On August 8, Samsung became the latest smartphone maker to ditch the 3.5mm audio jack on its Galaxy Note 10 series. The South Korean giant was the last to hold out in this long quest to bid adios to the proprietary audio port. By dropping the audio jack, Apple, Google, Samsung and OnePlus have pushed their customers towards wireless headphones. Apple offers AirPods, Samsung offers Galaxy Buds, OnePlus has Bullets Wireless, and Google has Pixel Buds. In other words, the end of headphone jack has resulted in growth of wireless headphones and Skullcandy Jib+ wants to benefit from that momentum.
One of the key aspects of offerings from Apple and Samsung being that they don’t fit into every person’s budget. In case, if you are looking for something cheaper that gets the job done then there are plenty of options. Brands like Boat, Jabra, Skullcandy and others specialize in this segment. The segment has only become more competitive with the entry of brands like OnePlus, Xiaomi, and even Realme. Catering to these set of users, Skullcandy has launched the Jib+ at Rs 2,499 in India. I have been using them to listen to music, podcasts and even Netflix videos for couple of weeks. Here is my review.
Design and Comfort
A good headphone, regardless of style or technology, should have the best comfort. The Skullcandy Jib+ does just that with its around the neck style. It offers excellent fit inside the ear and stays in place even when you try to swing your head hard. It also stays around the neck over a longer period of time. In the past, I have had issues where such a design would fall back and cause a terrible feeling. The Jib+ does not suffer from any of that issue and it offers, what I would describe as, well thought after design.
The neckband has microphone and controls for volume rocker and play/pause button on the left side. The right side has another pill shaped object that houses the battery. The earbuds sport removable stability gels, and the box contains ear gels in three different sizes. Skullcandy also includes a secure cable clip in the box. The in-line microphone and remote has the microUSB port for charging. The design is minimal and it works without causing any failure.
How does it sound?
Every day I observe dozens of people travelling in train that have such wireless earbuds around their neck. Despite people present in the train, they are looking to connect with others in the virtual world. It just shows how important calling function is even when chatting remains popular. If you are someone who makes a lot of voice calls then the Jib+ from Skullcandy is not the right choice. Every time I placed a call via Bluetooth and spoke, my contacts complained that I sounded very low. At least five others told me that I needed to speak louder in order to be audible.
It could be because of the smaller 9mm drivers found on these earbuds or lack of tuning. With impedance equivalent to 15 Ohms, the Skullcandy Jib+ failed to make voice calls better. Even while listening to music, it’s performance was average and not really up to the standards of Skullcandy. The headphone lacks the character associated with every audio brand. Skullcandy, for instance, plays well with bass without compromising on the nature of mid-range.
I started with Truth As Hell where Lizzo’s voice should have been loud but it ended up landing flat. The use of percussion also sounded unclear. When I played Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album Dedicated, the audio was subdued and the results were less than inspiring. I have been listening to The Boys of Summer by Don Henley a lot lately. The fast tempo of the song can be challenging even for expensive audio devices and while I didn’t have much expectation, the Jib+ did not play that song to its potential. However, that doesn’t mean it is absolutely bad.
Say, you’re listening to John Mayer’s new single Carry Me Away. It is a song that has a soft melody and plays a lot with its vocal registers. On Jib+, it sounded good and managed to retain the dynamics of Mayer’s sound. I compared the output to my more expensive wireless over-the-ear and I could not complain. If you listen to Bollywood music then Jib+ won’t be that big of a disappointment. I enjoyed the Jib+ the most when I was listening to a podcast where sound is generally loud and people talk to tell a story.
Bluetooth Connectivity and Battery Life
One of the strange things I noticed was the drop in Bluetooth connection where it would disconnect and reconnect on its own. The interference was also more prominent, which makes it less than pleasant experience. On the battery side, Skullcandy rates that Jib+ will last six hours on a single charge. In my time testing the device, I got anywhere between four and five hours of music playback. It is good enough to work during your commute, but is not good for the entire workday. I spend most of work hours listening to music and juggling between videos and podcasts. It is needless to say that I can’t get through the day without charging it at least once. Realme Buds Wireless, which is cheaper than Skullcandy Jib+, has a much longer battery life.
It now seems evident that consumers are embracing wireless audio just like USA embraced minstrel music. It is a no brainer that you should buy wireless earphones if you are looking to use them specifically with your smartphone. In that regard, I had set the bar really high for Skullcandy Jib+. It had to deliver on key areas such as comfort, sound quality, battery life and price. I think it falls short of matching up to rivals in the price segment.
The best part of Skullcandy Jib+ is its comfortable design. The ear plugs create a nice seal inside your ear and also provide a pseudo noise isolation. However that comfort gets overshadowed by paltry audio performance and disappointing calling experience. The Jib+ would have scored brownie points if it had been priced around Rs 1,500. Thus, it becomes easier to recommend the Realme Buds Wireless over this Skullcandy.