I recently reviewed the Nokia E3511, a solid pair of affordable ANC true wireless earphones which I highly recommended. But along with those earphones, Nokia also sent me the E3103, which are an even more affordable option at just S$99. How do they stack up? Let’s start with the specs.
Nokia Essential True Wireless E3103 Specifications
- 13mm drivers
- IPX4 water resistant
- Bluetooth 5.1, SBC codec
- 7 hr battery life, 25 hr including case
- Colours: Black, White, Blue, Pink
Design & Fit
The earphones come in a slender and lightweight matte plastic case reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods. While the material does feel a bit cheap compared to the aluminum case of the Nokia E3511, it is solidly built with no creaking or wobbling.
The buds themselves are of a similar design to the original AirPods. That means they don’t have in-ear silicone tips but instead sit loosely on your ears. I’ve never personally been a fan of this design for a couple of reasons.
First, I don’t feel confident that the buds are secure in my ears. That being said, I did go for a run in these and they didn’t fall off even though they felt incredibly loose.
Second, there is basically no seal for passive noise isolation, so you’ll be able to hear sounds from your environment. I listen to wireless earphones the most when I am commuting, so not having even a passive seal is a deal breaker for me as I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my music over the sound of the bus or train. But if you intentionally do not want the sound isolation, perhaps when working from home or running outdoors, this could be an option.
Third, I realise that the frequency response for earbuds of this design varies a lot depending on how deep you fit them into your ears, especially the bass. Bass response gets stronger the deeper you push the buds into your ears. I’m not a fan of this inconsistency.
These are the common tradeoffs of earbuds of this design. But if you know what you’re getting into and you specifically want this design for whatever reason, then these shouldn’t be a problem for you.
The Nokia E3103 sound good. As I mentioned in the previous section, my main gripe with it is that the bass response varies depending on how deep you push the buds into your ears.
Other than that, the buds are generally sound good for the price. Like the Nokia E3511, the sound signature is well balanced, if not a little bit dark. Soundstage and imaging are pretty good as well for true wireless buds. Overall, I have no qualms with the sound quality that these provide.
Some other miscellaneous things about the Nokia E3103:
- There are basic touch controls on the buds for pausing, skipping track, changing the volume, and launching your phone’s voice assistant. I found it to work better than the finnicky controls of the E3511 due to the more convenient placement of the touch surface.
- Microphone quality is ok
- There are no audio latency issues when watching video
- You can use one earbud while keeping the other in the case
- As with the E3511, there is a bug where if the case battery is depleted, keeping the earbuds in the case will not shut them off. You’d have to manually disconnect the earphones on your phone’s Bluetooth settings, which is annoying.
Pricing & Conclusion
- Lightweight, solid, compact case
- Good sound quality
- IPX4 water resistance
- Relatively affordable
- AirPods-like design may not be for everyone especially if you want passive noise isolation
- Bug where if the case battery is depleted, keeping the earbuds in the case will not shut them off
At a retail price of S$99, the Nokia E3103 are cheaper than Apple’s AirPods or the Sudio Nio. But there are also plenty of earbuds from Chinese manufacturers such as Realme with similar form factors or even with passive seals for less. Personally, I’d probably pay the extra S$50 to get ANC of the Nokia E3511. But the tradeoff would be a bulkier case.
If you’re ok with the S$99 asking price and you’re in the market for earbuds of this form factor, and don’t mind the compromises that come with it, I’d say the Nokia E3511 are a solid option worth considering.
You can purchase the Nokia E3103 on Lazada.
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