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Mpow Cheetah wireless earphones review – bargain sports earphones?

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PROS:

  • Nice fit to the head, even if it takes a little while to get used to
  • Handy functions such as phone number readout
  • Minimalist easy-to-open recyclable packaging
  • Available in a variety of colours
  • Bluetooth 4.1 spec

CONS:

  • Audio quality a little lacking, poor treble and bass in my view
  • Dimwitted mapping of buttons

Rating: ★★★★☆

Price at review: £16 – buy from Amazon

Over the past few years I’ve tried and tested a number of wireless earphones and headphones. Many of them are very much the same – great idea, but poor design and average audio quality. I picked up a set of the Mpow Cheetah wireless earphones last week with the hope that these might be slightly different. Their design very much interested me because if you ask most sports earphone users, their number one complaint is that they fall out of the ears. Here are my thoughts.

The earphones arrive in firm but simplistic packaging which is nice to see – no annoying and wasteful plastic inserts or anything like that. Inside you’ll find the earphones, together with two extra sets of earbuds bring a total of three wearable sizes (small, medium, large), a micro-USB charging cable and some basic instructions and warranty information.

Setting up the earphones is very easy. Simply switch them on by keeping you’re finger pressed on the multifunction button – keep the button pressed until they beep to confirm they’re in pairing mode. Then grab your phone or other bluetooth device and pair the two devices up. Once that’s done, you’ll get a nice audible confirmation from the headset and you’re ready to go.

In terms of functionality, I was impressed with the wide range of functions that the headset can perform. As well as being able to play music through the headset, you’re also able to skip tracks, adjust volume, and even take phone calls with the device’s built in microphone.

There are one or two fundamental flaws though. First of all, the microphone that’s built in is nothing to shout about. The microphone just isn’t in the right place to catch your voice effectively enough to use as a long term handsfree device – it’s not really the device’s fault as no comparable wireless headset would be able to put the microphone close enough to your mouth that you’d get good feedback. It’s OK for the odd phone call here and there, but I wouldn’t use it all the time for that task. On the other hand, the device will read you the number of the person that’s calling when your phone rings which is a handy extra feature.

The second flaw I’ve found is a little more dimwitted. You can skip tracks and adjust volume by using the forward and back buttons on the right earpiece. You tap the buttons to adjust the volume up and down or hold the buttons to skip forward or back. However, those two functions are alternately placed on the device – so the button that turns the volume up is the same button that skips back a track – you’d think it would make sense that the volume up button would skip forward and vice versa. Small niggle but it’s irritating nonetheless.

I did really like one little feature though. As the device uses a recent Bluetooth specification, it can do things like tell your phone the device’s current battery charge level. A small feature, but useful nonetheless.

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In terms of sound quality, I found it wasn’t much to shout about. There are a number of reviews (particularly on Amazon) which give mixed feedback about the audio quality and I, for one, can’t help but feel it’s a little disappointing. Fair enough, if you’re going to use the device for it’s intended purpose (running, most likely), it’s probably not going to hugely bother you whether they sound amazing. However, when using them in a less active environment, I found that the audio quality was fairly flat and that both the bass and treble were lacking. For a £16 pair of wireless earphones, don’t expect the world, but I still couldn’t help but feel I’d tried £10 wired earphones with better audio quality.

Overall, they are a decent set of earphones with a reasonably good fit to the head (it takes a little getting used to but does result in a good fit) with handy functions, but leaving a little to be desired in terms of audio quality. A good buy for £16, but I’d spend a little more if you’ve got the budget available.

Buy from Amazon