JBL's new earbuds have a feature Apple AirPods could only dream about

The JBL Tour Pro 2 True Wireless earphones feature an interactive charging case like no other

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds on blue T3 backdrop
(Image credit: JBL / Future)

With approximately 25 billion* true wireless earbuds (often abbreviated to TWS) having launched over the past couple of years, I've rarely seen a new pair that's made me go "ooh". But, as it so happens, JBL has just announced the Tour Pro 2 True Wireless and there's a feature that even Apple's AirPods didn't dare dream.

Or any other makers' earphones for that matter, as the Tour Pro 2 feature a world first. An actual, genuine world first. Well, their case does anyway. And I'm not talking about anything trivial like 'best-ever battery life' or other standard features. Nope, I'm talking about these earbuds' "smart charging case", as seen at IFA 2022.

So what's so smart about it? The Tour Pro 2's case includes a 1.45-inch LED touch display that you can interact with in real time. So even if your music is coming from your phone's connection then you needn't bother touching it, as you can control incoming calls, messages and social media notifications all from the case's little display. It's the new feature you never knew you needed. 

*wildly exaggerated but nonetheless amusing number

So: gimmick or great?

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds on purple T3 backdrop

(Image credit: JBL / Future)

Did someone say 'gimmick'? Or did I mishear 'great'? Right now I'm a little on the fence about these earbuds' revelatory new feature, as I've not seen the 'buds in person – but hope to at the IFA tech show in Berlin, which I'll be attending – to figure out whether this fun new idea is something I'd actually use. My phone is pretty much my temple into social media and I'm not sure I can see a charging case changing that fact.

However, the earbuds' case can also control other features, which is where I can imagine using it more. As you can see from the image embedded above, there's an ambient sound switch, along with ANC (active noise cancelling) control too. That, should the case by in hand or on a nearby surface, would make a lot of sense to use – as it'd negate the need to prod and poke the earbuds themselves, which often just causes ear discomfort.

Speaking of ANC, JBL promises it's top notch, with the earbuds performing an ear canal test for individual cancellation assessment, and there are also six microphones to ensure optimum negation of sound, plus great pick-up of voice should you want to take a call. 

The JBL Tour Pro 2 will be available in black (pictured above, mid page) and 'champagne' (above, top of page) from January 2023, priced at £220 in the UK. Which actually makes them pricier than Apple's AirPods 3, so you'd better really want that case feature to commit.

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike has been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and is T3's Tech Editor. As a phones expert he's seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a full decade, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.