EarFun Free Review: A Rightful CES Innovation Honoree?

Rating: 7/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price:
EarFun earbuds
Ste Knight

EarFun is a very new brand. When I say “very,” I’m talking a 2018 launch. So, imagine how impressed I was when I learned it had scored not one, but two CES 2020 Innovation Honoree awards. One was for its as-yet-unavailable EarFun Air earbuds. The other was for its EarFun Free earbuds, which you can buy now.

Here's What We Like

  • Excellent waterproof rating
  • Very comfortable, secure, and lightweight
  • Responsive controls
  • 30-hour battery
  • Stable Bluetooth connectivity

And What We Don't

  • Flimsy case lid
  • Long charging times for case
  • No companion app

With some pretty envious features at $79.99, let’s take a look at what all the hype is about.

Comfort from the Get-Go

Arguably one of the most important features of a set of true wireless earbuds is comfort. You’ll have seen me rattling on about this in my reviews of the Aukey T10 earbuds and the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro headphones. Think about it, if your earbuds are uncomfortable, you’re not going to wear them, irrespective of whether they produce the best sound you’ve ever heard.

earfun free in ear
Ste Knight

I will admit that EarFun’s claims that the EarFun Free are comfortable, straight from the case, is a little dubious. There are no ear wings so, as a result, I failed to see how these would be either comfortable or secure in my ears. “Pfft,” I thought, “these will never stay in my ears.” I am currently eating my words, and they taste like very bitter medicine.

The EarFun Free earbuds are very comfortable, for me at least. I understand that everyone’s ears are different (your ear-print is just as useful in a crime scene as your fingerprint—our ears are unique to us), but they do nestle in your ears very snuggly.

As mentioned, there are no ear-wings to get to grips with, so customization is limited to the ear tips, which come in three sizes (small, medium, and large). The ergonomic molding of the Free’s chassis means that they sit comfortably in your ear and feel very secure. They’re lightweight, too, so great for extended wear.

The earbuds are molded from black lightweight plastic. This has a matte finish and a smooth feel when held in your hands and in your ears. The ear tips are soft and malleable, made for unobtrusive wear inside your ear canals.

The earbuds are controlled by the small branded buttons on the outside face of each individual headphone. We’ll come to the functions shortly, but this is a great way to keep your phone in your pocket or bag and still make use of its audio capabilities, adding to comfort and convenience.

One of the main draws of these ‘buds is the water resistance. They’re rated IPX7, so they can be submerged in 3ft of water, fully, for up to 30 minutes. This is great if you forget to take them out of your pocket before jumping into the pool. Just don’t leave them in the water!

The Power Is in Your Fingertips

earfun free on table out of case
Ste Knight

Capacitive controls can be hit and miss. Personally, I like them, but some capacitive controls are too sensitive, and you can operate them completely by mistake. Likewise, buttons can be a bit of a pain design-wise, but you know when you’re pressing a button.

The Earfun Frees don’t use capacitive controls, but the controls are concealed and don’t protrude from the earbuds, retaining their ergonomic silhouette. You could say you get the best of both worlds; in this instance, as the button doesn’t ruin the aesthetics of the earbud, and you know when you’re performing an operation thanks to the confirmatory button click.

Instead, they have a button at the side where the brand appears. The button itself is covered by a tough rubber membrane, to allow the design of the earbuds to flow without being broken by a button protruding from its smooth surface.

The button on each headphone has multiple functions, as you might expect. They power on straight from the case, but if you have turned them off manually and want to turn them on again (they can be used solo if you want to keep one ear free), you simply depress the button at the center of the earbud for two seconds. Placing the buds back in the case will power them down and commence charging. If you don’t want to charge them, then you can long press either headphone, and they will both switch off.

During playback, the buttons perform different functions entirely. A single click on the left or right earbud will play and pause a track. Double click the left earbud to turn the volume down, and double click the right earbud to turn the volume up again. Triple pressing the left and right buttons will rewind and skip tracks, respectively.

You can also use the EarFun Frees to take calls. When a call comes in, you can answer with one depression of the multifunction button on either headphone. A double click will answer, then switch between a current call and a second call. A long press will send your caller back into the ether and hang up. You can also make use of a compatible voice assistant by pressing the button on either headphone for two seconds (without music or calls in operation).

In all, the controls are responsive and do what the instruction manual says they do. Someone who is new to true wireless earbuds shouldn’t have a problem using them, providing they follow the simple instructions.

The Case Isn’t Great, But It Isn’t Terrible

earfun free case closed
Ste Knight

While the case may be able to deliver no fewer than four full charges to the earbuds, I’m not overly impressed with it. For a start, the hinged lid feels cheap and too light. The power of the magnetic closure is pretty poor, so a bit of rough handling can cause it to pop open. This represents a risk as you could lose an earbud (or both) if you drop the case on the floor with the earbuds in it.

