Cheap new Apple AirPods rival from Optoma sounds better AND is sweat proof

Optoma NuForce BE Free6, sitting at the top of the sub-£100 true wireless tree, R.U.L.I.N.G

Optoma BE Free6 true wireless headphones/earbuds
(Image credit: Optoma)

In the market for true wireless earbuds? Optoma NuForce BE Free6 could be just what you're looking for, if you want great sound quality, solid battery life and secure fit at an affordable price. 

The true wireless market is absolutely booming at the moment and most of the action isn't in the upper part of the pricing scale – brilliant though the likes of Sony's WF-1000XM3 and my personal favourite Beats by Dr Dre Powerbeats Pro might be. It's more in the sub-£100 area, where brands try to prise the all-conquering Apple Airpods 2 out of your ears by offering comparable quality for less money. At £89.99 BE Free6 are competitive.

Optoma BE Free6 true wireless headphones/earbuds

Those aren't any old ear tips; they're 'revolutionary SpinFit TwinBlade® ear tips'

(Image credit: Optoma)

The standout feature here is probably the audio quality. With a decent amount of bass, good overall clarity and impressive sound isolation thanks to, ahem, 'revolutionary SpinFit TwinBlade® ear tips', the BE Free6 are a narrow cut above other buds at this price point. Bluetooth 5.0 and AAC give improved connectivity and audio quality.

The aforementioned SpinFit TwinBlade® ear tips are designed to be screwed quite deep into your ears but the clever bit is that they do so without feeling uncomfortable or weird. Admittedly, people who prefer the way AirPods sit in your ear will hate this anyway, but for anyone who's accustomed to in-ear buds, they're grand.

I'm not entirely sure the fit is secure enough for running or vigorous gym use, but these buds are IPX6 water resistant and sweat proof, so they could be used during your regular full body workout

Battery life is solid at 6 hours, with the battery case providing three further full charges. For those in a hurry, 15 minutes in the case gives 1 hour of listening time. 

A noise-cancelling mic handles calls, and thanks to the individually pairing miracle of Bluetooth 5 you can use the left or right bud alone, or both together.

None of these specs is outstanding or anything, but the grown-up sound quality and Optoma's usually reliably good build make BE Free6 well worth considering. It's certainly a major step up from the predecessor, BE Free5. That had ridiculous wing-tips that weren't properly fixed to the body of the buds, more questionable connectivity and less impressive sound. Oh and one of mine eventually fell out while cycling, so that was the end of that.

Optoma BE Free6: price and release date

• Optoma BE Free6 goes on sale in September priced £89.99

It's worth bearing in mind that Optoma NuForce headphones are often discounted from their RRP at Amazon. Please note the observations in this story are based on using the BE Free6 for only one day. We'll have a fuller review in due course.

Duncan has been writing about tech for almost 15 years, during which time he has attended every event going, apart from Apple ones, as he mysteriously doesn't get invited to them. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. 

Duncan's current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. Duncan also edits T3's golf section because fuck it, someone has to. Dave Usher does all the real work on that bit, though. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially Reddit before the invention of Reddit. There was a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."