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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bose deliver yet again
After having owned a pair of Bose IE2s for over 3 years (and having been heavily impressed by them), I decided it was time to perhaps try the new in-ear Bose Quiet Comfort 20 for Android and Windows. This review will be interesting since I will be comparing the QC20s with the IE2s (which I have also reviewed recently)!

Noise cancelling:
First things first,...
Published 14 months ago by GlueStick

versus
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hissing noise
I already own a pair of QC15 which I really like because it's really doing its job very well. I decided to buy the QC20 because of the size and hoped the noise cancelling will be the same good. I thought the technology improved enough to do it in a smaller size. I tested it and got surprised. This headphone is doing slightly even better the noise cancellation than my QC15...
Published 15 months ago by Plex Alex


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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bose deliver yet again, 1 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
After having owned a pair of Bose IE2s for over 3 years (and having been heavily impressed by them), I decided it was time to perhaps try the new in-ear Bose Quiet Comfort 20 for Android and Windows. This review will be interesting since I will be comparing the QC20s with the IE2s (which I have also reviewed recently)!

Noise cancelling:
First things first, the USP of this product is the in-ear noise cancelling. The real question which many of you will ask is, do they work and how effective are they? I am writing this review on an airplane with my QC20s on and I can safely say that 85% of the background noise has been cancelled (yes that includes the aircraft's engines) - pretty good if you ask me. These QC20s excel and are the first true in-ear noise cancelling earphones in my opinion. When compared to other supposed noise cancelling in-ear earphones which currently exist, Bose have quite frankly thrown them out of the park! I have tried both the IE2s and the QC20s on the flight and it's very clear that the QC20 is clearer to hear at a low volume... rather obviously, thanks to the noise cancelling.

Comfort:
As I had written in my IE2 review, Bose have retained the crown when it comes to comfort. The QC20 is just as, if not more comfortable than the IE2s. The StayHear®+ tips are an upgrade from the original StayHear® tips as seen on the IE2, and these new ones are still a joy once in your ear and stop the earphones from falling out, all whilst giving you the best sound possible (but please ensure you choose the correct tip for your ear size to optimise sound quality).

Sound quality:
Wow, simply brilliant! Now I was amazed by the quality of the sound with the in-ear IE2s and the QC20 has rather unbelievably upped its game. The bass is even deeper (I did not think this was possible!) and everything is just as clear to listen to. There is a big downside however; this quality comes only when noise cancelling is switched on. Without the control unit switched on, the quality is good... but not as good as the IE2s unfortunately. If you intend to always use the noise cancelling (I'm sure you will since you're reading this review for a pair of noise cancelling earphones), this should not be an issue. The battery lasts about 16 hours as stated (and charges in about 2 hours) and so unless you use these nonstop throughout the day, you should be able to live on almost a single charge per "work week", depending on your personal use, understandably.
The "aware" mode on the QC20s work really well too. One touch of a button and you're able to let some noise from your surroundings into your ears (great to hear traffic when crossing busy roads) - alternatively, leave aware mode off and let your noise-cancelled music take you away from the busy world!

Control module:
The noise cancelling produced by this control module is great yes, but I cannot help but wonder why the control module for this is so large and positioned in such an awkward position. I do feel as though I need to take extra care with it since it does feel like the wire could get damaged easily. I mean if I'm listening to music and typing on my phone at the same time, I have this big box thing which is dangling off the top of my phone... Even when placing my phone in my pocket, I take care in ensuring the cable doesn't get bent or damaged. Having said that, Bose have compensated for this by giving us a noticeably thicker cable with the QC20 - this does make the product feel stronger and well-built.
The battery is also located within this control module and one downside of this is that it is non-replaceable. As we know, lithium-ion batteries eventually run out of juice and after about 500 odd recharging cycles, the battery will lose the energy to hold the full 16 hours charge. Although this is the case, I believe it'll probably take a good few years for the battery to become almost unusable.
UPDATE (07/01/13): Having used my QC20 for about a week on roads and when travelling, I must say I need to change what I've said in the above. What Bose have done is actually rather clever; the positioning of the control module means that you naturally fold the module to rest on the underside of the device which you get used to rather quickly. This makes typing and using your phone a hell of a lot easier and certainly more comfortable than when the module dangles off. I guess placing the module anywhere else would mean that the module would be dangling around which is in fact, even worse!

