Sony's New LinkBuds vs. Apple's AirPods 3
Sony in February introduced the LinkBuds, a curious set of earphones that have an open design that's not quite like any other in-ear headphone product on the market. We picked up a set of Sony's strange LinkBuds to see how they measure up to Apple's third-generation AirPods.
Priced at $178, the LinkBuds have a naked donut-shaped earpiece that goes in the ear. Much like the AirPods 3, there are no form or silicone tips included with the LinkBuds.
The hole in the LinkBuds is an open ring driver that's designed to let users listen to music while also keeping an ear open to their ambient surroundings, similar to headphone products like audio-equipped sunglasses and bone conduction headphones. Sound quality is not at the AirPods level, but it's above average.
An Adaptive Volume Control feature optimizes music to the sound in the ambient environment, and playback is controlled by double tapping right on your ear. The double tap gesture can be used to play/pause music, adjust volume, or skip tracks, with settings available in the Sony app. There's also an option in the app for EQ adjustments.
A secondary bulb with a small fin holds the LinkBuds in place, and Sony has described them as ultra small and lightweight. In our testing, comfort is not too far off from the AirPods. They can be worn for a decent length of time before they irritate the ears, and are light enough not to be uncomfortable over a couple hours of use.
The battery in the LinkBuds lasts for 5.5 hours, and they come with a charging case that provides a total of 23 hours of listening time. The charging case is tiny and pocketable.
For those in the Apple device ecosystem, LinkBuds can't really measure up to the AirPods because they lack features like automatic device switching and quick pairing. People who don't care about those features and who are looking for earbuds that are ideal for biking, running, and other similar purposes might want to check out the LinkBuds, though.
What do you think of the LinkBuds? Let us know in the comments.