The case is fairly small, which is a plus, as it won’t take up a lot of space in your pocket or bag. It is capable of storing 24 hours of juice, while the headphones themselves take care of 6 hours with their onboard batteries. That gives you 30 total hours if all your tanks are full of gas. You can zap your buds for 10 minutes to gain 2 hours of charge—enough to keep you going for a while.

Aside from the crappy lid, the rest of the case is perfectly fine. It has four battery-indicating LEDs on the front and to the rear is the USB-C for charging the case. It takes 2 hours to charge the case fully, from empty, using this method; not the fastest time we’ve seen, but at this price it doesn’t bear complaining about.

One nice touch is that this case is compatible with wireless charging. Set it on top of any wireless booster, and it will happily sit there drinking in the energy. Wireless charging isn’t very quick, though. It takes 3 hours.

My advice here is just to ensure you charge in plenty of time if you are off on a long journey and need the headphones for that. Again, at this price, it is pretty rare to get a wirelessly charging case, so the time it takes to charge is negated by the value for money that the Frees represent.

The earbud battery lasted for the stated 6 hours playback and, likewise, rang true to EarFun’s claim that you can glean 2 hours of playback from a 10-minute charge in the case. The battery drains at various speeds, depending on the sound being played and that sound’s volume. High volumes will drain it faster. I managed to squeeze three charges out of the case with the volume set at mid-high.

How Do They Sound?

earfun free ear tips
Ste Knight

While I wasn’t disappointed by the sound quality, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with amazement, either. However, keeping in mind these are budget earbuds, I wasn’t expecting a sound stage that plonked me bang in the center of a concert hall, before a full orchestra. Plus, given the other great features like the water resistance, I’m not overly concerned by this.

As mentioned, the soundstage isn’t very broad. The sound isn’t bad. Not at all. But I certainly feel that these headphones concentrate more on the midrange, thus grabbing a bit of definition from the treble and a bit from the bass. Don’t get me wrong, the bass in the low-end-heavy hip hop from my testing playlist was present. Just not as much as I would have liked.

You can solve this, to an extent, with your music player’s EQ settings (if it has any), and give the bass a boost, at least. I like to hear deep rich bass lines, balanced mids, and crisp trebles. The EarFun Frees have too much emphasis on the mids, so the other elements just lack that ultimate oomph. They’re great, out of the box, if you listen to vocal pop music or similar.

A dedicated app would fix this issue, though. That way, the EQ of the headphones themselves could be changed, not your music player EQ, and people wouldn’t have to search for their smartphone EQ settings, either.

With so many manufacturers now having companion apps for their headphones, I can’t understand why a CES Innovation Honoree would miss out on such an important feature. Some similarly priced headphones have really comprehensive apps that do an assortment of things to make your headphones yours.

I found the Bluetooth range was true to EarFun’s stated 49 feet (tested outdoors in a single straight line). It also performed fine as I moved around my house, away from the source. It didn’t break up when I was indoors or outdoors and within range of the stated signal source.

Should I Buy Them?

earfun headphones in case with lid open
Ste Knight

Given that they normally retail at $79.99 (but can often be found reduced to around the $50 mark), I’d say you’re getting exactly what you pay for, with some nice extras included. If you pick them up at their reduced price, you’ve netted a bargain.

They’re water resistant, they have decent (although not amazing) sound, and the case has wireless charging. Given their water-resistance rating , they’d make great exercise earbuds, as you’re unlikely to be chin-stroking over 17-minute progressive metal guitar solos while you hit your fifth kilometer of pavement pounding.

They’re also great for casual music listeners who just want something inexpensive but reliable to pop in their ears on. They’re not the headphones for an audiophile, sure, but they’ll get you by and state the case perfectly for a strong entry-level candidate. As I alluded to earlier, the water-resistance factor makes them a great exercise companion.

If you’d like to take a look at some more wireless earbuds and shop around a bit, check out these bargain-bin truly wireless earbuds that actually sound good.

Rating: 7/10
Price:

Here’s What We Like

  • Excellent waterproof rating
  • Very comfortable, secure, and lightweight
  • Responsive controls
  • 30-hour battery
  • Stable Bluetooth connectivity

And What We Don't

  • Flimsy case lid
  • Long charging times for case
  • No companion app

Ste Knight Ste Knight
Steven is a freelance copy and content writer within the tech industry and beyond, hailing from Liverpool, UK. He's an expert reviewer, covering everything from the latest smartphones and audio to robot vacuums and electric scooters. If it's a cool new piece of tech, Ste will give you the lowdown on what it's really like to use. Read Full Bio »

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