Price:
This is the ultimate question - are these worth the price? For me, I do feel as though they are (only just about). Only thing about this which bugs me is the fact that you get inline remote volume controls on the Bose QC20i (Apple version). I have to say that the Android/Windows QC20 should be priced a tad cheaper for this missing feature. Back to the main point anyway; overall for me, these are just about worth the price since they are a unique, one of a kind product. If you don't take my word for it, you could grab a pair of these from the official Bose store as they have a 30 day risk-free trial with a 100% money back guarantee. Please make sure you buy directly from Bose or a Bose dealer to avoid being hustled.

The overall verdict:
As a flagship audio company, Bose have done extremely well in producing these. Although I am giving these 4 stars, don't get me wrong, they are amazing. I just feel Bose will need to make improvements to the Quiet Comfort 20 in the future when they decide to bring out a mark 2 model. I.e. for me, the non-replaceable battery, control module and inline remote for Android and Windows needs some work before I give these 5 stars. Regardless, Bose have done amazingly well to produce something of such remarkable quality. Yes it feels a little overpriced but hey, you get what you pay for - these cannot be compared to anything else on current market! Are you looking for quality in-ear noise cancelling? For me, these are the ONLY earphones on the current market which does the job!

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you :)

Happy buying :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best noise cancellation I have heard, 4 April 2014
By 
Graham McCauley (Belfast) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
I had a pair of the full size over-ear QC-15 headphones from Bose for my travels on airplanes and though airports. They were great for music and watching the in-flight movies, it was surprising what a difference the noise cancellation could make especially for movies. The QC-15s were great four sound and noise cancellation but had a few downsides, firstly their bulk took up a good portion of my hand luggage and secondly they did tend to get slightly uncomfortable on long flights after 2-3 hours wearing (which most headphones do) and they looked. Thirdly they were not the most attractive headphones to wear. All of these were minor compared to the benefits of sound and cancellation quality. Then one day I left them on a plane and that was the end of that!

I was planning on purchasing the smaller QC-3 over ear headphones but when I went to the Bose store I came across these QC-20i in-ear headphones. In the store I could not really discern any great difference in sound and cancellation between the QC-15, QC-3 or QC-20i and I opted to go for the smallest size option the QC-20i which also had the added benefit of working without power if needed.

I have been travelling with the QC-20i's now for a few weeks and I can safely say that they are noticeably better at cancelling external noise than the other Quiet Comfort headphones. Sound quality is very acceptable, not 'top end' audiophile but definitely very good. In a completely silent room with no music you can detect a faint 'white noise' that is undetectable when listening to music or speech, this is the noise cancelling system doing it's thing, when there is no noise to cancel you can hear the inverse sound waves - when there is something to cancel out you only hear the greatly reduced external sound.

The ergonomic design the headphones is also excellent they are light and the silicone tips mean you barely notice them in your ears. They also do not have any tendency to come loose or fall out. Other in-ear headphones I have used seem to have varying sound performance based on how they are in your ear - these are consistent and don't suffer from that 'positional' seal issue that affects base sounds mainly. I even use these with the noise cancelling on instead of earplugs on overnight flights as they are more comfortable! They take 2 hours to charge from an iPhone/phone charger USB plug or any USB port and last over 16 hours.

Overall very portable, best sound cancellation I have heard and extremely comfortable in-ear without any tendency to fall out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you fly alot these are the daddy!, 17 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
If you spend a lot of time flying, these are second to none. The sound reduction is extremely effective. I've not had a pair of in ear headphones which seal as well as these, so the bass is clear. They are very comfortable, and if like me you doze off mid flight with some music on, they stay really comfortable. Even without music, the noise reduction makes it nice and quiet for sleeping in them. The audiophiles will tell you there is clearer sound available, but personally, I love the warmth of the Bose sound and actually prefer the sound of these to some of the Sure headphones. I had the over the ear noise reduction headphones before and these are a lot more comfortable to wear, and also just as effective in shutting the noise out.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Basically excellent, 9 Sept. 2013
By 
cdpinker (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
The bottom line is that these are fantastic at noise cancelling but may not be incredible sound quality, but are still worth the money if noise-cancelling is that important to you. In other words, you should only buy these headphones if noise-cancelling is your absolute priority over everything else.

