TWS true wireless earphones - under $100
TWO STARS - The Aipower Wearbuds is a remarkable product - a pair of TWS true wireless earbuds inside of a smart band with sports tracking functionality. The combination isn't as good as its concept, unfortunately.
Aipower Wearbuds specs:
Bluetooth 5.0 with AptX codec
IPX6 water proof (buds), IPX5 water proof (band)
+-4 hours listening on a full charge
Charging case can charge earpieces fully 3 times
Comes with 2 sizes ear tips and a specific charging cable
Check current prices on Indiegogo
The Aipower Wearbuds is an Indiegogo project. The developer still works to change and optimize some of the critics shown in this review, such as the touch screen sensitivity - something to take into account.
Design, charging and comfort
The thing to notice on the Aipower Wearbuds is, of course, the rather specific shape of the charging case here. It isn't a box - it's a smartband. Because the earbuds go inside the sides of the band, it's bulkier than you would typically expect from a fitness tracker. The height of the center piece of the band is almost two centimeters. Happily, it isn't too heavy. You put the band on by first pressing the button trough the strap, and then sliding the rest of the strap underneath the band. Once you've done that, it's possible to wear the Wearbuds band for an entire day without becoming tired of it - even forgetting you wear it.
Press on the sides of the smartband and the earbuds pop out. It's very convenient to always wear your earphones with you.
Furthermore, the Wearbuds are among the tiniest and most comfortable true wireless earphones on the market. The bean-shaped pieces will even fit smaller ears fine, yet remain a good seal in average-sized ears. It should be noted the earpieces doesn't come with a rubber attached - like other sports earbuds - to ensure the earpieces stay in your ear at all times. While it probably doesn't occur anytime soon, there's always a risk of losing the buds.
The Aipower Wearbuds aren't battery beasts by any means. Listening to the buds will get you around 4-4,5 hours of playing time, dependent on the volume. The battery of the smartband depletes in one day, however, requiring you to charge these buds every night. With everyday use, the battery of the case probably drains faster than that of the buds. Very inconvenient compared to other earbuds in this price category, which offer longer listening time on a single charge, and keep the charge of the charging case way longer. Still - this is a different category. Let's keep that in mind.
Connectivity and controls
The Aipower Wearbuds has some of the best volume controls to date on true wireless earphones. You alter the volume by long touching the left (decrease) or right (increase) bud. The length of your touch decides the volume change directly - you're totally in control. It works great.
Playing and pausing the music is done by tapping either of the buds. By two taps somewhere in the center of the touch panel, you either skip a song (right) or return to the previous one - with the left bud.
If you're connected to the left earbud in your Bluetooth list, you can stick the right one back in the smart band and continue to listen - and vice versa.
The connectivity of the Aipower Wearbuds is good, with stable Bluetooth connection up to ten meters and only a few minor dips noticed when moving in all kinds of ways with them. Next to the adding the Bluetooth earpieces to your smartphone, you also have to setup a separate connection between your smartband and your phone.
In fact, there doesn't seem any connection between the earpieces and smartband at all - other than an animation showing you docked the earpieces in the band. It's not possible to change music on your wrist - neither is the smartband a music player by itself. You will always need your smartphone with you when running or cycling.
Unfortunately, the sound of the left earbud died once while testing. Happily, it reset when putting the earpiece in the band again. The controls of the smartband are described in the smartband section.
Calling and watching movies
The Aipower Wearbuds, unfortunately, is completely lacking in audio-video synchronization on the iPhone. Watching movies and playing games goes with very noticeable delay and is entirely out of sync in the YouTube app. It only fares medium-well on Android too.
Happily, the call quality is outstanding. The other end of the line will hear a slight hiss underneath your voice, but that same hiss also removes noises from your surroundings when calling. It's perfectly doable to take a call while walking or even sporting with these earbuds - whoah.
