True wireless (TWS) earphones are a dime a dozen now and it’s gotten even harder to choose which one you should get. For this article we’re comparing three TWS headphones that hover around the same price point: the Airpods 2, Galaxy Buds+, and Freebuds 3.
Vincenz (AirPods 2), Dayle (Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds+), and Rodneil (Freebuds 3), have been using their own TWS headphone, but sat down together and took turns listening to each pair for the purposes of this article. Yes, we cleaned each pair before exchanging because hygiene.
A few ground rules: Settings for each device is set to default. We all listened to one of the greatest songs of all time that also happens to be masterfully produced — Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Let’s start with the surface level. What do you guys think about each one’s design?
Rodneil: I was never a fan of how the AirPods look. That stem thing sticking just looks weird to me. Obviously the Freebuds 3 followed the same look so design-wise, I prefer the Samsung Galaxy Buds+.
Vincenz: I despised the look of the AirPods the moment it was introduced — it looks like the ordinary EarPods without the wires. Same goes with how Huawei copied the “stem” buds from the AirPods. I’ll go with the Galaxy Buds+ on design. It’s unique and small.
Dayle: I have the Galaxy Buds so I’m quite biased with the design of the Buds+. I was never a fan of the stem design so the AirPods and Freebuds 3 aren’t exactly my cup of tea.
What about the fit?
Rodneil: I don’t really have a lot to say about the fit. Perhaps it’s because I’ve gotten used to the Freebuds 3. Although to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan at first. If I had to choose, I’d still go with an in-ear one — like the on the Galaxy Buds+.
Vincenz: I never liked the fit of the old EarPods but the AirPods 2 suit my ears perfectly. Same goes for the Freebuds 3 with almost the same design as AirPods. Years ago, I was using a wired JBL Earbuds that were also in-ear and wearing the Galaxy Buds+ felt similar. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it — it even has extra ear tips in the box so you can find that perfect fit.
Dayle: The AirPods and Freebuds are identical but the fit of the Freebuds are more likely to slide off your ear than the AirPods. I like the fit of the Galaxy Buds (still biased) because they feel so light. At first you might feel that they’re coming off, but they won’t. It’s tried and tested (by me lol), you’ll get used to it.
As mentioned earlier, we all listened to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Can you describe the listening experience for each TWS earphone?
Rodneil: I had high hopes for the Galaxy Buds+. Those hopes were immediately shattered. Compared to the AirPods 2 and the Freebuds 3, the Galaxy Buds+ just didn’t deliver the same level of audio experience that I expect from this price point.
The volume on the Galaxy Buds+ didn’t get loud enough to distract you from your surroundings. It’s also lacking that rich texture which is surprising since the Galaxy Buds performed okay in this regard. It’s just really lacking in a lot of aspects.
I felt the AirPods 2 and the Freebuds 3 delivered a similar audio experience. If you close your eyes and turn the volume up enough, you’ll really feel immersed in the song. I will give a slight edge to the Freebuds 3 since I felt its active noise cancellation (ANC) feature truly isolates you from your immediate environment.
Vincenz: I’d go first with the Galaxy Buds+ since I least liked its sound quality. Other than the low audio level, I barely heard the bass — or that powerful beat whenever the music hit its “climax”. I even tried playing with the additional EQs but it really lacks THAT feature as it leans more into clarity.
The FreeBuds 3’s (ANC) isn’t perfect but it gets the job done. It really depends on how loud the song is. Audio levels are fair enough and I enjoyed listening to the songs with the volume at around 70%. The quality is decent but most of the time, the vocals overpower the background music — to the point that it feels muffled and trebly.
I’d still go with the AirPods 2 in this case. Even without ANC, I was able to hear a richer, fuller sound experience — even with just around 60% volume level. The vocals blend well with the background music and synths, and its bass is the most powerful compared to the Galaxy Buds+ and FreeBuds 3.
Dayle: I really want to hear and feel everything that’s going on in a song and frankly, the AirPods did that for me. You can hear all the beats per instrument with the vocals still clear and crisp and everything is just the right balance, it’s the perfect audio harmony. No, I’m not a legit audiophile but I know good quality audio when I hear one.
Now with the FreeBuds, it’s still a good listening experience overall. It has an evidently powerful bass at a normal volume but when you turn it up, the bass sounds distorted. Other than that, the FreeBuds is good for its price.
