I find the concept of wireless apple earbuds really funny. Endless memes of how the cheapo version was to just cut the cord, and a little jump was enough to lose an expensive piece of equipment. My Anker Soundbuds were enough for me, but after seeing the buzz on Reddit over TWS clones, I had to give them a try.

For knock-offs, these tend to retail quite high at prices around £50-60. However, after browsing AliExpress for a bit I discovered a highly reputed listing for much lower (£25 when I ordered). For that price, I just couldn’t overlook it.

I ordered at the worst time (late January), when they’d shut for the lead-up to Chinese New year. They arrived Mid-March from China, so the wait was something strong. However, the wait was worth it considering the full prices on eBay.

Design

Pod Case

Reverse of the i12 pod case, showing the metal pivot clasp

The case is a close match to the original article. The give-aways for me is that the case lid does not shut flush, and there is no ‘Designed in California’ slogan written on the back. Other than those minor details, it’s a damn close match.

The case uses genuine Lightning to charge, so iPhone users will be in luck. If you’re Android like me, it comes with an average quality lightning cable to help you out.

Pods

The pods are close in design, however they are missing a black dot on the earpiece. This dot is largely obscured, but is apparently noticeable by Apple Aficionados.

Functionality

Audio Quality

This was a shocker for me personally, but the quality is pretty average. I was expecting reduced to poor audio quality since they are knock-offs, but obviously some care went into this. The quality I find is equal to that of the Anker Soundbuds, however with a sacrifice in bass. You can solve this by bumping up the bass in your equaliser.

Functionality

Currently tested with Android. Will test with iPhone soon.

Don’t rely on the included instructions, as naturally they’re entirely in Chinese. You get a vocal operator which happens to support both Chinese and English, which talks you through what mode you’re in.

Each pod responds to touch controls when touched on the earpiece. So far, these are the codes I’ve worked out:

  • One Touch for Play/Pause.
  • Two Touches for volume adjustment (left goes down, right goes up).
  • Four touches swaps between Chinese and English vocal assists.
  • Five touches turns off the individual pod.

This can be rather hit and miss, as I actually find mine to be rather sensitive. For adjusting the pod in your ear I recommend holding the stalk, as you’re in trouble if your pod registers four touches!

They also support single-pod operation, much like a hands-free device. I haven’t tried this out much myself as I found my pods got temporarily detached, but once you pop out your second pod the audio feedback will normally confirm you’re in normal mode by saying “two earpods paring is successful!”.

Conclusion

I can’t say this enough, I love them! As my first entry into cheap tech I find this to work fantastically. The audio quality leaves something to be desired, but for £25 what more can you ask for? Visually they’re extremely close, but Apple fanboys will be able to spot the differences.

I picked mine up from this AliExpress dealer. You can also find these being resold on eBay.