The Cleer Ally Plus true wireless earbuds are said to have 10 hours of battery life between charges, plus 20 more hours of charge in the case. When we had a chance to look at the Ally Plus pair at the CES 2019 trade show, we didn’t find the size to be massive or obtrusive. The earbuds will be IPX4-rated, and they’ll cost $200 when they’re officially released in December 2019.
The headphones are designed for go-anywhere, do-anything performance, with built-in earfins and IPX2 sweatproofing that allow them to be a companion during rainy runs and sweaty workouts alike. We found the design to also be extremely comfortable, even for extended periods. The charging case is one of the smaller ones we’ve seen — not quite as compact as the AirPods charging case, but very close. The only disappointment is that it only carries a little more than one recharge’s worth of juice, which means there may be times when these earbuds can’t quite make through a full day without needing either a plug or a wireless charging mat (or phone).
Our panel evaluated each pair’s sound quality, ease of use, fit, and comfort and then ranked their top three picks. I then took those favorites and tested the microphones over phone calls in both quiet and noisy areas via a voice-recorder app. I checked the Bluetooth signal reliability by wandering a good distance away from my phone, putting it in a pocket or bag, walking outside, and going several rooms away. And, of course, we tested battery life to make sure that the actual use time lined up with each manufacturer’s claim. Once we had a sense of how each set of headphones performed, we took price and extra features into account and then chose our final winners.
Surprisingly, many of these wire-free models can be used at the gym and even get wet, despite the fact that each earpiece has an exposed charging contact on the inside. Check the IP rating of these; some workout-friendly earphones are only IPX4-rated, so they can stand up to sweat but might be hard to wash. Others are IPX7-rated, which means they can survive getting rinsed and dunked.