In a nutshell: JBL has introduced a new set of earbuds that come with what it is calling the world's first smart charging case. The JBL Tour Pro 2 buds ship with a charging case packing a 1.45-inch LED touchscreen display. The small panel showcases the remaining battery life for each earbud as well as the case itself and affords simplified music navigation. Users can also view messages and social media notifications without having to reach for their phone, and check the time.
The buds feature 10mm dynamic drivers and connect wirelessly via Bluetooth 5.3. They further boast adaptive noise canceling, six microphones for voice calls and come with multiple ear tip sizes to optimize fit.
Battery life is rated at up to 10 hours, and the touchscreen case can supply an additional 30 hours of listening time for a combined 40 hours. That's respectable but nowhere near what Adidas' recently announced solar-power headphones are capable of.
The obvious selling point here is the touchscreen-equipped charging case and at first glance, it seems like a decent idea. The issues start to compound when you take a closer look, however.
JBL bills the buds as advantageous because you don't need to interact with your phone to control the action as everything can be accomplished using the touchscreen on the charging case. To that, I'd argue that you already have your phone nearby to stream music to the buds. Is adding yet another device to the equation really accomplishing much?
Baking a screen into the charging case is going to suck down even more power which translates to less listening time. It might be negligible, but it's a drain nevertheless. Furthermore, adding a screen to the mix makes the case bulkier than it would be otherwise. Did I mention your phone already has a far superior display?
The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds are scheduled to arrive in January 2023 in your choice of black or champagne priced at $250 in Europe. No word yet on whether or not JBL is planning to bring them to other markets.