LG Releases Wireless Earbuds, But Only in South Korea [Updated]
LG has joined the recent parade of hearable news, launching the LG Tone+ Free wireless earbuds in South Korea this week. The new device comes with Google Assistant built-in but the hearables are currently only available in LG’s home country.
Google Assistant by Touchpad
According to LG’s announcement, the Tone+ Free earbuds were built in partnership with Meridian Audio to develop superior audio quality, including ‘three-dimensional sound.’ The earbuds use two different microphones, with one devoted to detecting background noise that the device can cancel out to improve the audio, while the other focuses on the user’s speech.
While Google Assistant is part of the earbuds, it isn’t always listening. Both earbuds come with touchpads that activate the voice assistant, which can turn on music, make phone calls, or convey other commands to a connected smartphone. LG claims the earbuds have a battery life of six hours and that the included charging case is able to charge one hour of battery life every five minutes.
Higher-Cost, Limited Geography
The earbuds have black and white color options and will retail for approximately $215, with shipping beginning at the end of October. That’s more than the $149 Apple’s AirPods and almost $100 more than Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, and some of the other premium earbuds available for sale in the U.S.
The limited release to LG’s home base means the companymay not have to fight for its earbuds to gain traction in the increasingly competitive global hearables market. Jabra rolled out its new super-premium earbuds last month, while Amazon jumped into the fray last week when it announced the Echo Buds at its hardware event. Then there are startups like Picovoice offering their own take on true wireless earbuds. All of the options provide different variations on the same themes in terms of audio quality, voice assistant availability, always-listening capability, and battery power, but people only have two ears. So whichever brand consumers buy first could cement their buying habits for a long time.
Editors Note: This story was updated with the correct pricing at 9:00 am EDT on October 3, 2019. The commentary was adjusted to reflect the difference.