“Sound quality and noise cancellation outperform many earbuds at twice this price.”
Good sound quality with in-app EQ
Impressive ANC . performance
Bad battery life
Difficult touch controls
The default sound needs tweaking
EarFun is the kind of company that tries to take a little of your money because they make cheap, cheerful, and affordable products. That includes wireless earbuds, where the butter has long been undermining competitors by offering good value for money.
That’s what the EarFun Air S is supposed to be, offering a bunch of features for $70 that can make you feel like you got a great deal every time you use it. Whether or not this is the type of deal you want to make depends on the compromises you are willing to accept.
What’s in the box
EarFun includes four pairs of ear tips, from extra small to large, expanding the best possible fitting options enough for more listeners. You also get a short USB-C charging cable and a user guide. Another unique addition is the cleaning wand, the purpose of which is to keep the magnetic connectors clean, thus avoiding any possibility of the earbuds not charging when placed in the case.
Another pair of earbuds inspired by the AirPods, the Air S stems from thicker buds, meaning that it looks a lot like many other more affordable pairs. When I first unboxed and checked out the layout and design, I kept thinking about brands like Anker, Soundpeats, Tribit, Edifier, and others—all of which routinely test similar designs or form factors.
I found the design to be well suited to staying in place for longer listening periods.
This means that the Air S doesn’t stand out with its looks, it sticks to a familiar formula to keep things neutral. If you’re not looking to turn any heads and just want functionality, you might care a little bit about aesthetics, but if you’re looking for a bit of shimmer, I’m not sure which one. For me, it’s not bad, although I did find it unacceptable that the EarFun logo appeared upside down on the left earbud.
The good thing is that they are quite comfortable, and choosing an ear tip ensures that, as you are more likely to find a pair that works for you. Not too thick nor too thin and slippery, I found the design to be a perfect fit to stay in place for longer listening without feeling like they’re about to fall off.
Onboard controls are plentiful but difficult to operate.
Keep in mind that they are a bit sensitive. Despite the matte finish, the earbuds and the case showed dents and scrapes more easily than I expected. IPX5 protection is suitable for individual running or exercise, although I recommend cleaning it vigilantly after sweating it. They will do a good job of staying in place while on the go, but if they become slippery, you will have to adjust them along the way.
Onboard controls are plentiful. Press once on the right to increase the volume, and once on the left to decrease it. Twice to play/pause, and three times to the right to skip the track. I was wondering why the manual omitted the triple-click to repeat a track on the left earbud, only to discover that EarFun set this function to toggle the game mode on and off. Press and hold on the right to activate the phone’s voice assistant, while doing so on the left to switch between Active Noise Canceling (ANC) and Ambient Mode. For calls, you can double tap to answer or hang up, while triple tap can switch between two simultaneous calls, which is pretty cool.
The only problem is that these controls are so tricky that trying to do so may inadvertently result in both calls getting terminated. It’s the state of affairs across the board with the controls, which I found inconsistent and difficult to master. That’s a shame because the EarFun app provides a way to customize what the controls do. Assuming the company releases a firmware update that might somehow fix this, it’s a learning curve that’s going to continue for some time.
The Air S supports multipoint connections, albeit not quite as smoothly as other earbuds do. I can pair with two devices at once, only switching between them is completely manual, which means the earbuds don’t always switch from one device to the other automatically. For example, if I want to switch to listening to music on the phone from a tablet, I have to manually select Air S in the Bluetooth menu. Tapping play on the phone does not activate the earbuds in any automatic way.
This could be an issue with our review form – other reviewers haven’t reported similar issues. Fortunately, in cases where the music is on one device, and a phone call is on another, it stays connected to the phone I was using to make the call.
EarFun and custom settings
I like it when the cheaper earbuds come with good app support, and the EarFun does a good job with the Air S. You mention the customizable touch controls, and you can look forward to a very good selection of EQ settings on top of that. It comes with four presets and a six-band equalizer that you can tweak to create your own. The earbuds always remember the last preset you chose, keeping things consistent every time you take them out to listen.
The Air S sound much better than the 3rd generation AirPods.
