With the iPhone 7 removing the headphone jack, as well as many other phone manufacturers, bluetooth earphones are becoming more necessary than ever before. When once bluetooth earphones were huge and unsightly, the Jaybird Freedoms are tiny and sleek. However, this comes at a premium. In this review, I’ll review the Jaybird Freedoms (~$149), based on price, design, sound, battery life, isolation, and comfort.
The Jaybird Freedoms are a marvel of design. They come in many colours; blue, red, black, space grey (apple exclusive), and rose gold (also apple exclusive). The best thing about these ‘buds is that instead of trying to cram everything including batteries into the earpieces, the Jaybird Freedoms house everything in the inline remote control. This means that the in ear pieces are tiny, and fit easily and snugly into my ears. The trade off of housing everything in the remote control is that the battery life is a mere 4 hours, more on that later. In addition, the remote control is a tad bit bulkier than the Jaybird X2 and X3. Working out and doing the dishes are a breeze with the new Freedoms, the included wingtips ensure they stay in your ears no matter what you are doing. I’ve even played badminton with them on, and they haven’t fallen out once. Jaybird also touts that these earphones are sweatproof, though many forums say otherwise, stating that the battery can short when exposed to sweat. Luckily, Jaybird offers a lifetime sweat warranty on the Freedoms, so at anytime if it breaks due to sweat, Jaybird will replace it for free. Jaybird even says you can swim with these on, though they say not to submerse the earphones for too long. I’d say not to try it, as electronics and water don’t mix well, especially when the Freedoms rely on a moving-coil dynamic driver which could clog with water.
The Jaybird Freedoms out of the box are extremely loud on iOS. Turning up the volume from three notches to four increases the volume considerably, and without tweaking the EQ settings to lower the gain, its downright dangerous. Aside from that, they have almost flawless sound, with hardly any bluetooth artefacts getting in the way. One incredible feature of the Freedoms is the MySound app. It’s iOS only, but it allows you to change the internal EQ of the earphones. This means that no matter what it’s connected to, it’ll sound the same. I have mine boosting the treble, and reducing the bass, as I found them to be too bassy at first. However with the app, the sound is perfect for me. This is a real leap forward for bluetooth earphones, as I haven’t seen any other bluetooth earphone manufacturers do this. If you’re a basshead, you might not like the Jaybird Freedoms, as the tiny 6mm drivers can’t deliver much sub-bass. However, for a 6mm driver, they sound incredible, and I’d recommend these to any casual listener. However, the odd placement of the mic means that the sound in a call is horrible, as it’s too far away from your mouth for the other person on the call to hear you. I’ve found I’ve had to remove the earphone from the ear without the mic, and bring it all the way to the front, to speak while holding the mic. I might as well just use my phone’s speaker, so this is one area in which the Freedoms don’t hold up.
The Jaybird Freedoms are rated at an abysmal 4 hours of battery life. I’ve found that it lasts between 4 and 5 hours in real usage. This is barely enough for me to get through the day. Luckily, the Freedoms come with a charging clip, which also adds another 4 hours of much needed battery life. The charging clip is quite big and hefty, and it makes it impossible to use the Freedom’s without the wingtips. Jaybird advertises “unlimited playback time”, through charging the clip, attaching it on to the earphone, running, out and repeating, though this frankly isn’t practical. An interesting side note to this, when you attach the charging clip to the Freedoms, they automatically turn off. This means that even in ideal circumstances, you can’t actually have “unlimited playback time”. The only way to achieve that would be to use an android device, connect it to a micro-usb to USB OTG adapter, then through a standard micro usb cable, then to the charging clip, and then to the earphones. A real mouthful, and not very practical at all. If you’re using it this way, you might as well just buy wired earphones. Keep in mind that although 8-10 hours combined battery life is good now, the battery life will slowly diminish as the battery wears, and even 20% wear will mean that you get just 3 hours of usage. Jaybird says that they expect the battery to wear out in just 2 years, so if you can, be sure to buy an extended warranty for it that covers battery wear and tear. The battery problem is even worse when you realise that the battery isn’t user replaceable. This is done in the name of sleekness, but severely reduces the earphones’ lifespan.
The isolation on the Freedoms is absolutely insane. With the metal earphones, and included Comply Foam Tips, I can barely hear anything when music is playing, even at a relatively low volume. These are so well isolated that I’d say it could be a risk if you’re playing music and some fire alarm goes off. When I have both earphones on playing music at a moderate-low volume, I can barely make out what the person next to me is saying, which is an absolute life-saver in dense spaces like an office or classroom. With the normal rubber tips, isolation is still superb, but nothing can beat the comply foam tips. As I write this review, there are 4 lively kids behind me on the bus. Without even having music on, there’s a notable reduction in noise, and they are now all but a minor annoyance.
The Jaybird Freedoms are incredibly comfortable, owing to the tiny design of the individual earphones. I’ve worn them for the full 4.5 hours that they can last on battery, and it’s as comfortable as it was when I first put them on. The only thing is that the wingtips can leave a bit of blunt pain when taking them off, due to the sustained pressure they put against your ears. If you’re moving about, I’d recommend putting the included wingtips on, as without them, the bulky remote control can pull them out of your ears. The included cable shortness are absolutely useless. In theory, it means that the earphones fit snug against the back of your head, so there’s less swinging of the cables. However in reality, they fit snug against the back of your head, but the super grippy cable snags when you move your head. If you look left or right you’ll end up pulling out one of the earphones, and with the wingtips on, you’ll end up hurting your ears.
The Jaybird Freedoms are the third generation of Jaybird’s earphones. While they’re not perfect, they certainly pack a punch, and introduce some design features that no other earphones currently offer. If you’re looking for some small bluetooth earphones with far better sound quality than the AirPods and a lower price, look no further. At $149, they’re a good buy, and they pair perfectly with your fancy new fruit phone without a headphone jack.