Because of the trendsetters that were the Apple AirPods, with their distinctive pipe-like design, many audio companies followed suit and adopted the design in their true wireless offerings. Play, a Gurugram-based company that has recently moved into the audio segment, recently launched the PlayGo T44 true wireless earphones with the famous pipe-like design. However, they cost a lot less than the AirPods, which are competitively priced at Rs 2,999. In this price range, the earphones have a range of competitors from brands such as Wings, Noise, Boult Audio, Boat and others. So let’s see how these AirPods lookalikes fared in our review.
Build and design
The PlayGo T44 may have adopted the general design of the Apple AirPods, but some design tweaks have been made that make them distinctive. For example, the charging case is an elongated pill-shaped design that is both pocket-sized and robust. The white charging case is mainly made of plastic and has a matte texture that feels good and is also quite resistant to fingerprints and dust.
The Play logo is stamped on the top of the case, while the back features a USB Type-C charging port. Plenty of affordable true wireless earphones have now finally adopted USB Type-C in place of the dated micro-USB, and it’s great to see the PlayGo T44 following suit. Aside from a smaller form factor, the case is also lightweight, weighing in at just 35g (without the buttons). The earbuds weigh about 5.5 grams each, bringing the weight to 41 grams. Unfortunately there is no LED battery indicator outside the case. Instead, the indicator is in the case and you have to pop the case open every time you want to check the battery status, which is rather inconvenient.
The case opens quite easily with two hands, but we found it quite taxing to pry it open with one hand. The buttons sit horizontally in the housing and the magnets that hold them in place are extremely strong. The earphones don’t budge even if the case has been dropped, which is impressive. The magnet on the lid is also quite strong and the case closes with an audible and satisfying click.
As for the earphones themselves, they also have the same plastic material and matte finish as the case. The long pipes are equipped with the microphones, the magnetic points that connect to the charging case and the Play logo. The top part of the stem contains touch sensors that can be used to control music playback and calls. More on their functionality later.
The earbuds, like the AirPods, do not have silicone eartips and have a half-in-ear design. This is a very polarizing design. While some swear by it, others absolutely abhor it. We found the fit to be quite snug and secure in most ears, despite the lack of silicone ear tips. However, if you have smaller ear canals, the earphones will occasionally tend to slide out. The reviewer has smaller ears than usual and found that the earphones don’t fit too tightly during jogging or intense workouts.
Overall, the earphones are extremely lightweight and as a result they tend to stay in most ears without the need for silicone tips. Compared to the Realme Buds Air, we also found the fit to be much more secure and comfortable. The compact charging case also impressed us with its aesthetic look and feel.
The PlayGo T44 earphones are not something we would call feature-rich, but they do have some pretty useful features. You get Bluetooth v5.0, which translates to some pretty solid connectivity and a wireless range of about 33 feet (without obstacles). The connection remained strong even if we put a wall between the earphones and the source device, which is quite decent.
They also come with an Auto Re-connect feature that essentially connects to the last paired device once the earbuds are removed from the case (if the device’s Bluetooth is turned on). The feature worked extremely seamlessly and the connection to the paired device was almost instant every time we took the earbuds out of the charging case.
The earphones also come with full touch controls that can be accessed by tapping the top half of the stem. A double tap on either side will pause/play the music, while a long press on the right earbud will skip to the next track and a long press on the left will skip to the previous track. Triple tapping one of the earbuds will summon your device’s voice assistant (Google Assistant or Siri). You can also accept or reject phone calls with the touch controls. Unfortunately, there is no way to control the volume of media or calls via touch controls.
The touch controls seem very intuitive, but they are a bit hit and miss. There is a lot of tapping and sometimes the earphones refuse to register taps. So when we tried to summon the Google Assistant with a triple tap, the earbuds only registered two taps and paused the music instead. Often times, even pausing the music would take 2-3 tries to get it right.
The earphones are also equipped with IPX4 sweat and water resistance, meaning they can easily absorb sweat and light rain, making them suitable for workouts and for use in rainy conditions. For charging, as mentioned above, you get the future-proof USB Type-C charging instead of micro USB, which is excellent at this price. The earphones also support the standard SBC and AAC audio codecs. We would have liked to see aptX support on this, but we won’t complain much about that at this price.
Finally, in terms of battery life, the PlayGo T44 true wireless earphones can play for 4 hours on the earbuds along with 4 additional charges through the charging case, bringing the total to around 20 hours. The numbers here are mediocre at best, especially on the peaks. The standard in true wireless earphones is generally about 6 hours through the earbuds, even on affordable models, so 4 hours of playback is definitely underwhelming.
Plus, in our testing, we found that the earbuds’ battery actually lasts just under 4 hours. The PlayGo T44 clocked in at 3 hours and 35 minutes of music playback at 50 percent volume, which is pretty disappointing. Nevertheless, the case charged the earphones 4 times, so that figure is pretty accurate, according to our testing. Overall, the PlayGo T44 has mediocre battery life, shaky touch controls but solid Bluetooth connectivity and USB Type-C charging. Charging the case from zero battery to full took about 2.5 hours in our tests.
With 10mm drivers, the PlayGo T44 has quite a sympathetic sound profile. The company claims that the earphones come with proprietary EBEL (Enhanced Bass Extra Loud) drivers that produce powerful bass and can get quite loud. We found the latter claim to be absolutely accurate, as the earphones got quite loud in our testing, meaning we could listen to music comfortably in the 40-50 percent volume range.
While the bass is certainly quite punchy, it’s not over the top at all, as we usually see in other affordable true wireless offerings. There is certainly weight in the lower frequencies compared to the mids, but the highs are equally well matched, creating a sonically pleasing V-shaped sound signature. In pull me under by means of Dream Theater, the cymbals sound just as lively as the bass guitar. However, there are some strange peaks in the treble that sometimes makes the sound a tad shrill.
Vocals can appear somewhat muffled due to the V-shaped signature, especially when it comes to male vocals. Lead guitars sound detailed but have been relegated somewhat to the background, with the low and high frequency instruments stealing the spotlight. Nevertheless, in vocal-centered tracks, such as Hello by means of Adelewith minimal instruments, you’ll really appreciate the clarity and sparkle of the vocals.
However, soundstage and imaging are a bit of a miss on these earphones. Tracks like Selkies from Between the Buried and Me can sound a bit chaotic due to overlapping instruments. Nevertheless, we are still impressed with the overall sound quality with the punchy but controlled bass, clear vocals and emphasized highs.
As for the microphone, the advantage of the long stems is that the microphone is a lot closer to your mouth than other true wireless earphones. Clarity and audibility go up considerably. On calls, we received no complaints about the clarity and loudness of our voice. Our voice didn’t sound muffled or far from the receiver, but the microphone tends to pick up a lot of ambient noise.
With decent comfort and fit, an IPX4 rating and good sound quality, the PlayGo T44 true wireless earphones become a pretty lucrative purchase for under 3K. These earphones sound much better than some of the sub-3K TWS earphones we tested recently, such as the Boat Airdopes 441 and the Boult Audio Airbass Livebuds. The compact form factor of the charging case is also a huge plus for those who value portability. However, if you have smaller ears than normal, the fit may be slightly inadequate. Nevertheless, the PlayGo T44 has a lot going for it and is a good buy for less than 3K.