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JLab mimics Bose’s open-ear design with the $50 Flex Open

JLab Flex Open Earbuds.
JLab

JLab’s new Flex Open Earbuds may look a little familiar if you took note of Bose’s Ultra Open Earbuds, which launched earlier in 2024 for the hefty price of $299. Thankfully, even though the Flex Open’s clip-style has a certain Bose-like vibe, JLab’s price is far more accessible at just $50.

JLab’s first set of open-ear earbuds come in your choice of black or teal, and you can order them from jlab.com, Target, or Amazon.

JLab Flex Open Earbuds.
JLab

As with all open-ear designs, the key benefit to the Flex Open is the ability to hear the world around while you listen to your tunes or podcasts, or take calls. Speaking of calls, open-ear designs are usually great for phone calls because you can hear your own voice without the muffling effect of standard earbuds.

Clearly, you can’t have everything that Bose packs into the Ultra Open Earbuds when you’re paying just a fraction more than 16% of the price: The Flex Open lack things like spatial audio with head tracking or the latest and greatest lossless audio Bluetooth codec from Qualcomm.

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And yet, despite their low price, the JLab buds manage to one-up Bose in a few areas. With IP55 protection, they’ll resist dust and water better that Bose’s buds. Unlike the Ultra Open, the Open Flex let you enjoy the convenience of Bluetooth multipoint right now, instead of waiting for a software update.

JLab Flex Open Earbuds.
JLab

Battery life on the Flex Open is claimed seven hours per charge, with up to 21 hours when you include the charging case. That’s not going to last you all week, but it’s more than enough for an entire day. And you should be able to get a decent fit with these earbuds thanks to the flexible connector that joins the speaker pod to the battery/control pod.

As with JLab’s other wireless earbuds, which all deliver very good sound for the price, you’ll be able to tweak the Flex Open’s sound signature using the JLab app.

One of the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds’ biggest strengths is their controls: a button that you can squeeze between your finger and thumb. It remains to be seen if JLab’s controls, which appear to be touch-based, will be as effective.

JLab isn’t the first to create a clip-style earbud — in fact, neither was Bose — and you’ll find plenty of other brands that make them on Amazon, including the Soundcore C30i.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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