Monday, May 27, 2024

REVIEW | Oppo Enco Air3 wireless earbuds

From the arrival of its first audio product in 2004 (OPDV971H DVD player), to its official entry to the headphone market with the Oppo PM-1 in 2012, Chinese consumer electronics and mobile communication brand Oppo has continued to expand its portfolio of audio offerings for music fans.

In the Philippines, Oppo offers a myriad of audio products under the wireless earbuds category alone. To prevent further confusion – the Oppo Enco W series features binaural simultaneous Bluetooth transmission technology and enhanced bass, the Oppo Enco Buds are the entry-level earbuds that lack a mini-stalk design, the Oppo Enco Air with the mini-stalk design is primarily intended to compete with the functionalities offered by Apple’s AirBuds, and the Oppo Enco X which is a product of the brand’s collaboration with Danish loudspeaker maker Dynaudio.

Back in February last month, Oppo decided to launch its fourth Oppo Enco Air product alongside the introduction of the Oppo Reno 8T 5G. Versus its predecessor, the Oppo Enco Air2, the Oppo Enco Air3 has received a major revamp in terms of overall design, sports an updated Bluetooth version, a stronger Ingress Protection (IP) rating now with dust resistance, and a lighter overall form factor.

According to Oppo, the core user profile for the new Oppo Enco Air3 can be categorized into five main groups: young users who seek simplicity and comfort, musicians, active and sporty users, mobile gamers, and commuters.

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Design

Oppo used the translucent lid design starting with the very first Oppo Enco Air earbud which continued with the second generation Air2 earbud. For the new Enco Air3, now covers a larger area of the case and opens at an extended 110-degree angle to deliver more comfort and convenience to users.

The charging pins for both the Air and Air2 were located at the tip of the mini-stalk. In the Enco Air3’s design, the charging pins now run along the length of the mini-stalk and the tips are accented with a jewel-like translucent waterdrop material. With these aesthetic changes, the Air3 now feels more open and accessible, and adopts a luxurious look versus traditional TWS charging cases.

The Oppo Enco Air3 uses a pebble-shaped design for its case that comes with a built-in battery that charges the earbuds inside. Other designs include conventional flip-top cases with hinged lids, cylindrical cases with removable lids, jewelry box cases that carry high-end earbuds, wallet cases that are usually made of leather, and keychain cases for users who are always on-the-go or prefer smaller case form factors.

When compared side-by-side with other TWS earbuds out there, the Oppo Enco Air3 is a breath of fresh air in terms of design and overall feel. Without a bulky frame and solid edges, the curved case fits into the user’s pocket without any discomfort. The lid snaps back into place without being flimsy, and the magnetic pins are strong enough that it doesn’t require too much effort from the user’s end.

What’s admirable is the IP54-rated dust and water resistance which adds another layer of security and confidence for users, especially when used outdoors during physical activities. With the new and more open design, this model is also easier to clean.

Sound

The 13.4 mm polymer composite driver found inside the Oppo Enco Air3 produces both delicate treble and full midrange, further enhanced by the flagship-grade N48 neodymium magnets and 1.9m of copper-aluminum alloy coils, which provide exceptional sensitivity to musical dynamics. To achieve a richer and more textured bass, the acoustic cavity has been redesigned and the diameter of the bass conduit has been doubled in these half-in-ear buds.

Despite what the brand says on paper, the actual real-world performance of the Oppo Enco Air3 can only be described as decent but balanced, finding the right balance across all three presets available, but failing to produce exceptional sound quality as seen in the older Air2 Pro.

Because of its entry-level price tag, it makes sense that the model lacks any kind of noise-cancelling technology, spatial audio, or upscaled digital music compression. In fact, when testing the model during calls, it fails to reduce the sound of wind or highlight the speaker’s voice.  

Connectivity

The Oppo Enco Air3 is able to take advantage of the lower latency and better connection stability brought by Bluetooth 5.3. Users are also able to connect two devices at once to the earbuds for seamless control switching, and charge for 10 minutes to last for two hours.

By using the HeyMelody mobile application, available for free downloads on Android and iOS, users can do a lot more with their Enco Air3 – from viewing battery levels of both the earbuds and the charging case to customizing the actions for the earbud controls.

Conclusion

With a price tag of below P5,000, users of the Oppo Enco Air3 will enjoy stylish wireless earbuds capable of producing decent sound quality, provide comfortable ergonomics, and deliver long-lasting battery life. However, since it’s an entry-level offering, audiophiles and users who use wireless earbuds primarily for calls will need to look somewhere else.

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