There are expensive pairs of truly wireless earphones, and there are affordable ones. It's safe to say that the more you're willing to pay, the better the performance that you can expect from a pair of headphones, and that does apply to the truly wireless product segment. We've reviewed a bunch of truly wireless earphones in the past few months, since we firmly believe that such products are going to play a major role in the future of personal audio.
The latest product that we've had a chance to review in this segment is the Leaf Pods, a very affordable pair of truly wireless earphones by a Delhi-based company called Leaf Studios. The company focusses on wireless audio products, all of which are priced competitively and sold both online and offline (in the Delhi-NCR area). Priced at Rs. 3,999, the Leaf Pods are, at first glance, an impressive value-driven offering. We review these wireless earphones to find out if they can be the low-cost AirPods alternative the world needs.
While fancy design and comfort can be taken for granted with more expensive truly wireless earphones, affordable options usually offer a loss less convenience and aren't as easy to use. That said, the Leaf Pods are quite impressively designed and are well-built for a pair of earphones that costs Rs. 3,999.
The earphones are light and look good, and they fitted us comfortably. The matte black finish, compact shape, and neatly designed Leaf logo make this among the most subtle and sophisticated looking pairs of truly wireless earphones we've used at any price. We found that we needed the ear wings for the best fit; the Leaf Pods weren't secured to our ears very well without the wings, making them difficult to wear.
Each earbud has a physical button and an indicator light on it. The buttons control power (long press), play/ pause (single short press), volume (two short, quick presses on the left for reducing the volume, two on the right for increasing the volume) and skipping tracks (three short presses on either side respectively).
The sales package includes two pairs of ear wings, three pairs of ear tips, the charging case, a Micro-USB cable to charge the case with, and an interesting USB charger that can charge one of the earbuds at a time outside of their case. The single-earbud charger is an interesting addition to the package, but not one we used at all, since we found charging one earphone at a time to be inconvenient.
The charging case is also matte black and has a transparent lid, which felt a bit flimsy to us. The case is charged through a Micro-USB port at the front, and is less fancy than most of the products we've used in the past few months. There are cutouts for the earphones, four indicator lights, and a single button that controls charging.
There's nothing ‘automatic' here; you need to make sure you press the button after you've placed the earphones in the case. When pressed, the indicator lights on the case show the current battery level of the case, and the lights on each earphone glow white to show that they are charging. When charging is complete, the lights turn blue for a minute or so, and then turn off.
Pulling the earbuds out of the case while charging powers them on. If the case is off, the earphones won't automatically power down on being put into it, and will stay on and keep playing. Naturally, all of this makes the Leaf Pods a little more complicated to use than we had hoped for, and we did need to ensure that they were switched off when not in use to avoid unnecessary battery drain. To reiterate, there are no sensors here either, so everything must be controlled manually.
The left earbud of the Leaf Pods is the primary one in the pair which connects to the source device, while the right bud connects to the left one. You can therefore use the left bud individually if you choose, but not the right alone.
The Leaf Pods support the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, and have a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz. The earphones are IPX5 rated for water resistance, and use Bluetooth 5 for connectivity.
We were able to get around six hours of battery life from the earphones on a full charge, and the charging case was able to charge the earphones thrice over, giving us a decent total of around 24 hours of battery life.
Our experience with budget wireless earphones has largely been underwhelming, but the Leaf Pods turned out to be surprisingly good for the price. Despite being one of the most affordable pairs of truly wireless earphones you can buy today, the Leaf Pods are impressive when it comes to sound quality.
We tested the earphones with a OnePlus 6T (Review) as the source device, listening to music streamed from Spotify and YouTube Music as well as some of our own high-resolution audio tracks saved on the device. Although the OnePlus 6T does, by default, use the SBC Bluetooth codec, we switched to AAC, which improved sound quality on the Leaf Pods.
The sonic signature of the Leaf Pods is expectedly consumer-friendly, meant to bring out the best in most popular genres — the focus is on the lows and highs, with a slightly softer mid range. However, we did feel a certain sense of warmth to the sound, with the lows slightly more pronounced in whatever tracks we listened to.
Listening to Daft Punk's Voyager, we enjoyed the strong thump to the beat, which was as exciting and driven as we could expect at this price. The punchy lows did occasionally tend to overpower the mid-range, but this didn't greatly affect sound quality.
Other similarly bass-heavy tracks, such as Panoramica by Hyenah and Pablo Fierro, also had the same punchy character. The sound felt as refined as it does on much more expensive truly wireless options such as the Skullcandy Push. Mermaid of Salinas by Basement Jaxx brought out a fair amount of the revealing and open nature of the earphones, also showing off their wide soundstage with the gentle tropical instrumentals that form the base of this fast-paced, exciting track.
When using the SBC Bluetooth codec, the Leaf Pods did showcase a lot of these same characteristics, but to a somewhat lesser extent. The AAC codec — which is now available on a growing list of smartphones — did make an audible difference to sound quality, bringing out more detail, character, and refinement in our music.
Listening to Michael Jackson's Love Never Felt So Good in high resolution, we were further impressed with the ability of the Leaf Pods to do justice to good quality audio. We also found that the earphones are capable of getting quite loud. This, along with the noise isolation offered by the eartips, made for an immersive listening experience, and one that we had not expected from such an affordable pair of truly wireless earphones.
The Leaf Pods are decent when it comes to voice calls as well, helped by their loudness. Voice calls were clear, hassle-free, and largely unaffected by a moderate amount of background sound.
The Leaf Pods are a great pair of truly wireless earphones, all things considered. Although the charging case and power control implementation have their problems — the usage experience is too low-tech even for an affordable pair of truly wireless earphones — this product defies expectations with good design, decent sound quality, and impressive battery life.
There are a lot of options in this price range in India, but the Leaf Pods are the only ones that get all the basics right. For this reason, it's quite easy to recommend this pair of truly wireless earphones to anyone looking for an affordable option right now. We'd go as far as to say that the Leaf Pods are possibly the best pair of truly wireless earphones you can buy for less than Rs. 5,000 right now.
Price: Rs. 3,999
Ratings (out of 5)
Which are the best budget Bluetooth earphones and headphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.