The market for truly wireless earbuds has become increasingly crowded, but LG hopes some interesting features can help it stand out.
Announced today, its new line of Tone Free FP headphones feature, among other things, a “Whispering Mode” where you can hold the right earbud up to your mouth and use it as a dedicated microphone, so that you don’t need to talk too loudly and reveal your conversation to nosy strangers.
LG recently exited the smartphone business but continues to make a slew of other mobile electronics like laptops and a face mask with a built-in microphone and speakers. The company even makes a mini air purifier that can be taken anywhere and looks like a portable speaker.
Give me the aux — The new FP lineup of headphones features three different models — the FP5, FP8, and FP9. All are noise-canceling, have three microphones per earbuds, and IPX4 water resistance. They’re said to have more bass than LG’s previous models — the audio is powered by Meridian, which is said to create some pretty stellar sound quality.
One interesting feature exclusive to the FP9 is a wireless transmission function. Using a USB-C to aux cable, you can plug the case into devices that don’t have Bluetooth, and then use the earbuds wirelessly. That could enable wireless headphone use with the Nintendo Switch, which incredibly doesn’t support Bluetooth headphones. The feature would also be convenient on airplanes, where inflight entertainment can’t soothe your boredom unless you’re a holdout who still carries around wired headphones.
More strangely, the FP8 and FP9 include UV tech that’s supposed to kill bacteria on the earbuds’ speaker mesh within five minutes, reducing the chance of ear infections.
Battery life on the FP8 and FP9 is claimed to be 10 hours on a charge, while the FP5 gets eight hours. The FP8 supports wireless charge while the others do not, for some reason. Pricing and availability in the United States are unclear. In South Korea, the line ranges in price from about $150 to $215.
Apple’s lead — Even though other companies have caught up to Apple’s lead, the company still dominates the segment for truly wireless earbuds, with an estimated 30 percent share of the market. They may not even be the best out there, but everyone knows what to expect from AirPods. LG’s earbuds are no doubt interesting, and innovation can force Apple to work harder to stay in the lead.