The Skullcandy Dime is the newest pair of wireless earbuds from the budget audio brand. These in-ear headphones pack punchy sound into a compact water-resistant design, along with a full suite of media controls and intelligible connectivity. You also get a car-key-fob-inspired charging case to store and power up on the go. Best of all, these buds come with a ridiculously affordable price tag: $25.
Colors: Dark Blue/Green, Light Grey/Blue, Dark Grey and True Black
Battery life (rated): 3.5 hours; 12 hours (with charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Processor: Not stated
Size: 1 x 1 x 0.4 inches inches (per bud); 2.5 x 1.5 x 0.8 inches (charging case)
Weight: 1.1 ounces (with charging case)
That's less than a lot of the best cheap wireless earbuds, though it’s fair to have reservations about the Dime based on the MSRP. Skullcandy’s audio track record might also have you skeptical about purchasing these buds either for personal use or as a cheap stocking stuffer for the holiday season. Well, after a week of testing for this Skullcandy Dime review, I can assure you that this budget pair of buds is well worth the investment, shortcomings and all.
Skullcandy Dime review: Price and availability
The Skullcandy Dime is available exclusively at Skullcandy at the moment. It is sold for $25 and comes in four colors: Dark Blue/Green, Light Grey/Blue, Dark Grey, and True Black.
This is a fraction of what the standard AirPods ($149) sell for. Should you want something with more features and longer battery life, there is the Tribit Fly 3 ($43) with 100 hours of playtime and waterproof protection, as well as the EarFree Fun ($50) with 30-hour charging case and wireless charging.
Skullcandy Dime review: Design and comfort
Skullcandy practically built its legacy on trendy designs. The company's transition into the true wireless space has brought about a change in style, going from loud and funky to clean and minimalist, while keeping bold colorways intact. The Dime has an attractiveness to it, highlighted by a small form, standout colors, and a stem silhouette that doesn’t stick out as awkwardly as on the AirPods.
Build quality is impressive for the most part. The buds are composed entirely of durable plastic and come IPX4 rated for sweat and water resistance. Keep in mind this is the same protection found on the AirPods Pro. These buds aren’t going to shatter if you drop them onto the concrete by mistake, not even from a three-story fall. Scuffs and scratches won’t be an issue either, since the exterior is tough to penetrate.
The real highlight is the super-compact charging case, which looks just like a car key fob, giving it some distinction. Something more unique is how the buds are stored, as the lid has two cutouts that display the front of the buds when docked.
There’s even a tiny lanyard to attach your keys, a cool way of optimizing the Dime’s portability. Plastic also makes up the case’s entire construction, and though the material is sturdy, the lid is very flimsy and will tear off if you forcefully open it. One plus, if you want to look at it that way, is that Skullcandy lets you purchase any lost or broken components for either the buds or case.
The fit these buds provided was satisfying, as the silicone tips created a tight seal inside my ears and felt gentle around the canal. I wore them on a short run around the block to test for stability and they remained in place the entire time. Skullcandy also bundles the Dime with three pairs of tips (small, medium and large) to accommodate different ear sizes.
Comfort wasn’t as pleasant with the sound port causing discomfort by digging into the concha. It isn’t unbearable, but I wouldn’t recommend wearing the Dime for long listening sessions; stick to maybe one or two hours, depending on your pain threshold. The button layout Skullcandy integrated also affects comfort — more on this shortly.
Skullcandy Dime review: Controls and digital assistant
Skullcandy worked hard on making the Dime highly functional at its price point. One way it shows is in the full set of controls they programmed, which are divvied up between the two buds. The control scheme is as follows: play/pause/answer call/end call (1x press), volume up/down (2x press), digital assistance (3x press), and skip forward/back (long press). That’s pretty impressive.
The logo doubles as a button to execute commands. The good news is that the button produces nice tactility and is responsive to presses, but the bad news is it’s not as practical for use as the AirPods Pro’s pinch-gesture system. Where Apple’s buds have you hold the bottom stem and press, Skullcandy’s buds require you to place your thumb on the bottom stem for stability and use your pointer finger to press. It sounds nitpicky, but there is a major caveat to this: discomfort. With the button placed directly in the middle, every press pushes the buds into your ears and applies unwanted pressure.
The Dime supports both Siri and Google Assistant, though the latter operates more smoothly. The mics performed very well, picking up voice commands with precision, while Google’s AI bot registered and responded to them quickly. Siri misinterpreted certain commands on macOS, and the voice prompts created static feedback that was unpleasant to hear. The feature performed slightly better on iOS devices.