Here are my observations that may be of interest:

* The in-line microphone resides at the "Y" split in the cable, i.e. lower than the Apple headphones microphone which is in-line half way up the right-hand earbud cable. I used to run the headphone cable inside my shirt so it popped out at the neck so it was more subtle (and would still have access to the in-line remote/mic), but doing it this way now means the microphone/remote is under my shirt, no good for calls, changing volume etc without fishing it out from underneath. Might mean I have to keep the headphone cable outside of my clothing dangling. Not ideal, but I will experiment to find what works best.
* Cable is a rather weird black/grey twisting design, and is noticeably thicker than normal headphone cables.
* There is an audible electronic hiss when noise cancelling is enabled. It is quite quiet so is completely unnoticeable when you are out and about listening to music, but in a quiet room it is noticeable. Don't buy these headphones to sit at home on the sofa all day - these are designed for noise-cancelling and that is the scenario in which they excel.
* Audio quality is average when noise-cancelling is not switched on. Should be treated as a backup rather than a normal way of using them.
* They are really comfy! I really like the rubber extensions that fit within your ear; comfy and also secure, even if you yank on them.
* Noise-cancelling is excellent. Works best on constant low-frequency sounds, but I commuted on the tube today in London and wasn't disturbed by ambient noise once - it was fantastic. Just don't expect *silence*.
* The in-line remote is very large and fairly ugly
* The clip that holds the cable to clothing etc easily comes off. I lost mine after abut two weeks. It should really be permanently, or more securely, attached. I emailed Bose and they sent me a replacement free of charge :)
* Wind noise is more noticeable than you'd expect
* On the underground, I occasionally hear a popping sound. I think it is due to air pressure going in and out of tunnels. It is very rare and not something to be bothered by, but thought it worth mentioning.

Overall I'm really pleased with them as I mainly listen to music on the underground/commute and was getting fed up of my Apple earbuds constantly falling out and not really being able to hear the music when they were in anyway.

Highly recommended if you don't mind the price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World class noise cancelling, great audio., 23 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
I've just returned home from a long-haul trip abroad and these headphones very quickly became my favourite item. In fact, without them, the flights would have been miserable!

So, noise cancelling first, these are amazing and this is why I love them so much. It's where Bose remain so, so far ahead of the competition. They managed to block out all background noise of the flights I was on, not just from the plane but people chatting around me, children crying and everything else too. With no audio playing and just these plugged in with noise cancelling on, it allowed me to sleep peacefully. It's not 100% noise cancelling, nothing will be, so without audio playing you'll hear things very quietly... but the moment you take them out you'll realise the huge, huge difference they make. Very impressive indeed.

In terms of sound quality, this is a very personal choice, but I find them just right. Not too bright, not overly bass heavy (as is so often the preference for headphones these days), but a very well balanced sound. They are on the softer side of headphones, so if you want a bright, sharp sounding audio profile you will want to listen to them first, but there is still a huge amount of detail and clarity. Stereo separation is good, dialogue and vocals are clear and don't get buried in noise and music has a life to it that never becomes tiring to listen to.

Let's be honest though, if you want the absolute best audio quality you wouldn't be looking at these. There are studio-quality headphones out there which will be better. But these are so good, with such great balance, that the vast majority of ordinary customers will be delighted with them. Most people looking at these will be doing so for the same reason - they want noise cancelling headphones for use with a portable device in a noisy environment, which offers clean and clear audio and a good sound profile. These are your headphones.

The tips are comfortable to wear for extended periods. They are very soft and they don't insert too far into your ear like some headphones do. As they are active noise cancelling, they don't need to go so far in to create the perfect isolation, which adds to the comfort greatly. I can be quite fussy and some tips really annoy me, but straight out of the box I wore these for many, many hours in absolute comfort and they never felt close to falling out, even while sleeping with them in!

Battery life is very good. My last flight was over 15-hours in total and they went through that just fine. They recharge via a MicroUSB cable (same as most non-Apple smartphones) so if you are in any way worried, a simple battery pack will recharge them, as will laptops and in-flight USB power sources that are more common these days.

The overall package you receive is very good. The only thing lacking, in my opinion, is an in-flight adapter (which comes in other over-the-ear Bose headphone packages). Otherwise you get three sets of tips and a short recharging USB cable, plus a very nice soft carry case which also stores the cable, spare tips etc.

Price aside, which isn't at the budget end, I would dare say these headphones will please the vast majority of people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but not perfect, 21 July 2014
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
I have now had these for about 6 weeks after buying them directly from a Bose shop.

Positives:

- The noise cancelling works well. For example on a commuter train, most background is drowned out and conversations are dulled to an easily ignorable level. The train rumble almost goes.
- Although they look odd, the earbuds are comfortable and come in three sizes. The Bose shop will let you try them with your own device in store should you wish.
- The aware mode is good for announcements etc.
- The battery life is as advertised.
- They work fine as normal headphones when the battery is dead
- The volume/pause controls work well
- The battery pack is surprisingly little of an issue.
- Significantly more portable than the over ear or on ear alternatives.

