Hearables are the newest trend in wearable technology, and it’s easy to see why: people have always enjoyed listening to their music discreetly, on-the-go. Therefore, taking the technology normal earbuds and headsets have even further is the obvious next step.
If you are new to this type of technology or are simply interested in buying a new set, then you are in luck, as the market is as active as ever, with many diverse choices for everyone.
Hearables, or smart earbuds, have recently become popular with Apple’s controversial decision of not including a 3.5mm headphone jack into their latest iPhone model, thus creating a large demand for wireless earphones.
1. Bragi Dash Hearable
Without a doubt, the most versatile and useful hearable is the Bragi Dash. Winner of many awards since its unveiling, this hearable brags to be “truly wireless”, and with an acceptable storage capacity of 4 GB, or enough to load up to 4000 songs, it lives up to its promises.
The wearable has a sleek, comfortable design that puts a large emphasis on fitness usage, preventing them from falling off during activities which require users to move quickly and intensively.
The Bragi Dash offers a useful smartphone app, available on iPhone, Android and Windows 10, on which you can customize your experience, access tutorials, update the hearable and contact official support if need be. The app also features a great and precise fitness tracking app, making the hearable a threatening rival for fitness bracelets.
Of course, the hearable isn’t perfect, as it only features a 3-hour battery time, but with a carrying case that doubles as a charger and frequent updates pushed through by the company, the Bragi Dash is simply the best offer currently on the market. If you are interested in purchasing it, you can find the Dash on the official Bragi shop or on Amazon, starting at 299 euros.
2. Samsung Gear IconX Wireless Earbuds
Perhaps one of the biggest and most threatening rivals for the Bragi Dash is Samsung’s Gear IconX. Following Bragi’s recipe almost perfectly, this hearable comes in second to the Dash, even in spite of Samsung’s huge brand name. The reason for this? Completely skipping iOS users.
That’s right: while the Gear IconX has a lot going for it, such as being able to track fitness workouts and store the data without a phone, they are a complete miss for anyone with an Apple device, as they do not work with iPhones. They only support Android, which is a fairly questionable marketing strategy, but it is not completely foreign for Samsung not to make their devices usable on phones other than their own.
In spite of that, the Samsung Gear IconX is cheaper than the Bragi Dash starting at $199, and it offers almost the same capabilities: accurate fitness tracking, 4GB of storage for your songs and great, comfortable design which lets users wear them during intensive activities.
It still isn’t quite the Bragi Dash it quite obviously tries to imitate, as its audio quality leaves a lot of room for improvement, and it does not receive the significant OS updates the Dash does, but you do get a lot for 200 dollars.
3. Sony Xperia EarAnother Android-only hearable, the Sony Xperia Ear is a lot different than the previous two offerings. This time, the focus is shifted from fitness-tracking and music-listening to adding a virtual assistant to your daily activities. By doing this, one earbud also disappears from the image: the Xperia Ear isn’t a group of earbuds, but one single, small-but-noticeable device that is well-designed and is guaranteed to look sleek on any user.
The hearable is completely reliant on a mobile phone, as it works via Bluetooth connection, and while this may be a turn-off for many users, the connectivity is almost flawless, and shouldn’t take away from any user’s experience.
Additionally, you have to take into account that while all of these devices are considered hearables, the Xperia Ear is targeted towards a whole other market than the previous two.
The Xperia Ear puts a huge emphasis on its ability to use a virtual assistant. This is why it needs to be constantly connected to a phone, as it gives you the choice between every Android phone’s Google Voice, Sony’s Xperia Agent, or if you own a Samsung device, Samsung S Voice.
The virtual assistant function works just as it would on a normal phone, but with the added portability of the small earbud in your ear, alerting you whenever you receive a notification, and listening whenever you are ready to dictate instructions.
For what it’s worth, the audio quality of the Xperia Ear is fantastic, being superior to the previous two devices. However, while you can technically listen to music on it, the fact that it is a single earbud will not provide the best experience for music-listening, especially when compared to the other offerings on the market.
The hearable’s excellent audio quality can still be used to make and answer calls.
This hearable also offers a fairly redundant companion app, 4 hours of battery life (charging while in the case), and a high price for what it’s offering, starting at $199.
If the best offerings on the market are not your style, or if you’d simply rather support the new kids on the block, here are the most promising new or upcoming hearables that are guaranteed to satisfy your needs.
