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Meet Nokia E3101 - Essential for budget conscious?

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In October this year, RichGo technology released the affordable Nokia E3101 in the Philippines.
Meet Nokia E3101

To recap, the Nokia Essential True Wireless Earphones E3101 is an entry-level and wallet-friendly earbuds produced by China-based company RichGo Technology. This TWS boasts 13mm dynamic drivers, Bluetooth 5.1 with auto-pairing function, an SBS codec, and an IP44 rated splash-proof design. All of these, for below PHP 2K.

This is not the first time the brand launched cost-effective audio wearables as the E3101 is clearly the successor of the bright-colored E3100. So let's take a quick look at how these latest earbuds from Nokia will perform.

Read on!

Meet Nokia E3101

Unboxing
Unboxing

The Nokia E3101 adopts simple packaging. It comes in a white compact box that showcases the product image on the front. Inside, there's a white plastic container is used to fix the earphones and charging case in place. The documentation and charging cable is placed under the plastic box. The data cable has a USB to Type-C interface.
Cute and compact
Cute and compact

The charging case has a nice polycarbonate build with a matte finish. It feels light, but the built quality seems reassuring. You have 3 color options to choose from: black, white, and blue. The unit we're reviewing is obviously in black color so nothing outstanding or eye-catching but it definitely looks refined.

Looks simple yet solid

We love the fact that its matte texture makes it less slippery to hold. However, dirt and scratches are more obvious with this kind of finish so you may have to be extra careful with it. It's convenient to open and close the casing even on one hand since the magnetic lid works well.
Four LED light indicators
Four LED light indicators

There's a Nokia logo and four led indicators for the battery life in front of the casing. The indicator is a smart move since it lets you know or estimate the amount of charge left in the case.

At the back, you'll find discreet manufacturing details and below them is a pairing button. Pairing the earbuds with our device is quite fast and easy. You just have to long-press the button then turn on the Bluetooth connectivity of the device.
Bottom view of the casing
Bottom view of the casing

The charging port of this casing is easily found at the bottom.

The shape of the earbuds has a similarity to Apple AirPods, but notice the headphone handles are shorter. They are lightweight with a glossy plastic finish. As mentioned above, the E3101 has an IP44 water splash resistance so it's suitable for outdoor or sweaty workouts.
AirPods-like shape
AirPods-like shape

Since it has an open design body, there are silicon earbuds here as it only sits on the outer ear cavity. There is a single mic on each earphone and the E3101 lacks support for the ambient mode or active noise cancellation. But this is totally acceptable given the price range of this TWS.

To navigate, these TWS is equipped with touch controls. You must tap it once to play or pause the music/video you are playing. Tapping the right earbud twice will play the next song while tapping the left one twice will make you go back in the playlist. 

You can also use this to answer, drop, or reject calls which are so useful especially when you're driving or doing something. Aside from that, you can activate the Google voice assistant by tapping any of the earbuds thrice. 

Based on our experience, the earbuds are pretty sensitive that a light touch may play or pause the music unintentionally.
Poor isolation with its open-ear design
Poor isolation with its open-ear design

The open-ear design of the Nokia E3101 makes it comfortable to use, even for a long time. However, it sometimes falls off my ears when I jump or do planking during workouts. Perhaps the fit is not that secure plus the buds are too light. Thankfully, they stayed in place during running and walking. 

Meanwhile, sound isolation is not the best trait of these audio wearables. Because of the buds' design and shape, they cannot block the external noise. These earphones might be suitable in situations that you still have to be aware of your surroundings like in public transportation.
The case packs a 350mAh battery
The case packs a 350mAh battery

The battery life of these Nokia wireless earphones is pretty average. A single bud is packed with a 40mAh battery that is claimed to last for up to 5 hours. 

On the other hand, its charging case has a built-in 350mAh capacity battery so technically, it can charge the earphones 3 times. All-in all, Nokia claims that the E3101 can endure about 20 hours of use.

During actual use, these earbuds did last for more than 4 hours. I was able to test them for 4-6 hours a day for 5 straight days without charging. Since it has no fast charging support at all, charging this device takes more than an hour from flat to full.
Powered by 13mm dynamic drivers inside
Powered by 13mm dynamic drivers inside

The Nokia E3101 boasts bespoke 13mm dynamic drivers with a 20Hz to 20KHz frequency response. A driver is an electrical component of all speakers and headphones that converts electronic signals into sound.

The buds have a fairly acceptable audio quality when it comes to clarity and details. Even at the first time trying them, you may notice the lack of bass especially for bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and RnB.

The vocals are okay but the highs come out too harsh at times when you turn up the volume to the maximum. So we highly recommend setting the volume to around 70 to 80 percent to avoid damage to your hearing.

We also observed that it lacks clarity and definition between instruments, hence resulting in muddy sounds.

On the other hand, the soundstage of stereo sound is actually wide and airy. Its stereo is pretty immersive, especially when watching movies or series on Netflix.

We can conclude that the E3101 is meant for casual music listening, gaming, or watching videos. There are other wireless earbuds in the market that can deliver more in terms of bass power.

It only has the SBS codec though which is understandable for budget buds.

For calls, the quality is nice with clear audio on the other side of the connection. According to the person I called, my voice is audible and crisp.

Excellent for calls!

There was a time that I tested it by calling inside a noisy cafe. I'm personally impressed that even in that kind of environment, you can still use these earphones just fine. It seems that the enhanced voice pick-up bragged by Nokia works.

Quick thoughts

Quality earbuds at a relatively affordable price
Quality earbuds at a relatively affordable price

Even though Nokia E3101 is on the average side in almost all departments, it gets the job done. It has a simple and compact form that easily pairs with my device with stable connectivity. It's also a huge plus that I can make clear calls for work or personal matters.

This pair of TWS is suitable for those who do not want to break their bank to invest in a good pair of earbuds. It can also be an awesome gift idea for the younger ones for their homeschooling and entertainment.

The Nokia E3101 is now available via the brand's flagship stores in Shopee and Lazada with a price tag of PHP 1,999.
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