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Sony Xperia Ear Duo review

Perhaps the strangest headset we've ever tested

There are some features we really like on the Sony Xperia Ear Duo, but we don’t think it's a product that’s suited to a lot of people.

True wireless earbuds are popular right now, and integrating hearables features into a headset of this type is a great way of adding extra value, but there are a few negatives we feel detract from the headset itself.

As much as we’re concerned that it’s not a product for everybody though, you have to laud Sony for developing such a unique product that looks and works completely differently to anything else on the market right now.

Who’s this for?

Love the idea of being read your notifications directly in your ears when they come in? The Xperia Ear Duo should be right up your alley, but there are a few other things you’ll need to consider before diving straight into buying the Ear Duo.

If you’re looking for a headset that will cancel out the noise around you, this isn’t it. The technology is purely designed to offer audio while still letting you hear ambient noise such as traffic, conversations and everything else buzzing around you in daily life.

If you’re often exercising outside or you're off on a walk in a busy area, this feature is great as it allows you to be keenly aware of where you are. You can’t turn that off when you’re on public transport or trying to concentrate in a busy office though – you will be able to hear whatever is happening around you.

If that all appeals then the Xperia Ear Duo may be perfect. All of that said, we're not fans of the design. These don't look good hung around your earlobes and they're complicated to put on, though once you get them on they're not uncomfortable to wear.

Should you buy it?

Only buy this if you’re looking for that specific ambient audio true wireless experience that we’ve spoken about above.

There are lots of smart features here, but they're relatively limited apart from being able to change the settings of the headphones (something you can often do with buttons on headphones), being read your notifications and having a quick gesture to be able to boot up Google Assistant.

In some situations you’ll find these features useful, but many will find it irritating to be constantly read their notifications while they're trying to listen to music.

Plus you’ll want to bear in mind the price of the Xperia Ear Duo, which isn’t low compared to a lot of other true wireless headsets you can buy right now. Apple AirPods cost just over half the price at £159 / $159.99 and have very similar functionality to the Xperia Ear Duo, so are worth considering if you own an iPhone.

This may sound like a lot of stipulations, but the truth is the Xperia Ear Duo is designed with a very particular person in mind and we want to make it clear you’ll need to be just like what we’ve described to get the most out of these.

And if you’re not a fan of the design, you may want to hang on to see if Sony improves it for a new Xperia Ear Duo product in the future.

First reviewed: June 2018