1. Here One Wireless Earbuds
After being delayed and bringing everyone through a rollercoaster of feelings during its development, the Here One hearable was definitely worth the wait and anticipation surrounding it.Developed by the people behind Here Active Listening, one of the pioneers of sound cancellation technology in wireless earbuds, the Here One is a big step forward for both the company and hearables in general.
Using the advanced noise filter found in its predecessor in order to create what is now known as “augmented hearing”, the Here One lets you choose which sounds around you are blocked out, and which you get to hear.
The best part is that the sounds you do hear are placed correctly in space, so that if a sound came from your left side, you’d hear it from there, even with the Here One on. Additionally, the Here One uses this amazing noise filtering technology to provide one of the best Bluetooth listening experience, having a great audio quality.
Chances are that if you are listening to your favorite song on the Here One, you will find new details or instruments in the background that you didn’t even know were there before.
As good as the sound quality and the technology behind the Here One may be, its battery life is downright unacceptable for today’s standards, averaging at just under two hours of streaming music from your phone. Also, its Bluetooth connectivity has a few issues and may cause a lot of annoyance, especially if your favorite song is interrupted.
But this is just the beginning for the Here One. The development team promised upcoming updates which will add a lot of utility to the hearable, such as detecting whether you’re at a football game and hooking you up with a live stream of commentary from the Internet.
Therefore, whether or not you’re currently impressed by the state of this product, if the developers can fulfill their promises, then their future products will serve as true pioneers of hearable technology.
If you want to purchase the Here One, you can do so from their official page, starting at $299.
2. Nuheara IQbuds Hearables
Successfully raising ten times what they asked for on their crowdfunding campaign, the people at Nuheara are still putting the finishing touches on their IQbuds. Expected to ship in the first or second quarter of 2017 (in certain countries), this hearable took CES 2017 by storm, impressing everyone who dared try it out.
The reason for its resounding success, both online and in person, isn’t its weird name. Its success is brought solely by the fact that the people at Nuheara have managed to take what the Here One features and one-up their offer in almost all aspects.
That’s right: the IQbuds use the same principle behind the Here One and its predecessor in order to allow you to effectively filter out unwanted sounds and frequencies so that you can enjoy your music without background distractions. The music playback is also supposedly good, though it is still to be determined whether it can rival Here One’s spotless playback.
The IQbuds feature twice the battery life of the Here One, sitting at 4 hours of music streaming and 7 hours of sound filtering, according to Nuheara. Its case also holds 3 charges but does take 90 minutes to fully charge them.
However, in spite of all of these great features, there is still one area that hasn’t quite been perfected, and that is the very backbone of the IQbuds: the noise cancellation. The noise emitted by these earbuds can be noticed at times and may not always be effective, whereas the Here One did the job without any errors.
The people at Nuheara have definitely done a great job in their first attempt at the hearable market, and even though they may still have some problems to iron out, they have a future just as promising as the team behind Here One. Whoever wins this race, the race of putting out the perfect hearable for the hearing impaired is irrelevant, as the technology itself will be a reward for everyone.
If you are interested in pre-ordering the IQbuds, you can only do so if you are from the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, by accessing their site and paying 299 US dollars. If you are not a resident of those countries but are interested in the IQbuds, you can sign up for a newsletter which will let you know when you can reserve them in your country.
3. LifeBeam Vi Smart Earbuds
Another crowdfunding wonder, LifeBEAM’s Vi is dubbed “the Siri of fitness” by many hearable enthusiasts. This hearable isn’t simply a rival to the other ones on the market – it is a rival to full-fledged fitness gadgets such as FitBit wristbands. In fact, calling it a rivalry may not even be fair, as the Vi combines accurate fitness tracking, multiple precise sensors and a smart artificial intelligence assistant that gradually learns your preferences and body’s rhythm in order to evolve along with you.
The Vi, or rather the assistant it brings, is a magnificent piece of work. During a workout, it can play music that fits your tastes from music-streaming apps, talk to you in order to encourage you to push past your limits and improve yourself. It does these all while accurately tracking your activity and monitoring your heart using the same sensors that modern-day pilots use.
LifeBEAM, the company that created the Vi also promise an all-day battery life, along with all-day usefulness through voice recognition and reading notifications. The Vi is set to release in 2017, and anyone who pre-orders it gets a special price of $259.
. A booming market, and a lot of promise
Join us this Wednesday, for our interview with Bragi from the Mobile World Congress 2017, in order to hear the upcoming improvements planned for the current market-leading hearable.