Cheap Tat Review – TWS i12 (blue stripe)

I was happy enough with my red label i12‘s, but when I saw you could get them in matte black (not an option for Apple ones), I decided to give it a pop.


Pods & their case

AirPods case resting flat with the lid shut

Exactly the same as shape as the Apple ones, but a tiny bit smaller. Obviously a completely different colour. The exterior of the case is entirely matte black, except for the charger connector and hinge. While not metal, the hinge is coated in a reflective material to make it look metallic.

AirPods held slightly tilted with the case lid opened to expose the head of the pods

Case uses a genuine Apple lightning style connector. The case LED flashes red during the charging process, and goes solid red when fully charged.

Aside the alternative colour, there is not a huge visual difference between these and the genuine pods, aside the charging connector. The pods are also matte black in appearance.

There is no writing on the case, inside or out.


Audio Quality

The quality is mediocre, but not unexpected for a knock-off.

Pod controls

I found these significantly easier to control than my red label editions. They came already paired to each other so I did not have to mess around with their synchronisation. They also appear to work well individually, with a preference to the right-hand side pod.

On my iPhone there was no AirPod pop-up, and was detected as regular bluetooth earphones. Single-pod mode also operates as the same bluetooth device, so you don’t need to repair to only use one.

On Android, I found I had to turn Bluetooth audio adjustment off in the developer settings. Without this, the pods would automatically default to maximum volume!

The touch controls on the pods operated perfectly fine for me. I didn’t experience any glitched presses, and would work every time they were pressed (albeit, very slowly).


For £15, these little pods are absolutely perfect. These are nightmarish for anyone who loves maximum quality music, but if you just want to listen to some tunes on the move they are perfect. At the end of the day, if you lose them it’s only £15, not £210.


Cheap Tat Review – TWS i12 (red stripe)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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!”.


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.