If you have already read our first impressions article about the Oppo Enco Air3, then you’d know what we thought of these earbuds when they showed up at the Digit Test Centre for the first time. But, if you did not get a chance to read through that piece, then here’s a one-line summary of what we wrote – It looks good, but only time will tell the whole story.
Well, that time has passed, and the reviewer has put these TWS earbuds through our testing process. And, to give you guys an idea of what you can expect in this review of the Oppo Enco Air3, we will only say that it did hold its ground. If you want to learn more about the newly launched Oppo Enco Air3, which is available for pre-order now, then read through… We have some exciting stuff in store for you.
Oppo Enco Air3: Build and Design
As we prefaced in our first impressions article, the case of the Oppo Enco Air3 looks great at first sight. The “Glaze White” finish makes it look like a big candy that you would have pestered your parents to buy at the store when you were young. The case has a dual-tone finish, with the lid being translucent and the rest of the body solid white. There’s a light grey-coloured branding on the lid, which we think fits well.
When you flip the case around, you see a lot of text. Like a lot! There’s information about all sorts of clearance and compliance that the bud has. And, on the hinge, which to our dismay, is plastic and not metal, you find the Oppo Enco branding. On the case, we also get to see a USB-C type port, which can be used to top off the 300mAh battery of the case.
When you flip the case open, you find the earbuds resting in their cavity. They also sport a really subtle dual-tone finish, with the stem having a semi-translucent finish, with the rest of the body of the earbuds being solid white. There are touch controls on the top of the stem and contact pads for chagrin on the inside. The lobe of the earbuds has a half-in-ear design, which raised some eyebrows among the folks at the Digit Test Centre.
This is where our first concerns came to the surface. As we have maintained in our earlier reviews as well, we are not fans of the half-in-ear design on earbuds. This is because whenever a bud comes with this design, the chance of it fitting perfectly in different people’s ears drops by a lot. Even here at the Test Centre, we passed around the earbuds, and they failed to provide a consistent fit in the ears of our fellow reviewers.
A normal design with a replaceable silicon or foam tip, we feel, should have been the way to go, considering that these earbuds are priced at around ₹3,000 (pre-order price checked at the time of writing). The price range in which these earbuds fall is one of the most competitive and sought-after categories in the market. So, a product with additional customisations should be the way to go. And, if you are planning on picking up a pair of these earbuds, we’d recommend you try out the fit before spending your hard-earned money.
Additionally, we are not big fans of the glossy finish on the buds and the case. Time and again, buds at the Test Centre, which have a glossy finish, have proven to lose their aesthetic charm over a long period of daily use. And we are sure that these earbuds would meet the same fate. In about a week of use by the reviewer, the buds and the case had started picking up scratches, which is never a good sign.
But aesthetics are not the be-all and end-all of a product, so let us have a look at the features, performance, and battery life of the earbuds.
Oppo Enco Air3: Features
Coming to the features of the Oppo Enco Air3, the first one that caught our eye was the Cadence HiFi5 DSP (Digital Signal Processor) that these earbuds come packing with. As claimed by Oppo, this processor “enhances speech recognition for rich voice-based interactions”. In real-world performance, these earbuds would ensure that calling other human voice-related tasks would be handled by these earbuds with ease.
In our testing, we found that the earbuds did not sound bad. But, there was still some background noise that was being let in. This shows that in day-to-day use, if you are in a closed space, like an office, these earbuds would make for a great calling companion. But, in extremely noisy environments, such as on the road, with a lot of noise around you, some problems might creep in.
Oppo Alive Audio was another feature highlighted by the brand. It is aimed at expanding the soundstage of the earbuds, ensuring that the surround sound experience is not hampered by the poor fit that might be experienced by some users of these earbuds. In our testing, we noticed the presence of this feature. With a decent fit, as was the case with the reviewer, these earbuds did not sound completely hollow. The presence of Alive Audio helped in preventing these earbuds from lacking any character or body when being used to listen to songs or consume video content with a lot of dialogue.
Again, it did not work wonders, suddenly pushing it to the level of top-of-the-line earbuds. But it did bring back some lost character from the sound.
When talking about multi-point connectivity, these earbuds did a fairly good job of switching between devices. But, when testing out this feature, we noticed a very important issue. The earbuds lack any kind of play-pause controls on the stem. You need to pause the output from the first device, before starting to play audio from the second for the quick device switching to work.
By tapping the stem, you can change the tracks and volume levels of the earbuds, but you cannot play or pause music. So, when we were not able to do that when switching between devices from the earbuds themselves, we were taken aback. Basic play and pause functionality on earbuds is a necessity, and this seems like a massive oversight on the part of the brand.
Oppo Enco Air3: Performance
In terms of performance, as stated in our first impressions of the buds, they are competing against the likes of the OnePlus Nord Buds, the Nord Buds CE, and other offerings from brands like Realme. And the first few tracks that we listened to and the output that we got when testing the performance of these earbuds.
As can be seen in the following uncompensated frequency response graph of the Oppo Enco Air3, compared to the response of the Pink Noise, which is our benchmark, the earbuds faired decently well. Well, they are not as great as some of the top-shelf earbuds that are out there in the market, but they hold their ground, especially considering the price at which they are retailing at.
We see that there is a boost in the low frequencies, up to the 125 Hz mark, where the graph starts to drop down. As it approaches the mid frequencies, it comes pretty close to the Pink Noise response, which is our benchmark, before spiking in the higher frequencies.
Their response was reflected in the truest sense when we were listening to our set of songs which we do for every earbud that comes into the Digit Test Centre. In tracks like UpTown Funk, we noticed that the bass was not muddy and not completely lost, either. It lingered somewhere between registering its presence with authority and overpowering some parts of the high-mids and the low-low frequencies. However, because of the spikes that are noticed in the high frequencies, the earbuds were able to produce vocals with some amount of clarity in tracks like Rescue Me by One Republic.
Here you can see how these earbuds compare to some other offerings by Nothing and OnePlus:
[Click on the pair you want to see the comparison graph of]
In terms of the microphone performance of the earbuds, the audio quality in our tests met the expectations that we set for earbuds in this price range. We have already talked about this in the features section when talking about the Cadence HiFi5 DSP (Digital Signal Processor).
Oppo Enco Air3: Battery
The battery on the Oppo Enco Air3, in our tests, lasted five and a half hours, in contrast to the company’s claims of six hours. And the case provided for about four more charges, with some juice left over, bringing the total battery life of the earbuds to 22 hours.
To juice up the 27mAh battery of the earbuds using the 300mAh battery on the case, you are provided with a USB-C port on the case. As for the consistency of the battery drain on both earbuds, it was the same for the most part. There was a difference of a per cent or two in battery levels. While that may be a concern for people who drain their earbuds quite often as they may need to use one bud for a few minutes. But otherwise, it is not a deal breaker.
Oppo Enco Air3: Verdict
Oppo Enco Air3 make for a decent pair of earbuds. However, we have maintained that the space that they are competing in is densely packed with competitors that match or exceed the performance and features of these earbuds. When pitched against the like of the OnePlus Nord Buds, and their CE variant, these earbuds hold their ground and register their presence with authority. They have their own flaws, but overall are a decent package for people to put their money into.
If you are looking for a half-in-ear experience, then the other earbuds that you can look at are the Nothing Ear (Stick), which are slightly more expensive than these. In the same price range, you will find the OnePlud Nord Buds CE, which are in essence, their direct competitors.