Apple’s AirPods have been out for a while in the market. I cannot say that this is one of the best sound delivering wireless earbuds, but Apple did something here in terms of the package, convenience, fit and finish.
The Apple AirPods comes in a standard small white box with the picture of the beautiful pairs on the front. Inside the package, you get a charging case with the earbuds, a lightning charging connector, a manual.
They are truly wireless and can connect via Bluetooth. The main highlight of this pair is its charging case. It looks very similar to a dental floss case. On the back of the case, there is a button to enable Bluetooth pairing mode on non-Apple devices. There is no other alternative for this wireless audio product which comes in such a tiny and convenient package, charged up, fits in your pocket very much more comfortable.
There are a lot of other audio products with charge cases with better features, but they all give up for something. If you ask me to pick a genuinely wireless headphone for using continuously for 3 hours, I will choose the Apple AirPods because it is lightweight and fatigue-free. It weighs only 4 g. You can directly place it in the ear, don’t need to set it tightly into the ears like others.
The setup process is mindless for iOS users. Just enable the Bluetooth on and open the small charging case and you will automatically be prompted to pair the earbuds. So you don’t need to download any apps, particularly for this purpose. Whenever you pull your AirPods out of the charging case, they instantly turn on and connect to your device.
One of the disadvantages of Apple AirPods is the lack of controls. You have to use “Siri” for adjusting the volume, changing the track, making calls, or even for getting navigation. Make your request by simply saying “Hey Siri”. If you are using the iOS11 supported device, then you can easily customise the AirPod controls, but also a lot of controls were still missing. You have the freedom to wear one or both AirPods.
I don’t have anything much to tell about its sound quality. It has the same class as other Apple wired earphones. The Apple AirPods doesn’t block any noise. I think that’s why we cannot enjoy the minimal bass-heavy response. The mid-range response is somewhat moderate compared to the bass and the treble. The trebles are not too harsh, and lows aren’t worst.
The call quality is brilliant. You cannot find such perfect call quality in any others. The build quality is also impressive even though if it is made up of plastic.
AirPods battery life is excellent. It delivers 5 hours of listening time and 3 hours of talk time in a single full charge. A 15 minutes quick charge gives you a 3 hrs of listening time and 2 hrs of talk time. The bottom of the case has a Lightning port for charging. It can hold multiple charges for more than 24 hrs of playback time. It can also be charged via wireless (Qi-compatible) charging mat.
The Apple AirPods are great for extended use. Therefore it is suitable for working professionals or anybody that needs commuter earbuds. These earbuds are only fit for persons with small ears because they don’t have any option to change the buds. They are not ideal for gym purpose. Apple has now launched its successor AirPod 2 in India very recently with some robust enhancement.
Sony WF-SP700N exclusively designed for sports or fitness enthusiasts and anyone with an active lifestyle. I don’t know why Sony always names its products like this. It’s hard to remember. Despite that moniker, they are pretty good truly wireless sports earbuds. But they made some significant compromises too.
Sony WF-SP700N comes in a beautiful small white packaging with the model picture and specifications on it. The packaging includes a pair of earphones, a charging case, three pairs of additional silicone rubber ear tips, a micro-USB cable, two pairs of arc supporters, an operating instruction booklet, an instruction manual and a reference guide.
Like other wireless earbuds, these pairs also made from plastic. But it doesn’t look cheap. These comfortable earphones weigh 13.6g. Even though it is lightweight, comparing the Apple AirPod, these curvy earpieces are quite bulky. It fit securely in ears with the help of a pair of silicone arc supporter which snug into to the contours of your ear. This wingtips also make the buds stable enough.
The silicone rubber ear tips do a great job at passively isolating noise. It is a great companion at workouts because it has IPX4 certification. Means they are splash-proof pairs. It doesn’t mean that you can swim with them. You can use them in the rain or sweat without any issue.
The circular thing on each earpiece, which seems to look like a button is misleading. But it has an indicator ring around it which flashes blue or red light depending on what process is being carried out.
There are plastic buttons on each piece. The right one is the power button. Also allows you to toggle between the sound modes. A similar one on the left earpiece controls playback. It is very much hard to control the buttons. And there are no details about the other function of controls correctly in the user manual.
You can customise the pairs with the Sony headphones connect app. Choose your favourite sound settings in the app, then select them instantly with two taps of the left side button. The sony connect app provides many other features for the users.
Unfortunately, the charging case looks so cheaper and flimsy. I didn’t like the flip-up charging case. I don’t think it is secure. And it is a little bulky for a pocket. The case charges using a Micro-USB connection which is much more common, and it has an LED indicator near the charging port.
