At one time you had to pay out to get decent quality True Wireless Earbuds but the introduction of Bluetooth 5.0 seems to have changed all that. Before Bluetooth 5.0 all but the most expensive earbuds would continually drop out, crackle, pop and generally prove more trouble than they were worth. Of the many sets, I have tested so far the best for audio quality are the Zolo Liberty+ (£109), for exercise I use the Jabra Elite Active 65t (£165) and for general use and the ones I use as my go-to earbuds the Jabra Elite Sport (£218). This new set at £27.99 is much less than half the price of the cheapest of these but really do give the high-cost rivals a run for their money.
This new ALWUP i9 headset arrived in an attractive display box, a step up from what you would usually expect at this price point. Inside were the earbuds themselves, 5cm x 4cm charging case, a short USB to micro-USB charging cable, three sets of buds (one set prefitted), and a User Guide. The User Guide is well designed and easy to read, very nicely printed but rather small. I append a scan of it to my unboxing video.
The case has an internal 400mAh battery which is charged using the supplied USB cable and it is the internal case battery which charges the earbud batteries. The case will be able to fully charge the 50mAh earbud batteries two to three times with each charge taking about one hour. There are LED ’s on each bud to show charging status, red when charging, blue and the off when charged. The buds will charge automatically when placed into the case.
These earbuds use the latest Bluetooth 5 technology which is currently only supported by the latest high-end smartphones but of course, they will also work with older Bluetooth versions. Bluetooth 5 adds longer range and greatly improves both the stability of the wireless connection and battery life.
Pairing them I found to be far easier than often is the case. The buds turn on automatically when removed from the case and pair together. If there is no already paired device at hand then they enter pairing mode and the LED flashes red/blue. Pair your phone with nearby device i9 and there you are. When you return the buds to the box they will turn off automatically and begin charging. When taken out again they will automatically remember and pair to your phone. You can use the buds together or individually in mono mode and they should need no further configuration.
Audio quality was good and far better than I was expecting. There is a reasonable level of bass (although I would have rather had more) with mid and upper tones clear and well defined. The sound although lighter on bass than I would prefer is certainly neither thin nor tinny and I found it perfect for use when running. I would say that for me selecting the larger sized gel for the buds helped the sound greatly.
Each bud has a microphone and can be used to receive and make calls and when testing I found the conversation was clear and audible both ends perhaps due to the dual microphones (some headsets only have a mic in one bud). Calls can be rejected/ended by pressing the button on either bud. Unlike with many TW earbuds, the call audio comes over both buds together.
Full audio control can be made by pressing the on-ear button, which is of the proper clicky type, and you can Play/Pause, jump tracks forward or back and change the audio volume. You can also make and receive calls and even invoke Siri (seems not to work for Google Assistant, however).
Battery life is good and comparable all of my high-end sets and I have obtained over five hours of music playing time following a charge. The charging case is rather lightweight but is well made and magnetically holds the buds. The buds are described as sweatproof rather than waterproof, so keep them out of the rain.
For the price, this headset compares well with the high-end rivals I have tried as regards sound quality and features.
Even at this budget price, this is not the least expensive TW headset available but as the market cools down a new generation of less expensive but well-specified and good sounding TW headsets such as these is emerging.
Good audio quality
Good battery life
Single bud operation option
Magnetic Bud Retention
No Google Personal Assistant Integration
Fewer Case Charges than with some rivals
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