Want an alternative to Apple’s AirPod wireless earphones? The future of personal audio is already here. Below I have listed three of the big-hitters. Conversely, if you have a limited budget you should first check the top earbuds under $50.
Dash by Bragi
The Dash bills itself not just as a set of headphones, but as a one-stop wearable device, complete with 27 sensors – from multiple microphones to heart-rate monitors to accelerometers, gyroscopes and even a flash drive of 4GB internal storage (so you can have some music without needing to be paired to your phone) – it’s by far the most fully functional on test. Yet we found it hard to love, from the temperamental Bluetooth connection to the awkward touch controls. The battery, at four hours, is decent, but then, they’re not the smallest.
Win: Decent battery (the case also holds five charges); multiple functions.
Fail: Dodgy Bluetooth connection; bad controls.
Gear IconX by Samsung
Samsung’s Gear IconX does a lot of things reasonably but nothing brilliantly. Like the Dash by Bragi, it comes complete with a full set of fitness and tracking functions – even a heart-rate monitor – but unlike the Dash we found the touch controls responsive and accurate, and it boasts the same internal storage (4GB) for phone-free music. It’s the latter that proved a slight niggle – the sound is good, but it’s still not up to the standard of high-end, wired headphones. At the moment, that’s still a compromise.
Win: Full set of fitness functions; smart controls.
Fail: Sound quality isn’t quite up to that of wired headphones.
M-1 by Earin
I loved the look of the ultra-minimal Earin M-1s – in fact, they’re so small the only drawback was people would often speak to us without realising we had earphones in. The charging case – a slick pop-out metal tube – is a touch of class and foam tips manage to keep them firmly in place. The sound is good, and considering the size the near-three-hour battery life impressive. And yet: that’s all they are. No fitness functions and you can’t even take calls, meaning the price tag will prove prohibitive for some.
Win: The smallest wireless earphones – the size of earplugs.
Fail: Lack of functions will frustrate some.