Have you noticed a sudden invasion of wireless headphone technology? No? Well, you probably haven’t caught public transport in the last year. Or you’ve been living under an enormous rock.
People are maniacally muttering to themselves everywhere you go. It’s creepy and annoying, until you spot that little pair of buds poking out of their ears and it all makes sense. To be fair, that doesn’t make it any less annoying. So, why are so many of us hooked?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll avoid the technology until it comes knocking at your door. Upgrading an iPhone will force you to purge all of your old chargers and accessories. Apple removed the headphone jack in 2016 so it isn’t some blasé transition between a 6 and an XS. Wireless and Bluetooth technology, as the only alternative, is an additional obligation (if you don’t want to face the soul-crushing abyss of a bus without music).
It might be annoying now, but you’ll be thankful you made the change. It’s time to say goodbye to that incessant labyrinth of headphone wires. Here’s a few tips for your cord-free future.
Bluetooth or Wireless?
For technology simpletons like myself, you’ll probably be wondering if there’s actually any difference in the first place. Although the terms are used interchangeably, there are some crucial differences in technology. Bluetooth connects devices through radio waves that send and receive data. We’re all familiar with the basic process of pairing a Bluetooth system to our phones. It’s easy and compatible with all mobile devices. Another pro of Bluetooth technology is that most headphone devices have an in-built rechargeable battery. Wireless headphones, on the other hand, require charging and the battery life ranges depending on size.
The downside? Bluetooth has a limited range (less than 30 feet) and often in comparison to wireless headphones, a lower sound quality. Wireless technology uses infrared or radio frequency waves to transmit audio signals. This allows a much larger roaming distance of up to 300ft, without interfering with other Wi-Fi signals.
It really depends on what you’ll need the headphones for. Do you need range and quality or ease and convenience? For on-the-go headphones (e.g. public transport, gym use), Bluetooth is the safer bet. If you’re in an Office situation, or after a specialised gaming headset, Wireless offers better range.
Style VS Functionality
Apple’s AirPods might look like a bit of leftover cotton bud, and there might be some external and personal consequences of the accessory for new users, such as ear irritation. If Apple’s popular product might not seem appealing, there are many other designs and brands available.
The decision might then come down to style: over-ear, on-ear or in-ear.
In-ear – the style that the Airpods fall under – is the least noticeable, with no compromise to sound. They are most suitable for gym use and travelling as they don’t get in your way. Although the in-ear movement began with AirPods, many other brands have designed smaller and sleeker products. Take Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless Ear Buds, or the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds. In-ear is definitely the most convenient, but you must beware of their size. They will be dangerously easy to lose.
Throwing down another pay check for any more suspicious upgrades does not seem sustainable or frugal. Whether we like it or not, wireless headphones are here to stay. When Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone, other companies were quick to follow, as it often is with smartphone trends.
If you want to pre-empt the inevitable upgrade, there are plenty of cheap and reliable headphones available. Techradar rated the Skullcandy Ink’d Wireless Earbuds as the best value for money in October 2018. At only $39.99, these in-ear headphones are sleek, lightweight, and offer excellent sound. In another article they listed some of the best wireless headphones for 2019.
Since the infamous AirPods, the range of wireless headphone technology is only becoming more accessible. You don’t have to spend a lot to simplify your commute. After all, it’s time we untangled ourselves from the past.