Oct 06, 2023

New Skullcandy Dime 3 mini wireless earbuds are a bargain at $29

The $29 Skullcandy Dime 3 are impressive buds with a key-fob charging case, great sound quality and voice calling.

Great call quality

Impressive sound with well-engineered EQs

Effective transparency mode

Durable design

Multipoint connectivity

Poor control scheme

No wear detection

No companion app support

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Price: $29 / £34 Colors: Bone; true blackBattery life (rated): 8 hours; 20 hours (charging case)Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 (codec support: SBC, AAC, LC3)Durability: IPX4 (earbuds)Size: 1.06 x 0.77 x 0.73 inches (earbuds); 2.33 x 1.55 x 0.90 inches (charging case) Weight: 0.14 ounces (per bud); 0.91 ounces (charging case)

The Dime 3 are the latest buds in Skullcandy’s extremely affordable true wireless series. They bring back signature features like the car-key-fob-inspired charging case and Tile integration, while welcoming new additions such as AI-powered microphones, music presets, and a transparency mode. Noteworthy improvements in audio and call quality also help to deliver an enjoyable listening experience for the price.

Many of Skullcandy’s upscale features were omitted from the spec sheet, and the controls are a bit fussy. However, these are forgivable flaws when factoring in the buds’ absurdly low $29 / £34 MSRP.

See why the Skullcandy Dime 3 are a top contender for the best cheap wireless earbuds and one of the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls.

The Skullcandy Dime 3 wireless earbuds cost $29 / £34 directly from the Skullcandy store and are also available at online retailers including Amazon.

These buds come with Skullcandy’s proprietary AI-enabled Clear Voice Smart Mics, ambient listening, Bluetooth multipoint, digital assistance, EQ modes, Tile functionality, and up to 20 hours of battery life via charging case. That’s an awesome feature set for sub-$30 buds.

The mics demonstrated outstanding speech recognition to enable Google Assistant voice activation (“Hey Google”) instantly and execute voice commands accurately. Multipoint provided seamless connectivity between two devices at the same time. Locating misplaced buds in the Tile app was a breeze, plus the service offers exclusive features (Item Reimbursement, Smart Alerts) to Premium Protect Plan subscribers.

Battery life is rated at 8 hours, but is really closer to 7.5 hours, depending how often you use battery-draining features like multipoint or Tile. I enjoyed about 3 days of moderate use (2.5 hours daily) before recharging. Topping out at 20 hours of recharges might look paltry on paper, but that’s a luxury for any charging case this small to hold and matches the JLab JBuds Mini. Rapid Charging technology also generates 2 hours of listening time on a 10-minute charge, which is basically equivalent to Apple’s Fast Fuel charging on the AirPods (5 minutes = 1 hour).

Skullcandy’s small-stem design doesn’t stick out awkwardly like most of the market’s best Fake AirPods. Durability is spot-on with a solid plastic exterior protecting the internals. Durability is rated at IPX4 and means they're protected to the same level as many of the best wireless earbuds overall against moisture ingress. The buds fit pleasantly on the ear for 2-hour stretches before fatigue sets in.

Then there’s the attractive micro-charging case with cutouts that display the front of the buds when docked. The flat woven lanyard is more convenient for attaching keys and the clamp system locks the lid securely.

Sound quality on the Dime series continues to trend upward. These buds come with three built-in EQs — Music (the default), Bass Boost, and Podcast — the last two serving their respective uses very well. Boom-filled bangers like Travis Scott’s “Butterfly Effect” would normally produce lots of unwanted distortion on standard wireless earbuds, but Bass Boost handled the monstrous lows and synths like a pro. Even the rapper’s hazy auto-tuned vocals sounded articulate over the ear-pounding beat. Podcast completely stripped the soundstage of bass and focused solely on mids to serve up crisp vocals for all dialogue-centric content.

Music does the best job stabilizing frequency response, granted it still favors the low-mid end of the sound spectrum. Pop hits like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” were handled much better than I anticipated. The synth-laced production maintained its punchiness and kept mids clean for joyous singalongs. Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” fed my ears an infectious bassline that was reproduced superbly and blended well with the harmonic chorus and steady snares, both of which sounded more prominent on hi-fi Tidal playback.

Stay-Aware transparency mode won’t win any awards, but it’s acceptable for standard ambient listening. My sense of awareness was increased around the house during office hours. Any verbalized requests or loud cries from my toddler were audible from another room. Using the feature outside kept my ears open for construction sites and emergency vehicles (e.g., firetrucks, police cars).

There's no active noise cancellation available on the Dime 3, but the buds still provide solid noise isolation for minimal distraction. I’ve had construction taking place outside of my condo for weeks and these buds passively blocked out a satisfying amount of background noise.

Voice calling, however, is the Dime 3’s most astounding hallmark. I haven’t received such positive feedback on voice and video calls since revisiting one of the best noise-cancellers I’ve ever tested, the first-gen Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, which are arguably a class leader. My wife and work colleagues all heard me loud and clear in both rowdy and silent environments.

I applaud Skullcandy for giving the Dime 3 a complete set of media controls: playback, call management, digital assistance, listening mode activation, power on/off, resync, reset, and volume. The issue is that they’re poorly assigned; enabling functions like EQ Switch (4x press) and Stay-Aware (1x press and hold for 1 second) are frustrating.

Furthermore, the physical button setup interferes with the buds’ comfort levels. Enacting multi-press commands had my right ear in pain for most of the day.

For all the unique functionality these buds provide, they also lack common features found on most wireless earbuds priced under $50. Not having access to the Skullcandy IQ app is a huge loss that deprives users of cool perks such as Audio Share, EQ, “Hey Skullcandy…” voice controls, Personal Sound, Spotify Tap, and Take a Photo to use the buds as a remote for snapping pics on your smartphone camera. There’s no way to assign and personalize the controls. I’m also surprised by the absence of wear detection to auto-pause content when removing the buds.

Terrific sound and call quality in a chic and compact design make the Skullcandy Dime 3 a great choice at a value price. And Innovative features including multipoint and Tile integration help make these a top contender for the best cheap wireless earbuds. Not everything is perfect, and there are key areas where Skullcandy can improve on, but none of these bring down the buds’ value based on their remarkably high overall performance.

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.

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