When Oppo launched the Enco Air 2 for Rs 2,499 last year, I knew instantly that these are one of the best earbuds one can get at this price point. The Enco Air 2 do not come with any high-end features such as ANC (active noise cancellation), spatial audio, and wireless charging, but the earbuds heavily focus on vocals and offer a clean sound with a decent amount of bass, which is rare in this price range. The Enco Air 2 were also a decent pair of earbuds to take calls.
Their latest iteration, Oppo Enco Air 3, look more or less the same as its predecessor, but the company is making tall claims, which is natural for any brand. The earbuds are said to offer better sound output and battery life, thanks to a new DSP (digital signal processing) microprocessor. But the price has been increased by Rs 500 to Rs 2,999.
While the Rs 3,000 price point is still doable, and many customers may find the Enco Air 3 attractive, I still think the Enco Air 2 are a great choice. But can Oppo convince me to get over its old product, and accept the new iteration? Let’s find out in that review.
Oppo Enco Air 3 design and fitting
In terms of design, the Oppo Enco Air 3 are similar to their predecessor, the Oppo Enco Air 2. However, the latest model now boasts an IP54 rating for dust and water resistance, while last year’s model only had a water-resistant rating (IPX4), making this a significant and thoughtful improvement.
At first glance, the Enco Air 3 may be compared to the Apple AirPods, as both feature a hard-case design with no room for silicone tips. The latter is commonly seen in many premium and affordable earbuds. Some users, particularly older customers, may also find the hard plastic body of the earbuds to be uncomfortable, but it all depends on the weight of the buds.
In terms of weight, each earbud of the Enco Air 3 weighs 3.75 grams, slightly heavier than the previous generation Enco Air 2 (3.5 grams). Despite the increase in weight, the Oppo Enco Air 3 are still relatively light and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, especially when compared to high-end earbuds like the AirPods (approx. 4.7 grams), the OnePlus Buds Pro (approx. 4.3 grams), and the Nothing Ear 1 (approx. 4.7 grams). I do not have any complaints with the fitting either, but some users with small ears may find them uncomfortable to wear for hours.
The earbuds’ colour options are limited, but I do not mind the white finish as it blends well with my office and casual attire. The egg-shaped charging case also adopts the same colour, and the lid has a translucent finish, which I quite like. This translucent finish is a clever choice as it successfully hides tiny scratch marks. The earbuds and the case also have a glossy finish, but this does not compromise the grip.
My favourite part about the Oppo Enco Air 3 is the touch control, which functions efficiently. Users may struggle with touch gestures initially, but that’s only a short-term hiccup. However, touch support is disabled by default, and users need to enable it via the HeyMelody app. Users can also use Google Assistant or Apple Siri with customisable taps. This can be highly useful if you’re away from the phone at the gym or work.
Similar to last year’s model, users have the option to tweak controls as per their preferences.
Oppo Enco Air 3 sound, performance
In terms of specifications, the Oppo Enco Air 3 earbuds do not come with high-end features such as active noise cancellation, spatial audio, and wireless charging. However, the earbuds use 13.4mm audio drivers to deliver punchy bass and clear vocals, which was also evident on the previous generation Enco Air 2, thanks to similar audio drivers.
If you are unaware, an audio driver is simply a speaker that produces sound, and its size is crucial to the sound quality of earphones or speakers. The large 13.4mm driver of the Enco Air 3 helps to ensure that the earbuds deliver a clear sound and punchy bass.
Oppo says that the Enco Air 3 comes with Cadence Tensilica HiFi 5 DSP (digital signal processor), which is “a microprocessor designed specifically for handling audio signals.” Without getting too technical, this microprocessor is touted to provide 25 times more processing power, 35 per cent more power efficiency, and 50 per cent longer battery life and accurate sound compared to Enco Air2.
Without proper equipment, it is tough to verify claims about the processing power, but the Enco Air 3 worked seamlessly with an expensive iPhone 14 and a relatively affordable Redmi Note 12 5G. I noticed the audio output was better with an iPhone. For reference, I listened to the full Dead and Born and Grown album by The Staves — a band known for their close harmonies and intricate guitar work. The music experience on the Enco Air 3 was sufficient as I could hear different layers of highs and mids in the music.
On the other hand, when I listened to bands with a traditional pop approach, such as Coldplay and Harry Styles, the experience was different. Again, the vocals were crisp, plus the bass was decent, but the sound appeared flat. The reverb of the bass wasn’t quite prominent, leaving me with an unsatisfied feeling.
To put it simply, music with a lot of beats sounds nice and balanced, but you’re naturally forced to increase the volume to get an immersive sound experience. I would guess that features like ANC or Spatial audio may have worked, but for that, Oppo offers the more premium Enco X2 with Dynaudio. At this price point, I do not have many complaints about the sound quality of Enco Air 3.
Additionally, users can switch between pre-set EQs, like bass boost and clear vocals, but I did not notice significant changes despite doing that.
Many customers also purchase earbuds to take calls and, for that, the Enco Air 3 may not be your best companion. I took several calls with the earbuds on, and many assured me that the voice seemed away from the source, as if you were on speaker. The microphones also couldn’t filter ambient noises, which may not be ideal if you’re in an important virtual meeting.
Lastly, there’s support for Bluetooth 5.3, which has many benefits, and it is good to see the latest connectivity option on the earbuds. There is no support for high-tech codecs. Instead, we get AAC and SBC.
Oppo Enco Air 3 app support and battery
Similar to other Oppo Enco earbuds, the Enco Air 3 can be managed via HeyMelody app. The app is available on both Android and iPhones, and it is simple to use, which many non-tech users will like.
Since the Enco Air 3 are modest in specifications, some controls on the HeyMelody app are missing, which isn’t the case when you connect Enco X2 with the same app. Otherwise, the app allows users to check battery levels, tweak touch controls, and choose between two pre-set EQs. Sadly, there’s no app support for Windows PCs, which I feel is a miss. Oppo and its sister brand OnePlus are slowly expanding their audio portfolio with many wireless earbuds that work with Windows PCs via Bluetooth.
The Enco Air 3 have dual-connectivity support to let users use the earbuds with two devices simultaneously. A dedicated app for Windows would definitely give Oppo and OnePlus an edge over rivals.
Speaking of battery, Oppo says the Enco Air 3 offers improved performance, which is true to a certain degree.
Since the earbuds lack high-end features, it is easier to manage the battery life. The earbuds offer 5-6 hours of back up with 60 per cent volume per charge, which is pretty good. However, the total backup extends to up to 20 hours or so, which is better than the predecessor, though not exactly great compared to other competitors.
Oppo continues to ditch the charging cable in the box, which I find a very odd decision.
Oppo Enco Air 3 verdict
The Oppo Enco Air 3 come with moderate changes compared to Enco Air 2 (2022), and the price has also increased by Rs 500. However, these tiny changes do make some big leaps, and most customers will remain satisfied with the performance.
Unlike most earbuds in this range, the Enco Air 3 focus on clear vocals, which I personally prefer. The bass levels are also decent, but if that is your priority, you might look for another option.
Apart from that, Oppo Enco Air 3 can be used to take calls, but do not have high hopes. The onboard mics are just fine, but they require some fine-tuning. We might see those improvements in the next-gen model.
That also does not mean the mics are poor, and I would dare say the Enco Air 3 are better than several rivals in the range.
If you feel Rs 3,000 is high for Enco Air 3, I still feel the Enco Air 2 are a great choice and they are currently available for Rs 2,299 on the official site. But I’ve seen the earbuds retail for under Rs 2,000 on several occasions, and that’s a deal worth grabbing.