Skullcandy Dime review: Audio quality
Skullcandy might be famed for its styling, but its record on sound quality is less...respected. Thankfully, the Dime is a striking improvement. Your ears will be on the receiving end of strong, punchy bass that doesn’t bloat up the soundstage.
The Dime's sound profile sways towards the warm side of the audio spectrum, which is ideal for contemporary music genres like hip-hop, rock, and EDM. Percussion was a highlight on bangers like Busta Rhymes “Touch It.” The booming drums had plenty of oomph and the hand claps were grasping. I really liked how well the drums were reproduced on A Trible Called Quest’s “Award Tour.” Mids had a strong presence as well on on Daft Punk’s “Around the World,” as the synth effects were crisp and not recessed, unlike the quality you’ll get from other budget buds.
Highs aren’t given much attention on the Dime, which is always disappointing when listening to instrumental-heavy genres. That isn’t to say they are completely absent. On jazz records, you’ll hear certain instruments like hi-hats and flutes, but they lack clarity; I found the same recordings more transparent on the AirPods.
If you’re someone who reserves time throughout the day to go down the rabbit hole of YouTube, then you’ll be happy with the Dime’s audio results on the video end. Dialogue sounded clean when indulging in ESPN highlights. Podcasts sounded even better with vocals being more emphasized to hear hosts clearly.
Isolation is just as good, blocking out an adequate number of ambient noises. Don’t expect these to replace your best noise-cancelling headphones, not by a mile, but you can at least put a kibosh on common distractions when casually listening to music inside the house. I couldn’t hear the humming noise from the centralized AC, nor the Amazon delivery trucks that pulled up to the front of the house. My wife even scared the hell out of me when sneaking up from behind to ask a simple question, which sold me on the Dime’s noise-neutralizing capabilities.
Skullcandy Dime review: Battery life and charging case
Price alone should already indicate short battery life. Skullcandy says a single charge will generate 3.5 hours of playback time, which is more realistically about 3 hours when factoring in high volume and heavy streaming. There is no sleep mode to automatically turn off the buds when disabled, so be mindful of turning them off when not in use. Quick charging is MIA too.
One positive is that the buds come 90 percent charged right out of the box. Using them moderately, I was entertained for about 1.5 hours daily before having to recharge them on the third day.
Considering the tiny charging case, I’m kind of shocked that it can even hold as much as 12 hours when fully charged. That equates to about 3 extra charges, which isn’t so bad. It just isn’t AirPods standard; Apple’s charging case gets you 24 hours. It’s understandable that certain features are missing like a pairing button, wireless charging or even USB-C charging (yes, the Dime's case charges over micro-USB), but it would have been awesome to see two or three of these show up on the spec sheet.
Skullcandy Dime review: Call quality and connectivity
When taking calls inside the house, the missus could hear most of my words, but also mentioned that my voice would sporadically drop out. Outside was abysmal, as any bit of ambient noise made its way into our conversations. Wind resistance was really bad, as winds carried a stronger presence than my voice and made it impossible to communicate.
Luckily, the Dime has dependable wireless performance. These buds exhibit great connectivity, powered by Bluetooth 5.0 and programmed with its own Auto Connect feature to instantly pair the buds to recognized devices. My Google Pixel 3 XL always picked up the Dime and connected me whenever Bluetooth was enabled.
Range was solid as well, giving me about 30 feet of wireless listening before stuttering kicked in. I did experience an issue pairing the Dime with my newest MacBook Pro, as the machine would recognize the product, but after establishing a connection, would immediately unpair. I tested this on my wife’s older MacBook Pro model and it paired without a hitch, plus the Auto Connect feature was on point.
Skullcandy Dime review: Verdict
To say the Dime is merely good for its price would be insulting. These buds deserve more credit than that, especially since the engineers did a fantastic job on the audio end. Music sounds lively with the Dime delivering some of the best bass I’ve heard on a pair of cheap wireless earbuds. It provides a reliable fit, which is something the regular AirPods doesn’t afford users. Even the charging case, while not as powerful as its competitors, has some charm to it and is conveniently portable.
For all of its successes, though, the Dime also has its fair share of failures. Battery life is some of the lowest in the category. There is no app or special features to extend functionality. Comfort can also be a concern if you’re someone who constantly pauses music or relies heavy on digital assistance to manage daily tasks; pressing the buds into your ears hurts after a while.
But let’s be serious: $25 is a hard bargain to pass up. So, if you’re still on the fence about a cheap AirPods alternative to pair with your smartphone, the Dime should quickly help you make up your mind.
- More: The best Apple AirPods alternatives — similar styling at lower price