LG is introducing a few self-cleaning earphones with the Tone Free FN6. The earphones kill almost all bacteria with the case and they are completely wireless. Read our findings here.
LG Tone Free FN6
LG launched its fully wireless Tone Free HBS FL7 earphones early this year that comes with a case that kills bacteria from UV light. Soon after, the Tone Free FN6 (149 euros) followed in June, which comes with an improved design, but which takes over the main features of the FL7 earphones. It is also this model that is available in the Netherlands and Belgium and you can read about the pros and cons of the ears here.
LG Tone Free FN6 – the pros
1. Design and wearing comfort
The Tone Free FN6 earphones come in a white or black color and a very compact design if you compare them to the many other true wireless earphones on the market. LG also comes with a round case in which the ears fit magnetically to charge and clean them using UV lighting.
Both the ears and the box are made of plastic, and while the ears have a glossy finish, LG opted for the case for a matte plastic. Good choice. You charge the case with USB-C, as it should, and there is a button to connect with Bluetooth. There is also a colored LED light that shows when the ears are ready to connect or to charge.
Compared to its predecessor, LG has taken a big step forward in wearing comfort with the Tone Free’s FN6 model. The ears have a logical fit and due to their lightweight, you will soon no longer notice that you have them. The Tone Free earphones also come with different sizes of earplugs.
LG’s earphones are better than the Freebuds 3i from Huawei that we recently tested at the editorial, but the latter feels a bit more durable and high-quality in terms of finish. Although the Huawei earphones are in fact about 50 euros cheaper.
2. Tone Free app
You can connect the Tone Free earphones with the excellent Tone Free app that allows you to update the firmware of the earphones and also adjust a lot of settings. You can, for example, change the buttons of the touch control, tweak the equalizer, read the manual.
Check the battery life of the ears and find your ears by having them play a sound. The Tone Free app is very clear and you will find all the settings you could wish for in order to get the most out of your wireless earphones.
‘Self-cleaning’ is not quite the right word, because LG’s Tone Free earphones do not clean themselves, but they are bacteria-free. The case makes your earbuds 99.9 percent bacteria-free if it can expose them to UV light for 10 minutes. That is certainly a nice extra, but the automatic bacteria-free is also not at the top of the list of important functions that really want for your wireless earphones.
4. Fast Pair and Google Assistant
As soon as you press the button for the first time to pair these Tone Free earphones with your phone, you immediately receive a handy pop-up notification and your earphones are paired in no time. LG works with Google’s Fast Pair function for Bluetooth devices. Very handy, because you do not have to scan for devices in the Bluetooth menu.
The Tone Free FN6 also support the Google Assistant. You can give voice commands or have the Assistant read alerts. You can adjust the function in the Tone Free app and thereby change the reading speed of Google. By default, LG does not provide a touch command with which you can draw the attention of the Assistant, but in the Tone Free app you can set such a touch command.
LG Tone Free FN6 – the negatives
Don’t let us bother about it. The Tone Free FN6’s sound is somewhat disappointing. The sound produced by the small 6 mm drivers does not sound rich enough and that can be felt across the board. You notice it most in voice, with low bass and high volumes.
That is very disappointing, since LG likes to highlight its collaboration with audio manufacturer Meridian. The maximum volume of the Tone Free earphones is sufficient, but due to the price of LG’s earbuds, I would have expected more premium sound quality.
In the Tone Free app you can adjust the equalizer and that does improve things slightly. You can choose from a number of presets or you can adjust the sound in detail.
Finally, I also tested the quality of telephone calls in which the two microphones of the earphones take over the microphones of your phone. The sound that your ears pick up sounds, as is often the case, a bit hollower compared to what my phone can capture, but fortunately, you remain clearly audible.
2. Automatic pause
Like most fully wireless earphones, the Tone Free FN6 automatically pauses the music when you remove it. If you put them back in, playback will start again. That is in principle a very handy feature, but with LG’s earphones, the feature is unreliable.
Sometimes the earphones do not immediately detect that they have been removed from your ear and will continue to play for a while, other times the music will stop while you have them in. Incredibly annoying.
3. Touch operation
LG gave its Tone Free FN6 earphones touch control, which is what most other manufacturers do. By tapping once you can play or pause and by tapping twice left or right you increase or decrease the volume.
In addition, you can activate Ambient Sound by pressing and holding, and by tapping three times you can go to the next song. You can also easily change commands in the app.
The big problem with the controls is that it only works if you press exactly where the touch controls work, and even then the Tone Free earphones sometimes ignore my touch commands. For example, I’m trying to tap three times to go to the next song, wait a bit, then tap another three times.
Then I notice that the Tone Free ears ignore that second action, or instead of hitting a song for the second time, suddenly pause the music. That is very unfortunate given the price of the earphones, because as a result, I noticed that I automatically started using my phone to control music.
4. Ambient sound
On the Tone Free FN6 from LG, you can activate the ‘ambient sound’ function if you suddenly want to focus on your environment without removing the ears. The earphones use their two microphones to pick up and amplify the sound from your surroundings, and in the app you can adjust the sensitivity with which you want the microphones to work.
Ambient sound works very well for ambient sounds that sound close by, because at the time of writing I can hear my mechanical keyboard echoing through my ears like crazy. Really almost deafening if you set the volume and sensitivity to maximum.
On the other hand, I hardly hear what someone says to when that person is a few meters away. I didn’t notice that problem with the Freebuds 3i. Even if you turn down the volume of the media sound a bit, the microphones still fail to make the sound from a distance understandable.
You wouldn’t say it, but the small Tone Free FN6 earphones have a nice battery capacity in their small size. You can listen to music with the earphones for 6 hours, compared to 3.5 hours with the Freebuds 3i from Huawei.
In addition, the case provides a total of 18 hours of use, which is half an hour more compared to the earphones from Huawei. As with the Freebuds 3i, they take an hour to fully charge.
However, if we compare with the Galaxy Buds Plus, we notice that those Samsung earphones broadcast for 11 hours and a total of 22 hours with the battery capacity of the case.
In addition, you have the affordable OnePlus Buds that last for 10 hours, or no less than 30 hours with the case. The Toner Free FN6 is therefore not among the best students in the class.
With the fully wireless Tone Free FN6, LG has fully focused on the compact and ergonomic design of the earphones, which is also a great added value. The ears feel light and they look great with the handsome case.
Furthermore, the software part is also fine, because the earphones work with Google Assistant, Fast Pair and the excellent Tone Free app with which you can easily find all settings at a glance.
Still, LG’s earphones provide a somewhat bitter aftertaste if you combine all the ingredients. There is no noise-canceling, the sound is a disappointment due to the small audio drivers, and the control and ambient sound function do not work as well as with some competitors.
Take the relatively high price of 149 euros and you will notice that the earphones simply do not offer the best value for money. Unfortunately, the antibacterial function cannot change that either.
Buy LG Tone Free FN6
The LG Tone Free FN6 can be found with a white and a black shade for a suggested retail price of 149 euros. You can buy them at Coolblue and MediaMarkt, among others. There is also a cheaper version that comes without the self-cleaning function, the Tone Free FN4, and you can buy it for 99 euros.