What can you buy for $25? A great bottle of wine? Two large pizzas? A pair of TWS earphones? No, not those cheap ones off of AliBaba, I’m talking a real pair of TWS earphones from a bonafide audio company. Earlier today, Skullcandy launched Dime, a pair of budget wireless earbuds. They come with a 12-hour battery life (with the case), are IPX4 water-resistant, and cost 1/10th the price of the AirPods. At a price of $24.99, the Dime might be the cheapest pair of TWS earphones from a reputed audio brand.
“Dime breaks down all barriers formerly associated with true wireless,” says Jeff Hutchings, Skullcandy’s chief product officer, in a press release, “Offering stellar sound and unmatched simplicity at a price that makes it possible to throw a pair in every bag.” The TWS earphones come with a plastic construction and in 4 colours – Black, Gray, Green, and Blue. At their ‘throwaway’ price, the earphones really cut corners in a few places. They come with a 3.5 hour battery life, extended to half a day when charged in the case. The Dime doesn’t sport ANC (or any noise cancellation for that matter) or wireless charging. In fact, the earbuds don’t even come with touch-sensitive controls. They do, however, come with actual buttons (one on each earbud) that let you control volume, answer/reject calls, or cycle through music. Other than that, they’re just a pair of solid earphones with a secure fit and an IPX4 water-resistance rating, making them perfect for wearing while going on a jog or while at the beach. As far as sound-quality is concerned, $25 bucks will only get you so far… but given this is coming from a company as big as Skullcandy, they should sound pretty good for their price.
While this is a story about consumer-friendly innovation and how one company managed to make good TWS tech accessible to a large group of people by bringing the price down, it’s also a story of the environmental aftermath of such decisions. The earphones come made from plastic, although there’s really no indication of whether the plastic’s recycled or not (my money is on ‘No’). However, that’s just a small part of the Dime’s critique. The most important part about these earphones really is their price tag and the ‘throwaway’ culture that tag really feeds into, intentionally or unintentionally. At $25, there’s no way these earphones are designed to be repaired (repairing them may actually be more expensive), which means if and when they ever get spoilt, Skullcandy just expects you to throw out the old pair out and buy a new one instead. Given their size, and how ridiculously tiny the components within them are, chances are they’ll never be recycled for parts either… and once thrown, the Dime will just end up in a landfill or the ocean, resulting in plastic pollution, e-waste, and millions of tiny lithium-ion batteries entering our soil or waterways. Skullcandy? More like Skull-and-cross-bones…