Hands-on review: Honor Choice True Wireless Earbuds
Image credit: Jack Loughran
Honor’s latest set of earbuds are designed to compete amongst a growing glut of low-end wireless buds.
The last year has seen the true wireless earbuds category become a true mass-market product, with many pairs now available below £30 - a far cry from the £100+ price of such devices originally launched by Apple and Sony only a few years ago.
This ubiquity inevitably brings compromises when compared to the more expensive models. Honor’s Choice buds lack active noise cancelling (ANC) like Apple's AirPods Pro on which these are styled, as well as the ability to pause and play based on ear detection.
The lack of ANC is somewhat forgivable, with even pricier alternatives like Google’s Pixel Buds forgoing such a feature in favour of giving users a greater awareness of the world around them. As a keen cyclist, ANC is a feature that can be actively dangerous to use in some circumstances.
Ear detection is certainly missed, though. Yes, there are touch controls on the buds themselves that work acceptably (more on that later), but they are definitely fiddlier than just taking a bud out of your ear when you want to speak to someone or hear more of the world around you.
With only a short mic appendage extruding from each bud, this set looks a lot less conspicuous than Honor’s Magic Earbuds that were released earlier this year, or indeed Apple’s own AirPods. This design also fits snugly into the ear canal and feels secure even during vigorous exercise or cycling.
As expected from a pair at this price point, sound quality is fine if not exceptional and bass tends to get lost in the mix. When listening to Guns'n'Roses, singer Axl Rose sounds clear enough and Slash’s guitar solos are as piercing as ever, but Duff McKagan’s basswork on the other hand is reduced to a background murmur.
The buds each feature a touchpad that can be used for different functions: double-tap on either to play/pause; tap and hold on the right to skip track. By and large these controls work quite well and are more responsive than some other headphones.
Unlike other devices, though, there is no way to change the controls depending on user preference, a disappointing lack of customisation that is available on some similarly priced buds.
The Honor buds fit snugly into a relatively small charging case when not in use that should be able to fully recharge them up to five times before needing to be plugged in (via a USB-C port, thankfully). Battery life in general seemed pretty good, with Honor claiming six hours of continuous streaming before they need to be placed back in the case; personal experience showed it wasn’t far off these claims.
Each bud also has its own mic in a setup designed to cancel exterior noises for callers on the other end. Even on a windy day, the mics pick up voices well without too much interference from nearby ambient noise.
With the market for cheap wireless buds expanding rapidly, there are now many options to choose from at this price point. Honor’s buds won’t break any records for sound quality - especially considering the lack of ANC - but battery life is above average. The on-bud controls are also responsive and work well, although the lack of customisation could be a make or break for some.
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