To set up the earbuds, first, you need to remove the left earbud from the case, and this will automatically turn it on. Press the button on the left earbud for few seconds till the LED indicator flashes blue and red. Then go to the Bluetooth settings on your device and select WF-SP700N. After that, remove the right earbud from the case, this will cause both left and right earbuds to connect spontaneously.
The Sony WF-SP700N can connect via both Bluetooth or NFC. These pairs only support AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs. They do not support the LDAC, aptX or aptX HD high-quality wireless audio streaming codecs, which is disappointing. Sony’s obsession with NFC is prevalent. If your phone supports NFC, then it can be connected quickly by tapping your phone on the case.
The earbud has 6 mm dome type driver units. The sound quality is overall good, but the sound signature is not balanced. The WF-SP700N is just like the ‘Extra Bass’ series of Sony. The punchy bass act as a mask against the unbalanced signature of sound. So one could not detect it merely with the naked ears. The mids and highs are clean and eloquent but quite overpowered in the sound mix.
The clarity is excellent, and the noise cancellation works amazingly well. The three different sound modes: regular, and ambient sound(typical), ambient sound(voice) works well, but the last one little disappointing. Anyway, I am delighted with the sound quality.
By using the Voice Assistant, you can speak to the headset’s microphone to operate the smartphone or perform the search. When you use the Voice Assistant, you will hear the voice on the smartphone from the left unit only. The left earpiece is the master bud; call works only on the left earpiece. The biggest downside is the audio-video mismatch/lag of a few seconds. I am not at all happy watching youtube or movies.
Sony promised a 3 hrs continuous playback time. But I hardly get 1h 45m. Battery drains out quickly that’s seriously a pathetic issue. It takes 1.5 hours to get charged fully. Sony also claims that it can survive Max. 8 hrs(NC ON)/Max. 35 hrs(NC OFF) without any use.
The Sony WF-SP700N is a better option among truly wireless earphones. It is exclusively made for the gym or sports purposes. But unfortunately, these pairs compromises at some most important features. Available in two colours: Black and Yellow.
Bose SoundSport Free
Anyone familiar with the Bose brand name knows that they are a pioneer when it comes to audio technology and digital signal processing as well. They have made some best noise-cancelling headphones in the market.
They stepped into the truly wireless earbud section in the market by launching the SoundSport Free Wireless headphones. They have a lot of features which makes them an interesting comparison to my current favourites in the market. Let’s see how they stack up.
The stylish cardboard packaging contains a Portable Charging Case, two extra pairs of Stay Hear+ Sport Tips USB Cable, a micro-USB charging cable and a couple of SoundSport Free earbuds.
Where should I start now? Ok, let us look into the design first. The SoundSport Free seems practically identical to the ‘soundsport’ just without any wires in between. Both the outer sides of the earbud covered with a glossy plastic that fades from black to a golden brown or bronze. It’s subtle, but it truly makes the earphone look quite premium.
It is available in four different colours: Black, Bright Orange, Midnight Blue/ Citron, Ultra Violet. I have the black one because I felt it as elegant. The sides of the earbuds which have the controls are rubberised, giving them an excellent grip when you pull in and out of your ears. They are also ipx4 rated, which means they can withstand water splashes, sweat or even rain.
The total weight of each earbud is 14 g and are bulkier than other truly wireless headphones. These headphones are well-built and durable. The design is unique and comfortable because they have the same cosy earbud tips of the SoundSport Wireless headphones. The wingtips are grippy, flexible, and comfortable. They aren’t technically in-earphones, the ear tips don’t go into your ear canal. These are a perfect pair for one with sensitive ears.
Looking beyond the chunky appearance, the SoundSport Free provides one of the most secure fits. Passive noise isolation is low, and you do lose a little bit of audio immersion. At higher volumes, they do sound leak in good bits.
In SoundSport Free, Bose skipped a power button. They automatically turn on when you pull these earphones from the case. The array of media and call controls is out the top edge of the right headset. The volume up and down buttons are on either side. A multi-function button has aligned the middle of it.
With a single press on the multi-function button, you can play and pause the music and answer the call, with the double and triple press you can skip and go forward on songs. Holding it down for one second brings up either Siri or Google Assistant.
The call quality is very satisfying and damn good. Bass extends low and offers subtle impact without piercing into the mids. Highs slightly resonated to make long listening sessions fresh. No prominence was given to the Mids but yes, to Lows. Call quality is also excellent.
The included charging case is bulkier than but provides the SoundSport with Free a combined battery life of about 15 hours. The earbuds themselves last approximately 5.5 hours in my testing, which is quite good compared to competitors.
The best alternative for the Bose SoundSport Free is Jabra Elite Active 75t. So let us move on to find out how Jabra Elite Active 75t become the best alternative for the Bose SoundSport Free.