Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds review: A lot of sound for little money

At a glance

Expert’s Rating


  • Good sound
  • Nice fit
  • Very inexpensive


  • Plasticky
  • The touch controls aren’t quite right

Our Verdict

Sure, the case has a plasticky feel when folded and you don’t get active noise cancellation. But Skullcandy’s Smokin’ Buds sound better than their price suggests. All that, and they’ll stay in your ears while you work out, too.

Price When Reviewed


Best Prices Today: Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds


When I previously tested cheap Apple AirPods copies, it was a painful experience, often with poor sound and cheap design. When the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds came down with a price tag not much higher, it was with some trepidation that I started testing.

But how wrong I was.

Design & build

  • Weight: 1.4 ounces (buds and case)
  • 3 pairs of eartips
  • Easy Bluetooth pairing

The Smokin’ Buds weigh virtually nothing. The whole kit weighs roughly 1.4 ounces, of which the case accounts for most of the weight.

Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds give you a lot of sound for a very reasonable price.

When you open the case, you get a plasticky feeling, which is a far cry from the AirPods’ case quality. Once the headphones are in place, a voice informs you that they are in pairing mode.

Inside the case are two pairs of headphones that basically weigh nothing. The fit is good, and the buds stay in place even if you are out jogging. The box contains a total of three ear tips with different sizes for different ears.

This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best headphones.

When you put the Smokin’ Buds in your ears for the first time, a voice informs you that they are in pairing mode. I opened the Bluetooth settings on my iPhone and connected to them, no problem at all.

The Smokin’ Buds sat comfortably in my ears.

Audio performance

  • Solid sound for the price
  • No ANC
  • Clear call quality

Smokin’ Buds work well when it comes to music. “If You Want Peace… Prepare for War” by Children of Bodom was first on my playlist, and it sounded great, with sawing guitars, cracking vocals, and rumbling drums filling my ears. Frank Zappa’s “Strictly Genteel” performed by the LSO doesn’t have the clarity on the Smokin’ Buds that it would on a better (and likely more expensive) pair of headphones, but they sounded just fine given the budget price.

As mentioned, the Smokin’ Buds lack noise reduction, but thanks to a good fit, much of the background noise is filtered out. Even calls sound good. The person I called thought I sounded crystal clear.

Controls and battery life

  • Touch controls
  • 8 hours of listening time
  • Additional 12 hours with the charging case
  • Fast charging

With a long, short, or double tap, you can raise the volume, skip forward, activate the voice assistant, and more. The controls work for the most part, but for some reason I couldn’t lower the volume. The Smokin’ Buds controls also aren’t as precise as those on AirPods–on the other hand, AirPods cost considerably more.

The Smokin’ Buds will give you up to 8 hours of playback time, while the battery case offers an additional 12 hours of battery life. In total, you get 20 hours if the case and headphones are fully charged.

Smokin’ Buds also support fast charging. You get two hours of listening after 10 minutes of charging.


Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds give you a lot of sound for a very reasonable price. Sure, we can be picky and say that the bass is a little too dominant or that the design feel plasticky (made from 50 percent recycled material, by the way). But again, with a price of just under $25, I won’t complain too much.


Product: Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds
Connections: Bluetooth 5.2
Associated app: No
Active noise reduction : No
Hands-free function: Yes
Support for voice control: Yes (Siri and Google Assistant)
Colours: Black
Weight of charging case with headphones: 40 grams
Battery life in total: 20 hours
Battery life per charge: 8 hours
Wireless charging of the case: No
Cost: $24.99 on Amazon

This review from M3, our sister publication, was translated from the original Swedish.



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