When the iPhone 7 launched without a headphone jack last year, it created a new demand for wireless (Bluetooth) headphones and earphones. Apple itself released its own AirPods, which, admittedly look ridiculous on most people. The demand has not just been for Apple users; in fact, Samsung’s Gear IconX was released before the i7 was announced. In this post I will spotlight five wireless earphones for you to consider if you’re going cable-free.
But before I go any further, I just want to point out something that bugs me which most people get wrong as I always see the terms used interchangeably. There is a difference between headphones and earphones, which appears in the name. Headphones sit across your head over your ears, and earphones sit inside your ears (and fyi, you shouldn’t be sharing these; gross).
iPhone 7 image from Shutterstock
This post touches on some wireless earphones that were released from the second half of last year. Again, it’s not solely for iOS; I’ve included for Android as well. Most should be compatible with either, now that the market is about to get flooded with these devices.
The iFrogz Bluetooth wireless earbuds have four models in its line up: Plugz; Summit; Charisma; and Impulse. The range of earphones are all R700 and under so if you’re looking for something more budget, this would be it. The Summit in particular falls under the sport category, which is lightweight and sweat-resistant. The earbuds inside the box come in three sizes and offer a lifetime warranty if they get worn or damaged. It has an ergonomic design with wings that sit in the curve of your ears to keep it in place. What I really like about these earphones is the magnetic clip to sit on your top, with easy access to music and call controls. Battery life is up to 10 hours on a single charge. The sound quality is decent for its price range.
Platform: iPhone; Android
The Sony Xperia Ear was announced last year and as of January 2017, they are available exclusively on Takealot.com for R2499. There’s a good reason the Xperia Ear is priced the way it is – it’s more than just earphones because you can talk to it! It’s like Google Now, you can ask it to make calls, search for information, type up a reply for you, or navigate you to your next destination. It also has third party support like reading out texts, Whatsapps, Facebook messages, etc. Great especially if you’re on the road a lot. I have not tried these but would love to at some point. It also understands gestures, so if you nod your head, it will accept it as a ‘yes’. Oh, it’s water-resistant, too. That said, it is slightly on the pricey side. Make sense for Xperia smartphone owners.
Platform: Android only.
Yes, R6k is a lot of money to be throwing around for a pair of earphones, which could get you a mid-level smartphone. The Dash says it’s the world’s first “hearable”, which lets you listen, track and communicate. The earphones learns your body movements in the form of gestures – you can nod your head to accept a call, or shake it to decline. It’s activity tracker too that measures heart rate, water proof, laps, breaths; and of lets you listen to music straight from its on-board storage. So it really offers a bunch of high-end features, which explains the price.
Platform: iPhone, Android, Windows 10 Mobile (limited)
If you’re a Samsung fan, then best you consider the Gear IconX wireless earphones. These lightweight earphones come in three wingtip and ear bud sizes (S/M/L), offers activity tracking, and has on-board storage. Samsung says you can run, jump and do just about anything with the IconX and it won’t fall of due to its snug fit. As small as it is, it has touch controls – swipe; tap and hold; and single/double/triple tap for various functionality. Fitness activity like speed, distance, duration, calories burned and heart rate tracking is synced to Samsung’s S Health app. You can also use Voice Guide for workouts.
Bang & Olufsen have a premium range of consumer products that fall under the B&O Play brand. This particular model is the Beoplay H5, the work of Scandinavian designer Jakob Wagner features an unique braided textile holding the two earpieces together. It has a rubber case that keeps the inside electronics protected from dirt and interference. It pairs with an Apple Watch too, where you can select preset sound profiles. It provides up to 5 hours of audio playback, is sweat resistant and comes with best in class audio from parent company Bang & Olufsen. The ear pieces are magnetic and clips onto each other around your neck should you wish to power down and save battery.
Platform: Android; iPhone; Apple Watch
I haven’t had a chance to play with Apple’s AirPods, and they appear online at the iStore with no stock at any of the branches (at the time of writing this post). Separately from a professional point of view, there are two brands I won’t recommend you buy or won’t vouch for – SkullCandy and Beats.