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JLab's Flex Open Earbuds are a $50 version of the Bose Ultra Open

You get slightly better durability and longer battery life for a lot fewer dollars.


Bose surprised everyone when it debuted its clip-on Ultra Open Earbuds early this year. The premise was part fashion and part function, leaving your ears open to ambient sounds while you listen to tunes or podcasts. That model is $299 though, a price that's prohibitive for anyone looking to give the unique wear style a try. Enter JLab, the budget audio company with a solid track record for sound quality and features for under $100, and its new model: the Flex Open Earbuds. At just $50, it's much easier to take a gamble on the clip-on design, especially if you don't want make these your all-day buds.

The Flex Open Earbuds offer the same basic premise as the Bose model. They clip onto the back of your ear while situating a speaker just outside of your ear canal. This leaves your ears open to outside noise you actually want to hear while also keeping your ears unplugged and comfy. JLab promises that the Flex Open Earbuds are suitable for calls, and multipoint Bluetooth allows you to switch devices with ease. Google Fast Pair is available on Android devices, so you can connect as soon as you take the buds out of the case.

Where the Flex Open Earbuds actually surpass the Ultra Open Earbuds is durability and battery life. The $50 JLab version is IP55 rated where the Bose model is IPX4. The Flex Open Earbuds will also last over seven hours on a charge, according to the company, which is at least two hours more than I got on the Ultra Open Earbuds during my tests.

In terms of audio, JLab employs 12mms drivers that it says are tuned to satisfy both bass lovers and listeners who love crisp, clear treble. The JLab app also provides a Bass Boost feature that leverages an algorithm for "astonishing" performance and "a truly immersive audio experience." I wouldn't expect sound quality on the level of Bose here, but JLab's reputation is solid enough that these will probably get the job done audio-wise. Plus, I mean, you're saving $250 in the process.