Spending $250 for a pair of earbuds is a bridge too far for me, even with an Apple logo and cool features. If I can get 80% of the goodness for 20% of the price, I'm in my happy place. When it comes to gadgets for pleasure, I'm about satisfying, rather than optimizing.
I like to listen to music when working. I got tired of untangling cables, so I started looking for wireless earbuds.
Also: Apple's AirPods Pro are the best earbuds you can buy, but for all the wrong reasons
Exploring Bluetooth earbuds
With a new product space, I start with research, checking out review sites for features, price ranges, and category leaders. Then I'll check out shopping sites and their reviews.
I focus on the negative reviews, and why they're hating: is it a delivery problem? Did they not read the specs? Was their sample defective? Or does the product really suck?
Then I'll buy what appears to be the minimum viable product for my imagined requirements. Sadly, more often than not, that first purchase turns out to be not viable for me. But I've learned.
The first set of Bluetooth earbuds -- Blitzwolf -- had fair-to-good reviews. I snagged them on sale for $25.
But the battery life wasn't adequate. They died after 3 hours to 4 hours of use, and the recharging case went dead after a week. Flaky Bluetooth pairing meant they weren't worth the trouble.
Back to the drawing board
I then looked for earbuds with a long battery life. The Enacfire F1 claimed eight hours, had strong reviews, IPX8 waterproofing, and an 18-month warranty. At $50 they were more than I wanted to spend, but oh that battery life!
After charging them to full, I changed the earpieces, paired them with my iPad Pro, and headed out to my favorite pre-COVID coffee shop. They worked! Music sounded good, phone calls were no problem, pairing was close to flawless, and I have yet to run out of battery. In fact, the charging case goes for months without running out of juice. Yay!
Over the years I've tried expensive noise-canceling headphones. They never satisfied, and I came to prefer noise isolation to cancellation.
Shocking customer support
I liked them until they stopped working. Didn't expect much customer support for a $50, and prepared to return them. Boy, was I wrong! With very little hassle they fixed me up. Kudos to the Enacfire support troops!
The Enacfire F1 earbuds have earned a permanent spot in my mobile kit. I'm sure there are other quality earbuds out there, but with all the features I need, and excellent support, why look further?
I'm sure Apple AirPods Pro are wonderful. For $250 they better be! But I'm very happy with my $50 buds, and that's my most important metric.
Comments welcome. What are your favorite value-priced audio products?