The market for Bluetooth headphones has definitely made an upwards softs in the last year or so, likely aided by Apple’s AirPods. A once rather mediocre market, is now trying new things, and, what’s great for us consumers, becoming more affordable.
On the topic of adorable, comes these, the Funcl W1. You’ve likely never heard of Funcl, and you shouldn’t, as this time last year it wasn’t a thing. Started out as an Indigogo project, which we were part of the early funding, the W1 are one of two pairs of Earphones designed to battle directly with Apple’s AirPods, and we think, beat them.
Being a contributor, meant these cost barely $19, however, now they’re at Retail stage, they will rub you back $49, a price we hope stays that way, as in the market, for what these offer, it’s a great price. Though, mention of the $49 being half price doesn’t give much confidence, as whilst we would recommend them for $49, if that was to be doubled we’d struggle to.
One thing you definitely can’t knock the Funcl W1 for is design, they’re understated, yet look great at the same time. The charging Case, shown above, is available in either a glossy silver White colour, or Black. Unlike Apple’s AirPods, it doesn’t look like something from Colgate, which is always a good thing.
Unlike some competitors in this field, the design of the Buds is pretty classy, which is a relief as we think it’s public knowledge, despite any merits, no one can say with a straight face you don’t look like an absolute tool wearing AirPods, whereas these are small, discrete and we love them for that.
Connection and pairing
To connect the Funcl to your device, most likely a Smartphone, it couldn’t be easier, remove the Earbuds from the Case, with your Bluetooth on, the Funcl will automatically pair to the first device that issues a Pair request, should it ask for a Password, it will always be “0000”. However, if the Funcl already are paired with a nearby device, they will automatically re-pair.
Unlike most Bluetooth headphones, there’s no pairing button, and the pairing process is not done using the Case as the Pairer, however, you do need to return the Funcl’s to the Case, before you can re-pair, or pair again should you disconnect.
We’ll start by getting our least favourite feature out of the way, yes these charge over micro USB, and it’s a real shame, though we’ll somewhat forgive for their budget price point.
Funcl claim the Funcl W1 can last 4 and a half hours on their own, that rising to 18 hours with the case. We’ve found that to be more or less accurate. We would say don’t rely on the Bluetooth battery indicators, on both iOS or Android, they seemingly had 100% all day, which we know they didn’t due to the red lights.
Speaking of Red light, one useful indicator on the Case, is a Red light next to the microUSB port, to let you know that the juice is running low, and it won’t be able to support the Funcl’s too long. When charging, this turns White, once the charge is complete, though we have found that it’s not entirely accurate at reading when they’re fully full, so we recommend leaving it charging a bit longer than it claims is full.
Do they sound better than AirPods? Yes, absolutely. But, do they sound amazing, of course not. This brings us back to the pricing of the Funcl’s being a very important factor, should they be serious in offering the W1s for $99 in the future, these don’t sound good enough to be priced at that level, plus the fact that if you’re wanting an AirPod competitor, if you’ve already reached $100, why not just go the extra mile, you’ll gain features these don’t have, such as the pairing chip Apple use (confusingly also called W1), and Find my AirPods feature.
However, in our testing of the Funcl’s with both an iPhone and an Android phone, we’ve found surprisingly very different results?! On an iPhone, we found the Funcl’s to be very “okay”, the Audio was loud, distorted at loud volume, though bass was rather hard to come by, it was there, but we really had to run through Apple’s rather mediocre Equaliser settings (why can’t we just manually adjust Apple?) before we got a pleasant sound.
Oddly on Android, they sound good. Audio has more full-ness to it, bass is more prominent, and, thanks to Android actually having manual Equalisers, you can actually push some rather acceptable bass out of these! They reach the bass level that’s just right, not too much like Beats, but not over tinny, so we’re impressed when it comes to Android … for some reason.
We don’t know if this is to do with Apple’s way of handling Bluetooth over Google’s, it’s rather fair to say there’s A LOT more Bluetooth codec support on Android, though these only use the same aptX that both iOS or Android support, so it’s rather strange in that regard.
Despite the random oddities discovered along the way, we’re a big fan of the Funcl’s. Are they for audiophiles, of course they’re not, but who they are for, is for someone who wants to listen to a bit of music wire-free, whether that be at the gym, on the go, and just wants portability as key. The case is small, fits in any pocket and the headphones fit snugly in the case when not in use. They’re also comfortable to wear as well, we would say check the other tip sizes, as it took the bigger ones for us to make them fit just right.
Portable, lightweight and comfortable to use
Great battery life, we get through a working week with 2 charges (start and middle of week)
Attractive design; understated yes, but they blend not standing out with looking decent as well
IPX5 water resistance may not be the best, but it’s piece of mind
Touch controls (we didn’t mention them for a reason) are dreadful. The Funcl’s have touch controls on each side for additional functions, 9 times out of 10 it won’t register, so they’re best forgetting.
The case is rather uninspiring, and shiny plastic is just asking for these to fall out of a pocket
These were promised to retail for $29, it’s not $49. Still a great price, for now, just don’t raise it any further