Realme, the fourth largest smartphone brand in the country, is set to launch its first true wireless earbuds on December 17. Called Realme Buds Air, the true wireless earbuds is set to put the category on a hyperdrive in the country. While Bragi innovated with true wireless earbuds, the launch of Apple AirPods in 2016 gave an important stimulus to the segment. It forced Samsung, Bose, Sony and Sennheiser to launch their own true wireless earbuds. Realme Buds Air could do the same for budget true wireless earbuds market in India. However, it is important to note that the market for budget true wireless earbuds is not nascent in the country.
There are a number of companies offering true wireless earbuds at an affordable price point. These earbuds from brands like Noise, boAt and others showcase the benefits of this form factor. For success of any consumer electronics device, form should meet function. In the case of true wireless earbuds, it is very much true. By form, I am looking at the convenience they bring to user experience. Just think of going on a trip, you have packed your luggage and there is no space for those bulky over-the-ear headphones. With true wireless earbuds, that won’t ever be the case since they can fit even in your denim’s coin pocket.
Watch: Top 5 True Wireless Earbuds to buy in India
By function, I am looking at the ability to play music or take phone calls while there is no physical wire dangling around your neck or chest. According to Counterpoint Research, the global true wireless market will grow by 90 percent to 230 million units in 2020. The success of truly wireless earbuds since the launch of AirPods in 2016 can also be owed to pitfalls faced by early Bluetooth headphones. Amitesh Punhani, Manager, Country Marketing & Saarc (India) at Jabra Corporation, told BGR India that Bluetooth codecs have improved in a significant way. This has helped in wider adoption of true wireless earbuds in the country.
The reality now is that to go truly wireless, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. You can get one for as low as Rs 2,000, but our pick for the best budget true wireless earbuds goes to Noise Shots X-Buds. It is very easy to connect and offers among the best sound of all budget true wireless earbuds that we have tried. Another good thing about Shots X-Buds is the battery life. It is rated to last up to 16 hours with the battery built-in to the earbuds and the case. In our test, we averaged between 15 and 18 hours from the device, which in my opinion, is almost perfect. While it comes packaged in the biggest box of any of these devices, the Shots X-Buds is compact enough to slip into the side pocket of your backpack. It can even fit into your pocket but the oval shape makes it stick out. The only downside is that it uses microUSB port for charging, which will be relinquished by every manufacturer real soon.
If you don’t want to spend more than Rs 2,500 then get the boAt Airdopes 201. These are our second favorite budget true wireless earbuds right now. The biggest selling point is that it comes from a truly reliable brand. At Rs 2,499, it offers comfortable fit, acceptable sound and a case that can fit in your coin pocket. However, the compact footprint compromises battery life. If you are looking for an AirPods clone at budget price point then look no further than Fingers Audio Pods. These look identical to AirPods but also have lights, which may or may not appeal to you. They are loud and come in white color. We found the plastic case to be flimsy and gestures confusing. However, it comes with both USB Type-C and microUSB port for charging.
Among all the budget true wireless earbuds, we found the Syska Eargo to be the most comfortable. I can wear Eargo all day along and yet not feel any kind of stress. Comfortable wear is one of the big differences between budget and premium true wireless earbuds. Priced at little over Rs 5,000, Eargo fit really well but don’t sound as good as our choice for best all around option. The case is also bigger than the rest of the models we tested for this guide. A special shoutout also goes to Detel Di-Pod, which is one of the cheapest true wireless earbuds priced at Rs 2,199. Then there is Xech Speaker Pods, which is TWS earbuds and portable speaker in one package.
Best Budget TWS Earbuds: Noise Shots X-Buds
Price: Rs 3,999
Good Battery Life
Decent Sound Quality in the segment
Touch Controls that work but not reliable
Matte Black is a nice touch
MicroUSB means you need to carry separate charging cable
Also Great Budget TWS Earbuds: boAt Airdopes 201
Price: Rs 2,499
Comfortable Fit and Acceptable Sound
Battery Life is not great
Compact and made by a reliable brand
Budget Apple AirPods Clone: Fingers Audio Pods
Price: Rs 3,799
Looks identical to Apple AirPods
Fits nicely in your palm
Has loud sound tuned to local audience
Gestures can be confusing
Plastic case is flimsy
Most Comfortable Budget TWS Earbuds: Syska Eargo
Price: Rs 5,310
Comfortable to wear for long duration
Expensive in comparison to other models
They sound fine but could have been better
Honorable mention: Detel Di-Pod & Xech Speaker Pods
Detel Di-Pod is extremely cheap
Xech Speaker Pods are innovative for the idea