We were able to get our hands on the Enco Free a day before OPPO’s APAC Strategy Launch Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and we have been using them for a while.
(Update, March 12, 2020: They’re on sale in the Philippines! Read OPPO Enco Free now available in the Philippines.)
In case you’re not familiar, the OPPO Enco Free are the first truly wireless earphones from the brand. But perhaps more importantly, they represent OPPO‘s expectations and projections for the future. It aims to be more than a smartphone market leader; it seems OPPO wants to be where Apple is, where Apple might be if it continues on its present trajectory.
For OPPO, it seems the wireless earphones segment is a good place to start, so here we are. And here’s our review of the Enco Free, which is priced at ¥699 — or about P5,073 or $100 converted — in China.
They’re affordable as they are convenient. The white and black versions will go on sale from December 31, whereas the pink Enco Free are due out on Valentine’s Day next year. They should be available in the Philippines in the first quarter of 2020 as well.
While their resemblance to the AirPods are obvious, the OPPO Enco Free don’t look totally identical to Apple’s popular wireless earbuds. The Enco Free earphones come in a pearlescent white color and have a softer matte finish that doesn’t pick up fingerprints like crazy.
The stems also feature a glossier surface than the rest of the body to make it easier for users to slide their fingers on them and execute shortcuts (which we’ll detail more below). The exterior of the earbuds and the charging case are built out of plastic, but they don’t feel cheap or easily breakable. They’re IPX4-certified as well, making them sweat- and water-resistant.
More impressively, the Enco Free buds offer a choice between in-ear tips for a more secure fit and semi-in-ear tips that provide better comfort. The silicone ear tips are available in three sizes — small, medium, and large — to accommodate different ear contours.
They likewise bring some noise insulation, which is welcome since these wireless earphones don’t come with active noise-cancelling features like the OPPO Enco Q1. A tighter seal on your ear canals also helps reduce sound leakage.
The earbuds sit on your ears instead of cupping them, so they’re more likely to fall off while you’re working out a sweat in a gym or dance studio. However, common physical activities such as walking and running shouldn’t be a problem; the OPPO Enco Free tend to stay in place quite well.
The magnetic charging case gets the same color as the earbuds, as well as the same matte finish that feels sleek and nice to the touch. It’s shaped like an AirPods case; it’s about the same size, too. Which is fine for us.
The form factor is small and handy, so it fits most pockets perfectly, allowing you to carry the earphones wherever you go. Additionally, the OPPO branding in silver on the front is a great design touch.
The tiny button on the side of the case pairs the earbuds with your device, while the port at the bottom is USB-C for greater compatibility with modern smartphones and tablets.
The case, which packs a 410mAh battery, will give you an extra 12 hours of call time and 20 hours of music playback. Meanwhile, the earbuds with the case will deliver up to 25 hours of continuous playback at 50% volume, which should be more than enough to get you through a long flight or road trip.
If you’re not a heavy listener, the battery life should last you a full week of use. With regard to charging, it takes about two hours for the earbuds and case to reach full battery capacity from zero.
If you’re not a heavy user, the battery life should last you a full week of use
Setup and operation
The OPPO Enco Free support Bluetooth 5.0 for low-latency connectivity. They will work with most devices, and pairing is mostly snag-free in our experience, especially with newer OPPO phones like the Reno 2.
To connect any Bluetooth-enabled device, all you need to do is flip open the case, press and hold the button on the side, and then select the Enco Free from your device’s Bluetooth list to pair them up.
After the first pairing, the earbuds will seamlessly turn on (and pair) and off automatically as soon as you take them out of the case and put them back. We tested the Enco Free with multiple Android and iOS devices. The pairing system worked flawlessly except on one occasion when it failed to connect our Huawei handset on the first try.
Understandably, OPPO says the Enco Free pair best with OPPO smartphones running ColorOS 7.0 or higher. But they should work without a hitch most of the time regardless of the device or its operating system.
The OPPO Enco Free should work without a hitch regardless of the device or its operating system
As we mentioned earlier, the OPPO Enco Free support gesture shortcuts on the touch-sensitive stem of each earphone. You can tap on either earbud to answer or drop a call and pause or resume media playback.
The right earbud lets you switch tracks by sliding your finger on the stem, while the left earbud allows you to adjust the volume with the same gesture. The latter is super convenient and not found on most other true wireless earphones, including the Apple AirPods.
So, how do they perform? Pretty darn good, actually. The OPPO Enco Free pack 13.4mm dynamic drivers with a decent frequency response range of 16Hz on the low end to 20KHz on the high.
Music playback is well-balanced across popular genres, including pop and rock, and vocals come out clear with little distortion. Voice calls, on the other hand, sound crisp and full in the earpiece, while OPPO’s dual-microphone setup is quite sensitive and does a pleasing job of clearly picking up our voice, even in a noisy and windy environment.
And while the bass is not as punchy as the competition in the higher price points, the volume doesn’t go particularly high, and the highs are not as strong as you might like, these buds are going to be fine for casual listening. Better yet, they’re comparable in terms of overall sound to the second-generation AirPods, which cost much more.
The Enco Free are a solid first offering from a brand not necessarily known for high-quality wireless audio. Despite its thin profile in the segment, OPPO has come out with another product that is well-equipped and well-priced against the AirPods.
Unlike the Enco Q1, though, the OPPO Enco Free share the same form factor as Apple’s premium wireless earphones, so they’re just as handy for on-the-go use.
If you’re looking for quality, feature-rich earphones that won’t flatten your wallet, these are highly recommended.
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