Skullcandy has made a name for itself as a company that excels at bang for your buck products. While they’re probably most known for their small, colorful earbuds, they’ve turned that into some really impressive audio products that are worth paying attention. Case in point, the Skullcandy Indy true wireless earbuds. When these were first released I came away impressed, but how have they held up with time?
Editor’s note: This post was updated on December 26, 2019, to include information about updates and reflect changes in pricing.
Who are the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless for?
- Android-users. If you’re on iOS these are a decent alternative to AirPods as they’re almost as convenient, but for Android users, these are a great alternative. I would say the AirPods are better when they’re in the case, but the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless earbuds are far better when they’re in your ears. At least when compared to the AirPods 2, as the AirPods Pro now have ear tips that help with fit.
- People looking for true wireless earbuds for exercise. While there are true wireless earbuds intended for fitness use out there, it’s not the norm. Thanks to the IP55 rating, these are a good option for that crowd.
- Anyone looking for a gift for someone. Whether or not you think you’d spend $79 on these, I’m fairly certain anyone could make good use if they were given these as a gift.
How’s the build quality of the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless?
Before we get to the earbuds we should probably talk about the charging case that comes with it. The more true wireless earbuds I review, the more I realize that a product is only as good as its case. The original AirPods suck at a lot of things, but the small, smooth case makes it easy to pocket. The Skullcandy Indy follows in that theory with a small and rounded case that feels much better than the one that came with the Push. It’s also much easier to drop into my pocket. The case is still larger than I would’ve liked, but it’s not difficult to manage at all. For roughly half the price, these give the AirPods a run for their money when it comes to portability. Of course, it’s nowhere near as premium feeling—but I don’t think that matters as long as it’s ready to use.
The case flips open to reveal a cutout that the earbuds fit in, and as soon as it is: three small LED lights on the front of the case light up to let you know roughly how much battery is left. The earbuds are held in place by magnets, but I found that the case lid doesn’t close as easily as it opens. It seems to rely on resistance to stay shut rather than magnets, so if the ear tips are askew, the case won’t close properly which can be annoying. I wish there was a little more space under the lid to avoid this, still, it’s only happened once to me in about two weeks of testing.
Speaking of the eartips, there are two here. The first is the standard ear tips that get inserted into your ear, and the second is more like a sleeve that helps to keep them in securely in your ears by pushing back against the inside of your ear. The combination of the two makes this one of the best fitting true wireless earbuds I’ve tried (save for the Powerbeats Pro which have an over-ear hook). At least for my ears, the fit puts the AirPods 2 to shame. They stay securely in the no matter how I shake my head which is good news for anyone that wants to exercise with them. I haven’t tried running with them, but while doing my usual exercise of push-ups, sit-ups, etc. they stayed out perfectly. They’re also IP55 certified so you don’t have to worry about sweat damaging them.
All that said, these aren’t perfect. While the drop in build quality is only kind of present with the case, it is front and center with the earbuds. They’re made entirely of a cheap plastic and the touch-sensitive controls along the box-y stem of the earbuds are hit or miss when you’re trying to control payback.
What’s it like to use the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless?
The Skullcandy Indy are rocking Bluetooth 5.0, which makes them surprisingly future-proof for a product in this price range. Assuming your next few devices are Bluetooth 5 compatible you should be able to enjoy a longer range and more data transfer. On my Pixel 3, I had a few skips and stutters when walking around with my phone in my pocket or even while doing some quick exercises, but it was nothing too distracting and they were few and far between. They did occur, but I was still surprised by how well these stayed connected to each other and to my phone. Even when watching YouTube videos there wasn’t a huge lag between what I was hearing and what I was hearing on the screen. The lag was small enough that I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it or not, so that should give you some kind of hint at how these hold up if you watch a lot of videos on your phone.
My biggest gripe with these is the re-pairing process which is a mess. I say re-pairing because the initial pairing process is super easy. As soon as you open the case and take both earbuds out they enter pairing mode and are easy to find in the Bluetooth settings of your phone. That said, re-pairing to a second device or resetting the Indy ‘buds is a process that involves following step by step instructions on their site. You have to turn off Bluetooth on your phone, and manually reset each earbud by taking them out of the case one at a time, turning it off by holding your finger against the touch-sensitive pad for four seconds, and then placing it back in the case. Once you do this for both earbuds, then you can take them out to repair no problem. It’s a hassle.
Speaking of the touch-sensitive pads on each earbud, they’re usually not my favorite method of playback control but I feel like Skullcandy nailed it here (at least when it registers my touch). Sometimes I have to try two or three times to get something to register which can be annoying, but as far as the actual controls I feel like they’re intuitive and actually take into account how people are going to use this every day.
