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TCL's new true wireless earbuds are super cheap – but there's a catch

true wireless earbuds
(Image credit: TCL)

Cheap true wireless earbuds are becoming increasingly common, as manufacturers seek to create budget-friendly rivals for the Apple AirPods – and the TCL AUDIO S200 true wireless earbuds that were announced as part of the company's IFA 2020 press conference are just that. 

Costing 99€ (about $115 / £85 / AU$160), the new wireless earbuds come in white and black, with the option for a bright turquoise charging case for the white variants. 

The long AirPods-style ear stems come with touch sensors, so you can adjust your music playback without digging your phone out of your pocket, while a long press on the stems will summon your device's voice assistant.

An IP54 water/dustproof rating means that the MOVEAUDIO S200 should be suitable for use while working out, with the ability to withstand a little sweat or rain, as well as dust.

What's the catch?

Support for Bluetooth 5 means that these buds should provide a stable connection to your phone, while "a dual Bluetooth transmission ensures low latency while you’re watching movies or playing games", according to TCL.

While TCL hasn't provided information on the kind of drivers housed within these earbuds, it does say that each earbud is "equipped with a highly precise and sensitive coil that brings your music to life, from deep bass to gentle acoustics".

Phone calls should sound clear too, thanks to four beam forming microphones that "filter out external noise and focus on your voice", so that you're easily understood by the person on the end of the line.

Unfortunately, there's no noise cancellation like you'd find with the AirPods Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM3, but that's to be expected at this price point. 

What isn't to be expected is the brief battery life provided by the MOVEAUDIO S200 true wireless earbuds. There's just 3.5 hours contained within the buds themselves, and while the charging case does come with a further 23 hours of juice, that's far less than much of the competition. 

For example, the Lypertek Tevi – which are roughly the same price – provide an incredible 10 hours within the earbuds, and 70 hours from the charging case. Granted, that's exceptionally good, but we'd expect true wireless earbuds in 2020 to come with at least five hours of onboard battery life.