Truly wireless earphones have taken the world by storm, especially since the launch of the original AirPods, which coincided with the removal of the headphone jack, a trend that would continue to this day. With a truly wireless earphone, the user can get a set of earphones, minus the wires, meaning the ease of use was like no other product.
Portability is another feature of a truly wireless earphone, with the buds weighing 3-4 grams, housed in a case smaller than an egg, capable of fitting inside the small pocket, which is often overlooked on jeans.
That being said, if one was to listen to the users and reviewers who make use of these truly wireless earphones, there are many issues that plague them in the long run, converting that much talked about the ease of use into utter despair.
What are these cons and, are truly wireless earphones truly as flawed as some say? I have used a couple of them and heard of multiple instances of the same, so this article will list out key issues that affect users in the long run.
What Are The Issues That Plague TWS Earphones
1. The first of these issues is that of reduced battery life. Having used three pairs of truly wireless earphones over the course of two years (none of them lasting the entire time), the battery life is one that gets greatly reduced. Most earbuds, be it expensive or budget, lose around 40-50% battery life.
For example, the original Realme Buds Air offered 3-4 hour of battery life, which dropped to around 45 minutes to 1 hour after 4-5 months of somewhat heavy usage. The OnePlus Buds too dropped to offering 4-5 hour of battery life instead of a constant 7 hours of battery life during launch.
2. Another major issue that occurs is that of half-decent software updates. Most Bluetooth earphones come with a support application that allows for OTA updates, but, in most instances, these updates end up causing certain issues like reduced battery life and, more importantly, broken connections.
The OnePlus Buds that I owned started dropping connections quite frequently after a few updates, as was the case with the Realme Buds Air.
A relative of mine who owns the Galaxy Buds also stated the same, saying that he was seeing sudden connection drops, which can be fixed manually. This is not the kind of experience one would expect for a set of truly wireless earphones that prioritise ease of use.
3. Not being able to change batteries is another flaw that can plague users in the long run. As mentioned earlier, users see truly wireless earphones dying out of nowhere, which happened with me in the case of my OnePlus Buds. If this occurs and the warranty has run out, the user has no option to replace the dead battery and is a sitting duck, seeing his money go to waste.
4. Most modern truly wireless earphones also require the need for enhanced support via smartphones, such as the need for Bluetooth 5.0 or Bluetooth 5.1, features that are not common with most devices, but at least this is becoming slightly more common.
5. To add to all of this, the fragility of a truly wireless earphone is right up there when it comes to its set of cons since there is a minor chance of losing them if you end up dropping them, especially on the subway or when riding a bike. This issue is quite common in America, with subway stations being full of AirPods on the train track.
6. Audio quality, a key feature of any headphone or earphone, is also not the best when it comes to truly wireless earphones. Do not get me wrong; they are great, and there are certain options that can provide truly amazing audio, but most of them end up trading audio for ease of use.
To add to this, promoting said products with certain artists or saying that some musician is a sound engineer does not warrant or promise good sound quality, since, at the end of the day, it is a promotional event, so do not fall prey to basic adverts. Companies such as Sennheiser and Sony are a handful of TWS manufacturers that actually provide good sound, but for a specific price.
This price is quite high and, to the conventional user, spending 20-25k on a TWS is not quite smart, especially considering that sound quality can be achieved with wired options that are usually cheaper than the truly wireless ones, so it comes down to a choice between ease of use and overall quality.
7. Users focused on gaming might fall into the trap of advertisements, which state that truly wireless earphones offer ultra-low latency. In reality, this is not the case, as even the best of the best TWS offerings provide some amount of latency, and, with the phone of the same brand, the promised lower latency does not hold true.
This might seem like a claim, but, in reality, I tried playing CoD and PUBG with both my OnePlus Buds and Realme Buds Air on, with the latter being used with the same company’s device, in tune with the low latency mode, but, the latency was so severe that by the time I pressed the trigger, my character already died.
8. Audio quality is also hampered by the company of the TWS on offer, since companies that offer TWS earphones which also make smartphones have a different sort of integration within these truly wireless earbuds, achieving maximum quality.
This is not the case with another company’s smartphone, as I observed with the OnePlus Buds. They sounded much better when used with the OnePlus 6T in comparison to a Xiaomi or Realme phone, despite playing the same track with the same quality.
This issue is not consistent with all options, but it does hamper overall usability, as the user might be disappointed with the audio quality, only to know that the buds sound completely different from the same company’s phone.
Non-smartphone manufacturers such as Skullcandy or Sennheiser and even Bose do not do this since there is no ecosystem tie-in, but Samsung and OnePlus do seem to offer varying audio quality with different devices.
9. Finally, the most disappointing con of a TWS is the cost to value ratio, since most earbuds, be it from Apple or Samsung, usually end up getting ruined in a span of 1-2 years (at best) and, if a user is spending 20k on a tech product that lasts just for a year or two, it is not the best use of their money.
This might not be an issue for you, but a rational user will surely be worried when they see their money go down the drain within a couple of months or a year, at best.
Do note that this is not the case with each and every pair, but it happens often enough to take note.
Shloke is your go-to guy when it comes to consumer tech. Specializing in In-Depth pieces, he's also getting to grips with Telecom. His hobbies consist of Formula One and Gaming.