Today at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, tech giant Sony announced the latest addition to its lineup of smart products. The new wireless earbuds, dubbed Xperia Ear Duo, are an upgraded version of the company's Xperia Ear concept and offer new audio technology in tandem with Siri compatibility.
Aesthetically, the earbuds actually differ pretty greatly from Apple's AirPods. Their ergonomic design just looks futuristic, wrapping around the ear almost like a statement accessory rather than a pair of wireless headphones. However, they're supposedly comfortable enough to forget you're wearing them, according to Sony. And of course, like all wireless headphones, there won't be any messy cables cramping your style (and getting impossibly knotted up in your pocket as if by some kind of evil magic).
Functionally, the Xperia Ear Duo is almost completely hands-free. Its voice recognition capabilities allow you to to send messages or to turn on your music by simply speaking aloud. From there, four microphones will isolate your voice from the surrounding noise so you can utilize virtual assistants such as Google Assistant or Siri. You can also use the device's Daily Assist feature to switch between music, calls, podcasts, news, and whatever else you're into without ever needing to touch a single button. According to Xperia Ear Duo's product page, "Daily Assist uses multiple sensors to recognise your activities, time and location to understand what you need, and when." You can even answer a call by just shaking your head.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the Xperia Ear Duo, however, is that you can remain aware of your surroundings while jamming out or chatting with your friends. The product's design doesn't block the ear canal, allowing you to listen your music and the environment around you simultaneously. However, that doesn't mean that you'll lose any audio quality: thanks to what Sony has dubbed "the Spatial Acoustic Conductor," the sound generated behind the ear by the unit's driver is transmitted directly into the ear via the ring supporter, which surrounds the ear canal so audio blends seamlessly with environmental sounds. What's more, the volume automatically adjusts depending on your surroundings for an optimized audio experience, so your music still sounds beautiful and your loved ones still sound close no matter what you're doing.
The Xperia Ear Duo is priced at $279.99 and comes in metallic black and metallic gold color options. Each set also comes with its own charging case for a quick power boost (the case will fully charge the earbuds up to three times — seven hours of listening time a piece — before needing a recharge of its own). If you're interested in swapping out your current earbuds (or, dare I say, current AirPods?) with Sony's new audio accessory, you can preorder it on Amazon now. The Xperia Ear Duo will officially be released May 31, 2018.
Are you team AirPods all the way, or are you willing to give Xperia Ear Duo a shot? Share in the comments!
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Tory Foulk is a writer at Mobile Nations. She lives at the intersection of technology and sorcery and enjoys radio, bees, and houses in small towns. When she isn't working on articles, you'll likely find her listening to her favorite podcasts in a carefully curated blanket nest. You can follow her on Twitter at @tsfoulk.