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The surprisingly good EarFun Free true-wireless earbuds are back on sale for $38

Good sound, a sweatproof design and a USB-C case that also supports wireless charging? Yes, please.

- 03:07

This picture doesn't tell the whole story. That's a wireless charging case. But it also accepts USB-C.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I'm feeling a crusade coming on. When I see people walking (or running) around with Apple AirPods, I want to go up and give them a shake. "You paid too much for these! And they're not even sweatproof!" Yep, little-known fact: AirPods are not rated to stand up to any kind of liquid-related damage. And the standard warranty doesn't cover them against that. 

Thankfully, inexpensive alternatives abound, many of them able to withstand vigorous exercise, no sweat. (Wait, make that, "Yes, sweat.") Here's a great example: For a limited time, and while supplies last, the EarFun Free true-wireless earphones are $37.99. They were $3 cheaper around Black Friday, but this is still an excellent buy.

At first glance, the EarFun Free resembles countless other earbuds you've seen. However, in addition to supporting Bluetooth 5.0, they come in an admirably compact charging case with a USB-C, not Micro-USB, port. Better still, that case can charge wirelessly: Just plunk it down on any Qi pad. Apple AirPods: $199 if you want them with a wireless charging case. (Or $79 for just the case.)

EarFun promises up to six hours of listening before the earbuds need to return to the case, and up to four full recharges before the case itself needs recharging. Total listening time: up to 24 hours. EarFun also promises up to two hours of playtime after just 10 minutes of charging.

Equally surprising, the earbuds are IPX7-rated, so they're not just water-resistant, they're waterproof. I wouldn't take them swimming, because they'd almost certainly come loose, but theoretically you could shower with them.

What about sound quality, which is at least as important as features? For that I'll turn you over to David Carnoy's EarFun Free review. Verdict: "Pretty good" noise-isolating audio helps make these "an excellent value alternative to the AirPods."

Meanwhile, some 1,800 buyers collectively rated these 4.3 stars out of 5. I tested the EarFun Free myself and found them to be extremely good overall. The key, as with most such earbuds, is to make sure you get a really good in-ear seal, and to keep swapping the silicon tips (there are three sizes included) until you do.

EarFun backs the 'buds with an 18-month warranty. AirPods are covered for only 12 months. So, anyone seeking an exercise-friendly, crazy-affordable alternative to the latter should definitely have a look.

Your thoughts?

Originally published last year. Updated to reflect new sale prices and availability.

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