Earphones and EarPods are smartphone accessories. If you believe that, you probably also share the belief that they shouldn’t cost as much as smartphones – let alone cost a fortune. That’s what I think anyway, reason why I’ve recently picked up the Mpow X3. It’s a $47 budget earphone that promises to do a lot of what the pricier ‘premium’ earphones do at one-quarter the price.
I’ve had it on my ears for well over two weeks now, and in this Mpow X3 review, I run it through its paces to see if it delivers on that promise.
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What’s in the box
The MPow X3 comes in an essential package. No fancy stuff, just the bare bones of what you’ll need to use the earphone, including:
A USB C charging cable, extra ear tips, a carry case that also doubles as the charging unit, and the earphone itself. There’s no charger included inbox, so you have to use a PC USB outlet or your phones’ charging brick.
Like the packaging, the design of the Mpow X3 is essential. Nothing fancy, and in my opinion, this is perfect because simplicity tends to work better than sophistication when it comes to look and feel, especially for budget TWS earphones.
The X3 is styled to look like your typical wired earphone, except that it lacks wires and is a little bit chunkier. Mine’s black (with a black carry case) and on the sides there’s a bold MPOW lettering in white, guess the company is proud of their earphone.
Build quality is solid too, you get the feeling that this was built to last.
Overall, I feel the design and build are okay, especially when you factor in the price. Sure, I would’ve preferred if the brand lettering was not there or in black like they did with the Mdots. But there’s no arguing that the X3 looks cool and feels cool as well. I have little to complain about.
Fit and comfortability
Like I noted earlier, the X3 is a tad bit chunky, so if you’ve got tiny ears, then it might get a little bit uncomfortable. Nevertheless, for the average person, this fits into the ear quite easily and sits nicely too.
MPOW adds about four pairs of rubber insets from small to big in the box, so you can choose which one fits more comfortably into your ear canal. Once you’ve picked a secure fit, you’ll find that the X3 stays in place even with rigorous movement – definitely something you can use for workouts or running.
Using the X3 for long periods doesn’t cause any ear discomfort. It’s a light earphone, and most of the contact it makes with your skin is via the soft edges of the rubber insets. I’ve had this on for periods extending to 6 hours (I know, not healthy, but what am I supposed to do when midnight insomnia strikes) without ever thinking of removing it due to pain or any discomfort.
Again, if you have tiny (not small) ears, then there’s a tendency for it to feel full – I know cause my girlfriend has super tiny ears, and she tried out the X3 when I first got it.
The spec package
When it comes to specifications, three things stand out on the Mpow X3:
- Active noise cancellation
- Soft-touch controls
- The 10 mm carbon fiber driver
Active noise cancellation (ANC)
If you’ve never heard of it, active noise canceling works to cancel out background noises when you have your earphones on for a pure and noiseless listening experience. How it does that is an entire topic on its own, but you can read a piece I did about active noise cancellation and True Wireless Earbuds for more info.
On the MPow X3, the ANC feature works quite well – it will cancel out low noises up to in the 35-decibel range.
Controlling the Mpow X3 is via a touch-sensitive area (marked by a depression) on the sides of the earphone. It works fairly well, but it certainly takes some getting used to.
- Single tap ear increases the volume.
- Double-tap pauses the current item on the playlist
- Triple tap skips to the next item on the playlist
- Single tap reduces the volume
- Double to pause the current item on the playlist
- Triple tap skips to the previous item on the playlist
The 10 mm Carbon fiber driver
The 10 mm Carbon fiber driver is a standout feature because it lends a superior listening experience to an otherwise ‘cheap’ true wireless earphone. But let’s talk about that listening experience in the next ‘sound quality section
Sound quality on the Mpow X3
There’s a lot of technical stuff associated with sound quality, but I won’t bore you with any of that. What’s important as it concerns sound quality on the Mpow X3 is the fact that it comes with:
- Sublime bass
- Very well elaborate mids
- And detailed vocals
That’s another way of saying the Mpow X3 shoots out smooth, pleasant sounds with rich tones, clarity, and detailing across practically all sound levels. Bass sounds crispy with enough depth, and because of the elaborated mids, you’ll hear all the subtle sounding instrumentals with notable clarity.
There’s a pure, smooth, and airy feel to the X3’s sound profile, so songs come out feeling very natural – and that’s nice. I like how vocals sound too on the X3 – it’s not too pronounced, and everything just seems to blend with the smooth-rolling pace set by the bass and mid-frequency sounds.
Surround sound is not as amplified as you would get with pricier earphones, but you still get a bit of that 3D sound effect. It’s immersive enough, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy every segment of your favorite songs on the X3, more so if you’re someone who’s into pop and EDM tunes.
Noise cancellation works, but as I stated earlier, its effects are limited to noise below the 35-decibel level. Anything above that and the X3 won’t provide much cover.
Note also that turning on ANC on the X3 sort of dampens the clarity and pureness of the sounds the X3 produces, so much that I’ve found myself switching it off more times than I’ve bothered to switch it on. The pure and natural feel of the X3 is just too nice to miss, not even for the allure of the earphone’s implementation of Active noise cancellation.
Call and media playback quality
The superb sound quality on the X3 extends to calls and video playback. But that’s for the listening side of it. How does the X3 handle calls overall? Pretty nicely per my experience. Four mics on the X3 mean your voice is captured and transmitted clearly. Bluetooth 5.0 also means there’s practically no latency.
You hear what’s said, and the other party hears you’ve said almost immediately, so no difference from your typical wired earphone. This applies to video playback, too; there’s no lag between picture (motion) and sound when using the Mpow X3 as your audio output.
Connectivity and range
Bluetooth 5.0 is standard on the X3, and that means:
- Longer range – up to 10 meters
- Higher bandwidth and faster connection speeds mean the X3 can handle higher sampling rates.
- Lesser latency which, like I just said, helps with calls and video playback
- Support for low energy connection, which works to improve battery life
Overall the X3 is able to snappily hook up to your phone and maintain connection even at a distance. My house has many walls, and apart from the few times I ventured far into my store corner, I’ve not experienced that many connection breaks while using the Mpow X3.
The range is a true 10 meters in free space, and I find that that should be enough range for comfort for most people.
You get up to 7 hours of battery life on the Mpow X3 with active use and up to 24 hours of standby time. That’s reasonable for a wireless earphone at this price and extra battery life is provided via the carry case. In my experience, it can provide three extra full charges to the X3 amounting to an additional 21 hours of battery life.
Should you buy the Mpow X3
For the price, the Mpow X3 pans out to be an absolute steal. Noise cancellation is great, sound quality is excellent, and the design/build is what you’d expect from a budget earphone that’s punching above its weight.
After two weeks of using the Mpow X3, I can confidently say it provides top value for money spent. You’d love it if you wanted something that sounds nice, works nice, and is nice enough to not break the bank.