JBL's new true wireless earbuds launch with confusingly short battery life

JBL true wireless
(Image credit: JBL)

JBL has launched its latest true wireless earbuds, the JBL TUNE 220TWS, which sport a surprisingly low battery life for the price. 

The Tune 220TWS come with just three hours of battery life in the wireless earbuds themselves, with a further 16 hours provided by the charging case – that's 19 hours in total. For comparison, the Apple AirPods stay juiced up for 25 hours. 

Admittedly the new JBL earphones are cheaper than Apple's earbuds, at $99.95 / £99.99 (around AU$150) – but that price doesn't necessarily justify that short battery life. 

The Lypertek Tevi, for example, come with an outstanding 70-hour battery life, and can currently be bought for just $90 / £99 (around AU$130) – and that's one reason we awarded them a coveted full five stars in our review.

True wireless earbuds

The JLab Go Airs offer a longer battery life at a third of the price of the JBL Tune 220TWS – but they probably don't sound as good (Image credit: JLab)

An interesting choice from JBL

Despite not sporting the same battery life as their rivals, the JBL Tune 220TWS feature a similar design to the Apple AirPods, with long protruding stems. These stems are touch-sensitive, and can be used to play and pause your music, skip tracks, accept calls, and summon your device's voice assistant, whether you favor Google Assistant or Siri. 

Unlike the AirPods, these buds come in a range of trendy colors, including blue, green, pink, and silver, as well as your standard black and white.

JBL claims that the Tune 220TWS sound as good as they look, with "standout audio", thanks to 12.5mm drivers that support the brand's Pure Bass sound.

With Bluetooth 5.0, these buds should boast good connectivity, without any annoying dropouts or pairing issues.

While these specs seem decent enough for the price, it's not clear how successful these buds will be with such a short battery life; the true wireless earbud market has moved on since the first model launched in 2015, and battery lives of 20 hours or more has become standard. 

Even the $29 / £29 (Around AU$40) JLab Go Airs can offer this – whether the audio quality, fit, and functionality of the Tune 220TWS can make them a compelling alternative to more highly-specced cheap earbuds remains to be seen.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.