Cheap AirPods alternatives with switchable sci-fi charging cases? It’s a yes from me

GravaStar Sirius P5 three earbuds cases on metallic background
(Image credit: GravaStar)

Update: Gravastar has clarified that each 'case' is essentially a 'skin' and will not offer extra battery life, so we have improved this missive to reflect that – so no, buying the three cases does not mean 104 hours of stamina in total. However, they still look great… 

Love Star Wars, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Star Trek, Red Dwarf, Mork & Mindy, gaming and of course music? OK a couple of those references might be showing my age, but the point is: you can now buy brand new earbuds from a company called GravaStar, which boast "Transformers AirPod energy" and right now 'til November 1, there's an incredible deal on.  

The Sirius P5 (for that is their name) earbuds come with various cases that combine hyper-modern creativity, functionality and customization with mecha-inspired designs. 

The lightweight open-ear design (see the JBL Tune Flex for further info on what we think this means here) in these particular AirPods alternatives use large 12mm dynamic drivers and impressively, include Qualcomm aptX support. 

But I'll be honest, what interests me most in this instance is those interchangeable cases – and not just because I like the look of them. 

Sirius P5 will have three unique, sci-fi inspired industrial designs available at launch: Defense Armor, Defense Mecha and Defense Crystal, with more styles on the way. 

I love a nod to nostalgic, classic sci-fi culture with a bit of help from modern industrial design, but this one feels underpinned by substance as well as style. Made from either zinc alloy or "Lego-like material" (GravaStar's words, not mine), the interchangeable cases can be purchased in addition to the one you bought them with, so you can switch cases depending on how you feel and without needing to purchase a new set of earbuds. 

And for those mood ring vibes, four RGB lights on the left side of Sirius P5 can be customized with changing colors for additional personalization too. (I personally hope they can glow purple. I like purple.) 

And the specs are impressive: the charging case proper holds four extra charges, combining with an eight hour battery life on the earbuds to deliver 40 hours of total playtime. 

Opinion: on stamina alone, the value is out of this world

GravaStar Sirius P5 earbuds and case on multi-colored background

(Image credit: GravaStar)

Of course I prioritize sound quality, but I have to admit I'm a huge fan of the cyberpunk, collectible element here – and they sort of echo the retro lighters of my youth that hopefully the kids are no longer using. 

Yong, Huang, GravaStar founder and industrial designer seems committed to the cause too, saying, "We'll continue to release new designs so people can have fun expressing their style while vibing to the music." 

Otherwise, it's just a bit of theater, right? No, actually the Sirius P5 earbuds are refreshingly true to their name, containing the latest Qualcomm 3046 chip and featuring Bluetooth 5.2 for a fast and stable connection, plus that large 12mm driver per earpiece, a gaming mode for low latency and that all-important aptX codec for better quality audio streams. 

And just as a mecha robot is controlled easily by the person operating it, Sirius P5 include touch controls to up the volume, change tracks, accept calls, activate Siri and more. 

Each Sirius P5 weighs just 5g, which is light. For reference, each Sony WF-1000XM4 earpiece weighs a hefty 7.3g / 0.26 oz, while Apple's inaugural flagship AirPods Pro weigh 5.4g / 0.19 oz per bud. And although the Sony Linkbuds S weigh just 4.8g / 0.17ox per bud, I think they're probably the best buds I've ever found for small ears

Despite their open-ear design, GravaStar assures us they fit snugly inside the ear too, which is good because you also get "Environment Noise Canceling", something that is always impacted if you cannot achieve a good seal. 

An IPX4 rating means they'll survive a spin class and you even get a necklace which can be attached to the earbuds to ensure they never get lost during especially athletic pursuits. 

The Sirius P5 earbuds themselves only come in black or white, and typically you get just the one charging case, reasonably priced at $79.95 - $99.95

However, from October 6 to November 1, a special pre-order price of $89.95 (which is around £80 or AU$139) includes one set of black earbuds and all three cases, normally offered for $139.95 – and this is a pricing strategy I can get behind. 

In fact, if the sound here is good, I'll be buying – and they might just make it into our best true wireless earbuds guide. Before you ask, no, I haven't heard them and so I cannot vouch for the sonic chops just yet. But I'd far rather be happy than right any day… (one for the Hitchhiker's fans there.) 

Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.