These $20 True Wireless Earbuds Are *Actually* Worth Buying

·5 min read
Photo credit:  Created by Tom Messina using images from JLab
Photo credit: Created by Tom Messina using images from JLab


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We judge all headphones and earbuds on a scale of 10, analyzing the categories we think are most important: sound, comfort, design, battery performance, and, if applicable, special features. Here's how the JLab Go Air Pop wireless earbuds stack up.

The Go Air Pop true wireless earbuds by JLab — an audio brand that’s long known for making reasonably priced products — are the most affordable of their kind. Sporting a $20 sticker, the buds are significantly cheaper than any big-name competitor, so I was eager to put them through their paces.

After over a week of using the JLab Go Air Pop on a daily basis, I can say with confidence that these wireless earbuds are worth every penny of their impulse-buy price tag. By offering satisfactory performance without skimping on important bits like up-to-date connectivity and reliable battery life, the earphones utterly exceeded my toned-down expectations. Here’s a breakdown of their sound, design, and battery performance.

SCORES

Sound: 7/10
Comfort:
9/10
Design:
8/10
Battery Performance:
7/10
Overall Score:
8/10

JLab Go Air Pop at a Glance

• Adequate sound quality with a trio of equalizer modes

• Impossibly lightweight and comfortable

• Up to 8 hours of battery life

• Water-resistant with IPX4 rating

SOUND: 7/10

The JLab Go Air Pop wireless earbuds’ 6-millimeter audio drivers deliver a powerful and entertaining sound, but you should know that when it comes to producing finer audio details (think intricate instrumentals and percussions), they leave a lot to be desired. The earphones’ strong bass output has an impact on the rest of their frequency range, making their high- and mid-range sound inferior to those of pricier products. But to be honest, this didn’t surprise me while I tested them, given how insanely affordable they are.

Rather impressively and despite their accessible price point, the Go Air Pop earbuds have a trio of easy-to-access (via triple taps on each bud) sound modes: balanced, bass boost, and JLab signature. I enjoyed the last one the most because it bumped up both the bass and the treble delivery.

The call quality of the JLab Go Air Pop is reliable but not on par with the multi-microphone setups of more expensive headsets. During FaceTime, telephone, and Zoom calls, participants noted that they heard me clearly while I had the buds on. Thanks to Bluetooth 5.1, the earbuds also maintained a solid connection with an iPhone and a Google Pixel 5a while I tested them.

Overall, the audio performance of the JLab Go Air Pop earbuds, while far from the best, surpassed the expectations set by their $20 price tag. As always, be mindful that spending more on your next pair of true wireless earbuds is all but guaranteed to get you better sound and next-level call quality.

COMFORT: 9/10

Photo credit: JLab
Photo credit: JLab

Believe it or not, the JLab Go Air Pop are not only the cheapest but also the lightest true wireless earbuds I have tested to date. Weighing just 3.7 grams each, the earphones significantly undercut 5-gram comfort benchmarks like the Beats Studio Pro, the JBL Live Pro+, and the 1More Comfobuds Pro. To be fair, the 3.8-gram, stem-toting 1More Comfobuds are just as impossibly featherweight but also a bit more expensive.

I didn’t feel any fatigue while I tested the Go Air Pop, either. The earbuds’ shape and ear tips create a reliable seal that helps them stay in place, so I didn’t ever find myself worrying about them falling off during my testing.

Touch-sensitive controls can often be hit or miss with earbuds, but I'm happy to report that the Go Air Pop's controls worked well during my testing. Having said that, the setup has a slight learning curve that consists of single, double, and triple taps and long presses. Conquering the setup takes just a matter of minutes with the buds on.

I was happily surprised to discover you can control the volume via single taps on each earbud (right increases it while left decreases it). Believe it or not, there are a lot of pricier earbuds that lack this functionality altogether that instead require you to fiddle with companion apps to access it.

DESIGN: 8/10

The JLab Go Air Pop have an understated design, whose noteworthy highlights include matte housings and a charging case in black, blue, gray, pink, and purple. Each bud rocks the brand’s distinctive logo with the same color but a contrasting glossy finish.

You can use the Go Air Pop wireless earbuds for exercising and rainy walks — they are water-resistant with an IPX4 rating. JLab also deserves props for backing its super affordable creation with a rather amazing 2-year warranty, which is much longer than countless rivals’ warranties.

BATTERY PERFORMANCE: 7/10

You can expect up to 8 hours of battery life from the JLab Go Air Pop wireless earbuds between trips to their charging case. That’s a commendable feat for a true wireless headset not only in their price range but also well beyond.

The tiny storage case of the buds holds the extra charges for a total of 32 hours’ worth of audio playback. The bundled accessory has an integrated charging cable and an old-school USB connector without a housing. To be honest, the cable is short and inconvenient, but given the product’s affordability, it's a flaw worth living with.

OVERALL: 8/10

Photo credit:  Stefan Vazharov
Photo credit: Stefan Vazharov

I’d recommend the JLab Go Air Pop to anyone looking for a pair of true wireless earbuds on a very tight budget, as well as to anyone who’s looking to experience the convenience of this form factor without dropping big money. Their acoustic and charging case shortcomings, while undeniably glaring, are certainly not dealbreakers.

Upping your budget to around $40 will present you with solid alternatives like the 1More Comfobuds and the Soundcore Life P2 Mini with AirPods-like stem design and better sound. That said, the JLab Go Air Pop are the $20 true wireless earbuds to get.

SHOP JLAB GO AIR POP

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