As more and more smartphone brands are removing the legacy 3.5mm headphone jack, the True Wireless Stereo (TWS) market is booming globally. Apple dominates this segment with the $100 and above price point. But smartphone brands like Xiaomi, Oppo and Realme are catering to the sub-$100 segment, making the TWS earphones accessible to more users. Oppo recently launched the Enco W31 TWS earphones in emerging markets like India for about $60. At this price, the Enco W31 brings Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity with low latency transmission and IP54 rating, among other features. But do they sound as good as the price? Will they be able to break into bigger TWS markets such as UK and USA?
Elegant Design, Comfortable Fit
Oppo has paid attention to the finer details in designing the Enco W31. But there are some misses too. Starting with the case, it is small, compact and has a pebble-shaped design that is lightweight and easy to carry in your pocket.
The case has a nice soft-matte finish to it, which helps to keep smudges and fingerprints at bay. For charging, there is a USB Type-C port that is nicely tucked at the back of the housing, just below the lid.
After opening the lid, you have two earbuds resting on the magnetic charging slots. There is a small pairing button that allows you to put the earbuds in Bluetooth pairing mode. Just above that, there is a small LED to indicate charging and connectivity status.
Sadly, when the lid is closed, the LED is not visible, and you will have to open it from time to time to check the status. While the pairing process with smartphones and laptops is easy, there is an ‘Open to Connect’ feature that works with supported Oppo phones. Simply open the case, and the phone will detect the earbuds.
Coming to the earbuds, I like the fact that Oppo has gone with the in-ear canal design and not the “one size fits all” in most earbuds (the Apple AirPods, for instance). You get three different silicone tips (small, medium and large) to fit different ear sizes. This way, the earbuds snugly fit in the ears and offer good noise isolation. I have been wearing the earbuds to listen to music or podcasts when working or even when out on long walks. Irrespective of the type of usage, these are comfortable to wear even for long hours of usage.
The Oppo Enco W31 earbuds look elegant and offer a comfortable fit.
Touch Control Options Could Have Been Better
The earbuds have infrared-based sensors for wear detection. So, whenever you are listening to music and you remove the earbud, music playback will stop. Similarly, plugging back in, music will start playing again. Oppo has also added a touch control feature where double tapping on the left earbud lets you switch between Balanced and Bass modes.
Similarly, double tapping on the right earbud lets you skip to the next song, whereas triple tapping on either earbud activates the voice assistant. During my usage, I found the touch control working 70% of the time, provided you tap at the right place. There were times when I triple tapped to invoke the assistant but the song skipped instead as it only registered a double-tap. It was also disappointing to note that Oppo did not add touch control to play/pause or increase/decrease volume.
Good Performance with Punchy Bass
The Oppo Enco W31 earbuds come with 7mm audio drivers capable of producing frequency range between 20Hz and 20kHz. Oppo tuned the audio to highly focus on offering bass output. For transmission, it supports SBC and AAC codes. My primary audio source was the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (AAC codec), playing high-quality music on both Apple Music and Spotify. I listened to songs from different genres, right from pop to hip-hop, EDM and Bollywood too. I also streamed on my phone HD movies and series on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Discovery+.
The audio quality of the Enco W31 pleasantly surprised me, especially considering the price. On Balanced mode, the tuning is more on the flatter side. Mids are balanced, highs are sharp and lows sound good. The mode is perfect when you are casually listening to podcasts and music or watching TV shows. Double tapping on the left earbud activates the ‘Bass Mode’ and you can instantly notice the difference it makes. It comes handy when listening to House or EDM music, where you want to groove with the tunes.
The Bass mode is also ideal when working out. It gives you extra adrenaline push to enjoy your exercises. You can also turn on the mode when watching action or sci-fi movies where that thumping bass and wider soundstage offer a better movie-watching experience.
The Enco W31 offers loud and crisp audio with thumping bass.
Call quality on the earbuds was also crisp and clear. There is a dual-mic noise cancellation feature, and it works well. Even as I was walking along a noisy road with vehicles passing by and honking, the recipient was able to hear what I was saying. I will not say this is exceptional, but the fact that I did not have to repeat things even in a noisy environment means a win.
Good Battery Life in its Segment
Each earbud of the Enco W31 includes a 25mAh battery, making a total of 50mAh on both. The charging case, on the other hand, comes with a 350mAh battery. Oppo claims that the earbuds can offer a battery life of three-and-a-half hours on a single charge at 50% volume. During my test, even with 100% volume, I was able to get a battery life of around three hours and 20 minutes, which is good. This fast-growing segment is a big opportunity for battery suppliers such as Varta, Samsung SDI, LG Chem and others.
The case can offer up to 15 hours of additional backup, and I was able to get close to three additional charges before the battery on the case drained out. Charging the earbuds takes around an hour and 40 minutes, whereas fully charging the case takes about two-and-a-half hours. If you have a compatible Oppo smartphone, you can also check the individual battery levels for each earbud and the charging case as well.
Conclusion: Good Pair of TWS Earphones on a Budget
For nearly a year and a half, the Samsung Galaxy Buds have been my primary TWS earphones, but they cost around $150. With the Enco W31 priced less than half, I was not expecting the audio quality to be this impressive. But Oppo had me change my mind and proved that good things can come in a small package without breaking the bank.
The IP54 rating for water and sweat resistance means you can wear them when working out or even in mild rains. For those who prefer the in-ear canal over outer-ear design on TWS earphones, the Enco W31 make for a perfect choice. With the successor, Oppo has a good room for improvement to bring gesture support to control volume and add tap to play/pause features, along with more refined audio.
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