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Oppo Enco Air review: An affordable AirPods alternative

Ben Johnston
28 Jul 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
69
inc VAT

The Oppo Enco Air are a well-priced alternative to AirPods, with only a couple of nagging drawbacks

Pros 
Decent bass and vocals
Competitive price
Lightweight design
Cons 
Cheap-looking case
Mediocre battery life
Limited touch control customisation
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Between their design and name, the Oppo Enco Air true wireless earbuds are wearing their Apple inspiration very clearly on their sleeve. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – the AirPods are some of the best earbuds around, but they cost well over £100 so there’s definitely room for more affordable rivals.

While better known for its smartphones than its headphones, Oppo’s most recent in-ear offering, the Enco X, impressed us with effective active noise cancellation, solid sound quality and a comfy fit. The Enco Air are a simpler affair but are also significantly cheaper.

Though they make some concessions to reach that lower price point, most notably the lack of active noise cancellation, they’re comfortable and deliver decent audio quality for the money. If you’re looking for an affordable pair of wireless earbuds, you could definitely do a lot worse.

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Oppo Enco Air review: What do you get for the money?

At £69, the Oppo Enco Air sit just above the countless budget wireless earbuds on the market. Similarly priced alternatives include the Urbanears Luma (£65)and 1MORE ComfoBuds (£59), while the aforementioned Apple AirPods will set you back £125 or £156 depending on whether or not you want a wireless charging case.

Design-wise, they forgo the use of silicone eartips to seal off your ear canals in favour of resting just inside your ears in the same way as the AirPods. Slender stems extend down out of your ears, while touch-sensitive receptors at the top of each stem allow you to execute playback commands without having to take your phone out of your pocket.

The buds themselves conform well to the contours of your ears and are comfortable to wear, and the fit is secure enough that a vigorous shake of the head won’t dislodge them. They also look very stylish. I was sent the Misty White model but they’re also available in Misty Black and Misty Blue. Colour options are always welcome and help differentiate the Enco Air from Apple’s iconic earbuds.

The one drawback to the Enco Air’s design is that their open-ear fit means a certain amount of external noise makes its way into your ears. We’re not talking dealbreaker levels of ambient sound, but if you want improved sound isolation, both the Huawei FreeBuds 4i (£58) and Creative Outlier Air V2 (£75) are superior options for similar money.

READ NEXT: These are the best noise-cancelling headphones right now

The buds naturally come with a charging case, and it’s pleasingly compact. It measures 60 x 53.2 x 23.5mm (WHD) and weighs just 40g with the earbuds inside. That’s lighter than most of the competition, and I barely noticed the case in my pocket when I was out and about. The buds are also IPX4-rated for water resistance, so they’re gym-ready and won’t die on you if you get caught out in a downpour.

The case charges via USB-C, with a short cable included in the box. Oppo states that you’ll get up to four hours of playback from the buds at 50% volume, which is a pretty disappointing figure. However, the case provides five additional charges, giving you a far more competitive 24 hours total battery life. When the case is drained, it takes roughly an hour-and-a-half to fully recharge, but Oppo says just ten minutes hooked up to the mains will give the case enough juice to provide up to eight hours of playback.

As was the case with the Enco X, the Air use the latest version of Bluetooth and the connection proved rock solid. I experienced no issues with audio dropouts during testing either at home or further afield.

On the codec front, there’s support for SBC and AAC, as well as the less common Low latency High Definition Codec (LHDC). The latter is only accessible if you’re using an Oppo phone or certain Huawei and Xiaomi handsets, but facilitates high-resolution audio streaming on devices that support it.

There’s also a low-latency, dual-transmission gaming mode, which reduces the lag between visuals and audio when playing mobile games or watching video content, though this too is unavailable on iOS.

READ NEXT: Check out our favourite gaming headsets

Oppo Enco Air review: How do they sound?

The Enco Air won’t blow you away with their sonic representation, but audio quality is perfectly acceptable given their £69 price tag.

The soundstage isn’t the widest by any means, but it’s not too claustrophobic either. For complex compositions, with multiple instruments vying for attention, there’s enough space for everything to spread out, letting you pick out a piano over a guitar or flutes over violins.

Each of the earbuds houses a 12mm titanium-composite dynamic driver and what Oppo terms a “power bass booster”, and the influence of the latter is immediately noticeable, with the buds delivering surprisingly strong bass. That bass reproduction proved equally welcome in the thumping beat drop in Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” as it did in the steady thrum keeping time in Van Morrison’s “Moondance”. The levels were well balanced, too, never overwhelming either track or getting so intense that I wanted to dial it back. Fans of bass-heavy music should be pleased.

Vocals get a decent presence, too. Trebles can get slightly sharp at the higher end, but for the most part, things are clear and pronounced. This is great for balladic music; Lewis Capaldi’s cover of “When the Party’s Over” sounded crisp and powerful, and the Enco Air’s smooth shifts from quiet sections to louder sections made his crescendos feel suitably impactful. The articulation of vocals impressed me while listening to podcasts, too – I had no difficulty picking out individual voices when multiple people were speaking at once.

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Oppo Enco Air review: What could be improved?

While the touch controls are responsive and easy to use, they could do with offering a broader range of functions, or at least more choice when it comes to customisation. By default, a double-tap on either bud will skip to the next track, a triple tap on either one will activate your phone’s voice assistant, and a long press will adjust the volume, louder on the right, quieter on the left.

The problem is that, as standard, there is no touch control for playing and pausing content. You can fix that by setting a double tap on the right earbud to play and pause, but then you lose the option to skip forwards. More frustratingly, the long press can only be used for volume, and triple tap is locked to either voice assistant or the low-latency game mode, leaving even less room for customisation.

Finally, the charging case looks rather cheap. Although the translucent lid undoubtedly helps the case stand out from the crowd, the plastic feels cheap and flimsy. This brings down the visual appeal of the whole package, undermining the relatively attractive design of the earbuds themselves.

Buy now from Oppo


Oppo Enco Air review: Should you buy them?

If you’ve always fancied a pair of Apple AirPods but despaired at the price, then the Oppo Enco Air are certainly worth a look. You’ll get a design that’s close enough to what you’re after along with decent sound quality for a much more palatable price.

Vocals are communicated crisply, the bass is satisfying, the buds are very comfortable and the charging case is supremely portable, albeit a little cheap-looking. Personally, I’d still opt for a pair of earbuds using silicone eartips, such as the Creative Outlier Air V2, due to their improved sound isolation, but if you prefer open-fit buds the Enco Air are a decent all-round package.

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