Not too long ago I reviewed Apple’s AirPods, which I deemed to be the best truly wireless earphones even though for me, they don’t really work. Today I’m reviewing a worthy competitor, the Jaybird RUN truly wireless earphones. I’ve long been a fan of Jaybird since trying their X2 wireless sport earphones and while I had my issues with the Jaybird Freedom’s, I loved the X3’s. Needless to say when I saw the company was releasing an AirPods competitor I knew I needed to try them out.
Design + Form factor
Just like all other Jaybird’s, the RUN earphones come with ear tips and fins, which for me, is a huge deal because as I’ve previously noted, the AirPods don’t stay in my ears. The use of tips and fins allows me to find an ideal fit for my ears with the RUN earphones, I have never had an issue with the RUN’s falling out of my ears, even while working out—including playing basketball, doing jumping jacks, and other cardio. The same cannot be said for AirPods where simply looking the wrong way it seems can make one fall out (at least for me).
The Jaybird RUN’s come in an elongated oval-like case, which like the AirPods is also where you put them into to store and charge while not in use. The RUN’s case is a bit bigger and bulkier than Apple’s AirPods case, but it’s not too unwieldy and can certainly fit in a pocket for easy transport.
There are tiny buttons on the earphones which allow you to do things like call up Siri so you can change a song, adjust volume, etc. For the most part, I had no issues with these buttons, although I found myself accidentally clicking them sometimes when adjusting one of the earbuds.
Lastly, the earphones come in Jet black (pictured above) and Drift white.
The Jaybird RUN earphones feature some really nice sound, in fact, I’d go as far to say they’re even a bit better sounding than Apple’s AirPods. Additionally because of the tips and fins making them fit snuggly in your ear, they provide better noise isolation than AirPods.
If you’re at all familiar with other Jaybird earphones like the X2’s or X3’s you can expect the same signature sound with the RUN’s. You can also use the Jaybird app (iOS, Android) to further control sound settings.
Jaybird advertises 12 hours of battery life (if you have the case with you). Here’s how that works out: 4 hours of playback by themselves and if you the case with you to charge them up, you can extend that battery life by an additional 8 hours. In my experience, battery life was as advertised and the fact that the Jaybird RUN’s charge quickly is also a plus. A 5 minute charge gives you about 1 hour of battery life–that’s pretty awesome.
Potential issues and solutions
The Jaybird RUN earphones worked perfectly when I used them inside, however, as soon as I set foot outdoors, things became a lot less perfect. They would often either get out of sync or one would completely lose its connection. When I reached out to Jaybird about this, I was told it was because I was using a pre-production unit and that the units released to customers would not have this issue.
I also just learned that the Jaybird RUN’s can and will receive firmware updates, in fact, Jaybird has already issued a firmware update for the RUN’s to version 1.1.0. I just ran the updater and saw that the firmware on my unit was version 1.0.4. It is now updated to the latest, which according to the release notes fixes a handful of Bluetooth connectivity issues. I’m hopeful this will resolve the issues I described above, obviously I will continue to test them out and let you know.
UPDATE 11/8/2017: So the firmware update on my pre-production Jaybird RUN earphones didn’t fix the issues I described above. However, Jaybird did send me a production model of the earphones recently and I found that they worked much better than the previous pre-production pair I was initially sent. That being said, they weren’t perfect, I still experienced occasionally lost connection in either one or both earphones. Having tried the production release I’m going to stick with my initial verdict (below) that they are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for an alternative to AirPods.
The Jaybird RUN earphones are pretty much everything you would want from true wireless earphones. I highly recommend them, despite the issues I faced with connectivity, as I’m hopeful that the firmware update will alleviate the problem and/or production units will be ready for prime time. They run (pun intended) for $179 which is a bit more expensive than the competition, namely Apple AirPods, which retail for $159, but for me, these work a lot better and can serve a double purpose: walking down the street in NYC and working out–something the AirPods can’t do for me at all.