Nokia Clarity Earbuds: A good all-rounder for sound quality at a decent price

Buds offer value for money but it’s a pity about the lack of active noise cancelling

The Nokia Clarity Earbuds are decently priced, comfortable and offer good audio quality
Nokia Clarity Earbuds
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Price: €70
Where To Buy: www.nokia.com

Nokia Clarity Earbuds  
€79

Nokia has made a name for itself in phones over the years, but did you know the company also does earbuds? It shouldn't be that much of a surprise; Huawei, Samsung, Apple and others have all dipped their toe into the audio market and found enough success to continue pumping out different versions of those earbuds.

So why should Nokia be any different?

The Clarity Earbuds have a few things going for them. They’re not expensive, at €70, and have decent enough audio to justify spending that amount on the buds.

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You’ll sacrifice some of the high-end features to get to that price. But what you will get is good sound quality for a range of uses, from streaming video and listening to your music to voice calls and meeting audio.

They are also easy to set up, regardless of what you are connecting to. The Clarity Earbuds took only a few moments to connect to a Windows 11 laptop, iPhone 13 and the Google Pixel 6 Pro respectively. It's all very seamless, without the need to download an app to customise controls.

The buds themselves are fairly standard-looking black buds, in the same style as the Oppo Enco X or the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, with silicon tips to fit inside your ears and short stalks that sit outside.

The buds themselves have small touch panels to control things like tracks, calls and triggering the streaming-focused mode, but more on that later. You can take the buds in and out of your ears without accidentally triggering the touch controls, which is a small but useful detail.

The sound quality was good, although it wouldn’t rival the more expensive end of the market. It was a good all-rounder on sound, without concentrating too much on the details you might get with the spatial audio of the AirPods or lossless sound.

The earbuds also have a specific low-latency mode for streaming video or playing games, eliminating the lag you might otherwise get.

Call quality is great too. Nokia has built-in dual noise-cancelling mics to pick up your voice and send it, interference free, down the line. While you are on a call, the earbuds light up. It’s designed to let people know you aren’t to be disturbed – although how they would know that you are on a call versus just listening to a podcast or the radio without you specifically telling them is another matter.

Battery life is decent too. The charging case is a little bulkier than the Apple AirPods, the Oppo Enco X, or the Samsung Galaxy Buds. But it will give you extra listening time; Nokia says an additional 36 hours on top of nine hours of initial charge in the earbuds, bringing the total to 45 hours. I got a few hours less than this out of the earbuds, but as they were used mainly for short journeys or a quick half-hour run here and there, there was little to complain about.

Would I swap the AirPods Pro for the Nokia Clarity Earbuds? Probably not. The lack of active noise cancelling isn’t a deal breaker, but it is nice to be able to tune out the world. On the other, the noise isolation on the Clarity Earbuds is good, and the price is low enough to justify skipping out on the active noise cancelling .

As far as cut-price earbuds go, these were more comfortable than some of those on offer at the moment. There is a lot of competition here though, including from home-grown OneSonic, some with active noise cancelling and some without.

But if you are in the market for a new pair of earbuds without causing too much financial pain, the Nokia Clarity Earbuds are a good bet.

The good

Decently priced, comfortable and with good audio quality, the Nokia Clarity earbuds cover all the bases.

The low-latency mode is good for gaming or streaming TV shows too, and call quality was clear at both ends of conversations.

Battery life is decent too, particularly with the additional power provided by the case.

The not so good

They are comfortable, but if you have smaller ears, you’ll find you are a bit more aware of them in your ears. They seem to just out further than AirPods, for example.

The lack of active noise cancelling may be a deal-breaker for some, but the noise isolation is effective at sealing out background noise.

The rest

The earbuds are IPX4 rated, which means they will stand up to a splash of rain or sweat. It’s probably best not to try anything too ambitious in relation to water sports while you wear them.

The verdict

The Nokia Clarity Earbuds offer good quality earbuds and a decent price – though the lack of active noise cancelling may hamper it somewhat.

Nokia.comOpens in new window ]

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist