Accessories

Wireless earphones: A life-changing switch?

With the headphone jack slowly dying, is it time to switch to wireless earbuds?

Photos by Andrew Deloso

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I’ve used wired earphones all my life until a month ago when a friend gave me the Anker Zolo Liberty+ earphones. How has it changed my life, you ask?

There are three major points in the day when I use earphones: when I’m on my commute, when I’m working out, when I’m at work. Overall, there’s a feeling of freedom with using wireless earphones. This is probably why Anker dubbed their wireless earphones line “Liberty”. Now, let me share how being untethered feels like.

When I’m on my commute

Gone are the days of detangling wires whenever I’m on my earphones and have to get something out of my backpack. Definitely not going to miss wires getting caught up in any of my purse’s zippers.

There’s also a better sense of security. As a woman who commutes in a city like Manila, I have this constant fear of my gadget getting nabbed from me whenever I’m walking in the streets. The wireless earphones are subtly nestled in the ears so it’s less conspicuous and harder to reach for anyone with bad intentions.

When I’m working out

At the gym, I would often plug my wired earphones to the treadmill. I would be really conscious of how fast I’d be running because the intensity might accidentally pull the earphones from the machine.

With wireless earphones, I get to run as fast or slack off as much as I want to. Surprisingly, the earbuds fit really well and don’t fall off even when I jump, run, or do squats.

When I’m at work

Have you ever tried turning your swivel chair round and round with wired earphones plugged to your laptop? Probably not, because you’d get all tied up and even drag your laptop down the floor. I tried doing it with wireless earphones. It was liberating.

This is probably my favorite feature of the Zolo Liberty+ — being able to move in any direction with sounds on, without being tethered to my laptop or my phone.

I’ve also noticed some differences that don’t work in the favor of wireless earphones. Although it lasts a really long time, one main gripe about is that I can’t track how much battery is left on the earbuds. If I were to nitpick, there’s also the weight of the earphone case — it’s a bit heavy because you actually use the case to charge the earphones.

Lastly, while wired earphones are just plug and play, wireless earphones still require searching and pairing with my devices. It feels like an extra step to listening to my tunes.

But I can live with all these. You probably can too; just give it a try. The convenience of switching to wireless earphones far outweighs the hitches that come with it.

Accessories

Apple could launch new entry-level AirPods next year

Along with new AirPods Pro!

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AirPods

Apple’s AirPods have been an instant success, and the brand is all set to capitalize on its gains. A report says the giant could launch an entry-level pair of truly wireless earphones that’ll also be called AirPods, but will technically be the third-generation.

Bloomberg spoke to people familiar with the matter and reported that Apple could launch two AirPods next year — the entry-level AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro.

The affordable ones are said to have a similar design as the AirPods Pro. It’ll have a smaller stem and replaceable ear tips. Obviously, premium features will be reduced or entirely removed. So, don’t expect active noise cancellation.

On the other hand, the Pro option could become more compact and completely eliminate the stem. The new design could look similar to Samsung and Google’s current TWS offering that looks like a bean and directly fits into anyone’s ears.

However, the report added that making the AirPods Pro more compact was a challenging task and the end result could be less ambitious. Apple is also going to add new wireless charging chips on both the TWS earphones.

While competition from Chinese players has made it difficult for Apple to justify AirPods’s high price, they continue to sell like hot cakes in the developed markets of the US, Europe, and Southeast Asia. An entry-level accessory makes a lot of sense because Apple has been able to successfully implement this strategy with the iPhone SE.

Lastly, the report added that Apple intends to launch over-the-ear headphones but has faced several development challenges in the last couple of years.

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Accessories

Huawei launches FreeBuds Studio before Apple’s AirPods Studio

Noise reduction upto 40dB

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Officially called the Huawei FreeBuds Studio, it marks the entry of the company in the over-the-ear Bluetooth headphone market. The FreeBuds Studio are designed to be premium and go up against offerings from Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser.

The headphones offer a 40mm driver with 4-layer Polymer diaphragm. The company claims that it can reproduce frequencies as high as 48KHz and can go down to 4 Hz. It supports L2HC codec for best possible audio output and features six mics for calls that reduce background noise.

It also comes with eight mics that team up and provide dynamic noise cancellation. Huawei claims the headphones can reduce noise by 40dB and the headphones can automatically choose between three modes based on the surrounding environment. These modes are called Ultra Mode, Cozy Mode and General Mode.

Coming to battery life, the headphones can go 24 hours on a single charge, and fast charging ensures you get eight houts of playback within just 10 minutes. Although, these are official figures from the company and actual practical usage will definitely vary.

The FreeBuds Studio are priced at EUR 299 (US$ 354) and sales start from November. However, the brand hasn’t been clear about country-wise availability yet.

Huawei is a very interesting company because on one side it launches unique and mindboggling products like the Mate series, but leaves no stone unturned to take a cue from Apple. The AirPods Studio have been rumored for a long time and Huawei jumped the gun to launch its product first but took a lot of inspiration from Apple’s marketing.

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Apple’s MagSafe charger works on Samsung and Google phones

Specifically the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Pixel 5

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This month, Apple announced the return of the wireless MagSafe system. This time around, the wireless charging solution powers the iPhone 12 series with a convenient snap-to-place method. Of course, as with most of Apple’s products, you don’t really expect it to work with non-Apple device. Fortunately, the historical rule of thumb is wrong. Apparently, Apple’s MagSafe charger works on Samsung and Google phones.

As tested by Max Weinbach, the wireless charger can snap and work on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Further, YouTuber Aaron Zollo tested the charger on the recently announced Google Pixel 5. Unfortunately, neither test revealed how well the charger does with the devices. However, Weinbach commented that it took some effort to dislodge the charger from the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Of course, it’s no surprise that the MagSafe charger will work on other Qi-based devices. However, it’s a surprise that Apple’s proprietary accessories are working on non-Apple devices.

Still, if you need an extra wireless charger, at least Apple’s charger can work on your device. That is, if you own both an Apple and Android device.

Now, the only remaining question is whether or not Apple’s other MagSafe accessories will work on non-Apple devices. The other accessories — like an attachable wallet — will come out later this year.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 12 will not come with a free charger and earphones

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