While companies like Nothing are working to deliver a fully-featured set of wireless earbuds for less than $100, companies like JLab are lowering the bar even further. Its new GO Air POP wireless earbuds promise eight hours of battery life, or 32 when paired with its charging case, for just $20.
Given Apple’s wireless AirPods still cost $200 without features like active noise cancelling or wireless charging, you’d assume that wireless earbuds with a $20 price tag would sacrifice considerably more. But these devices have been slowly getting cheaper and cheaper over the past year, and without sounding like cruel and unusual punishment for your ears. Skullcandy’s $30 Jib True Wireless Earbuds were followed by its $25 Dimes a few months later, and both delivered surprisingly decent sound for the price, although the latter could muster just 3.5 hours of playback time on a single charge, or a measly 12 hours with its charging case.
We haven’t had a chance to try out JLab’s wireless earbuds in person, but like Skullcandy’s extremely affordable offerings, other reviewers have found the sound of JLab’s cheap earbuds to be more than decent given their price tag. For comparison, Apple’s wired EarPods, those iconic white earbuds the company bundled with iPhones for years, are still available for sale on its website for $19. For just a dollar more, you can now go completely wireless.
In addition to battery life that actually far outperforms what the Apple AirPods can do, the JLab GO Air POP include IPX 4 water resistance (they can shrug off splashes, but don’t wear them during a swim), touch sensors on each earbud for controlling music, volume, and other common functions, three sets of silicone ear tips, a handful of alternate EQ presets accessible through multi-taps, and a charging case. You can’t plop the case down on a wireless charging pad to top it off, but it does feature an integrated USB charging cable stored on the bottom so you can easily charge it anywhere you find an available USB port. The convenience it offers far outweighs the added bulk it brings to the charging case.
For $20 you’ll still want to keep your expectations for these in check. There’s no active noise cancelling, and calling the microphones used on these types of highly-affordable wireless earbuds “not the greatest” is a generous description. You can use them to place calls, but the person on the other end might wonder why you’re talking into a tin can. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a pair of wireless earbuds that you won’t have to stress over not losing while out and about, the JLab GO Air POP could be a solid backup pair when available later this month in teal, lilac, slate, rose, and black color options.