- Good battery life
- IP55 water resistance
- Auto-on and connect feature
- Stable Bluetooth connection
- Will fatigue your ears after an hour or so of use
- Buttons are difficult to press
- Remote system is odd
- Only right earbud works for phone calls
For the price, the JLab Jbuds Air are really nice true wireless earbuds. They’re obviously not perfect, but for $50, it’s hard to complain—we like them.
In the word of cheap true wireless earbuds, there are a million. You have blatant AirPods knockoffs, 75 identical models from different brands, and some that just plain suck. If you search “true wireless earbuds” on Amazon, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
No single best model has emerged and no one has really built a brand in the budget fully wireless earbuds space—until now. The JLab JBuds Air are only $50 and they’re actually quite good, all things considered.
In this review we’ll cover the major highs and lows of the JBuds Air as well as how they compare to the Apple AirPods.
JLab JBuds Air Review: Design
There’s nothing overly special with the design of the JBuds Air. They don’t look premium nor do they look particularly comfortable, but they work just fine and they are IP55 certified (i.e. water and sweat resistant). They have a plastic exterior and come with three sizes of silicone ear tips and a set of silicone ear fins to soften up the hard plastic a bit.
There is also a single button on each earbud that allows you to, among other things, pause/play music, answer/end calls, engage Siri/Google Assistant, and adjust the volume.
Our biggest complaints here are that the buttons aren’t very clicky and therefore they require you press firmly. This forces the earbuds further and further into your ears, and, as you’d expect, this becomes uncomfortable after just a short while. I actually disliked the buttons so much that I wholesale stopped using the buttons in favor of just making the adjustments on my phone.
The other thing is that the remote system itself is just odd. For example, you have to double click the left earbud to pause/play instead of just pressing the right earbud a single time like many other wireless earbuds. Not a huge deal, but it means there’s a learning curve with the remote.
The JBuds Air have battery life of about 3-4 hours on a single charge—not bad, especially for their size. Having said that, since they come with a charge case, battery life for nearly everyone will be a lot better than 3-4 hours. The case has an extra 10 hours of battery, which means you’ll get a full week of workouts in no problem.
One thing that’s nice about the charge case is that it has a built-in charge cable and you can easily fit the entire unit in your pocket.
The JBuds Air use Bluetooth 4.2, which means the range is about 30-40 feet. It’s fine, but nothing to write home about. The inter-bud connection, however, is really nice. We seldom had issues where one bud would connect but the other would not.
Our biggest complaint with the connection was that they’re supposed to have an auto-connect feature where they automatically pair with your phone whenever you remove them from their charge case. They do have this feature, but it can take up to 20 seconds to actually happen. In other words, you’ll be sitting there waiting for them to connect sometimes.
With regard to taking/making calls, we did have some issues. For instance, only the right earbud worked for us—the left one didn’t even play audio. It was sort of like having one of those silly Bluetooth headsets that became really popular in 2008.
They sound surprisingly good considering they’re only $50. I’d rather listen to music on the JBuds Air than the Apple AirPoids. The audio is pretty crisp and has nice depth.
They also have three different EQ profiles from which choose. Just like on the JLab Epic Air Elite and JLab Epic Sport, you can cycle through Signature (our favorite), Balanced, and Bass Boost. My hunch is that you’ll stick to the Signature profile, but at least you have the option to try out the other two.
JLab JBuds Air vs AirPods
There are three key areas where we think the JBuds Air are the clear choice over the AirPods. First, they have a more secure fit that forms much better sound isolation. Second, they sound better and have those three audio profiles. And third, but probably most important, they cost way less than the AirPods ($50 vs $160).
That said, there are some compelling reasons to pay up for the AirPods over the JLabs and other earbuds. First, is the seamless integration with iOS (and yes, they still pair with Android devices). You pair them with one iOS device (that’s signed into your iCloud device) and they’ll show up on your other Apple devices.
Second, they’ll be more comfortable for extended use. If I was to use earbuds on a two hour train ride, I’d rather use the AirPods. But for a quick workout, I’d rather use the JLabs. Lastly, the AirPods have a longer Bluetooth range thanks to Apple’s W1 chip. Instead of 30 feet, you’ll looking at something like 70+ feet.
Now, is that worth $110 more for the AirPods? That’s up to you. All we can say is that at $50, the JBuds Air very well could be the best budget-level true wireless earbuds.
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