Never judge a book by its cover, they say. And right they are. I wasn’t too well-versed with the brand PTron; just about knew about its existence as another budget mobile accessories brand but never tried any of their products before. Nor had I heard of any wireless earphones this small offering 22 hours of playback on a single charge. That ridiculous claim is what made me want to try the PTron Zap in the first place. What I figured during the course of my testing is that it offers a lot more than just a solid battery backup. Read on to know more.
Build and design
The PTron Zap design is fairly generic for a neckband style earphones. These are draped in all black with a smooth matte finish. The monotony is broken by a not-so-appealing white PTron logo on one side as well as at the back of each earbud. Though the finish is even and they feel good to touch, there’s nothing about it that shouts premium visually. But then there’s nothing glaringly bad either. The same applies to the outer box too, which won’t grab any attention, and even the product image is barely visible on the dark blue box. Given its price tag, the product design is perfectly acceptable but the outer packaging could have certainly been more eye-catching.
Coming back to the earphones, there’s an in-line control pod with three multifunctional buttons, micro USB port for charging and microphones. Since each button is uniquely shaped (+, - and circle), you don’t end up pressing the wrong button even without looking at it. They let you increase/decrease the volume, go the next/previous track, play/pause the song and answer/end/reject calls. The PTron Zap hosts a 400 mAh battery (a pair of 200 mAh batteries) that claim to deliver a playtime of 22 hours.
At the heart of this device is a Qualcomm QCC300x series Bluetooth V5.0 chipset. The earbuds have a 10mm dynamic driver each and magnetic tips at the back that gets the buds to stick together when not in use. However, they do not add to the functionality of the device like in case of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, where the audio pauses when the buds are stuck together and the earphones go in standby mode. The magnets at the back here do no such thing, except for contributing to some occasional unintended comedy. Like in my case, one of the buds just popped out of my ear and stuck to a metal plate in a train, much to the bewilderment of fellow passengers.
Despite the 400 mAh battery, these earphones are extremely lightweight. They weigh around 30 grams and you will barely feel their presence. The in-ear monitors fit nicely into the ear and offer decent noise isolation without causing any discomfort with the default medium-sized tips. They do not pop out of the ear during jogs. The neckband is quite flexible and void of any rough edges, so no complaints there either. Though the build quality feels fine, I wish the company had bundled a small pouch to carry them around in your bag when not in use.
Speaking of the bundle, you get two pairs of ear tips (small and large) other than the medium variant on the earphones, a USB to micro USB cable and an instructions leaflet. The company claims that the PTron Zap are sweat-resistant but there is no official IP rating to verify the claim. Having said that, I happened to use them outdoors in a light drizzle a couple of times and I am happy to report that they are still fully functional. So they should be able to handle a bit of sweat in the gym but do not take them to the swimming pool.
Looking at the packaging, design, and price, I had kept my expectations in check with respect to its audio performance. And I was in for a big surprise, or should I say - I was Zapped! The PTron Zap sound remarkably well for a pair of wireless earphones priced under Rs 2,000. They are loud, clear and with ample bass. The highs are crisp, the midrange frequencies are reproduced quite well with clear vocals and above-average resolved detail in a medley of instruments. The bass is fairly tight and with a good amount of thump, but slightly excessive if you ask me, despite me preferring the warmer sound. At times, it can be overbearing and often eats into lower midrange frequencies.
The overall sound signature is quite warm but pleasant. The sound output often reminded me of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless but with a bit more bass and slightly less resolved detail. Of course, it doesn’t outperform the OnePlus buds, but being able to compete with a popular pair that's priced 2.5 times this PTron is an achievement in itself. Also, unlike the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, the PTron Zap doesn’t support Qualcomm’s aptX codecs, which is a bit of a surprise given that several Qualcomm QCC300x series chipsets support aptX. However, these support Bluetooth 5.0 and there’s minimal loss of quality when paired with a Bluetooth 5.0 compatible device.
Speaking of pairing, it was a simple and quick process. As for the Bluetooth range, the company claims a figure of 33 feet. This pair manages to retain the connection until about 28 feet with a clear line of sight but starts to stutter beyond that. With a wall in between the source and the listener, the range drops drastically. Not the best when it comes to Bluetooth range. But like yours truly, if you are never too far from your phone (the source device), the range is not something you will need to bother about. As long as you have the audio source in your pocket, bag or in the same room, you won’t suffer any signal drop.
The call quality is decent but nothing spectacular. While the person on-call can hear you clearly, the clarity isn’t the same as it is when speaking directly over your phone. But the microphones on the PTron Zap do manage to filter out a lot of background noise, which is a good thing.
This is one department where the device excels beyond belief. The packaging proudly mentions a playtime of 22 hours, which sounds extravagant. But ironically, post-testing, it turned out to be a conservative figure. I had this review unit with me for almost a month and hence managed to put it through a couple of rounds of testing. The first time I used it daily for approximately 3 hours a day and it lasted over 8 days at a stretch, clocking in excess of 25 hours of total playtime till I had to charge it again. The volume level was always around 60% during the course of the testing.
During the second round, I again used it for 3 hours a day but for 4 days, then kept it aside for a week and resumed post that. It still managed to deliver a playtime in the vicinity of 25 hours. There seemed to be a negligible amount of battery drain during the standby period. That’s simply awesome! The product box does mention a standby time of 400 hours. Guess that’s a conservative estimate too. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to charge the PTron Zap fully and post that you won’t have to bother looking for a charger for a week or two if your usage is similar to mine. That is by far the best battery backup I have seen in earphones this size.
Price and verdict
The PTron Zap can be purchased for Rs 1,699 with a one year warranty on the company’s website as well as on Amazon India. It often sells for a couple of hundreds lower during flash sales. For that price, you get a pair of wireless earphones that won’t win any design awards but sounds way better than most of its wireless counterparts in the sub-2K budget in India or for that matter, any of the true wireless earbuds that cost twice as much. On top of that, you get an insanely high battery life that sets a new benchmark in this category. Needless to say, you absolutely get your money's worth and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
Now, I am not one to judge a book by its cover, but when you have a book this good, it doesn’t hurt to work a bit harder on a better cover, right?