After the success of Apple’s AirPods almost every OEM is looking to take a chunk of the true wireless headphones market. That’s further fueled by the fact that most makers have either already dropped or are on the way to drop the headphones jack. While hardly a household name in the business Nokia actually has two different TWS offerings and the one we’ll be looking at right now is quite interesting. Dubbed Nokia Power Earbuds BH-605 they have a rather different take on the whole package.
They are relatively reasonably priced at around €90 and the two most important standout features are the 3,000 mAh charging case and the graphene membranes that are advertised to offer unrivaled audio quality. Let’s dive in.
Design, ergonomics and control
The design of the earbuds themselves is nothing special – they are made of a combo of matte and glossy plastic with the latter imitating glass to some extent. The shape of the earbuds should be comfortable enough for long hours of use but we found that to be strongly subjective. Some colleagues at the office complained about discomfort after several hours of use but others didn’t have this problem.
That’s always going to be the case as people have different ear canals and fit will always vary. The BH-605 are a bit on the heavy side, though, which will make them even worse for those they don’t fit well.
The default tips we found too small to securely rest inside your ear canal so we resorted to the biggest ones inside the box. It’s crucial to find the ones that fit you the best as they benefit both fit and noise isolation, which in turn boosts sound quality.
Choose tips that are too small and music sounds dull and the bass is virtually non-existent. But with the properly fitting ones, you get considerably better soundstage, music sounds livelier and the bass suddenly appears. In fact the BH-605 are comparable to some of the most expensive offerings out there in this case.
Unfortunately, the fittings are not standard and you can’t use other tips that you find more comfortable so you are stuck with the ones inside the box. God forbid you lose one of those – finding a replacement will be no trivial task.
The Power Earbuds are also IPX7 protected against rain and sweat – a bit higher rating than you’d normally find on TWS earphones. It will withstand outdoor conditions during training without any issues. Speaking of training, the fit was quite secure and even during intense workouts, the buds stayed in place. No issues there.
The control is pretty simple – a single tap on either of the buds pauses the current track, double tap on the right one skips to the next one and a double tap on the left one back to the previous one. The only issue we had with the controls is that we didn’t always hit the right spot so the earphones felt a bit unresponsive. It takes some time before you hit the right area every time. Tip: aim for the upper part of the glossy area.
And as for the case – it’s solid with its matte plastic finish, but certainly the heaviest we’ve see. It can’t be anything else seeing how it holds an impressive 3,000 mAh charge. Sadly, the matte finish collects fingerprints and smudges quite effectively.
The cap feels a tad flimsy and it’s held by a strong magnet to keep it tightly closed. Once opened, you will see four white LEDs that indicate the charge of the case.
One of the most impressive things about the Nokia Power Earbuds are the 6mm graphene drivers. We were wondering if those actually benefit the output or are just marketing gimmicks, but we are happy to report it’s the former.
The graphene membrane should deliver considerably better frequency response and precision compared to standard membranes. Graphene is made of carbon and it’s really strong material that can go down to one atom in thickness which makes it a great solution for audio drivers. This way the membrane can be strong and thin at the same time ensuring excellent response for accurate-sounding music experience.
As we’ve already stated, the ear tips are really important for the overall music experience too. Once you’ve picked the right ones, you will be rewarded with deep and full sound without getting the vocals muddy.
We find the buds ideal for wide range of music tastes. While there is the usual distortion at higher volumes they do get quite loud, so you probably won’t be hitting those levels anyway.
The sound is considerably richer than competitors such as the Samsung’s Galaxy Buds.
To our surprise, call quality was also solid. The caller can hear you loud and clear unless you are in a really noisy environment or you are taking a walk on a windy day. But overall, the microphone does a splendid job indoors.
The other key feature is battery life – both the headphones themselves and the charging case. Nokia promises 5 hours of non-stop playback and we found this number to be close enough to the real-world performance. More importantly, the case is enough to get you through 150 hours of playback.
The impressive 3,000 mAh charge inside the case is the biggest we’ve seen. We found that with normal usage, you can easily squeeze out more than a couple of weeks of usage away from the charger as the case provides all the juice you need even if you use the Power Earbuds on a daily basis.
Oh, and the fact that the case charges over a USB-C is a really nice touch.
Nokia’s Power Earbuds came in as a big surprise. Costing only a fraction of Apple AirPods’ price they deliver matching audio quality, solid in-call experience and class-leading battery life.
We’ve had the pleasure to use these buds for several weeks as daily drivers and we didn’t have to charge the case even once.
They felt comfortable even during the long gym sessions and the audio quality never left us wanting (accounting for the limitations of the form factor, of course). In fact, the bass felt slightly better on Nokia’s buds than on the AirPods in some cases.
When compared to less impressive sounding competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, for example, the Power Earbuds is taking a huge lead. It seems that the graphene diaphragm is doing a great job.
Our only complaint would be the relatively high weight of the buds themselves and the proprietary fit of the ear tips.
Given all the features these buds offer, however, the starting price of around €90 seems like a bargain. Surely you will find cheaper or similarly-priced true wireless buds but it’s highly unlikely that they’ll give you this rare mix of excellent audio quality and long battery life.