IF TIM COOK doesn’t get on stage and announce a new iPhone that is decidedly, one hundred percent, bet-yer-bottom-dollar devoid of a headphone jack, a lot of companies are going to look pretty silly. Everyone’s been thirstily announcing their own wireless earbuds over the last few weeks, from Samsung to Bose to Jabra, and now Bragi’s gone and made its announcement in Cupertino. On Labor Day. Bragi’s new in-ear headphones, bizarrely called The Headphone, are in theory a perfect companion to your new supposedly wireless smartphone.
The Headphone headphones (I mean, this name, come on) are a simplified version of the Bragi Dash. The Dash is full of wild ambition about being a computer in your ears and terminology like “smart hearable,” but The Headphone is just…headphones. Two totally wireless buds, one with three small buttons for controlling playback. You can use them for music, phone calls, Siri, and everything else you’d do with headphones not called Headphone. They connect to your phone via Bluetooth, and Bragi says they’ll last for six hours before needing to go back in the charging case.
A few of Bragi’s more futuristic ideas made their way into The Headphone, like “audio transparency,” which lets you allow some ambient sound in even while you wear the headphones. In general, though, it’s a much simpler device, at a much more stomachable price: $119 for pre-orders, and $149 once it’s on sale. That’s less than half the price of the Dash.
The Dash still feels a little futuristic, which is in part a kind way of saying all the best things about it don’t work very well so far. But the biggest problem we had in testing those buds was that they just didn’t stay connected very well, which turns out to be a big downside for wireless headphones. Much of Bragi’s software work has focused on connectivity over the last few months, and the company swears it’s better now. If that’s actually true, and if Apple killing the headphone jack causes enough pain for enough users, Bragi’s rush to announce something might have been a smart move. Assuming, of course, it can stand out among the Bluetooth headphone tidal wave cresting over Best Buys everywhere.