I used two of the weirdest tech gadgets of the year so you don’t have to | digital trends

If you intend not to keep your true wireless earbuds in a normal charging case and want to hide them inside a different device, now is the your time. The Huawei Watch Buds is a smartwatch with a pair of true wireless earbuds inside, and the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio is a 4G phone that stores a pair of earbuds on the back.

It’s a strange niche that surprises me that it contains two products. I’ve used them, so it’s my duty to report that they’re both a bit dumb, and I don’t want to use them anymore, thank you very much. However, for the few people who think they want to buy one, this is how they are. For everyone else, you can marvel at two of the weirdest tech products seen in a long time.

Phone or smart watch?

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you never have a pair of headphones when you need them, these are products to consider. But how are they? The Huawei Watch Buds are an impressive piece of engineering. It is well built, for the most part well thought out to make living with such a strange product quite easy and made of high quality materials. The Nokia 5710 XpressAudio is made of plastic, doesn’t run Android, doesn’t have 5G, and the earphones are hidden behind a plastic slider, meaning it’s nothing like it. Wow like the flip cover of the Watch Buds.

What each one is supposed to do is give you a pair of headphones that’s always ready to go, plus all the benefits you’d expect from a smartwatch or phone. However, for either to make sense, the headphones need to be easy to use before anything else. These products are supposed to promote convenience, and if they’re frustrating or lacking in features, why would anyone buy them over a “regular” pair of headphones?

Surprisingly, Huawei released Watch Buds without the ability to connect the earphones to a device other than the phone the smartwatch is paired with. It means you can only use them with that phone. They cannot be paired with your PC, tablet or any other Bluetooth device yet. The feature is supposed to be activated via a software update in the future, but there are no details on when that will happen. It completely breaks the Watch Buds for me.

At least the headphones on the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio connect to any Bluetooth device, and despite not being a smartphone, the phone’s basic operating system makes the process incredibly simple. It takes a few minutes to pair them with my Mac Mini M1, then disconnect and reconnect to the phone again. The process is logical and fast, and it makes having the headphones always at hand in this way really useful. This just means that it meets the requirement of adding convenience to everyday life, something that Watch Buds don’t.

listening to headphones

The more expensive Huawei Watch Buds have a longer list of features, including active noise cancellation (ANC) and better sound quality from their tiny earbuds. The XpressAudio headphones are about as basic as earphones, made of plastic and don’t even have silicone ear cushions, let alone ANC.

Compare the two, and it’s obvious that the Huawei Watch Buds sound much better than the XpressAudio earphones, with more clarity and bass, and less distortion at higher volumes. They’re not flawless, though, and the sound and ANC performance of the Apple AirPods Pro 2, OnePlus Buds Pro 2, and Sony WF-1000XM4 is far superior. I also don’t find the fit all that comfortable and have struggled to get them to sit correctly in my ears.

The Nokia headphones are surprisingly comfortable, and while they don’t isolate you too much from the outside world, the comfort befits the casual nature of the product. However, the sound is average at best, there’s a lot of hiss when you get to even half volume, and the bass response is muddy and unpleasant. I definitely wouldn’t sit back and relax listening to my favorite music on the Nokia XpressAudio 5710, but I probably wouldn’t on the Huawei Watch Buds either.

Any app on your phone plays audio through the Huawei Watch Buds, while XpressAudio has a MicroSD card slot for streaming your own music, and an FM radio too. The phone doesn’t have Wi-Fi, so if you want to stream from an online source (you have a 4G connection and a browser), you’ll need to factor in the cost of data.

Despite this, there’s a ’90s vibe and quaint simplicity to the 5710 XpressAudio that’s strangely refreshing. It has large buttons on the side of the case to control volume and track position, a VGA camera on the back, a MicroUSB charger, and a removable battery too.

You can do much better for less

Play Snake game on Nokia 5710 XpressAudio.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

What is the price of keeping your headphones inside a smartwatch or phone? The Huawei Watch Buds cost £450, or around $540, while the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio costs £75, or $90. In other words, the Watch Buds cost more than an Apple Watch Series 8, while the Nokia phone costs less than some. bands for Apple Watch.

Which one should you buy? The Huawei Watch Buds are hampered by a feature restriction at the moment, and are way too expensive anyway. At least the Nokia phone doesn’t cost a lot of money, but the quality and materials reflect that. if you really has to buy one, the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio is strangely cute, conveniently versatile and seriously cheap. I don’t hate it, but it’s a nice step back in time. It even has Snake installed. Buy it for your kids and I hope they love it.

Honestly though, don’t buy any from them. There are great true wireless earbuds available for $100 and up, brilliant smartwatches available for as low as $230, and throwaway phones for under $50. Even buying the well-reviewed OnePlus Nord N300 and a pair of Earfun Air Pro 3 together costs about $320. Seen like this: putting two products together to make a single mediocre one, and then running out to buy the result, does not make sense.

Hopefully now HMD Global and Huawei have stuck true wireless earbuds where they don’t belong, no other manufacturer will feel the need to do the same, and we won’t see earbuds inside a tablet, laptop or camera. That way, this nifty trend can disappear just as quickly as it came.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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