OPPO presented its new true wireless headphones called O-Free following the Paris event where the Find X was launched. The headphones arrived at our editorial office along with the expensive Find X Automobili Lamborghini and we took the opportunity to spend some time with them. Here's our full review!
- True wireless
- Compact charging and transport case
- Low power consumption
- Google Assistant
- Tendency to fall out of your ear
- Unreliable smartphone connection
- Uncomfortable gestures
- Cheap materials
Truly affordable headphones from China
The OPPO O-Free headphones are available for purchase in China at a price of 699 yuan (about 100 dollars) in black-blue or black-purple, colors that are reminiscent of the standard version of the Find X. Our version came bundled with the Automobili Lamborghini Find X, which costs 1,699 euros (around 1,950 dollars).
A unique design, for better or worse
The Lamborghini version in our possession is perfectly recognizable even in its transport case. You’ll see the car manufacturer’s logo right in the middle in gold. The rest of the case is completely shiny black except for a small golden frame where the package opens and the plastic hinge that holds everything together. On more than one occasion, I was afraid that this small and fragile hinge would break.
The glossy coloring is elegant, but will quickly accumulate fingerprints, and the plastic used can seem quite cheap. On the back, there’s a USB Type-C port, and on the front there’s an LED that indicates the charging status. The case is kept closed with a magnet.
When you open the case, you’ll find the headphones in plain sight together with a tiny speaker, an LED and a button positioned in the center. The button is used to pair the headphones with non-OPPO smartphones and the LED indicates the status of the headphones (pairing, connected or off), while the tiny speaker is used to take advantage of a technology already tested by Google: the speaker emits a sound that isn’t audible to the human ear and that lets you immediately pair it with devices equipped with ColorOS 5.1 or higher in the style of Apple AirPods and Google Pixel Buds.
The O-Free headphones are kept inside the case with magnets. When they're inside they are constantly charging and turned off. Once you take them out of the box, they turn on and connect to the smartphone. The construction of the earphones surprised me, but unfortunately in a negative way: the plastic is similar to the plastic in the case and in your hand they look like cheap earphones.
The carbon finish is nice, and is reminiscent to the finish of a smartphone, but personally I’m not crazy about the elongated design and the shiny plastic. To quote my colleague Basti, “It feels like having precious earrings on”, which can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on who you ask. In my opinion, this is a negative point.
The gestures need to be completely redone
You can control music via the headphones using touch gestures . A double tap on the right earpiece will jump to the next song, and a double tap on the left will bring you back to the last one. The only way to pause is to remove one of the earphones. This is perhaps the most uncomfortable music control system I’ve experienced in years.
This system prevents you from using a single earpiece because removing one of the two will pause the music. Even if you manually restart the music with a single earpiece in your ear, it is impossible to move between the tracks freely because of the two gestures (previous track or next track) will be missing. Moreover, even with both earphones in it’s sometimes impossible to change the track if one of your two hands is busy, for example if you’re holding a shopping bag. It’s a real disaster.
Trying to pair and manage the O-Free headphones has proven to be really traumatic . Connection your headset to an OPPO smartphone via Bluetooth is easy and the process is simple and similar to the Apple AirPods. When you open the headphone’s transport case, a popup will appear on your smartphone to connect.
Connecting to a non-OPPO smartphone is a bit more complex. Holding the button inside the case should make the headset visible to nearby devices to allow pairing. Unfortunately, despite many attempts, the procedure has never been successful and I was often forced to reset the headsets to use them with smartphones from different brands.
You’ll be interested to know that after the first reset of the earphones, my OPPO Find X Lamborghini has always struggled to recognize that the O-Free was forcing me to further reset on the phone as well. Of course, this is a problem that can be solved with a software update to the O-Free firmware, which is only possible if you own an OPPO smartphone. At the moment, there’s no app dedicated to the management of the headphones, so OPPO needs to take better care of things on the software side.
Low bass but good quality
The sound quality positively surprised me . I’m not a fan of earphones with ear pieces, but these O-Free speakers sound exactly the way I wanted them too. The mids were predominant and for most genres of music, they’ll be able to satisfy. The bass isn’t powerful, so don’t expect to enjoy your EDM or drum and bass albums to the fullest, but they are in line with other products that use the same design.
Unfortunately, there’s no noise cancellation, so you’ll hear plenty of the noise around you. This might disturb some people, but could be a positive for others who prefer to know what’s going on in their immediate surroundings.
OPPO O-Free battery
SoC Qualcomm QCC3026 keeps audio latency low and connects the headsets to each other and to the smartphone. The chip allows the O-Free to boast a battery life close to four hours with another 12 hours available thanks to the charging case. This chip should also allow a faster and more reliable connection between the headset and smartphone, but I don’t think this was the case.
As I mentioned before, I have to admit that I’m often surprised when the earphones run out of battery even when the battery level is indicated on my smartphone as just under 20%. In any case, I've gotten 4 hours of total listening time which is a plus.
You can charge the earphones with the transport case, which is in turn charged through the USB Type-C port on the back. There’s no MicroUSB, and unfortunately I noticed that the O-Free doesn’t charge if it’s connected to a charger with standard Power Delivery. But everything is smooth when you use VOOC or Quick Charge chargers.
A niche product in a niche market
The O-Free is certainly an interesting product. The fact that they’re included in the packaging of a smartphone as expensive as the Find X Automobili Lamborghini is nice and the sound quality is certainly more than good for mainstream users. The battery life is good and they’re always charged and ready to use when you need them.
I can’t say I’m as satisfied with the quality of construction and the materials used. The software management is problematic and I hope OPPO will release a dedicated app that will allow gestures to be customized because right now they are inconveniently configured.
Is it worth spending 100 bucks on this product? If they were available for purchase outside of China with a warranty and support, sure. But since you have to import them, I’m not so positive.
Should you consider the Find X Lamborghini instead of the basic version to get the headphones? No, you definitely shouldn’t, but there are many other reasons why you might consider buying the premium version of the Find X like the higher memory or quick charge. The O-Free is a great add-on offered in the package by OPPO, but shouldn’t be the reason you make the purchase.