Retailing for around £70, you may not expect the very best quality from the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32, but you may be pleasantly surprised. The first thing you notice about the Air-Fi AF32 earphones is how comfortable they are to wear – at least until you get into the gym.
The padded red earpieces sink into the contours of your lugs, and the lightweight black plastic headband has a generous strip of red padding that cushions the top of your head. In my tests the pads formed a good seal with my ears and, unlike plenty of other Bluetooth headphones I’ve tried, were a pleasure to wear for a long time. (See also: MeElectronics M9P review.)
Indeed, the fit was almost too good, as a hot room made my ears unfeasibly hot and a run in the gym had my ears streaming, if not steaming. On a practical level it’s also a bit of a shame that folding up the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 doesn’t really gain you too much. I am pretty hard on earphones, and I am worried that a block of plastic this bulky won’t last for long (albeit they stood up to a few days of being slung in my bag on my way too and from PC Advisor Towers).
You do get a protective bag, however, of which more later…
MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 folded: really. This is folded
The fact that I tested the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 over such a long period of time speaks to another of their strengths: battery life. Meelec claims that the Air-Fi AF32 have a talk-time battery life of more than 10 hours, and a listening time of at least 12 hours. My time using the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 principally for listening to music and podcasts suggests that this is a fair rating. They do take a few hours to charge, however, using the supplied USB to 3.5mm jack charging adaptor.
This adaptor feels a little flimsy, as does the supplied 3.5mm cable that turns the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 into wired headphones. This is not too much of a concern as you are unlikely to purchase £70 Bluetooth headphones in order to use them like £10 wired cans. And you do get an odd little velvet bag in which to store your headphones and accessories (imagine the bag used to draw teams in the FA cup, and then think smaller. And then think cheaper). There’s also a comprehensive user manual. See also: Group test – what are the best headphones?
MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 bag: Sir Trevor Brooking will draw the home teams…
MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32: using the headset
The latter is largely not required: we found using the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 to be a doddle. Pairing is straightfoward. You simply switch on the earphones and ‘find’ them using your chosen device. And utilising the on-ear buttons is as simple as these things can be. There are only three controls: a multifunction button for power, play, stop, call and end; a forward and back button; and the volume control. If you can find your ear with your hand, you can use the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32.
In our tests pairing worked virtually seamlessly with both an Apple iPhone 3GS and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. We occasionally heard a tiny blip in playback when pairing the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 with the iPhone. Sound quality was, for a Bluetooth headset, really good. Listening to a variety of music types we could pick out treble, bass and middle with clarity. Occasionally the sound was a bit muddy around the edges, but for the price the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 produce a very solid sound. These headphones are fully compatible with iPhone, iPod and iPad, and… well, pretty much every MP3 player, smartphone and tablet so long as it has Bluetooth capability.
The Ai-Fi AF32 also makes a pretty decent hands-free kit for your smartphone, working with iOS, BlackBerry and Android devices. Call quality was decent in our experience, and hands-free use relatively straightforward. Indeed, my only problem with using the MeElectronics Air-Fi AF32 as a hands-free kit was that I felt a bit silly walking down the road talking to myself. Perhaps that’s just me.