When it comes to true wireless earbuds, the Apple AirPods are king… at least when it comes to name recognition. But that’s not stopping companies like JBL, Optoma Nuforce and TCL from taking a shot at usurping the reigning champ.
So how’s TCL going to do it? By completely reshaping the design of traditional earbuds.
The latest weapons in TCL’s arsenal are the new SOCL500TWS and ACTV500TWS true wireless headphones that “use the whole inner ear for a more natural fit”.
- Check out the best true wireless earbuds available now
- Read our Apple AirPods (2019) review
- Apple AirPods 2 release date, news, and rumors
To that end the colorful SOCL500TWS buds use 5.8mm drivers and oval, angled acoustic tubes to ensure a better and more comfortable fit with most ears. The wireless earbuds will come in four colors – blue, violet, orange and black – and offer 6.5 hours of continuous playback per charge, while the charging case carries enough power for an additional 19.5 hours. The bad news? They’re only IPX4-rated which means they’re good for a workout, but not a day at the pool.
The SOCL500TWS are set to be released at the end of 2019, and will cost €79.99, which works out at around $90 / £70 / AU$130.
If you’re looking for professional looks to go with TCL’s professional comfort, the company also announced the ACTV500TWS earbuds, which will also be available to buy from the end of this year. These come in two colors – grey and white – and feature a textured surface to provide extra grip. The ACTV buds uses the same inner ear design as the SOCL models, but will come with a pair of Comply eartips to maximize sound blockage.
Last but not least, the buds have a 6.5-hour battery life per charge, and the charging case adds 26.5 hours of play time, providing up to 33 hours of total playback time.
A little more expensive than their siblings, these buds will cost €99.99 (around $110 / £90 / AU$160).
That said, TCL isn’t completely focused on in-ear wireless earbuds - it’s also making a new pair of over-ears to round out its audio offering in the form of the MTRO200NC headphones.
These headphones use 32mm drivers to deliver an immersive listening experience with any kind of music, and support Active Noise Canceling (ANC).
According to TCL, the MTRO headphones will offer up to 20 hours of playback per charge with ANC turned off (only 17 hours with ANC enabled), and fast-charging support that supplies you with four hours of playback time after a brief 15-minute charge.
These noise-canceling cans will set you back €69.99 when they're released in late 2019 (around $75 / £60 / AU$110).
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Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.