Portable ear headphones need to stay with you throughout the course of a day. That’s easy to do when you’re sitting at a desk, taking a flight, or are otherwise in a stationary position. But when you start to walk, or enter into athletic activities, suddenly it’s not so easy to get Bluetooth headphones to stick inside your ear.
If you’re choosing headphones in the $20-30 range, then you’ve got to shift your attention to the design factors that matter most to you personally. Do you need an exhaustively large battery? Are you trying to find headphones with a charging case? Do you expect to be active or semi-active with your headphones?
Answering these types of questions is really how you match yourself up with a great pair of Bluetooth headphones. Because even though you can’t ask for excellence in every category at this price range, you can get excellence where it counts.
Mpow D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth Headphones
Like their name suggests, the Mpow D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth Headphones are an upgraded version of the classic Mpow D7. Like the original, they use an over-ear hook, intended to help secure these headphones against your head. Even if you start to run, jog, exercise, or otherwise move around, these headphones do a pretty good job of sticking with you.
Apart from their athletic design, the D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth Headphones have among the best batteries of any Mpow sports headphones. They have among the best waterproofing of any Mpow headphones. And though the hardware itself isn’t anything special, the D7 makes use of modern software protocols that can help carry sound quality to respectable levels.
Build & Design
The Mpow D7 is constructed to provide IPX7 waterproofing protection. Though Mpow describes this protection as helping the D7 become resistant against sweat, the IPX7 certification actually indicates you’re protected against light submersion as well. In other words, whether you’re doing yoga, jogging, hiking, or kayaking through white rapid rivers, you’re always protected.
The connective wire between each ear bud is rather short, among the shortest you’ll find from a behind-the-neck design like the one used by the Mpow D7 Upgraded Bluetooth Headphones. The wire is also flat, which helps it prevent and resist tangling. It’s questionable if this design is ultimately beneficial to the lifespan of the D7, but not having to deal with tangled wires is unquestionably a good thing.
Atop the Mpow D7, an ergonomic ear hook keeps each earbud in place. The ear hooks are unfortunately not replaceable and don’t come in different sizes, but that’s a feature you’ll only find on very high end equipment. To their credit, the ear hooks used by the D7 are fully flexible.
Being made from silicone allows them to move as necessary, while still keeping the earpiece firmly in place. This design also prevents fatigue on your ears because it allows the Mpow D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth Headphones to split the job of keeping the earbuds in your ear between two components.
In-ear headphones without an ear-hook rely more on the earbud becoming firmly lodged within a person’s ear canal. That doesn’t have to be uncomfortable immediately, but after a few hours of having silicone press against the edges of your ear, it can wear on you.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
For this type of headphone, comfort often comes down to ear hook performance. Very large ear-hooks tend to be better suited for people with very large ears, but very unsuitable to everyone else. Medium-sized ear hooks can work reasonably well for people with larger ears, and are far more accommodating to people closer to average.
The decision made by the Mpow D7 Bluetooth Headphones to use these medium-sized hooks is understandable, and almost certainly the right design choice for a pair of inexpensive headphones like these. But it’s something to keep in mind for people who have larger ears.
There are four sizes of ear tips included: large, medium, small, and extra small. Being able to swap between those sizes can help ensure that the majority of all people ought to be able to find a comfortable fit with the Mpow D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth headphones, at least with respect to their ear-tips.
Extra Foam Plugs
In addition to the normal silicone ear tips, the Mpow D7 includes memory foam ear tips. These one-size-fits-all tips are a good solution for people who are trying to maximize noise isolation. The foam performs about as well as a pair of ordinary foam earplugs, which can block about 30dB in sound.
Actually switching over to the foam plugs can be a minor hassle, especially if you have poor wrist strength, or you feel nervous about handling the headphones roughly. The silicone tips don’t pop off easily; you’ve got to make an effort to pull them out.
