Since True Wireless Earbuds were introduced in 2014, they’ve become a thing and gradually improved in design and functionality. We’ve seen fitness tracking on the Jabra Elite 65T, wireless charging on the Galaxy buds and now the wristband-housed Airpower wearbuds. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the form factor. We still get a pair of earbuds and a charging case. This is definitely better than wired headphones, but there’s a caveat to it.
If you’ve used True Wireless Earbuds before, you know carrying a case with you everywhere you go isn’t that much fun. Not taking the case isn’t better cause you might lose the earbuds. Or perhaps you lose the case and now you’re stuck with some expensive earbuds that don’t work without its charging case. Yeah, that’s the dilemma.
Well, the Airpower wearbuds might have a solution to that. Airpower has come up with a solution that not only provides you with a decent pair of earbuds but also a smart watch with fitness tracking as its charging case.
|Battery||5.5 hours for the earbuds|
7 days for the band
|Display||0.96-inch TFT LCD screen (80*160 pixels)|
|Speakers||6mm, 16Ω, 88dB|
|Water resistance||IPX6 earbuds, IPX5 band|
|Weight||3.6 grams for each earbud|
|Charging||Proprietary charging mechanism|
The Airpower smartband is chunkier than most fitness trackers you’d find, but considering that it houses two earbuds, it is relatively compact. The Airpower wearbuds has a rectangular shape with rounded edges with a single visor in the center and two circles on either side. The weight (5.4g) of the device was achievable as the device is almost entirely plastic with a thin layer of metallic paint around the bezels of the screen. While it doesn’t feel premium, it doesn’t feel cheap either.
You can’t get around the bulkiness of the Airpower wearbuds but Airpower made the smartband out of silicone which sits comfortably on the wrist. Also, it has an Apple Watch-esque buckle mechanism that firmly holds it in place. Getting an earbud out of the band is also pretty easy, just give it a push and it pops out. Basically, press on each side of the watch face and the mechanism ejects the earbuds. However, it’s also very easy to accidentally trigger it.
At the bottom of the smartband is an optical heart rate sensor and the charging mechanism which is a proprietary port, to which the charger magnetically connects and stays firmly attached. The earbuds are very lightweight at 3.6 grams. In this light, you can wear them for a long time without noticing they’re there. They are relatively very light when compared to the Jabra elite 65T (5.8g), the AirPods (4g) and the Galaxy buds (4g).
One thing necessary on True Wireless earbuds because they can sometimes fall off is water resistance. While the smartband is IPX5 water resistant, the earbuds are a notch higher at IPX6. Also, there are no buttons on the earbuds and audio playback is controlled with a series of taps and holds. My only issue with the controls is double-tapping the left earbuds to skip to the next track. This is somewhat counter-intuitive; the right earbud should do this.
|Action||Both earbuds on||One earbud on|
|Single tap||Toggle Playback||Toggle Playback|
|Double tap||L:Next, R: Prev Track||Volume down|
|Tap & hold||L: Volume Up, R: Volume Down||Volume Up|
Sound was impressive for a variety of types of music, as you’d expect with true wireless Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, a Qualcomm smart audio chipset, support for the aptX codec and graphene-augmented drivers. Most devices like this go for bass and sometimes sacrifice the clarify of audio books but this does well with both. It has good bass, and the highs and lows are also clear.
Before using the Airpower wearbuds, you’ll want to activate the smart watch by downloading the Airpower app for Android or iOS, setting up an account and pairing it with the buds. The battery is quite decent, lasting about 5.5 hours on a full charge while the band itself could last up to 7 days.
One of my favorite features on the Airpower wearbuds is that unlike many competitors they support Mono Mode, a feature that comes from the latest Bluetooth 5.0 spec that allows hands-free phone calls with just one earbud in use. Normally most wireless earbuds employ the right bud as the master, meaning one can work without the other.
Another plus is that the smart band also functions as a fitness tracker; tracking your steps, sleep, floors climbed and heart rate. The watch can also display time, date and notifications from your phone which can be set to always-on display. However, the band’s hardware and software are not perfect. Step tracking was erratic, the heart rate tracking didn’t work at times and sleep tracking was very wrong. But these are not the main selling points this device and hopefully they are improved upon.
This was an amazing product idea from Airpower. Instead of carrying a charging case around, why not house your earbuds in a smart watch which is also a fitness tracker – makes perfect sense.
However, it did have some bottle necks. The watch forces you to switch on your location every time to enable pairing, even though it doesn’t have any GPS functions. Also, the charging cable with its magnetic connect is cool but if you lose or break it, you would have to go to Airpower for a replacement.
This is just a first generation if the device. Its most likely to improve in coming years. Personally, I’d like to see the watch be able to contain some audio so one can use it without the need to carry your phone. Regardless, it provides great value for money at $99. If you are looking for something cheaper with great sound and functionality, take a look at the Xiaomi Redmi Airdots.