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I used two of the weirdest tech gadgets of the year, so you don’t have to

If you’re determined not to keep your true wireless earphones in a regular charging case, and want to hide them inside a different gadget, now your time. Huawei Watch Buds is a smartwatch with a pair of true wireless headphones inside, and Nokia 5710 XpressAudio is a 4G phone that stores a pair of earbuds on the back.

It’s such a strange place I’m surprised it has two products. I’ve used them, so I have to report that both are a little silly – and I don’t want to use either of them, thank you very much. However, for the few people who think they want to buy one, this is what they like. For everyone else, you’re going to marvel at two of the strangest tech products seen in a while.

Phone or smart watch?

Open Nokia 5710 XpressAudio and Huawei Watch Buds
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you don’t have a pair of earphones with you when needed, these are products you might consider. But what do they like? Huawei Watch Buds are an impressive piece of engineering. It’s well built, it’s been properly thought out mostly to make living with such an odd product fairly easy, and it’s made of quality materials. The Nokia 5710 XpressAudio is plastic, doesn’t run Android, doesn’t have 5G, and the earphones are hidden behind a plastic slider – which means they aren’t anywhere close to the same. amazing Work like a watch face top cover.

What each of them is supposed to do is give you a pair of earphones that are always ready to use, along with all the benefits expected from a smartwatch or phone. For either to make sense, earbuds have to be easy to use before anything else. These products are supposed to enhance comfort, and if they’re frustrating or lacking in features, why would anyone buy them over a “normal” pair of earbuds?

Amazingly, Huawei launched the Watch Buds without the ability to connect the earphones to a device other than the phone the smartwatch was paired with. This means that you can only use them with this phone. It can’t be paired with your computer, tablet, or other Bluetooth device yet. The feature is supposed to be activated through a future software update, but there are no details on when that will happen. It totally breaks the Watch Buds for me.

The Nokia 5710 XpressAudio earbuds connect to at least any Bluetooth device, and even though it’s not a smartphone, the phone’s core operating system makes the process very simple. It takes a moment to pair them with your Mac Mini M1, then disconnect and connect to the phone again. The process is logical and quick, and makes having earbuds always that way really handy. That alone means it fulfills the shorthand of adding convenience to everyday life, something the Watch Buds just don’t do.

Listen to earphones

The more expensive Huawei Watch Buds have a longer feature list, including active noise cancellation (ANC) and better sound quality than smaller earbuds. As basic as the earbuds are, the XpressAudio headphones are made of plastic and don’t even have silicone ear tips, let alone ANC.

Compare the two, and it’s clear that the Huawei Watch Buds sound much better than the XpressAudio earbuds, with more clarity and bass, and less distortion at higher volume levels. However, it’s not without flaws, and the audio and ANC performance of the Apple AirPods Pro 2, OnePlus Buds Pro 2, and Sony WF-1000XM4 are vastly superior. I just don’t find the fit all that snug and I struggled getting them to sit properly in my ears.

Nokia’s earphones are surprisingly comfortable, and while they don’t isolate you from the outside world too much, the comfort matches the casual nature of the product. However, the sound is average at best, there’s quite a bit of hiss when you get to half the volume, and the bass response is muddy and unpleasant. I certainly wouldn’t sit back and relax listening to my favorite music on the Nokia XpressAudio 5710, but I probably wouldn’t do that with the Huawei Watch Buds either.

Any app on your phone plays audio through the Huawei Watch Buds, while XpressAudio has a MicroSD card slot for streaming your music and FM radio, too. The phone doesn’t have Wi-Fi, so if you want to stream from an online source (it has a 4G connection and a browser), you’ll need to factor in the cost of data.

Despite this, there’s a ’90s vibe and appealing simplicity to the 5710 XpressAudio that’s strangely refreshing. It has large buttons on the side of the case for volume control and tracking mode, a VGA camera on the back, a MicroUSB charger, and a removable battery, too.

You can do a lot better for less

Play snake game on Nokia 5710 XpressAudio.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

What is the price of keeping the earbuds inside a smartwatch or phone? The Huawei Watch Buds cost £450, or about $540, while the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio is £75, or $90. In other words, the Watch Buds cost more than the Apple Watch Series 8, while the Nokia phone costs less than some attach for Apple Watch.

Which one should you buy? Huawei Watch Buds are hampered by feature limitations at the moment and they are very expensive anyway. At least the Nokia phone doesn’t cost a lot of money, but the quality and materials reflect that. If you really He should Buy one, the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio is strangely cute, suitably versatile, and really cheap. I don’t hate it, but it’s a decent step back in time. Snake is even installed. Buy it for your kids, and I expect they will love it.

Honestly, though, don’t buy also who are they. There are excellent wireless earbuds available for $100 and up, great smartwatches available for under $230, and cell phones for under $50. Even buying the well-reviewed OnePlus Nord N300 and a pair of Earfun Air Pro 3 together costs about $320. I looked at it this way: Putting two products together to make one mediocre product, and then rushing to buy the result, makes no sense.

Hopefully HMD Global and Huawei will now have true wireless earbuds where they don’t belong, no other manufacturer will feel the need to do the same, and we won’t see earbuds inside a tablet, laptop or camera. In this way, this eye-catching trend can fade as soon as it arrives.

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