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Wired headphones have several advantages, chief among which is that they never require charging. But when it comes to working out, ditching the wires can be a liberating experience – especially if you opt for completely wireless earbuds.
Even the short wire that connects the earbuds on most “wireless” Bluetooth headphones can become annoying, bouncing around and yanking the buds out of your ears during exercise. Going truly wire-free is the future (just ask Apple), at least until the eggheads work out how to beam music directly into our brains.
If you are looking to go truly wireless, the Jam Ultra earbuds are an excellent option, especially as they cost under £100 when most completely wireless headphones top £150.
One of the main problems with most truly wireless headphones is that they have a very short battery life. That’s true of the Jam Ultras, which only last three hours on a full charge. However, like several other manufacturers of wireless earbuds, Jam has addressed the problem by making a carry case that’s also a portable battery. The case can fully charge the Ultra earbuds up to ten times and it also has a USB port for charging other devices if you’re caught short of juice.
As the earbuds are small and eminently losable, you’ll need to keep them in the case between uses anyway, so I found that this feature almost entirely solved any charging problems.
Naturally, on long trips the three-hour battery life might not suffice, and the same might be true if you listen to music all day, but for my everyday use and workouts I never ran dry before the earbuds went in their case for a top-up.
Jam says the Ultra earbuds are sweat resistant, which I took to mean they are fine for easy workouts and runs, but it’s probably a bit risky to wear them regularly for very sweaty sessions. Headphones that can handle the latter are generally branded as water resistant, or even water/sweatproof, and make a big song and dance about this resistance to liquids. I didn’t have any problems with the Ultra earbuds during my workouts, but I’d still worry that they’re not robust enough to get drenched in sweat frequently.
They proved great for weights workouts, as well as easy runs and cycles, thanks to a the fit that’s impressively secure and sound quality that’s great. There were no issues with Bluetooth connectivity either. The earbuds turn on automatically when taken out of their case and, nine times out of ten, by the time I’d got them into my ears they were connected to each other and my phone – and that link didn’t drop for the duration of my session.
One of my main fears with earbuds is that they will fall out and there will be no wires to save them from crashing into the ground, but as the Jam Ultra earbuds are so light and there’s no wire pulling them down, they never shifted at all during my training.
There are truly wireless earbuds that are better suited for training, most notably the Jabra Elite Sport (£229.99), and there will be others that have a slightly longer battery life, although you shouldn’t expect anything over five hours. However, the package offered by the Jam Ultra earbuds is unbeatable for under £100 – they’re an ideal option for most workouts. £99.99, buy on argos.co.uk, check price on amazon.co.uk
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.