buy now £69.99, Skullcandy.co.uk
- Rating: 8.5/10
- Headphone type: True Wireless In-Ear
- Connection type: Bluetooth® 5.2
- Impedance: 22 Ohms
- Driverdiameter: 6mm
- Sound pressure level: 112dB±3dB
- Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
- Weight: 95g (case and earbuds)
These buds couldn’t be easier to set up. Simply put them in the charging case with the lid open, open Bluetooth settings on your phone, find Push Active and pair them.
You can use these straight off the bat – no need to wait a few hours for them to charge up – and can download the Skullcandy app, which allows you to set up voice control among other features. It may be just us, but having to say “Hey Skullcandy” for voice activation feels a bit onerous and mildly embarrassing compared with “Hey Siri” or “Hey Bixby” but it’s a small flu.
These firmly tick the box for our top prerequisite of staying put. Once on, they stayed exactly where we put them with no adjustments needed.
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This secure fit doesn’t come at the cost of comfort either. These hook over the ear from the front with a soft, light, flexible hanger. We promise you, it is very comfortable and doesn’t press down or rub when you start running – a complaint we’ve had with other hooked earbuds. The ear hangers are a great feature if, like us, you panic about earbuds falling down to drain too. And they worked just as well while wearing glasses.
There are three ear tip sizes to ensure a good fit, which is a feature not to be sniffed at, especially if you have particularly small or large ear canals. The smallest fitted our 12 year old perfectly and we felt happier lending her these than our Apple Airpods Pro, knowing that they wouldn’t fall out.
However, when it comes to looks, these are not the subtlest earbuds on the market. They are a little on the bulky side, as is the case – though this only presents a problem if you want to slot it into a running/gym leggings pocket – still they’re neat enough for our liking.
Easy, hands-free use is what you’re after with sports earbuds so that your phone can stay in your armband/belt/rucksack and these certainly fit the bill. You can either use voice control or the tiny buttons on the side of the buds themselves.
Press once for play/pause or to answer a call, twice for volume up or down, or press and hold to launch Spotify. You can also hold for slightly longer which will then enable you to either share audio or join audio between two Skull-iQ products – a great feature if you’re working out with someone and want to listen together in real time. And while all those different directions may seem confusing, it’s all easy enough to remember and works well when you’re on the move.
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You can also use voice activation to access Siri or Google Assistant, and we found it easy to complete other tasks such as send texts or check the time. The earbuds don’t stop playing when you take them out of your ear though, so you have to remember to pause if you’re listening to a podcast or the like.
Sound quality matters to some people more than others. If you’re a sound amateur and can’t bear your favorite tracks sounding anything less than sublime, these aren’t for you. However, if you’re just after listening to some great tunes or a podcast/audio book while you work out, the sound quality is more than ample. Nothing spectacular, but we wouldn’t expect it to be at this price.
The app offers a custom equalization (EQ) feature, so you can fine-tune the sound if you want to. It does make a difference but we found that it wasn’t generally necessary as the balance is pretty good across most musical genres.
There are also presets that customize according to whether you’re listening to music, movies or podcasts. Taking calls was also easy with voice activation and the sound was decent enough, although they wouldn’t be our choice for calls as their sole use.
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Unlike most other earbuds on the market. these do not have active noise canceling (ANC). So if you’re someone who wants total immersion in what you’re listening to, then these aren’t for you. This isn’t such a dealbreaker for us, so we personally found that they drowned out enough background noise, such as conversation and the neighbor’s building work when we were indoors, for our liking.
If, however, your gym plays very loud music, these wouldn’t drown that out completely so you might want to look elsewhere. And as for outdoors, these earbuds took out enough background sound to hear music well against the roar of nearby traffic. But again, for us, total noise cancellation isn’t our preference when we’re out running anyway, as it dampens awareness of what’s going on around you. The good news is that there’s a stay-aware mode that you can turn on if you want to let more external noise let in.
With around 10 hours of listening time plus 34 from the charging case, the battery life on these buds is very good. They also tell you what percentage of battery is left when you remove them from the case which is handy. And in terms of charging time, this is also very quick – ideal for a quick top-up. They don’t charge wirelessly sadly, but it’s not something we wouldn’t expect that at this price anyway.
Skullcandy has given these buds an IP55 sweat rating, which means that they aren’t totally sealed off to dust, but not enough dust is capable of entering to damage them. It also means that they’ll hold up against low-pressure water jets from all directions.
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Be warned though, they’re not totally waterproof so you can’t submerge them and you might want to put them away in a torrential downpour. But they should be able to withstand sweat and light rain. We found that they withstood several long, sweaty runs without any issues.
As an added bonus, if you’re fond of taking selfies while you’re out and about, you can turn one of the earbuds into a remote for your camera, so you can prop your phone up and avoid the dash to get into shot with a timer. Nifty! You can also connect them with a Tile key finder to help you locate them if lost – a great idea for when one or both go walkabout in the bottom of your gym bag.
The verdict: Skullcandy push active
Skullcandy push active is a solid choice if you want true wireless earbuds for sport. Nothing about them blows you away but the price point is indicative of that and everything about them is good enough. They’re comfortable and easy to use at a refreshingly affordable price. Some of its competitors are considerably more expensive and don’t have the ear hanger, which is a game-changer if you share our fear of drains.