the table, targeting the“always on the go” audience, it is ironic when you really are on the go when these little buds often fall out. And unlike wireless earphones or wired ones where there is some sort of wire to save the buds from the drop, here there is only space, which is not really ideal for saving something from the force of gravity.
You lose one, the other becomes useless
A little bit of wire never really harmed anyone, especially if you are clumsy or forgetful. Now, unlike other earphones that have a neckband or wire attaching the two earbuds, true wireless earphones come with two separate earbuds. While this is their USP, it can turn into a headache in no time. Why? Because this makes the earbuds more vulnerable to being lost. In simple language, there is a good chance of you losing one of them, if not both, because they are separate and not attached to each other. And once you have lost one of the buds, the other one pretty much becomes useless. Yes, you can use a single bud to listen to music but the experience is obviously not going to be nearly the same and let’s not even get to the bit where the one you have will constantly remind you of the one you have lost. And in case you are thinking that you can buy one bud separately, this option is often not available in many cases, and in cases where it is (like the AirPods), you would have to shell a significant sum to get one. Painful, right?
Battery ain’t the greatest
For all the efficiency that having a completely wirefree audio experience brings, there are a few things that the wireless earphone community still has to work on. And one of these areas is battery. First thing: Bluetooth earphones, unlike good old wired earphones, need charging, so there will be times when you will pick them up to listen to music or take a call and they will be out of charge. And if by chance you get into the habit of charging your true wireless earbuds, you will soon figure out that they run out of charge fast. Very fast. Most truly wireless earphones can last for about 2-5 hours, depending on the brand and how much battery life they have managed to squeeze into the buds itself. That said, with the help of the charging case, which almost always comes along with most of them, you can get battery life worth a day from them. But you will eventually have to give them a rest and let them get some life back from that case. So, you can kiss that binge listening or watching habit of yours goodbye – they are unlikely to last through a single long flight, leave along with a train journey!
Average audio quality
It is in a department as basic as audio where we miss the wires the most because, no matter how fancy and expensive, many of the true wireless earphones simply do not match the audio quality of what even a little bit of wire brings to the table in the same price segment. Yes, the Bose SoundSport Free and Bragi Dash Pro are pretty good in the sound department, but they do cost a bomb and for the same price (or even lesser), you would definitely get a much better and richer audio experience from routine wireless or wired earphones.
Gotta carry that case
We told you how many of these wireless earbuds often die in a couple of hours and to save yourself from completely dead earphones, you ALWAYS have to carry the charging case that accompanies them. The case which acts as charger for most of these earbuds (you generally cannot plug in your earbuds into a charger like other wireless earphones) also comes in handy when you have to put them back, because let’s be honest and go back to the second point, it really is not all that difficult to lose them. But this also means that these tiny buds come with another thing to carry – the case. While it may not be problem in some cases (pun intended) like the AirPods, that come in a tiny case that can easily slip into any pocket, it can be an issue when it comes to devices like the Sony’s WF-1000X or the Bose SoundSport Free that have slightly rectangular and relatively bulky cases. Yes, you can easily put them in even in the tiniest of ladies’ purses but to carry them in your denim’s pocket may be a problem.
Crappy controls…no, really!
The true wireless Bluetooth earphone wave may be engulfing the earphone market, but that cannot wash away the fact that the controls on most of these new earphones are rather limited. Some of these completely wireless earbuds come with gesture controls like Bragi’s Dash Pro (and to an extent, the AirPods) and some with teeny-tiny buttons on them like Sony WF-1000X and Bose SoundSport Free, but no brand seems to have actually mastered the art of having independent controls on its earphones – not even Apple. The gestures either are too few or too complicated, and when it comes to the buttons, they are often so tiny that it is almost impossible to use them. All of which often takes you back to your smartphone – so much for wireless freedom.