We at BuzzFeed pay attention when we hear about an impressive Amazon rating — in fact, it’s the basis of one of our most popular series — so when the Mpow 059 came onto our radar, we couldn’t just tune it out. Not only does this pair of headphones have almost 15,000 reviews, but it has an average 4.5-star rating and has been vetted by Fakespot, a site that detects deception across all Amazon reviews. (No foul play here, folks.)
The Mpow 059s aren’t exactly critical darlings of the gadget world, but they’re well-loved by customers — and for a pretty good reason! We’re happy to report that these headphones match (and, in some cases, outperform) many of their more expensive rivals in the budget category, like the Sony MDR-ZX220s ($78) and the Jabra Move ($69.33). While both of those pairs provide eight hours of battery life (well below industry standard), the Mpows charge ahead with 20-plus hours (up from 13-15 with a recent upgrade in 2017). Their more comparable budget headphone, the well-reviewed Creative Sound Blaster Jam Ultra-Light ($37.99), by comparison, only has 12 hours charge.
We were also pleasantly surprised by how comfortable these cups were. We were even more surprised that they remained comfortable after extended use — especially after reading a “gentle reminder” from Mpow on the Amazon listing, explaining that buyers should plan to remove their headphones every one to two hours to allow their ears to “relax.”
Needless to say, that was not our experience. “Good luck prying these from anything but my cold dead body,” said one tester when the process was done. (Editor’s note: She was not actually dead.) We believe the Mpow 059’s comfortable fit is owed in no small part to their soft, memory-protein ear cups with an easy, just-snug-enough design. But this fit presents its own set of challenges: Runners and gym-goers, for example, will find that the slippage and lack of breathability on these ear cups make them a far-from-ideal-performance headphone.
The sound quality on these headphones is by no means perfect either, and that’s to be expected when shopping for a pair at this price point. But if you’re looking for an upgrade from your wired buds, perhaps to use on your work commute or next cross-country flight, these will certainly feel like one. We should also underscore that these are passive (rather than active) noise cancellers, which means it is the physical design of the ear cups that’s blocking out ambient noises — not a built-in technology like you might find on, say, the industry-leading Bose QuietComforts (our $$$ pick). All things considered, the Mpow 059s deliver a pretty balanced, if not slightly bass-heavy, sound for the price.
If you can get past their somewhat hefty appearance (think: Beats Solo3 but more in-your-face), there is a consolation prize in that the Mpow 059s fold up into a travel-friendly size that can be easily tucked inside their accompanying bag. And, if you’d rather not bring unnecessary attention to your headphones with a flashy red or green, there are seven colorways to choose from (including three black/gray variations).
The bottom line: It’s hard to find a jack-of-all-trades in the budget headphone category. You will probably end up sacrificing comfort, sound, or appearance. The Mpow 059s pass most of — or all of — these categories, depending on your personal affinity for larger-than-average, glossy earwear. And we don’t think you’ll find anything better for less.