JLab’s Flex Open Earbuds are a $50 version of the Bose Ultra Open

Bose surprised everyone when he debuted his music video Ultra Open Headphones earlier this year. It was part fashion and part function, leaving your ears open to ambient sounds while you listened to tunes or podcasts. This model is $299, but this price is too high for anyone who wants to try a unique style of clothing. Enter JLab, a budget audio company with a solid track record of sound quality and features under $100, and its new model: Flex Open Headphones. At just $50, it’s easier to gamble on a clip-on design, especially if you don’t want to lug them around your buds all day.

The Flex Open Earbuds offer the same basic premise as the Bose model. They attach behind your ear while placing the speaker outside your ear canal. This leaves your ears open to the extraneous noise you really want to hear while keeping your ears unplugged and comfortable. JLab Flex Open Earbuds promise to be suitable for calls, and multipoint Bluetooth allows you to easily switch devices. Google Fast Pair is available on Android devices, so you can connect the buds right out of the box.

Where the Flex Open Earbuds really excel over the Ultra Open Earbuds is in durability and battery life. The $50 JLab version is rated IP55 while the Bose model is IPX4. According to the company, the Flex Open Earbuds will also last more than seven hours on a single charge, which is at least two hours longer than what I got on the Ultra Open Earbuds during my tests.

In terms of sound, the JLab uses 12mm drivers tuned to satisfy both bass lovers and listeners who like crisp, clear treble. JLab software also provides Bass Boost, which uses an algorithm for “amazing” performance and a “truly immersive sound experience.” I wouldn’t expect Bose-level sound quality here, but JLab’s reputation is solid enough that they’ll get the job done audio-wise. Plus, I mean, you save $250 in the process.

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