Sony Xperia Ear Duo Review: Productive Bluetooth headphones

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Sony's Xperia Ear Duo could be a good match for busy office workers who want a distraction-free lifestyle, but the audio quality will probably leave you wanting.

The good

  • Comfortable fit
  • Works well if you want passthrough audio for an office
  • Doesn't exactly look like you're wearing a Bluetooth headset
  • Smart integration to take you away from your phone

The bad

  • Ordinary audio performance
  • Large carrying case
  • Head gestures look weird and don't always work

Sony has a significant share of the headphone market and has put considerable resources into developing some of the very best headphones you can buy as well as more affordable everyday fare.

The Xperia Ear Duo is something a little different, however. Their Xperia branding is quite deliberate as they're part of a small number of Xperia designs that Sony has launched at successive Mobile World Congress events around the idea of providing accessories that take you away from your phone screen without depriving you of actual information or cutting you off from the world.

Design

  • Looped design ensures they stay on even when working out
  • Not as discreet as other wireless earbuds, though
  • Charging case is larger than most
Xperia Ear Duo

Performance

  • Open-loop design lets you keep track of noises around you
  • The lack of noise isolation means audio quality is pretty mediocre
  • Four hours of battery life is okay, and the charging case adds an extra 12 hours on top of that
Xperia Ear Duo

Features

  • Touch controls are hit and miss
  • Head gestures are a little unreliable as well
Xperia Ear Duo

Verdict

The Xperia Ear Duo is very much a niche product because you've got to have the trio of needs for a Bluetooth headset with direct audio passthrough as well as its assistant features. Sony's certainly done the hard work in improving its basic Xperia Ear design from the first generation, and it's a very capable headset for most functions. However, the more gimmicky sides of its operation don't work as well as I'd like them to. Maybe that will improve with future firmware updates, but if that's what appeals to you about them, be ready for more than a little weird head shaking action in your future.
Xperia Ear Duo

Pricing and availability

The Xperia Ear Duo retails in Australia for $399 from Sony Store and JB Hi-Fi.

Buy the Sony Xperia Ear Duo

Buy the Sony Xperia Ear Duo from Sony

Sony's Xperia Ear Duo offers you audio without losing the outside world, as well as a digital assistant that lets you keep track of your day without having to stare at your phone all the time.

View details

Alternatives

There's not anything exactly like the Xperia Ear Duo thanks to its particular productivity focus, but there are products with much of the same appeal for voice control via either Google Assistant or Siri.

The Google Pixel Buds work with Google's Assistant and include touch panels for simple operation if that appeals to you. Apple's iconic AirPods offer better sound than the Xperia Ear Duo but a rather more obvious design style and are best suited for iPhone users, for example.

If you're more on the fitness side of the Bluetooth headphone spectrum, consider the Bioconnected HR+ or Jabra Elite Sport.


Specifications

Sony Xperia Ear Duo

Build

Category
In-ear Headphones
Colours
Gold, Black

Connectivity

Wired/Wireless
True Wireless
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
Bluetooth 4.2 LE

Features

Rechargeable Battery
Yes
Water Resistant
Yes
Battery Life
Up to 4 hours

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