British audio firm Bowers & Wilkins has today revealed a pair or new wireless earphones to compete against the Apple AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds.
But, while the general design, IP54 water resistance, high-quality audio and active noise cancelling all sound like familiar attributes, the B&W PI7 have one feature that is truly unique. Their charge case can connect to an airplane's in-flight entertainment system using an included 3.5mm to USB-C cable, then transmit that audio wirelessly to the earphones.
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We think this is a great use of the charge case, as it negates the need to either use the airplane's own low-quality headphones, or purchase a third-party adaptor. Such adapters are useful, and we have written about them at GearBrain before, but using the charge case feels like a far better option.
Aside from their smart airplane connection, the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 earbuds each house a 9.2mm driver that is larger than that of many rivals. Each earbud has three microphones and they are compatible with 24-bit audio and Qualcomm's AptX Adaptive technology for improved sound quality.
The earphones have a battery life of four hours, which is 30 minutes down on the AirPods Pro, and the charge case offers a further 16 hours.
The charge case connects to airplane in-flight entertainment systemsBowers & Wilkins
An IP54 dust and water resistance means they are safe to use while exercising or in light rain, and the earphones can operate Siri or Google Assistant, depending on whether you connect them via Bluetooth to an iPhone or Android handset.
At $400, these earphones are significantly more expensive than many of their rivals, including the $250 AirPods Pro. Bowers & Wilkins will be hoping it can win consumers over with superior sound quality, heritage – the company's equipment is used in London's Abbey Road Studio – and of course their useful airplane connection.
B&W announced the earphones alongside a similar model called the PI5. These are priced at $249, pitching them directly at the AirPods Pro, and while they miss out on the airplane connection, the PI5 earbuds offer 4.5 hours of playback plus 20 more via the charge case. They are also smaller than the PI7 and miss out on the AptX Adaptive audio standard. Both sets of earphones are available now.Check out The GearBrain, our compatibility find engine to see other headphones and earbuds compatible with your smartphone.
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