Belkin Soundform Freedom Review: AirPods Alternative For Apple Users?
Belkin and Apple have this interesting relationship, resulting in Belkin producing cases, screen protectors and audio products that play nice with Apple’s own products, and honestly, I’m all for it.
We have the Belkin Soundform Freedom earbuds with us today, and they’re the company’s most expensive true wireless earbuds at US$119.99 or S$149, although I’ve seen them discounted to S$119 as well, which… well, who’s gonna say no to a discount, right?
So let’s get the Apple integration out of the way first, so we can focus on the earbuds. What’s most intriguing about these earbuds is that they actually work with Apple’s Find My feature, which means that if you’re prone to losing your earbuds but you don’t wanna fork out the cash for Apple AirPods, these are actually a very good third party option. Now, you don’t get quick pairing and the likes, unfortunately; Apple’s definitely gonna reserve that for their own products.
Okay, now that that’s done, let’s get into design. So the case is pretty interesting, Belkin has opted to go for a square-ish top that tapers down to the base, which is definitely a change from the normal charging cases we see nowadays. The top part of the lid is also super glossy, which means it’s a fingerprint magnet as usual. Despite that though, I think the decision to use a glossy plastic there actually works, aesthetically speaking.
In front, you get an LED indicator that lights up when charging and shows the battery level of the case, as well as a USB-C charging port and reset button at the rear. The reset button also doubles up as a button to connect to Apple’s Find My feature. Press the button three times and there’ll be a long beep tone. Open the Find My app and tap on add item, other supported item and then you can connect it to the Soundform Freedom earbuds. Now, there’s also wireless charging in this, which is fantastic, especially when you’re considering the $120 price point.
Open up the case and you get the earbuds. Something that Belkin has done right here, in my book, is that they’ve gone with a glossy material on the stem and around the faceplate of the earbuds, but the faceplate area where the touch controls reside and where you’ll be tapping most of the time, is a matte oval. This means the part that you touch most is matte and not a fingerprint magnet. It’s these little things that make you feel good knowing that the company’s at least put in some thought into their product.
Passive noise isolation is okay, not much to speak of really.
There’s also no app that I could find, so yeah, no EQ and no customisation of touch controls. But there are touch controls at least. A single tap on the right raises the volume, double-tap controls play/pause and triple tap skips forward. On the left, a single tap lowers volume, double-tap controls play/pause and triple tap skips backwards. A long press and hold on either side activates the voice assistant or mutes the mic when you’re on calls. If you’re on calls, a double tap on either side either picks up or hangs up the call. Manual pairing is handled by a three-second press on both earbuds, pretty standard.
As for firmware updates, you can find them in the Find My app, which was a bit of a surprise.
It’s really a simple pair of earbuds, and I think I said the same thing when I reviewed the Soundform true wireless earbuds. You’re not paying for bells and whistles, you’re just paying for the convenience of wireless products that work fine.
These come with Bluetooth 5.2 though, which is nice since I was expecting 5.0 here. There’s SBC, AAC and aptX support though. iPhone users have no use for aptX, but if you’re using these with an Android phone, it’s a nice bonus.
Battery life is decent, you’re supposed to get eight hours in the earbuds with an additional 28 hours in the case, and I did get around that. Like, seven and a half hours with the earbuds, which is actually pretty good.
There’s IPX5 water resistance here, so no problem if you wanna bring these to the gym and exercise with them.
As for microphone quality, I found them to be okay. People could understand me just fine and it did remove some construction noise from the background.
The sound quality is surprisingly decent. You get plenty of bass here; it’s thumpy and impactful for sure. Mids are a bit recessed, but vocals were surprisingly forward for some reason, like, really quite forward, which I like. Instrument accuracy is pretty decent as well, you get a good sense of separation and imaging. The treble is okay; I thought there was a decent amount of brightness, but lacking just a touch of musicality.
The soundstage is a bit cramped actually, but as I mentioned, imaging is pretty decent. The earbuds would benefit from more space and air though. Everything just feels really in my head right now.
Overall, they’re okay. It’s a nice plus that they have Find My integration, and if you listen to bassy music, you’ll definitely enjoy these. The long battery life also means that they can accompany you to the gym or out and still be perfectly fine after a long day. For $120, these are pretty decent.
Content by Cheryl Tan