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Budget Bluetooth headphones are becoming more common as the price of the technology drops. But that still doesn’t mean I’ve found a set of wireless headphones I love. Enter the latest contender: the iFROGZ Coda Bluetooth headphones.
These cans are manufactured by ZAGG, a company based in Salt Lake City, USA, and also incidentally responsible for the Mophie brand.
ZAGG is re-emphasising its push into South Africa, introducing a number of new products to our shores. Notably, I grabbed myself a review unit of the Coda headphones, and before I knew it, I was headbanging to Tay-Tay while penning this review. Okay, not really [yes, really – ed].
But let’s get into the review itself, shall we?
Build and aesthetics
For around R400, the iFROGZ Coda HP aren’t the most exciting cans you’ll ever see. They’re not Skullcandy obnoxious or B&O lavish, but they’ll happily live with your clumsy lifestyle, brushing off scratches, mild drops and fingerprints.
The design is uber-conservative, notable especially for a product that’s supposed to appeal to fashion-conscious youngsters.
The cups are faux leather and are large enough to fit around smaller ears. The shell of the cups are covered in flat, shiny plastic, while the headband is a combination of sturdy plastic finished in a rubbery coating. This makes them easy to hold and manage.
The right cup houses all the ports and buttons. A recessed microUSB port sits alongside a 3.5mm jack input for when the battery dies, while three buttons: a volume rocker and a power button, flank the front. A notification light — which flashes both blue and red depending on the headphone’s status — completes the look.
Connecting to the iFROGZ Coda headphones was an exercise in frustration at first, but eventually I understood the device’s quirks. Holding in the power button after switching on the headphones lets you connect them to a smartphone, tablet or computer. I tried all three, and the phones were happy to connect to each, whether they were running Windows, Android or Ubuntu.
But connecting to device B when it’s connected to device A is another matter entirely. You’ll likely have to switch off device A’s Bluetooth, and reboot the headphones. It’s an extra step that ruins the ease-of-use you’d expect from wireless headphones.
iFROGZ Coda headphones specs, via ZAGG:
- Drivers: 40mm
- Resistance: 32hms
- Sensitivity: 100dB +/- 5dB
- Frequency: 20Hz – 20KHz
- Playing Time: 7 hours
- Standby Time: 3 hours
- Charging Time: 2-2.5 hours
Once connected though, the connection quality is stellar. That is, if your phone is not being obstructed by, say, your own body.
With my phone in my left pocket and the headphones clamping my ears, turning my neck resulted in spluttering, jittery audio. Ultimately, I only noticed this issue whilst standing. And as soon as I took a seat, the smartphone and headphones began chatting again.
If all else fails, there’s a backup 3.5mm headphone jack, and ZAGG was kind enough to bundle a line-in cable with the ‘phones themselves.
Sound quality and performance
As for performance, the conservative approach continues.
I didn’t expect to be blown away by the iFROGZ Coda HP’s sound, but I did expect the cans to perform better in some genres.
We can list a few tracks that sound incredible through these phones:
- “Bored” by Billie Eilish
- “Forgot About Dre” by Dr Dre & Eminem
- “True Feeling” by Galantis
And tracks that I’d stay far away from:
- “The Funeral” by Band of Horses
- “Time” by Hans Zimmer
- “Ni**as in Paris” by Jay-Z
The iFROGZ Coda HP do extremely well when tracks feature punchy basslines, empty or simple soundscapes, and peaky treble. They do well with acoustic tracks, stripped-down hip hop, trip-hop and house. But when tracks get complicated — take “The Funeral” for instance — the headphones struggle to reproduce subtle sounds.
Mids are muddled and seemingly drown out the additional textures within the track.
If you’re getting these phones to listen to all rock subgenres, heavier dubstep or even more complex hip hop, you’ll be extremely unhappy. They also won’t drown out ambient noise well, like city traffic or the rumble of a jet engine.
But podcast listening is another positive: voice clarity on these headphones are excellent.
Ultimately, the Coda phones are bass heavy, lacking in mid-range clarity and adequate in the higher ranges. They’re headphones for pop lovers, but considering their price, they’re hard to fault as backup headphones.
Comfort and ergonomics
The biggest issue with headphones is arguably their ergonomics and comfort.
I still haven’t found a pair of phones that I can wear all day, and the iFROGZ Coda HP are no exception. The cups are less forgiving than more expensive cans’ and I was able to wear these for two hours before my ears began aching.
But that’s okay, as the battery life rarely exceeded five hours of continuous playback.
They’re light enough though, which means you won’t have neck pain at the end of the day, nor will you shake them off accidentally while looking left and right at the intersection.
Speaking of battery life, there’s one particular design fault that really annoyed me. The recessed microUSB port, which allows users to charge the headphones’ battery, won’t accept every single charging cable you throw at it. Do make a note of this if you’re travelling with these headphones.
Verdict: Besides the sometimes spotty audio quality and questionable ergonomics, the iFROGZ Coda HP are adequate for pop, acoustic tracks and podcasts.
Score: 7 out of 10