Negatives:

- Unpredictable sounds get through: mobile phone calls especially.
- There is a slight hiss whilst used without music
- If charging these whilst using them – at least on my MacBook – the USB induces an extra background hiss
- For some reason, the 3.5mm jack seems to come out of the the side of my MacBook easily – not a problem with my phone or iPad, but a bit of a surprise when it goes quiet for you but everyone else can hear your music.
- The cable is ugly, a bit too long and gets snagged because of the particularly grippy plastic/rubber around it.
- It's quite easy to leave them powered up in your bag, although I can't really see a solution for this except for perhaps a powered up only when there's music mode?

Overall, very pleased to have them for my long daily train commute
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best noise cancelling I've heard., 3 May 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
If you spend any amount of time travelling or in a noisy environment, and don't find in-ear monitors (IEMs) comfortable to wear, I can't recommend these highly enough.

Comfort:

They are a hybrid design between an earbud (e.g. stock Apple headphones) and an IEM, which means that they sit on your ear rather than being inserted into the ear canal to block out noise like an IEM or earplugs.
The soft silicone tips create a gentle seal on your ear canal for some passive noise attenuation, and the flanges hold the headphones securely in place.
This is a very low pressure fit, and means that the headphones should be comfortable to wear for hours.
The low pressure fit combined with the noise cancelling largely avoids the "underwater" sound that is common with IEMs.

All of this results in one of the most comfortable headphones I have used of any kind.

Noise Cancelling:

When you turn on the noise cancelling you will notice two things:
1. There is quite a bit of white noise (hiss) coming from the headphones.
2. All the loud background noise just vanished. Loud road noise becomes a gentle whisper. Fan noise disappears. Basically any low frequency noise is reduced significantly.

The hissing seems to be an unavoidable side-effect of the active noise cancelling, and once you start to play music or listen to a podcast/audiobook, it probably won't bother you.

What it does mean though, is that if you are listening in a relatively quiet environment where the noise cancelling is not required these may not be the best option for you.
I do find that I have to listen at a louder volume than I normally would when the noise cancelling is enabled in a quiet room, and I would rather use a different pair of headphones in that environment.

While you can use the headphones with the noise canceling disabled, the control unit seems to be doing more than just noise cancellation.
When you disable it the hiss goes away, but the sound also becomes muffled and is not very good quality at all.
It's better than nothing if the battery dies, but you will want to use the headphones switched on all the time.

With the noise cancelling on, the sound is surprisingly good quality for a Bose product - quite a neutral sound.
You can get much higher quality sound for the same price - or less - if the noise cancelling is not important to you though.

There are a couple of other things worth mentioning about the noise cancelling:
If you have used other noise cancelling headphones before - even other Bose ones like the QC15 - you might have found that there was an uncomfortable pressure change in your ears with the noise cancelling enabled, as if you were on a flight that just took off.
Because these only create a seal on your ear canal rather than around your entire ear, they seem to have mostly eliminated that problem. There's a very slight change in pressure, but not one which bothers me any more.

Another thing worth pointing out is that you don't need to have use these connected to a device playing audio.
You can simply switch them on and use them as noise cancelling earplugs if you want some peace and quiet.

Design:

I will say that I am a little disappointed with the build quality of the headphones for £260 though.
The plastics used feel thin and cheap - the Apple EarPods, which are much cheaper than these, feel a lot better made.
This is the main reason that they are not getting five stars from me.

There is a button on the remote which lets you temporarily disable most of the noise cancelling if you need to hear someone talk to you, or listen for an announcement. It still seems to filter out the lowest frequencies though, and is better than turning the noise cancelling off altogether.

The battery/control module may be a little awkward - especially if you have it connected to a phone - but it is thin and lightweight enough to carry around in a pocket without being a problem. I don't know that there's really anyting else they could have done, other than reducing the battery life.
I would have preferred that the headphones could be removed from it though, so that you could replace the battery without having to replace the whole thing when it eventually stops holding a charge years from now.
So that's one potential concern about the design, though I have heard that the Bose warranty is very good.

Verdict:

Overall, I would highly recommend these to anyone that commutes, travels a lot, works in a noisy office, or has another reason to buy noise cancelling headphones.
They may not be perfect, but I am very happy with them for the money.

If you don't have a need for the noise cancelling, or think that you will rarely need it, you might want to consider something else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the money if you really want noise cancelling, 20 April 2014
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
It took me a long time to decide to buy these as they are so expensive, but now I wouldn't be without them.

