Nokia True Wireless Earbuds review: Inessential but impressive
As we inch ever closer to the day when true wireless earbuds like the Apple AirPods become a ubiquitous pack-in with most modern smartphones, more and more brands have begun to use their own wireless earphones as a sweetener to make their latest smartphone look a little more tempting.
Huawei did it with their Nova 3e last year. Now, Nokia is doing much the same with their new Nokia 9 PureView. Pick up the PureView, and they’ll toss in the Nokia True Wireless Earbuds for free. On paper, this value-add sounds like a solid plus. And, in practice, they sound good enough that I'd probably use them - even if they weren't a freebie.
Earphone type: In-ear, true wireless
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5
Built-in Microphone: Yes
Noise cancelling: No
Dimensions: 10.16 x 2.03 x 2.03 cm
Battery Life: 3 hours per charge, 14 hours total in case.
What did we like about the Nokia True Wireless Earbuds?
Again, conceptually, there isn’t much going on here that you can’t find in plenty of other true wireless earbuds. These are earbuds without the wires. There’s a primary and secondary earbud. One connects to your phone. The other connects to the other earbud. The Nokia True Wireless Earbuds come in a compact carry-case that doubles as a charger. Connect via Bluetooth 5 and you’re good to go. There’s no companion app necessary.
And when you’re in the right environment, the Nokia True Wireless Earbuds sound decent enough. They don’t exceptional - but for a free pack-in, they sound more than good enough. They emphasize the bass. They don’t have AptX support. You win some. You lose some.
They’re also pretty light. Rather than go for something with a toothbrush-like form-factor like the AirPods or TicPods, Nokia have opted to make their earbuds as compact as possible. They’re closer to earplugs than traditional earphones. Whether they’re a comfortable fit is going to vary on a person-by-person basis but I found them suitable enough.
I also found myself pretty struck by the charger case here. Rather than something more rounded, Nokia have opted for a sleek metallic cylinder with a manual spring lock keeping your earbuds tucked away in the event that you drop the case. Not content with looking different to everything else, it looks really appealing on an aesthetic level - and comes with plenty of practical perks.
What about phone calls?
We tested out the Nokia True Wireless Earbuds built-in microphone, this is what it sounds like:
What didn’t we like about the Nokia True Wireless Earbuds?
Although not uncomfortable, the Nokia true wireless earbuds often came across as pretty flimsy. They rarely felt all that secure in my ears. It didn’t happen during my time with these earbuds, but the idea that one of them could fall out and be crushed underfoot isn’t hard to imagine.
And when it came to battery life, the Nokia True Wireless Earbuds also fell slightly short of the mark.
Although the fourteen hours of total usage is decent, the three hours of per-charge usage falls well short of where an increasing amount of the competition falls. Even the new Jaybird Run XT offer more usage on a per-charge basis. It’s not terrible - but it feels well behind the curve when it could be on the cutting edge.
The Bottom Line
Although they fumble some of the finer details, Nokia’s first set of true wireless earbuds are surprisingly good. If you’re an audiophile, I can see you being caught up on a few minor infractions. Otherwise, you can rest easy. These will get the job done.