When you’re not using the foam ear tips, you’ll find the noise isolation provided by the silicone tips is low-average. This is probably by design. A degree of ambient noise is allowed through, so you can hear car horns, and whether or not a person is trying to speak with you. Swapping to the memory foam plugs can really make a big difference if you enter an environment where sound isolation is really important.
The Mpow D7 manages to construct the majority of its audio quality through a combination of CSR chip, modern Bluetooth support, and a small handful of Mpow’s own engineering tricks. Though Mpow doesn’t have the same reputation as brands like Bose, they do know a couple of things about sound design, which is more than you can say for every manufacturer of entry-level headphones.
The physical construction of these headphones really brings little special to the table, though their copper based design provides the essentials for a good soundstage. The audio quality is largely software driven, and as a result, the mid-tones and treble range come out sounding like nearly every other pair of headphones in this price range.
Though the D7 provides a full soundstage for music to play on, and there’s no hidden disappointments in audio quality, there’s little to celebrate either. The bass has been slightly boosted. If you’re indifferent to boosted bass, you can even out the soundscape with an equalizer. But admittedly, a little extra bump to the bass does make the Mpow D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth Headphones far more suitable for certain types of media.
What makes Mpow D7 Upgraded Bluetooth Headphones different from the non-upgraded version? Well, actually a number of things. But few of them are as important as the improvements in the battery. The upgraded D7 uses a bulky 120mAh lithium-ion cell battery. Once you’ve got it fully charged, it can offer around a dozen hours of playtime.
It’s actually closer to 14-hours of talk time, if you’re primarily using the headset to take calls. Conversely, if you’re really straining the battery with heavy volume use, that battery estimate will fall closer to 9 hours. It can fall even lower if you’re jogging outside on a cold morning. These types of seemingly small factors can make a big difference on battery life.
Though few people might try, it’s not a good idea to play these headphones while they’re still charging. It’s possible to do so, but you risk terrible damage to the lifespan of your battery.
How long can you expect the Mpow D7 Upgraded Bluetooth headphones to last? It really depends on how often you use them, and how well you treat them. But assuming you treat them reasonably well, and you’re not using them for several hours every single day, it would be possible to squeeze out more than three years of enjoyable music from these headphones.
Keep in mind, if you treat your headphones poorly, that lifespan estimate will fall downwards towards 18-months. But really, for this price, lasting more than a year would already make the D7 a pretty good value.
In addition to the multiple pairs of ear tips, the Mpow D7 includes a wire clip and clothing clip. Because the wire is actually pretty short, many people won’t end up feeling the need to have to tame it with a clip. But if you do end up feeling as though the wire is flopping around awkwardly, it’s nice to have the option to clip it against your shirt. The clip is nothing special, but it doesn’t stand out, and that’s appreciated.
Though using words like “average” to describe the Mpow D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth Headphones might seem a little derisive, in many of the ways that count, it’s actually complimentary. Their underlying technology may not seem terribly different from headphones made in the past. But historically speaking, headphones like this would’ve cost twice as much only a couple of years ago.
Mpow includes a 45-day money back guarantee and lifetime warranty. The lifetime warranty might seem confusing because these types of headphones tend to have a modestly short lifespan. Keep in mind the warranty doesn’t cover wear-and-tear; it only covers a defect.
Who Should Choose Mpow D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth Headphones?
Mpow D7 Upgraded Bluetooth Headphones are for a certain type of listener. They’re probably not the right choice for someone who’s principally concerned with blocking out sound, though they do provide some memory foam ear tips to keep all your options open.
They’re probably not the right call for someone who only wants to use them for calling, though they do have a great battery life for that kind of activity. They just happen to lack anything resembling special call features. In fact, the upgraded battery life can stretch playtime about one third further than many of the best Mpow headphones.
Though their audio quality is more or less average, that’s probably a compliment considering how inexpensive these headphones happen to be. Relative to their price, they’re certainly a great value. Which makes the Mpow D7 [Upgraded] Bluetooth Headphones worth picking up for anyone seeking athletic-friendly headphones with a highly approachable price.