I’ve enjoyed reviewing “true wireless headphones” that completely cut the cord. Unfortunately, most have some issues. For example, the Rowkin Bit Charge earphones sound great but their 2-3 hour battery life is disappointing, and they can lose their stereo connection. I was curious if the Rowkin Surge Charge fixed these issue and I’m happy to report they do!
To be fair, the Rowkin Bit Charge Stereo may only get 2-3 hours of playback per charge, but their charging case offers up to 15 charges on the go. At less than $120, they are a bargain. Read my review of the Bit Charge Stereo here and the Rowkin Micro here. These true wireless headphones are tiny, sound great and the charging case can double as a phone charger. Still, the dropped connection that often resulted with one of the earbuds cutting out could be maddening. By comparison, the charging case of the Rowkin Surge Charge doesn’t double as a phone charger, but these true wireless earphones get up to 5 hours per charge and can be recharged up to five times on the go; they are also under $120, and they don’t suffer from similar connectivity issues. That does not, however, mean the Surge Charge is perfect.
While the Bit Charge isn’t much larger than the earbud portion of wired earphones, the Surge Charge have an entirely different design language. They are significantly larger, have physical buttons along the top and include an ear hook that helps guarantee they stay in place regardless of how much you move. Some people won’t like the larger size of the Surge Charge, but the increase in size delivers some excellent improvements over Rowkin’s other products.
The earbud itself is a familiar design and, as you might expect, the package includes some different ear tips. That means you will likely be able to get the right fit and seal for your ear. They sit permanently affixed to the rest of the earbud at an angle that places them comfortably in the ear. The permanent ear hooks help keep them in place during activity. It does, however, mean there is a dedicated left and right earphone.
Inside the box, you get the Surge Charge earphones, a portable charging case, a micro USB charging cable for recharging the battery in the case, small, medium and large ear tops so you can get a comfortable, secure fit.
The Rowkin name and logo sit on the long flat portion of each earbud. While the logo looks like it might be a control, it is simply there for appearance sake. That, in my opinion, is a missed opportunity.
Along the top of each earbud, there are three buttons. The back-most button decreases the volume while the front-most button increases it. The middle button serves a multipurpose button that can be used for track control, call control, or to activate the smart assistant on your phone or tablet. The button layout and controls are as follows:
- Volume Adjustment: Press the + button to increase the volume
- Pause/Play: Press the control button to pause music, press the button again to resume
- Track selection: Hold + button for 2 seconds to skip track. Hold – button for 2 seconds to restart song/go to the previous track (if within the first few seconds of the song)
- Answer/End Call: Press control button to answer or end the phone call
- Reject Phone Call: Hold the control
- Mute Call: During a phone call, press down on the + and – button at the same time to activate or deactivate the mute function
- Activate Siri/Google Assistant: Double-click the control button to activate Siri or Google Assistant.
Interestingly, each earbud must be paired individually to your device. The included paperwork and the website support page explain the process. It isn’t complicated, but it is different from what you might have experienced with other Bluetooth headphones.
Power Your Movement
No. More. Wires.
Welcome to flexibility, agility, and power
Rowkin Surge Charge brings you our secure, sport, true wireless earbuds now with a convenient charge case. Realize the potential of crystal clear calls and impressive bass without the distractions of wires and plugs.
Because the Rowkin Surge Charge True Wireless earphones are designed for sport, they are sweat-proof and water-resistant. No, you can’t go swimming with them but, if you are out jogging and it starts to rain, the earbuds will be fine.
As may already be clear, a key to the design of the Surge Charge is the larger size and the ear hooks. The larger size means you’ll get unto five hours of talk or music playback. It also means you’ll have physical controls so you can adjust your music or take or reject calls while running without missing a step or a beat. One additional advantage of the Surge Charge as compared to the Bit Charge is the fact that, when you have the earbuds in, others will actually notice you wearing them and realize you might not be paying attention. (The Bit Charge are so small that I would often be wearing them and, because people could not see them, would think I was rude when I didn’t answer them.)
The ear hooks are the second big design difference you will notice when comparing the Surge Charge to the Bit Charge and most other true wireless earphones. The ear hooks are a bit bulky but they help keep the Surge Charge in place regardless of how much you might be moving. That’s a good thing, especially if you are out jogging.
As far as sound goes… the Rowkin Surge Charge is great. They offer plenty of bass, clear mids and highs. The earbud is angled just right and sits inside the ear comfortably and in a position to deliver sound directly into the ear canal. I’m impressed and, while I don’t usually like ear hooks, I have to admit that they are comfortable enough that I didn’t notice the hooks after a while.
If I had to find an area to be seriously critical about I would have to look to the charging case that adds $20 to the price of the Rowkin Surge and makes these the Rowkin Surge Charge rather than simply the Rowkin Surge. It is a nice case that protects the earbuds and gives you multiple extra charges. That’s all good, but other true wireless earbuds are more convenient. For example, the Bit Charge automatically recharge when you put them back into the case. The same goes for Apple’s Airpods and the Jabra Elite 65T I am reviewing.
By comparison, the Surge Charge case has two micro USB cables inside the case.
Each needs to be plugged into an earbud in order to recharge them. It is a small thing, but the convenience of simply putting earbuds into a case and having them topped off is something I didn’t know I appreciated until reviewing these. No, it is not a deal breaker, but it is something worth noting before you drop $120 on them.
- Sweat-proof: perfect for sport and daily use, the surge charge is sweat proof and water-resistant.
- Adventure-ready battery: Delivers up to five hours of talk/play time and up to 25 hours total with the new portable charging case.
- Comfortable sport fit: Flexible, easily customized over-ear hook ensure secure, ergonomic fit.
- Activate voice assistance: Two quick taps to activate Siri or Google assistant and easily controlled playback controls.
- Crystal clear calls: Take calls seamlessly with our built-in microphone with echo cancellation and noise reduction.
- Live wire-free: Limitless flexibility with an incredible near 30-foot range with Bluetooth 4.2.
- Earbud: 1.99” (L) x 1.67” (W) x 1.30” (D)
- Portable charge case: 2.80” (L) x 1.98” (W) x 4.94” (D)
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Battery: 95mAh per earbud
- Each earbud: 0.42oz (12g)
- Portable charge case: 3.9oz (112g)
- Music/Talk Time: Up to 5 hours
- Total Play Time: 25 hours # of charges: 4x
Clearly, if you are looking for something that will disappear into your ears and not call too much attention to themselves, these won’t be for you. If, on the other hand, you want decent battery life, a secure fit, and good sound, you will likely be happy with the Surge Charge. At $119.99 the Rowkin Surge Charge is significantly less than Apple’s true wireless offering. They aren’t as convenient to recharge but if you want true wireless earphones that sound good, get good battery life and stay put they are worth considering. Check them out here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Under $120; Good sound; Stay in place; Water-resistant; Decent battery life; Case offers multiple additional charges; Physical controls
What Needs Improvement: Battery case requires each earbud to be individually connected; Each earphone needs to be paired individually; Large; Ear hooks may be uncomfortable for some