For the past year, Apple has been at the forefront of shaping the wireless earbud market with their AirPods, but they are also relatively expensive at $159.
The HBQ i7S earphones are clearly designed to be AirPod clones, and they do look strikingly similar; however they are much less expensive than AirPods. The question is, are they worth your money?
The HBQ i7S, in photos, look very similar to AirPods. They feature the same earbud shape, white stems, and the chrome tips near the bottom of each earbud.
One visual difference is the inclusion of indicator lights and physical buttons on the back side of the HBQ earbuds.
When compared side-to-side with the AirPods, though, a glaring difference becomes even more apparent. The HBQ i7S earbuds are massive compared to the Apple’s AirPods. The stem is much thicker, the ear piece is bigger in almost every dimension, and the charging case is like a travel-sized stick of underarm deodorant.
Compared to the compact charging case and much more human-sized earbuds of the AirPods, the HBQ i7S earbuds look like a cartoon version of Apple’s AirPods.
From a feature standpoint, the HBQ i7S earphones offer fully wireless audio playback, as well as on-ear controls.
Unlike AirPods, ‘on-ear control’ is done with a click of a button, instead of tapping on your ears. Additionally, a 2-second press of the button will skip ahead to the next track.
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut for accessing Siri, and I was unable to find a way to skip back a track, as well.
The charging case is another similarity between the AirPods and the HBQ i7S, and while their size is different, the function is very similar.
With the charging case, there are two holes in the top, one for each earbud’s stem. Unlike the AirPods case, which has precise indents for their placement, these are less strict, which can interfere when placing the cap on the case. The cap is also very challenging to get off, and often left me frustrated as I tested these.
The final component worth considering is the sound quality. Apple’s AirPods are not the most remarkable speakers in existence. From a comprehensive audio perspective, they are good.
By comparison, the HBQ i7S earbuds are noticeably less crisp, have less bass, and distort at around 50% volume.
Whether I was listening to a podcast, rock music, rap, or acoustics, the quality was generally mediocre. They certainly aren’t the worst sounding Bluetooth earbuds I’ve used, but you definitely get what you pay for in this instance.
There are a lot of great Bluetooth earbuds on the market, and the AirPods are certainly a pricy option, but if the HBQ i7S earbuds are the alternative, I’d get the real deal.
If you can get past the sound quality, the overall size of the earbuds and the charging case may still be a major turn off.