TWS true wireless earphones - under $50
FIVE STARS - The $40 Edifier X3s may not have the same spectacular price-to-performance ratio as the original $25 Edifier X3; with two hours extra battery life, better controls and a fantastic gaming mode, it's an upgrade to consider.
Edifier X3s specs and features:
Bluetooth 5.2 with AptX Adaptive codec
IPX55 waterproof (splash, dust and rain resistant)
8 hours playtime on a single charge
Charging case can charge earpieces fully 2 times
Comes with four ear tips, USB-C cable, English manual
Below this Edifier X3s review, you will find comparisons of the Edifier X3s vs Edifier X3, Edifier TWS1 Pro, QCY T13, Mpow M13, Fiil T1 Lite.
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Design, comfort and battery life
The Edifier X3s is all about how much battery you want to have with you. The original Edifier X3 has a standout, class-leading, compact charging case that will never get in your way, no matter the pocket you're carrying it in. The earbuds lasted 5,5 to 6 hours on a single charge, and the miraculously tiny case could recharge them fully two times before needing new power itself.
The brand new Edifier X3s puts improved batteries inside the earbuds, which now deliver up to 8 hours of playtime on a single charge. That's a great score in the ultra-budget segment of earbuds, and a very usable score for everyday use.
But, as Edifier dropped the ultra-compact case of the original and replaced it with a round, pebble-like case 1,5 times the size, it must be the number of recharges from the case that made a real jump, right?
No. The case can still recharge the earbuds two times fully before needing new power via USB-C. It's bigger in size, but barely in capacity - in total, it charges the earbuds 20 hours instead of the originals 16 hours. Still, the case is noticeably chunkier, feels cheaper, and has a wobbly lid. It doesn't quite have the appeal from the original.
Happily, the earbuds were left untouched. They are still compact, round, and come with (four sizes of) square-ish rubber ear tips that make them stay tight in your ears. The tips aren't the most comfortable, but they block quite a bit of outside noise and the earbuds are very grippy with their bump on the inside. They won't fall out anytime soon, and there's an IPX55 waterproof rating that makes the earbuds withstand rain, sweat, and dust, so you can easily take them out for sporting.
Controls and connectivity
Hurrah - the Edifier X3s finally gives you all the controls you need right on the earbuds. Perhaps then, that's the biggest improvement over its predecessor:
Tap L or R to play/ pause
Hold R to increase the volume
Hold L to decrease the volume
Double-tap R to skip a song
Double-tap L to return a song
Triple-tap R to activate the voice assistant
Triple-tap L to (de)activate the game mode
The controls respond quickly to your input. As the touch panels are limited to the flat outer surface of the earbuds, you can still easily touch on earbud on the sides without triggering accidental controls. Music doesn't automatically pause when you take an earbud out.
Connectivity on the X3s is good. The earbuds pair and connect fast, and the Bluetooth connection holds strong up to 9-10 meters away from your device. It's also easy to switch between listening to two earbuds or one at all times.
Calling and watching movies
Like the original, the Edifier X3s handles phone calls surprisingly well for its round shape and price.
Your voice is loud and clear, with a bit of a crackle underneath that's not too disturbing. Background noise like accelerating scooters and trains and people talking are audible, but they're recognisable as background sound, and your voice is separated well from them. Wind noise appears very challenging, however.
Performance is adequate for video calls too, like Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings. Your voice is clear and loud enough, albeit with a slight hissing and some crackles on the line. Sudden sounds - say the closing of a door - do come through loud, unfortunately.
If you play mobile games occasionally, you're in for a treat. Edifier released a couple of dedicated gaming earbuds, and it's safe to say the X3s benefits from this experience. Activate the gaming mode and the latency is pretty much gone on iPhone - the action you see on screen and the sound effects go hand in hand. It’s less stellar on Android, but still works really well.
Playing videos goes without problems, too, like almost all modern wireless earbuds.
Sound quality of Edifier X3s: Engaging
The Edifier X3s sounds the same as the predecessor, which is mostly a good thing.
This section is partly taken from the original Edifier X3 review, with some new insights after testing 100+ more wireless earbuds.
The Edifier X3s bass gives a nice thump that can pulsate in your ears and delivers enough power to pump up the music. In pop, modern dance music, and hip-hop, it's possible to feel the bass slam. Yet, it doesn't force itself in front of music that doesn't ask for it. There's an enjoyable bass amount to whichever genre you're listening to, and when pushed, even the sub-bass can throw in some deep and rumbling notes.