For example, one of the main reasons I don’t like touch-sensitive controls is because typically companies make a single tap responsible for pausing the music. It sounds like it makes sense, but I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve accidentally tapped a touch-pad and paused the music when I wasn’t trying to. That isn’t the case with the Skullcandy Indy because a single tap on either earbud only controls volume. So instead of accidentally pausing the music, you might accidentally raise (right earbud) or lower (left earbud) the music slightly which I think is way less intrusive.
In order to pause the music, you have to intentionally tap twice on the right earbud which is the master. This is where I felt like it was hit or miss at times. If you casually tap twice you’ll likely end up just raising the volume. You basically have to perfectly tap twice. Skipping between tracks is the easiest control and just requires you to hold your finger on either the left or right earbud to skip back and forward, respectively. It sounds confusing, but once you get used to how the controls are setup and use it while going about your day, it makes a lot of sense.
Unfortunately, these aren’t compatible with the Google Assistant or Siri just yet. Since this review was initially published in mid-2019 Skullcandy has claimed that the functionality was supposed to come in an update, but at the time of this update (December 2019), their website still says that the feature is coming soon. One thing that’s also worth mentioning is that these don’t auto-pause when you take them out of your ear. That’s never been a feature I liked anyway, but knowing that one of my friends can’t live without it I feel it’s worth mentioning here as well.
How good is the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless’ battery life?
When it comes to battery life we managed to squeeze out four hours and 23 minutes of constant playback at an output of 75dB, but Skullcandy claims the charging case can up that to about 16 hours. So you can charge them back up fully roughly three times before you need to charge the case itself. Unfortunately, the charging case still uses micro-USB which is surprisingly inconvenient considering most phones now use USB-C or Lightning, so you’re going to have to carry around another cable with you.
How does the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless sound?
Sound quality hasn’t always been Skullcandy’s strong suit. Sure, their headphones don’t sound bad, but they usually don’t sound good either. But again, that isn’t true for the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless. I find they sound pretty damn good. It could be because—as you can see from the frequency response graph above—the company seems to have toned down the low end which is usually over-emphasized at the expense of clarity. While bass-heads might not be too happy, I find its perfect for my average daily listening.
The bassline throughout the song Ley Natural by Cultura Profetica is still enough to follow and vibe to without getting in the way of the lighter parts of the song. The mids and highs share some extra emphasis in those notes resulting in pretty clear vocals in songs and podcasts. A good example of this is in the song Girl Like You by Toro y Moi which has plenty of mid-heavy synths weaving in and out throughout the song, but vocals still come through loud and clear.
Of course, these aren’t going to sound as clear as your favorite pair of over-ears, but I find it hard to find a dealbreaker in these. It’s likely because of the extra isolation provided by the eartips, but I found these more than acceptable.
The microphone is decent, if sounding a tiny bit muffled. However, considering how tough it is to cram a good microphone into true wireless headphones, and the fact that they need Bluetooth to send your voice to your phone, it’s a bit of a miracle that any true wireless earbuds have microphones that work at all.
Should you buy the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless?
So where does the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless fall on the list of the best true wireless earbuds? Well, they basically reside in the middle of the pack to this day. I’d say they’re above average when it comes to usability, but they’re unfortunately not the best in any one category. Still, that’s not to say that getting a pair is a waste of your money.
They sound surprisingly good, and the connection between both earbuds and your phone stays strong throughout use. Plus, the IP55 build gives them that sweatproof stamp of approval that so many other true wireless earbuds lack. They’re also only slightly less portable than the AirPods and fit way better thanks to the ear tips, not to mention that at $79 they’re very aggressively priced compared to other options out there. But battery life is just average, and needing to charge via micro-USB doesn’t feel like the future.
Build quality is also not inspiring despite the aforementioned IP55 rating, and the Skullcandy branding on everything takes away from otherwise could be a clean, minimal design. Plus, repairing to another device is a mess. Overall, the Skullcandy Indy is just a good pair of true wireless earbuds that I think anyone would be happy with, but they’re not the amazing pair of ‘buds that everyone should definitely have. They’re a great alternative to Airpods, even if they’re not a direct competitor.
What other options are there?
Since the release of the Skullcandy Indy, there have been a number of other true wireless earbuds that are worth checking out. The most obvious of which are the AirPods Pro, which now comes with active noise cancelling and ear tips for a better fit. Of course, those are nowhere near the price of these, but they’re still one of the best options around and worth mentioning if you feel like you have the extra cash to spare. While we’re on the subject of other premium options, there’s also the Sony WF-1000XM3 which are objectively one of the best pairs of true wireless earbuds on the market. They also have active noise cancelling and a transparency mode, just like the AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds do.
If you want to keep it in the sub-$100 range, then you should definitely check out the Creative Outlier Gold which takes everything we liked about the original Outlier Air and makes the battery last longer. They’re one of the best earbuds we’ve tested at any price point, and they support both AAC and aptX. Not to mention the IPX5 water resistance so you can take these to the gym if you want to. Plus, there are even some options that are cheaper than the $79 you need to scoop up a pair of Skullcandy Indy true wireless earbuds.
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