Smartband and app of the AiPower Wearbuds
When you're combining a pair of truly wireless earbuds with a fitness tracker-smartband, both aspects had better be good. Unfortunately, the smartband is the weakest part of the Aipower Wearbuds.
The display of the band shows the date, time and battery level on its homescreen. By swiping and tapping the screen you measure your heart rate, see your daily report, activate a sports mode or enter settings. The daily report shows your step count, distance traveled, burned calories, and floors taken. The first is in line with the results on the Xiaomi Band 4. The registering of floors seems to be a hit and miss.
Those are minor problems compared to the rest, still. You control the earpieces by touching or tapping the entire center piece. It reacts to your every touch - and then some. Two times, the band entered the settings and asked to erase all data while putting the band on. Two thirds of the walking and cycling workouts on the Wearbuds, stopped automatically without touching the band by hand. The motion of a sleeve or even a gust of wind applies enough pressure to stop the tracking. The other way goes too: on multiple occasions, I started a workout session without doing it myself. It barely registers your input of swiping and tapping the right way.
While doing a sports workout (you can choose from walking, running and cycling), the display only shows one metric at a time - for instance, steps taken. You'll have to swipe to see the distance traveled, calories or time spent. Then again, these stats aren't updated live. The distance and time stay on 0 while on the move, and only seem to refresh by a certain amount of time and distance. Don't expect any other metrics to be measured by the way - no cadence, no GPS, no heart rate highs or lows.
It gets worse. If you don't charge the Aipower Wearbuds in time, and then charge it afterward, it sets up as a new smart band. It loses every connection with the (basic) smartphone app and your previously tracked data. You'll have to start over completely. Two other times, the band reset out of itself - also removing all tracked data.
Now, this is an Indiegogo project and developer Aipower stresses aspects like the touch sensitivity will be improved.
At this time, however, it's easier to lose data on the smartband than it is to maintain it - rendering the smartband completely useless.
Sound quality of AiPower Wearbuds: a big surprise
The Aipower Wearbuds produces a crystal clear sound. 'Crystal clear' is highly overused in reviews - but it really accounts here. The Wearbuds pushes the highs and upper mids forward on the Wearbuds, but not without making the sound anywhere near too bright.
Female vocals and higher-pitched instruments such as violins shine on the Wearbuds. They get the center stage, come through with great detail and yet sound delicately controlled. The only exception are some pop songs that already push the highs extremely forward themselves. A bit of harshness and distortion can occur in those rare occasions.
The bass on the Wearbuds too is excellent. Never is it overbearing or too heavy. It's tight and fast - noticeable faster and more uplifting than on the excellent Mpow T5/ M5 or the more expensive Jabra Elite 65t. The bass doesn't bloat - bass tones don't drag longer than they have too - but it sure does have an impact. The mid-bass delivers a sweet slam in dance music, and drums generate a lovely kick. The sub-bass knows how to rumble too, but never does it when it doesn't have to.
The lower mids (darker piano strokes and electronic tones, the lowest male vocals) are a bit recessed as a result of the clarity-centered sound, but they're still definitely there. This is an excellently executed clear, forward sound signature.
On top of that, the soundstage on the Aipower Wearbuds is downright impressive. Music is all around you. Vocals enjoy a central position, instruments and details come from everywhere. Not every instrument can be placed precisely within the stage - yet the spaciousness in this sound is just hugely enjoyable. At times, the Wearbuds will have you believe you're wearing a headphone rather than earphones.
The Aipower Wearbuds is a great sounding pair of TWS true wireless earbuds, with excellent comfort and volume controls. Unfortunately, it's packed in one of the worst charging cases you can get - a smartband with lackluster controls and usability.
Two STARS - disappointing
Buy AiPower Wearbuds/ check current price:
I received the AiPower Wearbuds for testing and reviewing purposes. I test and review all audio products equally honest - read about it here.
Consider buying this earphone? I'd really appreciate it if you use the links in this article. It won't cost you extra, yet it will financially support me a bit in my ongoing quest for great affordable audio. <3