Last and maybe sadly also the least for me are the Buds+. This pair, though the vocals are clear, has a flat sound even after you try to increase the volume. I’ve also tried switching between preset equalizer settings but still the audio didn’t get better and only made the vocals sound muffled. If anything, the first Galaxy Buds are still a better buy. Hopefully though, Samsung can still improve the audio quality with updates in the very near future.
What other tracks/things did you listen to and how did each earphone fare?
Rodneil: I’m a huge fan of bad-ass guitar riffs so there are two songs that I always make it a point to listen to when trying new headphones: Incubus’ “Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)” and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”
The Galaxy Buds+ was surprisingly disappointing. Not only was the volume lower much lower, it also just didn’t have that rich sound that I had hoped it would have.
Both songs slapped pretty hard on the AirPods 2 and the Freebuds 3. I’m giving a slight edge to the Freebuds 3 because of it’s (ANC) feature. It’s perfect for that really immersive listening session.
Vincenz: Other than Bohemian Rhapsody, I listened to three other tracks: “Psycho” by Red Velvet, “Pagtingin” by Ben&Ben, and “All About You” by Taeyeon.
During this listening session, I was able to answer all my questions about its audio quality. Just like what I said earlier, the AirPods 2 clearly delivered richer and fuller sound quality — and FreeBuds 3 comes close to its quality, just with an added ANC and less bass. The Galaxy Buds+, as expected, performed the worse. It sounded tinny compared to those aforementioned.
Dayle: I also tried listening to Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know”, Justin Bieber’s “Yummy” and “Intentions”, Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” and Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side” (inspired by my spinning classes lol) to give me a feel of how each song sounds from each pair. So far the AirPods gave me that urge to bob my head to the beat (and maybe run to the gym) — FreeBuds 3 came in second.
Any comments on the battery life?
Rodneil: I only probably have the Freebuds 3 on while I’m walking to and from work. And that’s not a long walk. Over the past few months I probably only charge it once every 10 days. The only time I used it for an extended period was during a 20-hour flight. It didn’t die on me at all and probably only charged it two days after arriving from that trip.
Vincenz: For someone like me who’s always stuck in traffic, I usually put on my AirPods to either listen to music or watch TV series and films. The AirPods 2 lasted me around three to four hours. With the additional case, you’ll get more than three times so you’ll get almost a day of listening. Just take note that everytime the AirPods get drained down to zero, it will take around 10 minutes to fully charge them up again.
Dayle: The longest I have my buds on is when I binge watch series and it lasts for about 5 hours on a good lazy weekend because, why not. The Buds+ definitely lived up to its 11-hour battery life promise, bearing with me all throughout my series marathon.
Which one would you recommend the most?
Rodneil: You can’t go wrong with either the AirPods 2 or the Freebuds 3. If you’re using an iPhone, your best bet is to go with the AirPods just for that whole Apple ecosystem experience. If you’re on Android, the Freebuds 3 is a fine option especially with its ANC feature. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend the Galaxy Buds+. Not when the only thing it’s better at than it’s predecessor is the battery life.
Vincenz: If you’re the type of user who just listens to podcasts and TV series, the Galaxy Buds+ is not a bad option since it focuses more on clarity. If you like having ANC as an added feature, you can’t get wrong with the FreeBuds 3. But if you would ask my best pick, I would still choose the AirPods 2 because of the overall sound quality, not to mention the after-sales service you get with Apple.
Dayle: This goes against my Galaxy Buds loyal heart, but i’m going to have to go with the AirPods 2.
Nokia E3100: Trying new buds for work to workouts
Yes, Nokia has earbuds now
Nokia and I go way back. It was the mobile phone brand of my youth. Our history includes a series of phones that predate the existence of touchscreen ones we use now. Everyone had a Nokia device then. In recent years, it’s become a rarity. So imagine my surprise when I first heard that Nokia is now making earbuds. How did it fare against the audio giants of our time?
I got a hold of the Nokia E3100 Essential True Wireless Earphones. Compared to my old set of earbuds (Anker Zolo Liberty+), this one’s battery case and earbuds are extremely light, almost the same weight as a tube of drugstore lipstick.
The buds can operate up to 2.5hrs with a single charge, and up to 10 hours with help of the rechargeable battery case. Super convenient to pack if we still had our old lifestyle of going out daily.
On the job
I used to be able to maximize my earbuds on my commute — listening to music or watching series whenever I’m in transit. Nowadays, I mainly connect my headset to my laptop for Zoom meetings and other virtual work calls.