I spend about 2 hours a day on the train and I work in a fairly noisy office. I previously had a pair of in ear Sound Magic E10m, which have served me well for a number of years and offer excellent sound and good noise isolation (not cancelling). Given they are a fraction of the price of the Bose then if noise cancelling isn't your primary issue and you want buds, then save your money and get some E10m's.
I also tested a number of other over the ear/on ear headphones that guys in the office have, Sennheiser HD 25, Sony MDR-7506 and Bose QuietComfort 15. It was clear from the test that whilst the noise isolation of all of these was good and the sound was excellent, the Bose headphones with their noise cancelling abilities really made a big difference.
I prefer buds because they are so much easier to carry around on the commute and I find them comfortable.

Noise cancelling
This is the only reason to buy these headphones. The sound is no better than my E10m's and probably not as good as some of the other headphones I tried. The noise cancelling is truly excellent. It does not work miracles, you can still hear some things but they do cancel out a lot of noise that noise isolating headphones simply can't

Sound
As I have said, the sound on these is good but you can get just as good sound and probably better for a lot less cash. Also, I primarily listen to podcasts rather than music on the train, so sound quality isn't my primary concern

Comfort
I own a lot of buds and I have to say these are the most comfortable of the lot. The ear piece design with the little bit that sticks up to hold them in your ears is a brilliant design that really works

Battery
Lasts ages, I use mine a lot and I only charge them about once or twice a week and they use a standard usb port which is great. As others have said, the battery pack itself is a little cumbersome but you soon get used to it

Cost
Yes they are extremely expensive and you are paying a big premium just for the name and the technology and you know that the markup on these must be huge, which sucks but they are the only real choice if you want this level of noise cancelling. All you can do is pay it and then try to forget about it

Summary
The noise cancelling is excellent and they have really made a difference to my commute and to working in the office. They are expensive but worth it (just), if you really, really want noise cancelling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really impressive, 14 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
For the past 2 or 3 years, I have been using the Bose MIE2i headphones with my iPhone and on the whole I have been very happy with them. I found them very comfortable to wear for extended periods and the sound quality was also excellent.

Due to damage to the MIE2i's, I needed to replace them. Initially I was tempted to just buy another pair as I've found other earbuds either uncomfortable or those with noise isolating properties very annoying - the ones I had tried were particularly prone to amplifying your footsteps when walking due to the way they seal your ear canal.

After reading many reviews, I finally decided to go with the 20i's. After a few days use, here are my thoughts:

* In a noisy room or on a train, the noise cancelling is really amazing. I was quite shocked at the amount of background noise that was removed.
* Walking through London during rush hour, the noise was still dramatically reduced but not as quiet as on the train. The aware mode is also very useful and works well.
* As the earbuds are not completely sealed against your ear canal, I didn't notice the annoying feedback from walking that I've experienced with noise isolating earbuds. As per a previous comment, you can get some feedback from the cables rubbing on clothing but I found it to be fairly minimal when walking but they probably wouldn't be great for running / gym use (I think they're a bit too bulky for this anyway).
* So far I have found them as comfortable as the MEI2i's and probably sit a little bit more securely
* The cable is significantly thicker than the MEI2i's, as are the Mic / controls but still okay

The only real negative for me is the price. They are expensive but if they last as long as the MEI2i's, with my regular usage it only works out at 40p per day!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend, 19 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Bose ® QuietComfort ® 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (Electronics)
These are pretty expensive headphones (but then you already knew that).

They are very good however - they cancel out all REGULAR sounds (aeroplane noise, fans, general background buzz) and reasonably reduce other noise (people talking, traffic in the street that is close to you). If you switch the noise cancelling on without any music coming through the headphones, it does seem in some situations that you can hear people talking more CLEARLY, BUT less LOUDLY if that makes sense, which seems a little odd, but it's because the phones cancel out the regular noise better, therefore highlighting the talkers. However, with your music switched on the talkers all but disappear.
I find these very comfortable to wear, and when lying on them (if you wear them in bed with your head sideways on a pillow, or on a pillow on the plane) I find them pretty comfortable (unlike standard in ear phones I have tried (e.g. stock samsung s3 phones). The battery pack is also fine (it fits fine in my pocket next to my phone). Battery life is as described.
One slight irritation is you can hear interference if you try to charge the headphones whilst you have them switched on (I tried to charge them on the plane whilst watching a movie, but it's too annoying).
Sound quality when you run out of battery is acceptable (not great mind, but they still function).
One other thing; when double clicking to skip to the next song, I find it's a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it just pauses the track and starts playing it again, rather than skipping to the next track. You have to time the double click just right. I don't know if this is the headphones or the software on my phone (galaxy note 3), though I don't remember this being a problem when I used the stock samsung headphones.
In summary, I think a great product, I use for plane trips, public transport and most recently when camping and sharing a tent with a snorer.
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