As the owner of an old pair of Shure SE215 Wireless earphones costing over 3 times the price of these Aukey 'phones, I was really interested to see how these held up. First impressions were very good - they emerged from the packaging looking dark & sleek, with no large battery on the wiring like the Shures - just a slim control unit. Included in the box are 3 sets of tips and 3 sets of ear-hooks, a short USB charging cable, quick-start & full user guides and a neat little carbon fibre-effect pouch with a snap-sprung closure.
They paired easily with all of my bluetooth devices - HTC U12+, Garmin 245M, iPad Pro 2020, HP laptop and Pioneer XDP-100R-K HiRes player: simply press & hold the power button until the LED indicator on the control unit flashes blue then red, and your device will see it and allow you to pair. You can pair with two devices simultaneously - just repeat by turning off and turning on using the same process to pair with a 2nd device, then both can be paired with the 'phones at the same time.
The control unit itself has 3 buttons: on/off/pairing/play/pause, volume up/skip to next track and volume down/skip to previous track. On the side is the micro-USB charging port with a small rubber cover, and a LED indicator. When you turn on, you hear a chime to indicate that the power is on, and a clapping-type sound to indicate pairing mode. A shorter clap indicates successful pairing, and a different chime sounds when you power off. Ideally, I’d have preferred the buttons to have more of a tactile feel, with raised symbols on each. You can’t feel by touch which is which, or even if your finger is centred on the button - this is important as you really can’t press them unless your finger is centred on them. A small aesthetic point, but it really helps when you’re out running and trying to feel for the volume controls! Another small niggle is that there’s no way to tell directly from the 'phones themselves how much battery power is left; other wireless phones announce the remaining battery time or percentage when you turn them on - with the Aukeys you have to rely on the red indicator to show low battery, or fish your phone out & check the level from within the bluetooth connection settings on your phone.
Charging from empty took the stated 1.5hrs, and running the 'phones at a decent volume from full until they turned off took 7.5hrs, so pretty close to the stated max of 8hrs. Given that there’s no obvious battery inline on the cable, this is pretty impressive. A warning though - once the indicator shows red, you don’t get much time before they switch off. I reckon I got just a few minutes between red and dead.
I switched from the medium tips and ear-hooks to the large sizes immediately, as the tips just wouldn’t provide a good seal and I was losing all of the bass. Unfortunately, even using the largest of the supplied tips, I just couldn’t get a full seal. I ditched the ear-hooks entirely as they prevented me from trying to get the tips even a small way into my ear canals. Now, this may just be a ‘you have the wrong shape of ears and big earholes’ issue, but I’d prefer to have XL and XXL tips supplied, or perhaps foam tips instead of the silcone ones so that they expand to fit. Without a good fit, you get a thin, weedy sound and far too much outside noise to hear anything. If I pushed them in hard with my fingers to achieve a temporary seal, the sound was pretty damn good - rich bass, a decent though ever-so-slightly dull mid-range response and an OK top-end, free of the usual tinny, hissy treble common in cheaper headphones. Test tracks sounded much better than I expected for this price bracket - but alas, removing my fingers also removed the seal and the bass and the decent sound disappeared.
Bluetooth range is good, though the top end of ‘up to 10m’ seems a little over-optimistic and I had drop-out way before that if I put distance between myself and the source.
I tried these out in a variety of situations to test for interference and drop-outs (public transport, sitting at home, out walking and on a 3-mile run) - and impressively I experienced absolutely none. Additionally, at no point did they fall out of my ears, even during my run on a muggy, hot day when things got slippery and sweaty. The ability to remove them from your ears and have them stick together magnetically so they form a loop around your neck and don’t fall off was appreciated - it saves taking them off and stuffing them in a safe pocket when they’re temporarily not being used.
Normally I never use headphones for mobile calls, but I tested this for completeness and was able to answer and end calls without issue, and the sound quality was good from both the caller and receiver’s end. Likewise, when connected to my mobile, a quick double-press of the centre button enabled Google assistant to understand my commands from afar and turn on my smart house-lights.
Ultimately, I have slightly mixed feelings about these wireless earphones. At this price, I’m aware that I’m not going to get the same sound quality as my Shures, and that’s fine. The Aukeys will mainly be used as running earphones, so I’m not expecting audiophile quality for pounding the streets with. The kit that they come with is impressive at the price, and although they lack a couple of finishing touches that would make usability better, I’m pretty happy with them. They won’t replace my Shures or my Sony WH-1000XM3 over-ears for sit-down listening, but I never expected them to. However, there’s the issue of the poor fit looming large over them. If you can’t get a good seal, you can’t get a good sound. However, I’m prepared to err on the charitable side here as I’m sure a little Googling will source compatible foam tips, and with those these Aukeys will make absolutely ideal running companions. And for £20, if they fit you, they’re an absolute steal.