Jlab Audio Jbuds Air Review – Are They Still the Best True Wireless Earbuds under $50?
In this Jlab Audio Jbuds Air review, we take a look at how one of the most popular true wireless earbuds on a budget compare to the competition. Do they still offer good value for money?
Overall score: 3.6 points (out of 5).
Jlab Jbuds Air true wireless earbuds cost under $50 are decently comfortable with water protection (IP55). They work well but come with good battery life at around 5.5 hours.
The upgraded Jbuds Air Icon, which cost around $15 more, have a longer battery life up to 6 hours and touch controls, which are more in line with the current 2020 technology.
Additionally, the Icons have a more reliable Bluetooth connection. The original Airs sometimes aren’t so secure. They’re a worthy upgrade if you’re willing to spend a bit more.
In the end, if you have a small budget of $50, the Jlab Audio Jbuds Air are one of the best true wireless headphones you can buy right now thanks to a design that works well for sports or casual listening.
PROS & CONS
- Good water protection IP55 (IPX5 –what’s IPX?)
- Stable fit suitable for sports
- User-friendly magnetic design
- Good sound quality for the price
- Annoying physical controls (Air Icon have touch controls)
- Can become uncomfortable after prolonged time for small ears
- Phone calls require the right earbud
Jlab Audio Jbuds Air are one of the:
Type: In-ear headphones
Connection: Wireless Bluetooth
Driver size: 8mm
Frequency range: n/a
Weight: 11g (earbuds only)
Cable length: USB charging cable over 2 inches (5cm)
Microphone & controls: Yes (built-in)
Water-protection: IP55 (IPX5)
Battery life: Slightly under 6h per charge (+3 charges in the 500mAH case)
Charging time: Under 2h
Active noise-cancelling: No
Charging cable: USB cable attached to the case
Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
Wireless range: 33ft (10m)
Type: Built-in mic
Mic design: n/a
What’s in the Box?
- Jlab Audio Jbuds Air true wireless earbuds
- 3 pairs of silicone ear tips
- Charging case with attached USB charger
- User manual
Comfort & Fit – 4/5 Great
The Jlab Jbuds Air are quite bulky but don’t protrude out of the ears too much, and thanks to rubber sleeves stick in the ears well during fast movement. Though they can get uncomfortable when you press the controls and for people with small ears.
- 3 pair of silicone ear tips
- rubber sleeves provide good stability for working out
From the first look, you can’t judge these as having a great fit. But they stay in the ears remarkably well due to ergonomic design and rubber sleeves that surround each earbud.
They’re lightweight, and the only thing that you might complain about is slight discomfort after a while if you have small ears.
Due to the bulky design, small ears don’t like these that much. For normal or bigger ears, that’s a non-issue.
You get 3 pairs of silicone eartips (S, M, L), with the large ones being bigger than usual. Nonetheless, you can be sure to get a fit that suits you.
The only time that you might curse the Jbuds is when you use the controls. Because they have physical buttons that you have to press in strongly, you irritate your ears every time you want to change a song. Though you get used to it in a while.
Noise Isolation – 4/5 Great
Passive noise isolation is above average with the right ear tips compared to most headphones. Also, the wind noise is a lesser problem due to non-protruding design.
Like with most in-ear headphones, the Jlab Jbuds Air true wireless earphones offer a good amount of noise isolation.
Pick the right size of ear tips, and you can peacefully enjoy your music at your local gym.
Now, most of the modern true wireless earphones suffer from a bulky design that is great for creating wind noise.
Thankfully, these make it less of a problem though it’s still present in a windy situation.
If you drive a bicycle, these are more suitable for the job, but know you’ll still hear some of that pesky wind.
Bluetooth – 2.5/5 Average
Bluetooth connection is mostly reliable though you might get short interruptions if you put a wall in between your Jbuds and smartphone.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Standard 33ft (10m) of range without obstacles
- Auto connect when you open the lid
- SBC, AAC Bluetooth codecs
The Jlab Jbuds connect automatically when you open the lid on the charging case (after initial connection).
If you keep your phone close nearby, you won’t get any problems, but if you go to another room with a thick wall, you are likely to get some short interruptions. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it could be better.
When you put 2 walls in between, the music stops as is usual for most Bluetooth earbuds.
When it comes to Bluetooth codecs, they only support the basic SBC and AAC codecs. For the price point, that’s fine though some cheap true wireless earbuds do come with aptX too.
Is there a video delay?
There’s minimal video delay when watching YouTube, but it’s tolerable. Due to basic codecs, the response time might be a bit longer; however, not super annoying.
How do I fix Jlab Jbuds Air connection?
Are your Jlab headphones not connecting properly?
We had a problem getting both earbuds to pair with each other. So, we did a resync.
- Disconnect and turn off both earbuds
- Put them in the charging case but keep it open
- On the right earpiece press the button 4 times quickly until you see a blue blinking light
- Do the same on the left earpiece, press 4 times in a row
- After both are blinking blue, take them out of the case and put close together (2in/5cm)
- Once they sync the left side shines solid white, the right side is blinking blue and white.
- If the synch fails, repeat the steps again
Battery – 4/5 Great
The battery life per charge is solid 5.5 hours. With about 15h more in the case.
- Overpromised battery on the box, in reality, you get 5 to 5.5 hours per charge
- USB cable attached to the case
The promised battery life is overrated. You don’t get the 6 hours per charge as it says on the box.
