Review: JBL Free X

Pros

  • Inconspicuous design
  • Long battery life
  • Quick charge
  • Control buttons
  • Usability
  • IPX5 Rating
  • Limited noise cancelling

Cons

  • Charge case could be smaller
  • Audio lag when watching video
  • Can only use right ear piece for single use
  • Charge case could be smaller
  • Audio lag when watching video
  • Can only use right ear piece for single use

This is the JBL Free X. This is one underrated earphone that no one knows about. Even I didn’t know these existed. I actually stumbled upon these by accident. If you are interested in these headphones just double check with the store first that you are purchasing the “Free X” and not the “Free”.
Nowhere on it’s packaging indicates an “X”.

The difference?… initially there were connectivity issues that plagued the Free’s. JBL’s remedy was to change the Bluetooth radios and repackaging it as the Free X.  That’s the only difference, everything else is the same.
To be 100% sure you got the correct one just look under the charge case in the fine print.

Hard to fault these headphones.

I like the Free X’s design, each ear buds are rounded in shape with a distinct JBL logo which are buttons. There are no wings or hooks and the earbuds are light, you won’t feel any weight on your ears. You can get these in white if you can find it. But I’d rather the black as it adds to the unobtrusive look. Still the white still looks appealing.

Now for the charge case… this is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe it’s to do with manufacturing and to keep costs down. But JBL could of made it more compact. Or used a different shape that is less bulky. I found it a hassle to carry around in my pocket along with my other items; phone keys wallet.

It’s clam shell lid is nice and solid. It will require two hands to open. It’s not magnetic like other charge cases. The lid is a matt texture, great for preventing scratches. The bottom half is a soft touch plastic, helps with gripping.

Very bulky case.

For out of the box just connection; take the right earphone out of the case. They will flash blue. Then on your device just look for JBL Free. Finally take out the left ear bud to complete the connection. The headphones connect to your device via the right bud. So you can only use the right side for single use. Bluetooth connection is reliable. Only had issues when I started to go out of range which is less than 8M. Also would have been nice but you can only connect to one device at a time.

Each bud has a multi-function button. On the right you can play/pause music and control Google/Siri and Calls. The left is for skipping tracks. On both sides there are further controls to turn each bud off and on and Bluetooth pairing. Once your done you just put the buds back in the case. This will disconnect them from your device and turn them off.

The smile says it all.

They are secured in their cradles magnetically. You know they are in because the rings should light up white. Then you will see 4 dots on the case indicating how much charge is left. At first look the lid looks black but it’s slightly transparent so you can still see what is happening, I call it the smile. Once charged these lights turn off only to turn back on the next time you return the buds.

Battery life is awesome, my use I got over a week before the battery drained. But normally I charge these once a week to be safe. At those times still have 2 lights left. The buds themselves hold 4 hours each and the case is 20 hours. Totalling 24 hours of on time. A 15 min charge in the case should give the buds 1 hours use. Charging the case via micro usb should take no more than 2 hours from flat.

Micro USB.

Once they are securely in your ear your going to get some noise cancelling. I found it to be very good. The buds themselves are rated IPX5 which just means they are splash proof. They should be able to handle some rain and sweat.

JBL includes three tips and two silicone covers of different thickness. Try different combinations to find your fit.

Fitting options.

These buds are designed for music listening but for video not so good. Because you do get significant audio lag. Common with most Bluetooth headphones.

How do these sound? Well if you have ever used JBL products then you can expect that same. JBL headphones have their signature sound. Its an even sound stage with a bit more bass. I like this because it means I can listen to different kinds of music but still know I can have some base when needed.

Finally some of you might be wondering about active use. These are marketed towards the active lifestyle. Unfortunate I do not listen to music when I’m doing things like running. But I have taken these out on a few walks and did some work around the house. They only fell out if I didn’t put them in properly at the start. If you want headphones for active use. I recommend getting ones with wings just to be safe.

The Free X are tiny you can easily loose them in a dirt trail or patch of grass. Or worse at night.

So to conclude this review. These buds are a great find and worth considering. I have been using these extensively and got over the faults because of all the positives. For under a RRP $200 AUD you get a 100% wireless headphone with very good battery. Quick charge, full controls from the buds, great sound with a bit of noise cancelling and some splash resistance.

Compact earbuds.

There are other options from other brands around this price point but they are missing something like less battery life or have Bluetooth connection issues. The only two faults that are a major for me are the inability to use either sides for single use and the bulky size of the charge case. For the price versus what you get these are a great balance.

Video below to my unboxing.

Video below to my review.

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