Global smartphone brands entering the true wireless earphones segment are not new; Apple, Samsung, Sony and Realme are notable names that have already done so. While true wireless earphones use Bluetooth and work with practically any Bluetooth device, brands typically market additional features and ease of use to drive brand loyalty. The latest smartphone maker to jump on the true wireless bandwagon is Oppo, with the Enco Free earphones.
Oppo Reno 3 Pro launched alongside more affordable Enco W31 true wireless earphones, Enco Free priced at Rs. 7,999. How do these earphones compare with many others in this crowded product segment? Find out in our review.
Oppo Enco Free Design and Specifications
Most true wireless earphones go with the more popular in-canal fit, while some manufacturers opt for an outer-ear fit—similar to the Apple AirPods and Realme Buds Air. The Oppo Enco Free claims to offer an in-canal fit thanks to its rubber eartips, but is actually primarily designed to offer an outer-ear fit.
We loved how comfortable the earphones were because of this outer ear fit. However, they weren’t very safe for us, and it always felt like the earphones would fall out of our ears (even though that never really happened in our time with the Oppo Enco Free). There’s not a lot of passive noise isolation on offer even with the largest ear tips, though that didn’t affect the sound quality for us. There are two microphones on each earbud – one near the top and one on the bottom of the stalk.
Controls are done using gestures on the stalk of the earphones on the Oppo Enco Free. The volume is adjusted by sliding the left earbud up or down; A double-tap on either side plays or pauses the music and answers or ends the call; And sliding the right earphone up or down moves to the next or previous track. Turning off any earbud stops music, and putting it back in your ear will resume playback.
While these controls are attractive, it was easy enough to accidentally adjust volume or switch tracks with the lightest touch. This usually happened when we were trying to adjust the fit, which we often had to do because of how light the earphones stayed in our ears.
Pairing the earphones with most devices is easy enough, although the earbuds should be on the case when the lid is first opened. Thereafter, the earphones will automatically connect to the last used device once it is removed from the case. If you are using one of the new Oppo smartphones, the Enco Free earphones are said to be easier to pair than any other smartphone; You’ll see a pop-up screen on the phone, just like AirPods can be paired with an iPhone.
Oppo Enco Free is available in three colours: White, Black and Pink. We really liked our black review unit, which had a dull matte texture on the inside and a glossy finish on the outside. The compact, squarish charging case has a similar finish, and there’s a USB Type-C port on the bottom. The earphones are magnetically held in place in the case, and the lid also closes and stays closed with the help of a magnet.
The case is plastic, but there’s a small metal strip on the front that houses the Oppo logo and an indicator light. There’s also a small button on the side, which is used to put the earphones in pairing mode. We loved how small and easy the case was to carry. The earphones lasted a little over four hours per charge, with the case topping the earphones up to four times. This gave us a total battery life of about 21 hours per cycle.
For connectivity, the Oppo Enco Free uses Bluetooth 5, with support for SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. The earphones feature 13.4mm dynamic drivers, with a frequency response range of 16-20,000Hz. The sales package includes three pairs of ear tips in various sizes, a USB Type-C cable for charging, and information booklets.
oppo enco free performance
Some competing options in the affordable and mid-range true wireless space have stand-out features like wireless charging or support for the aptX Bluetooth codec, but the Oppo Enco Free doesn’t set anything apart from the ordinary. What you get with this pair of true wireless earphones is design, comfort, ease of use, and good sound quality for the price. Connections to our test devices were quick and stable, and the earphones worked well for use cases including listening to music, watching videos, and making phone calls.
We used the Oppo Enco Free earphones with a OnePlus 7T Pro (Review) and an iPad mini (2019) for our review, listening to music across various streaming services as well as accessing our own high-resolution music collection . The AAC Bluetooth codec was in use on both of our devices.
Starting with the shur-a-ear puzzle, the Oppo Enco Free earphones were loud and catchy with this bass-heavy house track. The earphones are tuned to bring a fair amount of punch to the low-end, without affecting the mids and highs too much. That said, the bass never made us feel aggressive, with an understated and calm character that we liked. However, this may not appeal to some listeners.
In fact, we liked the excitement this sound signature brought to the track, and the Enco Free’s ability to get loud without any real distortion also meant that the outer-ear fit didn’t affect sound quality. A lot of extraneous sounds could be heard over the music, which was a bit distracting for us in some situations. On the other hand, it allowed ample awareness of our surroundings, which can be a good thing when using these earphones outside.
The fit of the outer ear also caused a lot of sound leakage, with people sitting a few feet away from us being able to identify what tracks we were listening to. Turning up the volume amps it up quite a bit, but also made for a lot of detail and depth in the sound. Listening to Raise Your Weapon by Deadmau5, we liked the impression of distance and direction that the earphones added to the track.
Overall, the sound was just enjoyable without going much beyond that. The lack of aggression and attack, along with the fact that the aptX codec isn’t supported, meant that the Oppo Enco Free never felt like the best option in its price segment; That honor remains with the 1more Stylish True Wireless earphones for now.
The Oppo Enco Free is claimed to support Bluetooth transmission to both the earbuds simultaneously, which was useful as we were able to easily use either or both earbuds as needed. This also helped with connection stability and voice calls. Performance with calls was good in both quiet and loud environments, and we had no complaints with noises on either end of the calls we made. Environmental noise cancellation on calls also worked well for us.
With the number of options now available in India in the true wireless audio space, it takes a while for something to stand out. The Oppo Enco Free is a capable pair of true wireless earphones that deliver good sound quality and look and feel, as well as great. 7,999 on Rs.7,999, you get what you pay for. There is nothing special about these earphones; They are good, and that’s all.
That said, if you want a secure, functional, and incredibly stable pair of earphones that work well for phone calls, the Oppo Enco Free is a worthwhile choice. If you’re looking for something a little more musical, or you want a proper in-canal fit, the 1More Stylish True Wireless Earphones might be a better choice.
worth: Rupee. 7,999
- Good design and build quality
- loud, catchy sound
- detailed sound signature
- good for voice calls
- Not much passive noise isolation
- no support for aptX codec
- Gesture controls are very sensitive
Rating (out of 5)
- Design / Comfort: 4
- Audio Quality: 3.5
- Battery life: 4
- Value for money: 3.5
- Overall: 3.5