True wireless stereo earbuds are now the most popular type of headphones on the market. Tech fans all over the world are freeing themselves from wires for good without sacrificing elements that traditionally have only been available with premium wired devices. The TWS market is developing rapidly. Audio quality, noise cancellation, battery life, and price are now much more in sync with what consumers are looking for.
And then there’s the inescapable impact of COVID-19. More people are working from home than ever before and entertainment has become increasingly digital. TWS earbuds are an immersive and convenient way to separate this new ‘office’ from our usual living spaces, as well as a cable-free solution for calls, music, gaming and workouts.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at what’s driving the TWS market, the technology that’s guiding innovation from manufacturers, and our very own TWS earbud range. Let’s go!
Understanding the TWS Market
The TWS market is growing rapidly. Qualcomm’s 2020 State of Play report suggests that the adoption of truly wireless earbuds has almost doubled since 2019, from 23% to 42% globally.
The freedom truly wireless earbuds offer has made them “the most desired form factor for on-the-go headphone use.”
So what’s driving this trend? Two important factors may be the rise in mobile video consumption and gaming content. Tech fans are starting to realize that TWS represents a convenient way to listen on the go, and an immersive way to engage with any kind of media from almost any kind of device.
In fact, 42% of consumers in Qualcomm’s survey use wireless earbuds for watching TV, movies, and other video content. That figure can be expected to rise as battery life and latency improve further.
There’s also a greater awareness of the types of features that TWS earbuds can provide. Beyond the ‘wire-free’ USP, concepts such as high-resolution audio and noise cancellation are becoming more prevalent. As a result, the demand for immersive listening experiences on the go is growing. TWS growth is particularly strong in China and India.
Smartphone brands have a major influence on the TWS market
Although TWS technology is increasingly being used with laptops, tablets, and TVs, it’s important to note that mobile phones remain the most popular device to pair with them. With that in mind, the decision of major smartphone manufacturers – including Apple and Samsung – to drop the headphone jack and bundled-in-the-box wired headphones from their latest releases is forcing consumer behavior to change. The increased adoption of TWS goes hand in hand with a decline in the use of wired models and on-ear headphones.
Soon enough, we may see TWS earbuds coming as standard accessories with new mobile phone purchases.
The Tech Trends Guiding TWS Manufacturers and Consumer Expectations
There are several trends impacting the focus of TWS manufacturers and consumer expectations.
With video calls, watching movies, and mobile gaming all growing in popularity, consumers are on the hunt for wireless audio that has low latency and robust connectivity.
Voice calling is, according to Qualcomm, the second most popular use case for truly wireless earbuds globally. Although entertainment is at the fore, it’s easy to see why the basic functionality of preserving wireless voice call audio matters as much as ever.
Earlier we mentioned that audio consumers are getting savvier about the kind of features available with TWS earbuds. One of those is active noise cancellation. Qualcomm’s research states that 71% of consumers are interested in active noise cancellation as a feature.
In 2020, it was the sixth most important headphone purchase criteria, compared to ninth in 2019. The perception is that active noise cancellation will improve the overall sound experience. Improved sound quality is the top reason that consumers say they are seeking active noise cancellation, with home, public transport, and outdoor environments the most notable places where it would be useful.
Related article: 7 Times TWS Earbuds Beat Regular Headphones
Bluetooth 5.2 represents the latest in Bluetooth technology. It’s not yet seen a widespread rollout but there are several upgrades to older Bluetooth protocols that will excite TWS users.
The first is Low Energy power control. The notion of Low Energy was implemented with Bluetooth 4 and its use has mostly been reserved for connections with fitness trackers and other low energy applications.
But with Bluetooth 5.2 comes the new LC3 codec. More data can be transmitted over lower bandwidth, using lower power. This is good news for both audio quality and power efficiency, because the LC3 codec compresses audio data more, without sacrificing audio depth.
The most eagerly anticipated advance from Bluetooth 5.2 is the introduction of Isochronous Channels. This change will allow you to connect multiple Bluetooth devices to a single source. Just imagine using your TWS earbuds at home. Rather than having to manually change connections between your phone, PC, or TV, you can connect to all of them at once and switch between them automatically.
Always Improving Acoustic Architecture
With noise-canceling technology, sound quality is improved by blocking out external disruptions. But there are a bunch of advances in the world of acoustic architecture that are improving TWS sound quality from within.
One of the most important internal factors is the type of driver a TWS pair of earbuds has. Drivers are what convert electrical signals into sound before sending them into your ear canal. Then there’s the diaphragm, which is the part of the structure that vibrates to create sound waves.
The larger the diaphragm, the more air that can be pushed and pulled. This creates a greater variation in sound pressure, which translates to stronger sound waves and better bass at high volume.
You can read more about both of these acoustic aspects in part one of our TWS guide.
Design and comfort
Manufacturers are also taking positive steps to make earbuds and comfortable and secure as possible. There are signs that silicone ear tips will eventually be replaced by memory foam, offering a snug and more personalized listening experience.
Plus, as confidence in wireless earbuds grows, models that fit completely inside the contours of your ear – rather than with a dangly section made popular by Apple’s AirPods Pro – have a big future. Moving from wired to wireless is a big step that consumers may prefer to take in stages.
You can read more about manufacturing materials and earbud design in part two of our TWS Guide.
Introducing the UGREEN HiTune Series
We’ve spent several years building our own TWS technology, with three true wireless earbud models that address familiar user pain points. They’ve grown more advanced with time, but all have a few things in common:
- A focus on stable connection and sound quality
- A charging case to extend battery life
- An ergonomic design for comfort and a secure fit
- Easy USB-C charging
First up was the original HiTune . With Bluetooth 5.0, a 5.8mm dynamic driver, and the Qualcomm aptX audio codec, it combines high fidelity sound with low power consumption.
We decided from the start to prioritize battery life, which is why the unit itself offers nine hours of playtime from a single charge and a further 18 hours when using the charging case.
The built-in CVC 8.0 noise canceling technology uses MEMS microphones to filter out background sound and improve call quality.
Next came the HiTune T1s, which offer even better in-call noise cancellation and improved bass compared to the original model.
Four MEMS microphones provide superior audio, while the HiTune T1s 6mm graphene drivers add greater depth to music. This model saw the introduction of our EQ mode, which offers well-balanced and deep bass settings alongside simple touch controls.
The HiTune T1 is great for using on the go. It weighs just 4.9g and is IPX5 waterproof, making it perfect for using outdoors and during workouts.
The new HiTune T3s has been designed to provide mobile gamers and on-the-go video callers with the most seamless TWS experience possible. With 3D surround sound and 60ms ultra-low latency, you’ll hear every footstep on Fortnite and ambient game sounds like never before.
In fact, the whole acoustic architecture of the T3s has been tailored to deliver next-generation audio performance, with a 14.2mm dynamic driver offering deep bass and high treble between 20Hz and 20KHz. If you’re ready to embrace wireless earbuds, our full HiTune range is now available for 30% off.
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