The Nokia E3100 did not disappoint on the sound side. Audio from the people I’m in the call with was always clear and crisp. But, it can be a hit-or-miss as a mic. The earbuds have a built-in microphone on the right side, but my experience with it left me wanting. There was a point when I had to switch back to the laptop microphone in the middle of a call just so people can hear my voice clearly.
On the mat
I also tried the Nokia E3100 for a few home workout sessions. Since the earbuds fit my ears perfectly, there’s no fear of it falling out in the middle of jumping jacks.
Another nice surprise is how you can easily skip or repeat tracks via push button controls on the earbuds. Less distractions to your exercise momentum! The only time I have to reach for my phone is when I want to switch to a different playlist.
Is the Nokia E3100 your GadgetMatch?
It’s reliable as an earpiece for listening to music, working out, and watching series. But when it comes to the demands of working from home, the current built-in mic just won’t do.
Nokia has to work on the voice sensitivity and responsiveness of the earbuds’ mic in order to take on this new age of virtual calls and meetings.
The Nokia E3100 retails for PhP 1,999 (US$ 41)
Apple launches the AirTag
Long rumored item, now finally real
Do you keep losing or misplacing things? There’s an Apple product for that. Introducing the AirTag.
The AirTag is a small designed accessory and helps keep track of and find items you may have misplaced through Apple’s Find My App. It can help locate a lost item while keeping location data private and anonymous with end-to-end encryption.
It’s built using stainless still and is IP67 rated (water and dust resistant). The AirTag also has a built-in speaker that plays sounds to help signal its location. Its cover is easily removable to replace the battery.
If you bring them close to an iPhone, they will instantly connect. Users can assign AirTag to an item and name it with a default like “Keys” or “Jacket,” or provide a custom name of their choice.
Once it’sset up, it will appear in the new Items tab in the Find My app. Here, users can view the item’s current or last known location on a map. If a user misplaces their item and it is within Bluetooth range, they can use the Find My app to play a sound from the AirTag to help locate it. Users can also ask Siri to find their item, and AirTag will play a sound if it is nearby.
Customers can personalize AirTag with free engraving, including text and a selection of 31 emoji when purchased via apple.com or the Apple Store app. They can be used as is or with accessories like the Polyurethane Loop, Leather Loop, and Leather Key Ring.
Privacy and security
Apple says location data or location history is physically stored inside AirTag. Communication with the Find My network is end-to-end encrypted so that only the owner of a device has access to its location data, and no one, including Apple, knows the identity or location of any device that helped find it.
Price and availability
The AirTag will be available in one (US$ 29) and four packs US$ 99. It can be purchased from apple.com, in the Apple Store app, at Apple Store locations, and through Apple Authorized Resellers and select carriers (prices may vary) beginning Friday, April 30.
Customers can order AirTag beginning at 5AM PDT on Friday, April 23.
Apple-designed AirTag accessories include:
- Leather Key Ring in Saddle Brown, (PRODUCT)RED, and Baltic Blue for US$ 35
- Leather Loop in Saddle Brown and (PRODUCT)RED for US$ 39 (US)
- Polyurethane Loop in White, Deep Navy, Sunflower, and Electric Orange for US$29
Sony launches WH-1000XM4 Silent White edition
In celebration of Sony’s 75th anniversary
Sony’s best and highly acclaimed active noise cancelling headphones — the WH-1000XM4 — is getting a new flavor. The WH-1000XM4 Silent White edition is launching in May 2021 to celebrate Sony’s 75th anniversary.
The WH-1000XM4 Silent White has a pearlescent finish to the topcoat of the headphones to create a sense of depth and a luxurious touch. Worried about it getting dirty? It includes an additional coat compared to the earlier black and silver versions for more stain-resistance and to retain the white color.
All of the accessories included also come in white.
New to the headphones in its 4th iteration is Multiple device pairing. This has been one of this headphones’ weaknesses and it has finally been addressed. You can now connect the Sony WH-1000XM4 to two devices simultaneously.
When a call comes in, your headphones will know which device is ringing and connect to it automatically. You’ll also be able to quickly switch your headphones to either of the two devices in a single tap.
It now also has Edge-AI, DSEE Extreme which more accurately rebuilds audio lost during digital compression for a full fidelity experience. The 360 Reality Audio feature is now also making its way to these headphones. It lets listeners enjoy a custom immersive musical field that is perfectly optimized for each individual user.
Price and availability
Exact price will be revealed at launch. The Sony WH-1000XM4 Silent White edition will be available across Asia Pacific in May 2021. In Singapore, it will be available exclusively at Sony Stores and Sony Stores Online.
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