You get a little bit less. From 100% battery to shut down due to battery capacity we got 5 hours and 40 minutes at half volume.
Manufacturers often overpromise to make sales. Plus, you have to assume that over time the battery capacity will become lower.
Nonetheless, 5 hours is more than enough for most people as few spend more than 1 hour in the gym.
You charge the Jbuds in a charging case with an attached USB cable. It’s tucked under the case, and you can’t remove it. It takes less than 2 hours to charge them fully.
All in all, it’s a great battery that works well for an average user.
Durability – 4/5 Great
Jbuds Air are fully plastic but durable and come with IP55 dust and water protection. This makes them great for sports and general use.
- IP55 (IPX5) water protection
- Plastic but durable
- 2-year limited warranty
Plastic is the go-to material for true wireless earbuds no matter the cost. Even the more expensive models are often fully plastic. Hello PowerBeats Pro.
But that isn’t a bad thing because the plastics is hard and durable as if you paid over $100 for these.
The only part that’s scratch-prone are the glossy logos on top of the control buttons. And even then aren’t that visible.
There’s no much to complain when it comes to build quality, especially for the price.
Sure, IP55 isn’t the best you can get when it comes to wireless waterproof earbuds but is more than enough for any amount of sweat or even washing under tap water.
Our buds have “accidentally” fallen on the floors a couple of times, and they still work fine without any signs of damage.
You can easily use these for working out or daily listening on the go.
The charging case also feels solid with a strong hinge.
Features – 3.5/5 Almost Great
You can make phone calls with a decent microphone but need to use the main right-side earbud. There’re LED indicators on each earbud and battery indicator on the case.
- Decent built-in microphone
- Calling requires the right-side earbud. Voice comes through both sides
- LED battery indicator on the case
On the other reviews, you might read the biggest issue is that phone calls only work through the right earbud. Which is true.
But it’s not such a big problem. You get sound from both.
The right earbud is the main one because it includes all the electronics for calling. So, if you want to make phone calls with just one side, make sure to charge up the right-side one.
Other cheap true wireless earphones might offer calls on both sides, but how often would you use one side only?
If you make lots of calls, just get a dedicated one-side headset.
Still, the mic quality is quite good, and you can have a comfortable conversation even in traditionally unfriendly-to-the-mic places.
Using a voice assistant works well. To activate Siri or Google Assistant is press the control button 2 times.
You can always see how much battery is left on your smartphone when you’re connected to the Jbuds. And for the charging case, there are LED lights that tell you when you need to power them up.
And the second concern is the physical controls. You have to press them in quite firmly, which creates a bit of discomfort after a few song changes.
Touch controls, once you get used to them, are probably a better design decision. Thankfully, the upgraded Jlab Jbuds Air Icon come with touch controls but cost a bit more money.
Sound – 3.5/5 Almost Great
Jlab Jbuds Air sound good for their price tag of $50 but can’t really compare to higher-end. They make a perfect choice for the gym or casual listening on the go.
- 3 EQ presets (Jlab signature, neutral, bass boost)
- Sound is good enough for the low price
- Can get uncomfortably loud
You can choose from 3 EQ presets. Jlab Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost. The only “listenable” one that we liked the most is the Signature.
It emphasizes the highs and bass and increases volume for some reason.
When you switch to Neutral or Bass Boost, you lose some of the volume which is a downer (press the button 3 times to switch). Though neutral preset does offer more of a balanced sound, you can’t get it as loud.
In the same way, the bass boost preset doesn’t magically create strong detailed bass, it’s rather subdued with minimal increase in punchiness.
It’s best to stick to the V-shaped Jlab signature preset and forget you’re wearing cheap earbuds.
Also, the soundstage is quite intimate, as is typical for in-ear earphones. But the sibilance isn’t a problem either. What bothers more are the lackluster highs in general.
Now, to be fair, these belong to the category of super cheap true wireless earbuds. You can’t expect sonic fidelity.
You get decent sound quality that’s enjoyable for going to the gym when you focus on lifting weights or taking a run and watching for the traffic.
But if you want to listen to music in the comfort of your home, be prepared to write a long critique. They aren’t made for critical listening.
The Jlab Jbuds Air Icon sound the same as they haven’t changed the drivers.
Why buy Jlab Audio Jbuds Air?
If you are looking for dependable sports true wireless headphones that won’t cost you more than 50 bucks, then these are one of the best choices.
Sure, the battery isn’t super long, but they perform decently to well in important categories.
For such a low price, you get a combination of Bluetooth connectivity, decent audio quality, the option to make phone calls, and great stability for sports.
And in case you want to keep up with the latest technology, get the Air Icons for a couple of dollars more to get longer battery life and comfier controls.
Are Jlab Jbuds Air better than Apple Airpods?
In general, no. But considering the Jbuds cost 1/3 of the price, you get much better value for money.
If you need headphones solely for the gym or sports and don’t care about extra features, then get Jlabs. But if you want generally better headphones for different use and have no problem paying for it, get the Apple’s Airpods.
Jlab Audio Jbuds Air alternatives:
Treblab xFit (review) – have better battery life but less stable fit at the same price
Skullcandy Sesh (review) – suffer from a low 3-hour battery but tick the boxes for fit, Skullcandy sound and price
Aukey T10 (review) – you can spend a bit more at $100 and get overall better TWS earbuds for sports or daily listening