I love my AirPods. Seriously, I never leave home without them, and when I do, I feel like there’s a piece of me left behind. That’s because Apple made a product so well that it seamlessly fits into my lifestyle. It slides well into my pocket, has long battery life, and sounds good for its size. But now, JLab Audio’s JBuds Air have come on the scene with great features and a super affordable price point to rival Apple’s AirPods. Head below for our full review.

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JLab Audio JBuds Air Review

Long battery life

Most truly wireless in-ear earbuds fall into one of two categories: low-cost (with bad battery), or high-end. JLab seems to have found a way to split the gap. At $49, JBuds Air feature 3-4 hours of battery life in each earbud with another 10-hours of power in the case. Plus, the case isn’t huge. It is larger than Apple’s AirPods, but that’s to be expected as the JBuds Air offer a completely different design. Though, compared to AirPods, the JBuds Air offer only 14-hours of total battery life to Apple’s total of 24.

Built-in noise isolation

This is an area that AirPods just fall flat on their face. Though AirPods can get decently loud, and that can help block some of the outside noise from entering your ear, that’s where it ends. JLab’s JBuds Air offer proper noise isolation through interchangeable ear tips so that way they’ll fit any head.

This means that you could wear the JBuds Air on an airplane, in a coffee shop, or other noisy environment and block out a majority of the sound while enjoying your audio at a lower volume level, saving your hearing for the future.

Having noise isolation can have its downsides, however. When wearing JBuds Air, I was almost completely blocked from hearing outside noise in the ear the bud was in, meaning if someone was talking to me on that side, it’d be hard to hear them. That’s the entire goal of noise isolation, but it can also have its downsides like when waiting in line for food or waiting to hear your name called for a flight, for example.

Sound quality

AirPods sound good, but in my opinion, JBuds Air sound better. This is likely due to the noise isolation as you’re not having much sound leak from your ear and that lets you enjoy a more full soundstage. You’ll also enjoy custom EQ3 sound settings, giving you three different EQ profiles to choose from on the buds themselves. That’s right, no app required and you can switch from JLab’s Signature, Balanced, or Bass Boost modes with just a tap on your ear.

Weatherproofing

AirPods aren’t weatherproof at all direct from Apple. At least, they’re not rated for waterproofing. JLab’s JBuds Air, however, are rated. They’re IP55-rated, in fact. This means that the JBuds Air is designed for sweat resistance and light rain, meaning they’re the perfect workout companion. Plus, the design of the JBuds Air and built-in noise-isolating tips will help these earbuds stay in your ear when doing a more physical activity like running.

Controls

This is where JBuds Air really sets itself apart, again. Where AirPods only offer really one or two controls at a time, and you have to change said controls via your connected Apple device, JBuds Air offer a plethora of commands right from each earbud.

A single tap on the left or right earbud will change the volume up or down, tap and hold for one second will seek forward or back on your tracks. A double tap on the left earbud will play/pause your music, while a double click on the right one will activate Siri or Google’s Assistant. And finally, a triple tap on either bud will let you cycle through each of the three EQ settings.

This is genius on JLab’s part, as it gives you full access to near phone-level controls without ever having to pull something from your pocket or backpack. I especially love that you can change the volume without having to pull your phone out or use a Watch, that’s really my favorite part.

Pairing

Something I’ve yet to see when using truly wireless earbuds outside of Apple’s AirPods is a seamless pairing experience. There’s always some hangup when pulling just the right bud out of the case, and something always goes wrong. That’s not what happens when using JBuds Air, however. I was able to, multiple times, pull just the right bud from the case when receiving a phone call, and probably 9/10 times the bud was connected to my phone either prior to me answering the call or within 5 seconds of picking up. This was great as that’s just about the performance I expect to see (and receive) with my AirPods. Plus, when it comes time to pair the second bud, it’s just as easy. Remove it from the case, insert it into your ear, and away you go, enjoying stereo audio without the worry of pairing issues.

Pricing

If JLab’s JBuds Air sound like they’d be a good headphone for you, the price makes it even better. Coming in at $49 on Amazon and other authorized retailers, that’s nearly 70% off the cost of Apple’s AirPods, which are still going for the same price about 2 years later, and they are starting to show their age.

If you’re on the fence of purchasing Apple’s AirPods, why not give the JBuds Air a shot. It’s only $49 and would be a great workout-focused investment with noise isolation while we wait for Apple to eventually release its AirPods 2.

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