1MORE omthing AirFree TWS hands-on - Excellent fit, quality build, good sound, great value
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Although wired in-ear headsets remain the best ones for me due to many reasons — by the way, the Creative SXFI TRIO hands-on is also in the making and will go live later this month — it looks like there is a lot to explore in the wireless earbuds space, especially when it comes to low-priced items.
Many users might not consider sub-US$50 products in this category worthy of their attention, but the truth can be surprising. In some cases, the manufacturers chose to sacrifice battery life, sometimes they chose to go with cheaper materials overall, and so on. As we are going to see right away, the 1MORE omthing AirFree TWS might come in a rather cheap package, but once the product gets out of the box, the charging case already looks better and the earbuds show no obvious signs of radical price cuts. Overall, the design is quite original and makes wearing the AirFree TWS a very comfortable experience.
Packaging and looks
As you can see in the images, the retail package does not include a box that you can rely on to protect the 1MORE omthing AirFree from rough handling. Sadly, mine arrived a bit roughed up, but I was lucky enough to get everything inside the box safe and sound.
Inside the aforementioned retail package, there is nothing out of ordinary. As expected, we have a small user guide (only three languages available - which include English), a USB Type-C charging cable that feels a bit flimsy — no problem here, since the charging case does not need high current and anyway most users will simply use their existing cables, as well as two spare pairs of silicone tips.
The charging case might seem large at first sight, but it has a major advantage: Iit is slim enough so anyone can easily slide it any pocket — as long as they are not trying to use the back pocket and then sit on it, which might lead to disastrous results. 1MORE took a shortcut here and chose to discard the LED lights that most manufacturers place inside or on the front part of the case to show its existing charge level and status. The case of the omthing AirFree TWS has a single LED on the back, which lights up when a cable is connected and the current flows in. When you notice that your earbuds are no longer connecting to your phone, the most common cause is that both the case and the earpieces are out of energy.
The earbuds have a smart design that consists of a regular oval-shaped part with a big round bump and a tiny stem that helps keeping them in place and barely sticks out of the ears. This makes them stay in place much better than many competitors, but — at least for me — it also makes it quite tricky to take them out of the charging case and put them on. These earbuds are very light and can be used for workouts and walks or runs that involve long phone conversations as well. This part needs to be highlighted because classic-shaped wireless earbuds like the UGREEN HiTune seem to slide out of place when the wearer is moving their jaws a lot to talk or chew, although having a quick bite or a five-minute phone call will not make them fall off.
Specs and features
In terms of features, there is not much to say about the list of codecs supported — dropping aptX support is another shortcut that helps to keep the price low — since there's only AAC and SBC via Bluetooth 5.0 (and earlier Bluetooth versions, of course).
Without further ado, these are the other technical specs that you might be interested in:
- Driver: 7 mm dynamic
- Impedance: 16 ohm
- Sensitivity: 121 dB
- Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
- Total harmonic distortion: 0.01%
- Maximum output: 5 mW
- Charging case capacity: 550 mAh
- Charging time: 1.5 hours
- Playtime: 3.5 to 4 hours on a full charge, as well as four charges until the case runs out of juice
- Waterproof rating: IPX4 (facing light rain and sweat should be no problem)
In addition to the above, I should also mention the four environmental noise control microphones in total (two on each earpiece), as well as the single LEDs on the earbuds that have two colors — white and blue.
Real-life usage: ergonomics, battery life, software, and sound quality
As I said earlier, taking the earpieces out of the charging case can be quite tricky even for those with thin fingers. However, once fitted in the ears, the 1MORE omthing AirFree TWS will stay there even in tough conditions — just be sure not to include heavy rain or scuba diving to the list.
Once paired for the first time with your handset, reconnecting will be done almost instantly in the future. The touch controls have different functions depending on the earpiece: double-tapping the touch area of the left earbud brings up the voice assistant, but doing the same with the right earbud pauses/resumes music play, and to answer/hang up both sides can be used. In an interesting twist, if someone chooses to use only the left earpiece, then its double-tap function will be to play/pause music instead of starting the virtual assistant.
I used these buds regularly — at least 30 minutes per day, sometimes over an hour or more — for over a month and I must say that I am very happy with the quality of the connection. Depending on the device they get paired up with, the sound quality might vary a bit (I noticed a small difference between the Teclast P20HD — review pending — and my old Xiaomi Mi A1). However, there is no major difference — this has more to do with the audio source itself and the equalization settings — if any — than the source device.
After an hour of use, the battery level usually drops to 80%, so I guess that a full charge autonomy of 3.5-4 hours is realistic. Since the case holds four full charges, this leads to at least a week of moderate daily use (I am thinking about a daily average of 2 hours). The good part is that the earpieces can also be used independently, thus doubling the autonomy.
After using the 1MORE omthing AirFree TWS for almost a month, I bumped into a software app that was not mentioned anywhere in the user manual or on the box. Thanks to it, I was able to update the firmware, which has led to a noticeable sound quality improvement. The omthing app for the AirFree TWS is available on both Google Play and the Apple Store. Using it is quite straightforward, although I needed two tries to finally update the AirFree TWS successfully — the first attempt failed for unknown reasons, but this error did not render the earbuds useless. Sadly, this app does not offer any other feature, such as a custom equalizer or other kind of audio adjustment or special effect.
For me, deciding what to say about the sound quality provided by the 1MORE omthing AirFree TWS is a troublesome task because I am both excited and disappointed by what I get each time I put the earpieces on. The low-frequency response and overall volume are incredible for this price range, there is no doubt about it. Mids are also pretty well represented, but highs are a big problem for me — this area of the audio spectrum is poorly represented, and by increasing the volume all I get is distortion in the high range. On the bright side, at least the lows and mids remain on point. Since the only firmware update that I applied increased volume and overall audio quality, I can only hope that a future software refresh will bring the highs forward and eliminate the distortion issue — which could also be a problem with a low number of units, including mine.
Before moving to the final part, I need to suggest a few music genres that worked best for me with the 1MORE omthing AirFree TWS: most classical orchestral works, what is generally known as "techno" starting with the early 1990s, ambient — virtually anything that doesn't involve any cymbals (well, a few hi-hats here and there don't sound that bad). The list of genres not recommended includes black metal, thrash metal, live recordings of any genre, even The Beatles don't sound as they should. Lastly, I should add that phone conversations sound very good, although I noticed a bit of distortion in the high range even in this scenario.
The good, the bad, and the truth
The 7 mm neodymium drivers get the job done wonderfully for bass-intensive music and it simply is mind-blowing what can be done within such a small budget nowadays. The earpieces are very comfortable, the charging case fits almost any pocket, and the battery life is satisfactory. The amount of unexpected drops during my long weeks of use is very close to zero, which is great to see in this price range.
The charging case feels a bit frail, but maybe that's just how it seems to me. As I already said, the highs are a complete mess in most scenarios one can think of. However, there aren't any other weak parts to be mentioned, maybe only the lack of aptX support.
The ups and downs of the audio experience provided by the 1MORE omthing AirFree TWS would make me struggle with my final decision a tough one for at least a double price. However, we are talking about a piece of hardware that can be purchased for less than US$30 — depending on the retailer and various deals that might apply, the price can go even slightly below US$25! Considering the value provided for this amount of cash, the 1MORE omthing AirFree TWS is nothing less than an amazing deal that shouldn’t be missed — in the worst-case scenario, you could keep it as a backup solution for your main — and more expensive — wireless buds.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received the 1MORE omthing AirFree TWS from 1MORE free of charge for the purpose of testing.