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Nokia E3500 TWS Earbuds Review: Sleeper Hit

Review Verdict: The Nokia E3500 proves that the brand can make value-for-money wireless audio products just as well as budget phones. While the lack of ANC is a bummer, the Nokia E3500 still has an ace up its sleeve in the form of an ambient mode feature, useful when you’re using the pair outdoors. 

As part of its debut wireless audio offerings, the Nokia E3500 puts the brand on solid footing in the saturated budget TWS earbuds segment.

Pros:

  • Ambient mode does work as advertised
  • Long battery life (for the earbuds)
  • Has aptX codec

 

Cons:

  • Touch controls a bit tricky to use
  • Very basic control functions

The Nokia brand has expanded to offer products beyond cellphones in recent years, and interestingly two different entities handle the brand depending on the product line. HMD Global handles Nokia-branded feature phones and smartphones, while RichGo handles Nokia-branded wireless audio accessories. Part of its initial offerings in the Philippines is the Nokia E3500 TWS earbuds, which are a sub-Php 3.5k pair with a few interesting features.

Design

The Nokia E3500’s case is very utilitarian, making use of a frosted finish on the predominantly polycarbonate shell. You get a Nokia branding on top, an LED indicator light, and a USB-C port in front of the case. RichGo wants to make charging the case convenient, so placing the USB-C port in front is a good idea.

The earbuds themselves are rather chunky and have a dual-tone finish: matte light blue for the area of the drivers and silicone tips, and a glossy, dark blue finish for the stem. Aside from the microphone and Nokia branding, there’s a small bump to indicate the area for the touch controls. To add a bit of visual variety to them, they sport chrome trimmings on the end of the stem.

User Interface and Fit

With convenience as its top priority, the Nokia E3500 goes into pairing mode the moment you open the case and take them off. Once pairing is done, you can use them right off the bat.

Because of its short stem, the small bump is a necessary design element as nailing the touch controls right on the Nokia E3500 can be tricky at first. It took me several tries before I got used to tapping the touch controls.

Being a budget pair of TWS earbuds the controls are very basic: one tap for play/answering calls, two taps on the left earbud to toggle ambient mode, and two taps on the right earbud to fast forward music. The interface is similar to what I’ve encountered on the FreeBuds 3, though you don’t get the option to map the controls since there’s no companion app to go with it.

Because the Nokia E3500 is on the chunky side, they poke out of your ears when you wear them. To be fair with RichGo, the Nokia E3500’s ear tips are angled to make them as sleek as possible when you wear them. They’re relatively lightweight, so wearing them during long listening sessions is perfectly fine.

Audio Quality and Battery Life

The Nokia E3500 makes use of 10mm dynamic drivers, and their soundstage is very similar to the OnePlus Buds Z:  you get a good amount of punch for the bass while maintaining the clarity of the mids and highs. While they don’t go as loud as the Buds Z, the Nokia E3500 makes up for it by having better detail for the highs.

Unlike the Buds Z, the Nokia E3500 does not have wear detection sensors. Instead, you get aptX and ambient mode. While I appreciate the presence of the former since it means overall connection stability for high bitrate audio tracks is better than SBC/AAC codecs, I was surprised at the usefulness of the latter.

I don’t find it strange that you have ambient mode even if the Nokia E3500 does not have ANC. Activating ambient mode utilizes the Nokia E3500’s microphones to make you aware of your surroundings while listening to music or taking a call. Users may overlook this useful feature, and I appreciate RichGo for incorporating it on one of their budget TWS earbuds.

While the Nokia E3500 is rated for up to 25 hours with the charging case, the earbuds do have long battery life. RichGo advertises them to have 7 hours of battery life on a single charge. I manage to use them for around 3 hours while playing Genshin Impact and being engaged in a call as me and my friends were doing Co-Op domains, and still have around 50% juice left–which is impressive for a budget pair of TWS earbuds.

Charging is done via USB-C, and it takes around one and a half hours to juice them up to 100%. While it is not fast charging, the Nokia E3500’s charging speeds are at par with most budget TWS earbuds I’ve reviewed so far.

Wrap up and Conclusions

Our review of the Nokia E3500 reveals that RichGo definitely gave justice to these Nokia-branded TWS earbuds by packing them with value-added features like ambient mode, support for aptX, and stellar battery life for the earbuds themselves. I have little complaints about the Nokia E3500, but I hope RichGo explores the possibility of incorporating a companion app for better customization of the touch controls in the future.

They may be more expensive than the OnePlus Buds Z–which has a similar soundstage–but you get your money’s worth with the Nokia E3500.

Nokia E3500 Review Philippines Price

The Nokia E3500 is priced at Php 3,499 and is available at the Nokia Personal Audio Shopee Store.

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