Apple made truly wireless earphones (TWS) super cool with the AirPods. So much so that almost everyone seems to want these utterly wifeless audio wonders. And well, it does not really come as a surprise as truly wireless earphones are both convenient and trendy. Such is their growing popularity is the reason that many have been feeling the pressure to ditch their wired earphones or conventional Bluetooth earphones (where the buds are connected to each other with a wire) and invest in these completely wire-free earbuds.
The temptation has grown stronger in the past one year with people working from home more than ever before and attending online meetings and events. But while the zero-wire-audio zone may seem all glamorous and inviting from the outside, it is not perfect. The wire-free zone has its own headaches. Some significant. Some not quite so.
So if you are looking to get into the TWS world, here are a few things you should look out for before making that truly wireless leap:
1. They fall out (and are fragile)
No matter what TWS brands might tell you, these little drops of audio in your ears will fall out, regardless of their shape, size or design. There is no such thing as a truly wireless earbud that stays put in your ear at all times. Even the ones with elaborate ear clips tend to drop out at some stage. And oh, if they hit the ground, the chances of their being damaged or stepped on is rather high – the buds might be ultra light, but that also makes even a bit on the fragile side.
2. Losing one is easy…and fatal
And because they can fall out, the chances of losing one of a pair of TWS is very high. And if you do end up losing one of them, the other is often useless, either producing limited sound or sometimes (in budget TWS), not work at all. Getting a replacement bud is tough, and expensive.
3. They don’t sound as good
The hype may be on their side but when it comes to audio quality, TWS are no match for wired and partially wired earphones . No, we are not saying that truly wireless earphones come with bad audio quality (the Sennheiser Momentum series sound fantastic), but they generally come a very poor second when compared to their wired counterparts at the same price point.
4. They need to be charged…and charged frequently
Love them or hate them, having good old wired earphones means you have one less thing to charge. Even conventional Bluetooth earphones generally deliver decent battery life (anything from a dozen to twenty hours or more), but when it comes to TWS, you are generally stuck with single digit battery life – even the mighty AirPods Pro last barely five hours. You suddenly start missing your traditional earbuds as soon as you put these tiny wireless buds in your ears on a walk or to attend an online meeting, and find them running out of charge. And incidentally, you cannot use them while charging!
5. Annoying controls and pairing process
TWS are generally very tiny. And that means teeny-tiny controls on these ever-so-small earbuds. It takes ages to get used to knowing which button is which and even when you do, there is no guarantee that you will not accidentally tap to pause music while you are trying to simply adjust them, or lower down volume when you are trying to change the song. Some TWS come with gestures but even these are tough to use, given how small the buds themselves are. The same goes for the pairing process, while some TWS have worked this out pretty well like the AirPods, there are many that are still struggling and making us struggle with them, sometimes dropping connection, sometimes connecting with only one of the two and so on. Finding tiny controls on an already mini earbud is something many simply cannot deal with.
6. There is only one case and only one charger
You cannot just pick the wireless buds out of your ears and drop them in your pocket or backpack. You have to carry them carefully in their case at all times. And the case is not just for carrying. Not only does it keep the earbuds from being misplaced (very much possible given how small they are) but it also acts as the charger of these buds. Keep the buds out of the case and they run out of battery. So the case is another thing to take care of, and to keep charged too. It is also in most cases (pun intended), the only way to charge TWS – unlike Bluetooth earphones which can be charged by almost any micro USB or USB Type C cable and charger, a TWS can only be charged by its case.
So there are you are. They are cute, super portable and trendy, but TWS have their dark side. Keep it in mind and may the portable audio Force be with you.