The most outspoken part of the X3s sound signature is the upper-mid region. Female and higher-pitched male vocals sound forward. Singers sound clear and take a prominent role in the music, without overruling instruments or other frequencies.
Unfortunately, the X3s bumps the upper-mids a bit too far at times. It doesn't always control vocal outbursts, claps, or cymbals on the highest volumes, resulting in a few peaky moments in both music and videos.
That said, there's a nice sense of space in the treble, with effects coming from your left and right, and they don't overtake the music either. Unlike the Edifier TWS1 Pro, the X3s doesn't lean towards treble. That's because lower-mids play a part here as well, presenting darker electronic tones well and giving drums a nice impact. Its subtle warm undertone gives it better dynamics and makes for a more engaging than many competitors in the budget range.
Edifier X3s comparisons
Edifier X3 vs Edifier X3s: What's different?
The differences between the Edifier X3 and Edifier X3s are minimal, but they could pull you toward one or the other. The original X3 has a smaller charging case and costs around $12 less. The new version offers 8 instead of 6 hours of playtime on a single charge, adds volume controls, and comes with a fantastic gaming mode that reduces the delay in sound effects much better than the X3 and many other competitors. As the sound remained the same, it's a question of you want a more pocketable case of the original X3, or the added gaming mode and 2 hours extra playtime of the X3s.
Edifier X3 review ($25)
Edifier X3s vs Edifier TWS1 Pro
The Edifier TWS1 Pro is sometimes discounted to $40 or $45, making it an alternative to the X3s. The TWS1 Pro has three hours longer battery life per charge. Its sound is more treble-focused: it shows more detail in the upper-mids and highs, yet controls outbursts better. The X3s has a more prominent mid-bass and lower-mids are a tad more boosted, making the TWS1 Pro sound a bit thinner in comparison - even though its bass is more detailed. The X3s is a more engaging listen. Its call quality and controls are slightly better, too, and the X3s boasts a fantastic gaming mode. Apart from it, the TWS1 Pro's (bigger) case has weak charging dots, meaning you should check well if the earbuds sit in the case properly. If not, one of the buds may not turn on when you take the buds out. The X3s is more convenient overall.
Edifier TWS1 Pro review ($50)
Edifier X3s vs QCY T13
The original Edifier X3 was a star of TWS under $25, but as the X3s is more expensive, it appears hard to compete with the brand new sub-$25 QCY T13. It comes down to the features you need. The Edifier has slightly better call quality, and its low-latency gaming mode works better, but the X3s and T13 match in battery life (around 8 vs. 7,5 hours), comfort, and sound quality. The X3s has a thumpier mid-bass and boosts lower-mids a little bit, making it sound warmer. The QCY has less focus on upper-mids yet extends highs further. It has a wider soundstage with more left-rigth separation, and bass is looser, more rumbly than on the Edifier - which is tighter in the lows.
QCY T13 review ($25)
Edifier X3s Mpow M13
The Mpow M13 has round earbuds that are a bit bigger than Edifiers. At only $20, it sports an IPX7-waterproof rating so you can take it under the shower and a more accurate remaining battery indicator on the case. The M13 sounds warmer than the X3s. It puts more emphasis on the lower mid-tones and keeps vocals close by, staying away from the higher frequencies and harsh peaks the X3s can display - but the M13 also sounds more restricted, sometimes muffled even. If older recordings have white noise underneath them, the M13 reduces it better than the Edifier, and the Mpow bass is more engaging with tighter thumps and fuller mid-bass slams.
Mpow M13 review ($20)
Edifier X3s Fiil T1 Lite
Wait, 35 dollars? That puts the Edifier X3s in the same price league as the Fiil T1 Lite. The X3s is more versatile with slightly better call clarity, 2 hours more playtime on a single charge, and a better gaming mode. Edifiers controls are also easier to learn. Sound-wise, the T1 Lite has an advantage. It has deeper sub-bass, more textured mid-bass, and more detail in the mids. The T1 Lite sounds airier, with more precise instrument placement. Both earbuds aren't afraid to dip into the highs and can sound a little harsh at times, but the T1 Lite controls the upper-mids better, which cause the peaks on the Edifier. It's just a more dynamic and detailed presentation on the Fiil - and that's even without the bass equalizer you can activate from the free Fiil app.
Fiil T1 Lite review ($35)
Edifier took the Edifier X3 and added two hours extra battery life, better controls, and a great gaming mode to the Edifier X3s. It's a pity the case is bigger, but these wireless earbuds are a worthy upgrade over the X3 - they're fantastic all-rounders and still excellent value for money.
Five stars - Excellent
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