Under Settings, you can also go to Switch Mode and decide if you just want to switch between ANC and Ambient, leave Normal mode off, switch between all three, or just stick to one. There is a toggle for Game Mode, which reduces latency, and works well enough for gaming and watching shows or movies. Firmware updates go through the app, and I saw one show up during testing. In my experience, EarFun has shown a willingness to support their products, so I hope this continues with the Air S.
There’s also a product tutorial and FAQ, as well as a “how to wear” section in case you need a refresher on how to make these buds fit perfectly.
EarFun tuned the Air S to stick to a balanced sound stage, but instead of veering more toward bass, as many cheap earbuds do, these headphones actually come in handy on the lows. The bass response is consistent from the start, never hitting its stride unless you force the issue into the equalizer. With the mids and highs, the highs stand out more, as I realized when I played with the bands to see what kind of sound I could visualize through pure experience.
Despite the awkward beginnings, I found that boosting the bass and mids, while leaving the highs somewhat restricted, resulted in a very powerful sound, regardless of song or genre. It’s been more work to get there than I’ve been able to with the Anker Soundcore Life P3 or the Soundpeats Air3 Pro, for example. Both came with cleaner sound out of the box, and the Life P3 stands out in particular for Anker’s excellent app support.
The irony, at least to me, is that the Air S sound much better than the newer 3rd generation AirPods, mainly because the EQ offers wider audio flexibility, and the tighter fit prevents these tones from leaking away from your ears. That price puts $70 into greater perspective as a $100 savings over Apple’s popular earbuds. For those on a budget, the Air S should be a win, given the overall inconsistencies I’ve noticed. It also doesn’t hurt that EarFun includes support for SBC, AAC, and aptX Bluetooth codecs, the latter of which aren’t part of the AirPods repertoire.
Cancel the noise and let it in
Not to keep swiping on AirPods, but since there’s no ANC support available, the Air S takes another shot at being the valuable alternative. I liked the noise canceling of these earbuds, as they did a very good job of blocking out low-frequency sounds in ways I didn’t always notice on earbuds at twice the price. It struggles more with higher frequencies, and some tones will slip through the cracks, but all in all, the results are definitely not to be taken lightly.
By the way, if you leave the controls as they are, so that the ANC is triggered by tapping and holding the left bud for 2 seconds, it ends up being the most consistent of the controls. I was easily able to switch between ANC and Ambient when I wanted to block out the noise and when I needed to hear it.
Ambient mode is good for what it is, just enough to hear the background or engage someone in a conversation without removing the earbuds. I found it well-suited to a pair of earbuds in this price range, although I’d give the Air S a nod for good phone call quality, especially on quieter settings. In noisy environments, background sounds can arrive, making calls more difficult on both sides.
EarFun wouldn’t be so much fun when it came to battery life. It rates the Air S up to six hours with the ANC off and five hours with it turned on. I can guarantee you that you will not reach these numbers. One reason is volume levels, as creep weakens the battery. It’s the same with gaming mode, if you end up using that as well. In my testing, I heard a verbal low battery warning—a nice touch—after about three hours and 45 minutes. This is with ANC turned on, or a combination of ANC and ambient.
By any measure or at any price, these aren’t big numbers, yet they line up perfectly with the AirPods. What’s interesting is that the case, being noticeably larger than the AirPods, holds five more charges. That’s more of an Apple feature, overall, but more importantly, it’s a must-have because the Air S will sit in its cradle charging it often.
You do get wireless charging, which is great, although there is no fast charging capability. The earbuds will take about an hour to charge until they are empty once they are in their case. There is fast shipping, or at least what goes through. EarFun claims the Air S can play for up to two hours on a 10-minute charge, but it’s actually closer to 20 minutes. And the two watches are very resilient because the batteries in the earbuds are very sensitive to the features and volume levels you end up using.
What I found interesting about the EarFun Air S is that it faces stiff competition from lesser-known brands in the same price category, while also emerging as solid alternatives to the popular AirPods. They may not have spatial sound, better controls, or clearer phone calls, but they sound better, cancel out noise, fit more tightly, and have an app with more customization.
For $70, it’s hard to argue against this combination, and there’s always a chance that the price will drop to accumulate savings even more. Not bad for a pair of buds that aren’t exceptional in a tight market, but that’s also whyIt’s a better bet if you’re willing to pay a little extra for it.