Choosing the right headphone can be a daunting task. There are so many brands out there, so many prices, and so many different technologies. That said, the chances that you’ll end up with a pair that works and sound decently is as good as ever today. Cheaper offerings generally perform well these days, making less of the case to splurge on a pricey pair.
We reached out to Aukey, the popular mobile device accessory maker, to put this notion to the test. Their aptX-enabled Latitude Bluetooth earbuds look solid and only go for $25. We examine a lot of headphones on the site, all the way up to expensive, audiophile-grade options like the Shure SE846 and Beyerdynamic Xelento, so it’ll be interesting to see how an affordable pair from a reputable brand stacks up today. This Synopsis runs through the important-to-know details.
Aukey’s Latitude headphones look like the “essential” Bluetooth earbud on the surface, checking the critical boxes like compact earpieces, ear fins, slim bridging wire, and 3-button remote. However, a glance at the specs reveals that they aren’t playing around. Considerate features like higher-fidelity aptX support, IPX4 water resistance, and a healthy 8-hour battery life, show that Aukey is making an extra effort to give buyers more value.
- Lightweight and small footprint
- Attractive finish
- Reliable wireless connection
- Decent battery life
- Notable sound quality for price
- Entirely plastic construction
- Fit could be better
- Basic ear tip selection (and no foam tips)
- No vocal feedback for functions
- Laid-back sound characteristic
What it’s like to use
- The Latitude opt for a minimal and essential form for a wired “wireless” earphone. Their bullet-style earpieces are fairly common in this space. But the thoroughly stealthy aesthetics are a differentiating factor, which we adore.
- Makeup of the earpieces is the expected hard plastic affair, but their smooth, matte finish looks sophisticated and feel great to the touch. Manufacturers should take a cue from Aukey – this is how you do plastic when you don’t want it to feel cheap.
- Despite the non-“premium” materials, everything feels solid and sturdily constructed.
- Aukey includes sizable, silicone ear fins that you can slip on/off from the center of the earpieces. These are meant to hug the inner ear to help make sure the earpieces stay in place.
- The black cable has a rubbery feel and springy characteristic that resists tangles. It’s not the thinnest cable we’ve seen, but we also can’t call it thick. You’ll feel it a bit around your neck.
- In-line, towards the left earpiece, is a typical 3-button remote for playback control. This is also how you charge the device. A microUSB port is protected within a flap on the side.
- Chances are that the Latitude will be used for working out, so Aukey includes IPX4 sweat/water resistance. Also, an internal nano-coating is said to be used internally for extra protection from water.
- The earpieces are magnetically attracted at their ends. This is always a nice touch, as it makes for tidy storage. Some manufacturers take it a step further by having the device turn off when you bring the ends together, but that’s not so here.
- The Latitude’s packaging is just the essentials. That is, three sizes of silicone tips and fins. It works, but we would’ve liked to see foam tip options too, which many manufacturers are including these days. This is especially that sound isolation of these tips, like most silicone tips, is average.
- Because of the size of the ear fins, to get the earpieces properly donned, you have to either rotate them in or push the fins in place after you stick them in. It’s weird at first, but we think the extra security is worth it. The fins exceptionally hug the ear.
- That said, the fins can cause a little push-back, hindering the ear tip seal. The medium tips worked for us without the fins but not with. To correct this, we either had to switch to the small fins or use the large ear tips.
- We wish that Aukey made the downward cable stems of the earpieces flexible. They rigidly butt against the bottom of the ear opening, rather than bending to suit the ear. Discomfort wasn’t a big issue for us (only the slightest ache after a long listening session), but it may depend how deep you push the earpieces in. All ears are different.
- Getting started is easy as can be. Just hold down the middle button on the remote to power on, and the device will boot up in pairing mode.
- Aukey built-in a couple EQ presets, accessed by double-pressing the middle button. You can choose between a treble or bass-emphasized sound signature. It’s great to have options. We just wish there was vocal feedback of which preset you’re on. There’s no way to tell, except for audibly trying to figure it out.
- There also isn’t vocal feedback on what the battery status is. Many Bluetooth headphones tell you at boot-up if the battery is low/medium/high. Here, you’ll only be able to tell if the battery is low when you see the LED on the remote flashing red.
- Battery life is decent for this type of headphone, at about 8 hours. It’s on-par with the competition.
- The Bluetooth range is said to be at a standard 33ft. Our biggest concern with Bluetooth earbuds is that their signal doesn’t cut off with phone in pocket or walking about in the vicinity, and the Latitude passes with flying colors. No complaints here.
- We were really glad to see Aukey put aptX support (for higher fidelity audio streaming) in a $25 wireless earbud. Even way pricier offerings overlook it.
- Paired with the Galaxy S9 (which like many Qualcomm chipset phones these days, supports aptX), we hear notable detail and well-rounded definition throughout the spectrum. The Latitude punch above their weight.
- That said, the response is overall a laid-back one – slightly distant-sounding and not completely that forward/bodied presence you’d get up the price chain. But a plus is that the ranges are balanced for the most part. We don’t get mid-range dullness from a recessed, V-shape signature. The mids have space to breathe (as opposed to a center-compressed reproduction) and pack a pleasing, natural tone (really shines with vocals).
- The bass has more of the mid-bass punch than sub-bass deepness. The subtlety of the sub-bass does make it feel like something’s missing in the low-end, but the bold presence of the mid-bass does pick up the slack and makes the sound still plenty enjoyable (especially if you boost it with the bass EQ).
- The treble is nicely handled for this price-point. In fact, we’ve heard less clarity from earphones 3-4x this cost. Brighter notes are well-articulated and have some dynamic play with width and height. No, you won’t get that sparkly extension like on high-end earphones, but this can rival earphones in the $100-$200 range.
At only $25, Aukey’s Latitude wireless earbuds are a standout value. We’re really glad to see the quality that low-end wireless earbuds are achieving these days, and how much you can get with your money. With past offerings, we were turned off by the cheap and flimsy-feeling materials. Things are still plastic here, but it’s implemented in a more classy presentation and more solid construction.
Things weren’t perfect with usability, but nothing was deal-breaking to us. We were able to get the fit/seal to work with the different silicone sizes, and the electronic components worked as advertised. Overall, we were impressed with the sound quality for this price-point. You won’t get true audiophile-class fidelity, but aptX support and the well-rounded sound signature give it a leg up to the direct competition.
Also See: Best True Wireless Earbuds