Overview

In 2016 apple removed the headphone jack with the launch of the iPhone 7 and around same timeframe launched the AirPods which simplified yet complicated the standard Bluetooth headphones by removing wire linking them kickstarting the true wireless phase. A trend that most brands followed at many price points with Apple keeping up and revising their own even with a new pro series that provide enhanced isolation and other advanced features. One trend that stuck was that most of the name brand ones were rather costly with early budget models rather lacking on build and audio quality. Along with abundance of name brand models and budget ones there was clones of Apple's own that for most part had the look with build and sound quality being hit and miss.

The current generations of the clone, Wireless Earbuds, are getting good enough to pass for real thing unless closely examined.  Some of them even have decent audio. Recently, at a locally store, I was able to buy clones of the original Apple gen 1/2 style and the gen 1 pro style Earbuds. Both had good sound and a less than intuitive pairing method. The likeness to the Apple Earbuds, leaves them open to being passed off as the real thing, to those who are not aware. One positive on how these were marketed in store was that they came in a non-Apple style package. The ones covered on this article were purchased from Staples Canada at sale pricing with the non pro clones being already clearance.

Review

AirPods 1/2 Style (i9-TWS) - Basic Tech True Wireless In-ear Pods - White

Charging Case with USB A to Lightning Cable Package

Design wise this clone is spot on with there looks, other than the charging contacts for each headphone and clicky button on each earphone instead of touch controls.  For charging it came with a ridiculously short USB A cable to Lightning connector that plugs into the battery case, despite the manual indicating that USB B Micro is used. The battery case has loose but tactile 'click' to it with strong magnets holding it closed and the earphones stay somewhat firm inside with bumps disrupting charging.

Pairing is done by pressing and holding the button on each headphone for up to 2 seconds. Controls are done by pressing firm clicky button on each earphone in particular patterns on the correct ear.

Sound wise they are decent, especially considering the price.

Charging Case open with Earphones Visible Front of Charging Case Closed Back of Charging Case with on/off button visible Bottom of Charging Case showing Lightning charging port
Front of the Earphones Back of the Earphones Side of the Earphones Earphone charging connector

Detected in pairing mode as real Airpods Connected and showing battery level Settings
As with most clones they detect to iOS in some form of being a Apple authorized device to varrying details. In this case they just show up with the pairing dialog when detected.


AirPods Pro 1 Style (Pro3-TWS) - Basic Tech TWS True Wireless In Ear Buds W/Touch Function - White

Charging Case with USB A to USB C Cable Package

Again, design wise this clone is pretty well spot on other than having a USB C charging port instead of lightning. It does have closer to real thing for charging contacts for each headphone. The included short USB A to USB C charging cable, is also  ridiculously short. The charging case has a just as loose but tactile 'click' to it with strong magnets holding it closed as the non pro style but the earphones say firmly in charging mode.

Pairing is done by removing the Earbuds from the case and the phone, in most cases, should detect them. Controls are done by pressing the overly sensitive touch sensors on each earphone in particular patterns on the correct ear.

Sound wise they are reasonably good, like the non pro style, with fuller sound, except the Earbuds were reversed so left was right and right was left. This is a problem as you can not just change ears, as the Earbuds will not fit properly that way. This flaw may not apply to all units sold and could just be a quality control issue.

Charging Case open with Earphones Visible Front of Charging Case Closed Back of Charging Case with on/off button visible Bottom of Charging Case showing USB C charging port
Front of the Earphones Back of the Earphones Side of the Earphones Earphone charging connector

Mostly non-functional settings Coverage Status Forget Prompt
iCloud account forget prompt
Coverage Status Online
As with most clones they detect to iOS in some form of being a Apple authorized device to varrying details. In this case they don't show up with the connect dialog but present the settings that for most part don't do anything. Even more so the serial number provided was at one time real but was replaced.

How to spot fake

As the clones are getting better, these steps may not be a sure way to identify clones but it can point you in the right direction.

  1. Check the back to see if "Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China" is present on back in correct typeface.
    Missing text means they are fake.
    Text in incorrect typeface means they are fake
    .

  2. Check the hinge to see if it is metal
    Plastic hinge means they are fake.

  3. Check the charging port on the charging case
    If the charging case uses any other connector than lightning they are fake, however, some clones include lightning connector now.

  4. Check the reset button on back of charging case
    If button is not flush means they are fake
    Pressing the button for 4 seconds causes charging to start/stop means they are fake, though some clones now do the charging case reset.

  5. Examine the earphones to see if the charging contacts are correct and the vents are real
    If the vents are stickers, they are fake, some may have real vents now.
    If the charging contacts are not a split ring, they are fake, though, some may have the split ring charging now.


  6. Try to charge the case with earphones in case to test charging led
    If blue/orange LEDs glow through the white plastic they are fakes. Some of the newer ones now have a more consistent green charging led in correct spot.

  7. Check the serial number reported in settings if present on apples site at https://checkcoverage.apple.com/
    If the serial number comes up as invalid, replaced or such they are fake.

Checking with a combination of all those methods should help spot a fake set of AirPods.



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