Price: $39 / £39
Colors: Aqua; black; mint; pink; sage
Battery life (rated): 5.5 hours (per bud); 20 hours (charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 (codec support: SBC, AAC)
Durability: IP55 (earbuds)
Size: 0.7 x 0.8 inches (per bud); 2.08 x 1.38 x 0.94 inches (charging case)
Weight: 0.11 ounces (buds); 0.15 ounces (charging case)
The JLab JBuds Mini wireless earbuds do a whole lot more than their miniature size might suggest. They blend powerful sound and special features into one of the smallest true wireless designs ever created. Companion app access extends functionality to personalize the buds in multiple ways, be it audio customization or usability.
JLab even threw in upscale features like an ambient listening mode and Bluetooth multipoint for pairing to two devices simultaneously. Those are some serious specs for buds the size of a quarter. They're cheap too, and can be purchased at $39 / £39 directly from the JLab online store or Amazon.
Of course, not everything runs smoothly on the JBuds Mini. There are several bugs that affect connectivity. A lack of noise reduction also brings down call quality and voice assistance. That’s where the major flaws end. All other performance traits are on the money.
See why these are hands down some of the best cheap wireless earbuds you can purchase right now.
JLab JBuds Mini: A remarkably compact design
I thought the Sony LinkBuds were stunningly crafted, but the JBuds Mini are just as innovative with a miniature design that makes many buds look huge in comparison. An IP55 rating grants dust- and water protection. The JLab’s come in five color options including charcoal black, sage, and teal, but it's the green and hot pink options that are the real standouts.
Whatever colorway you opt for, they fit perfectly and had great comfort. In fact, I wore the JBuds Mini for four-hour stretches daily and my ears never felt fatigued. The extra pairs of ear tips assist listeners with different-shaped ears.
More attractive is the tiny charging case, which is slightly bigger than a fun-sized Snickers bar and nearly half the size of Apple’s AirPods Pro cases. It also weighs less than most keychains. Speaking of which, JLab was smart enough to add a woven lanyard loop for attaching the accessory to backpacks, keys, or any other EDC (everyday carry) item.
JLab’s signature integrated charging cable is missing, and the omission is understandable. The design is simply too small to accommodate it. I love that the company has finally embraced USB-C charging. They even included a USB-C cable with the purchase. At the same time, it feels bittersweet not seeing the attachment tucked away underneath the bottom of the case.
JLab JBuds Mini: Dynamic sound with excellent noise isolation
Top audio performance is not always a brand hallmark, but the JBuds Mini are some of the brand’s best-sounding buds under $50. The bass-forward profile produces lively sound right out of the box, courtesy of the default JLab Signature EQ, though you can experience better sound by swapping out the Equalizer setting via companion app. I found the Balanced EQ (EQ 2) better for all music genres. Ignore Bass Boost (EQ3) since it muddies up the soundscape. Listeners can also create their own sound profile by manually adjusting frequencies on the 10-band EQ.
Mark Ronson & Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” maintained its vibrant bop. The heavy bassline and pounding drums sounded rich, while Winehouse’s vocal energy burst through the 6mm drivers. However, it was old-school salsa masterpieces like the Fania All-Stars’ “Descarga Fania – Live” that left me floored. I never expected to enjoy the recording in all its full orchestral presentation. Percussion was impactful with every bongo slap and striking drum stimulating foot taps at my desk. Vocals were transparent, which is all you can ask for with buds this low-priced. Even background details like crashing cymbals and the hand bongo bell came through clearly.
JLab has a Music and Movie mode, though I couldn’t tell the difference in performance between them. I recommend sticking with Music for all media content.
These buds run on standard codecs (SBC, AAC) and streaming music from any of the best music streaming services was handled well. There's no aptX or LDAC support.
These buds don't feature active noise cancellation but they successfully manage to block out noise passively when listening to music. They form a tight seal around the ear canal that prevents external sounds from creeping in.
JLab JBuds Mini: An impressive feature set
JLab deserves credit for being one of the newer audio brands to offer multiple customization tools for their inexpensive earbuds lineup. Some special perks have already been touched on, including Equalizer and Music/Movie Mode. A few more are available in the JLab Sound app that enhance the user experience.
It's uncommon to find buds this low-priced with an ambient listening mode, but JLab offers up Be Aware to increase your awareness of surroundings. How does it hold up against elite options from rivals like Jabra’s HearThrough mode? Decently. Just know that the buds can pick up external sounds. You’ll hear co-workers gossiping about you from the opposite cubicle and oncoming traffic on nightly walks. Safe Hearing sets volume limits to protect your hearing. Touch Controls lets you assign media controls to different input methods: single tap, double tap, triple tap or long press.
Another cool feature is the notification bar that’s visible when waking your phone or swiping down on the top of your touchscreen. It shows the battery levels for each bud. Pressing it sends you to a menu that can enable Google’s Find Device feature to locate misplaced buds.
JLab JBuds Mini: Middling call quality
Be selective of where you make voice and video calls. JLab’s mics demonstrate superb vocal capture to hear people loud and clear, but they’re also super sensitive to background noise. My wife was amazed at how crisp I sounded around the house. Then she started hearing sounds as I walked around; AC vents and my son playing with construction toys were audible.
The excellent voice capture carries over into the digital assistance. Again, JLabs mics pick up every syllable spoken to interpret voice commands precisely. However, it requires a good amount of silence for Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri to register them.
JLab JBuds Mini: Connectivity troubles
JLab equipped these buds with some high-end wireless functionality: Bluetooth 5.3, Google Fast Pair, and multipoint technology. The trio performs well for the most part, though there are clearly some bugs that the engineers forgot to fix. If you’re paired to two devices at once, sound is only customizable on smartphone playback. Another problem I experienced often was high-frequency noise coming out of the buds after disconnecting. Maybe a future firmware update can fix these issues.
JLab JBuds Mini: Verdict
I can’t overstate how great the JBuds Mini are for their price. Sound quality is on point and the feature set is bigger than what you’ll find on most sub-$50 rivals. Battery life might seem inadequate at 5.5 hours per charge (up to 20 hours with the charging case), but that’s more than generous from a petite and practical design.
Key areas like call quality and connectivity could have been polished up. The absent built-in charging cable will be missed as well. None of these are deal-breakers, and if you’re someone that wants high performance in a small, affordable package, then it’s worth attaching JLab’s latest buds to your keychain.