This must be true wireless earbud season. Hot on the heels of Amazon’s Echo Buds, and Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds, we now have LG’s new Tone+ Free, the South Korean giant’s latest version of its true wireless earbuds. Without hands-free access to a voice assistant, massive battery life, or noise-cancellation, their killer feature is literally a killer feature: Inside the charging case, LG has included what it calls a UVnano function, that kills bacteria through the use of ultraviolet light.
LG doesn’t offer any stats on just how many (or what kinds) of bacteria are harbored by a typical set of true wireless earbuds, but we suspect that if you’re a germaphobe, “none” might be too many.
Beyond the Tone+ Free’s unique antibacterial system, these new earbuds are fairly conventional. They last a claimed six hours on a charge, which is more than Apple’s AirPods and the new Echo Buds, but still significantly less than many others in the market including the Surface Buds and the Powerbeats Pro. Should your Tone+ Free earbuds die, LG says you can gain an hour’s worth of play time after the earbuds spend only five minutes inside that killer case. LG hasn’t said how much juice is contained in the charging case, or how the UVnano function affects overall battery life.
You get access to Google Assistant via a long-press of one of the touch-sensitive outer surfaces, and the earbuds are rated IPX4, for decent protection from sweaty workouts. LG says the Tone+ Free’s audio has been tuned by Meridian (which LG owns) and provides a 3D listening experience. The microphones are equipped with noise-canceling technology for clearer calls, and presumably for fewer problems when using Google Assistant.
The earbuds come in black at launch but will be joined by a white version in November. The Tone+ Free are only destined for the South Korean market (for now), where they will sell for 259,999 won (roughly $215), which is a little more expensive than the $199 Apple AirPods with the wireless charging case option. But really, can you put a price on the peace of mind that comes from knowing your earbuds are bacteria-free? We didn’t think so.
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