BeatsX

iPad&iPhone user - - NEWS - Susie Ochs

The BeatsX head­phones fix my big­gest an­noy­ance with the AirPods, which is their reliance on Siri. BeatsX has a mi­cro­phone so you can use Siri to queue up mu­sic or make a phone call, but since the two ear­buds are con­nected with a wire, there’s room for a three-but­ton re­mote, which lets you ad­just the vol­ume and con­trol play­back with­out get­ting Siri in­volved.

That’s a re­ally big deal. The BeatsX also of­fers su­pe­rior com­fort, longer bat­tery life, and more con­ve­nient charg­ing, but just the ex­is­tence of the in­line re­mote makes these the win­ner over the £159 AirPods. BeatsX even costs £30 less and comes in colours. It’s barely a con­test, un­less you’re to­tally hooked on the AirPods’ wire-free style.

Com­fort first

I’ve al­ways pre­ferred sil­i­cone-tipped ear­buds like the BeatsX over Ap­ple’s hard-moulded plas­tic op­tions like the EarPods and AirPods. In my test­ing, I’ve found the AirPods sur­pris­ingly sta­ble – they stay perched in my ears no mat­ter what, even when I’m run­ning, jump­ing, and head­bang­ing. But the BeatsX ear­buds are more com­fort­able, since they come with four sets of sil­i­cone tips, and two sizes of op­tional wings you can slip on over the tips if you want ex­tra help keep­ing the ear­buds in place.

Even the qual­ity of the sil­i­cone tips seems top-notch – the tips grip the in­sides of my ear canals firmly and don’t slide out. They don’t even get sticky or greasy like other ear­buds can after they’ve been ex­posed to your ear­wax for a while. The wire that con­nects the two ear­buds wraps around the back of your neck, and plas­tic pieces on ei­ther side act as an­chors to keep the whole thing sta­ble. One of the plas­tic pieces has the on/off but­ton, and the other has a Lightning port you’ll use to charge the BeatsX. (You can’t lis­ten to them while charg­ing.) Then the in­line re­mote is a lit­tle fur­ther up the ca­ble on the left side, which puts it right be­low your chin in a pretty easy spot to reach up and grab.

It took me a while to get used to the re­mote be­ing on the left side, even though it’s on the right side on other Ap­ple head­phones. The but­tons on the re­mote are easy to click, and it sup­ports the stan­dard but­ton-presses: One click on the cen­tre but­ton to play or pause, two clicks to ad­vance, and three clicks to go back.

I love hav­ing a re­mote on these so much that I don’t even mind how they look. To­tally wire­less ear­buds like the AirPods are still new – they stand out, even while the lack of wire hang­ing down lets them blend in. If my hair is down

or I’m wear­ing a hat, you might not even no­tice the AirPods, but if you do see them, they kind of look like fu­tur­is­tic ear­rings, and of course they only come in white. Peo­ple still stop me to ask me how I like them.

On the other hand, the BeatsX look like more tra­di­tional Blue­tooth head­phones. There’s no wire to your iPhone of course, but you wind up with a big wire loop on ei­ther side of your head, where the head­phone ca­ble hangs down from your ears be­fore then snaking around be­hind your neck. While the over­all look is less at­ten­tion-grab­bing than the new­ness of the AirPods, it’s also a lit­tle clunky and cheap­er­look­ing. Then again, I got the stark white BeatsX – the other colours (black, grey and blue) might blend in with cloth­ing and hair a lit­tle more and not stand out so much.

When I asked co­work­ers which look “cooler,” opin­ions were split. I think the AirPods look a lit­tle cooler, per­son­ally, but I still like the BeatsX bet­ter.

Easy pair­ing and awe­some bat­tery life

Thanks to the same W1 chip that’s in the AirPods, the BeatsX is easy to pair to your iPhone. When you press the power but­ton, the ear­buds go into pair­ing mode, and you can con­nect them to any Blue­tooth de­vice in the usual way.

If you’re try­ing to con­nect to an iPhone or iPad run­ning iOS 10, a popup will of­fer to pair them au­to­mat­i­cally, and then they’ll show up as an avail­able de­vice in other iOS 10 and macOS Sierra de­vices you’re signed into with the same iCloud ac­count. On my Mac, I had to go to the Blue­tooth menu and se­lect Con­nect next to the BeatsX to switch, rather than the BeatsX show­ing up in the au­dio menu

au­to­mat­i­cally. On other iPads and iPhones, they just ap­pear as a po­ten­tial au­dio source right away.

All in all, pair­ing and switch­ing is just as easy with the BeatsX as with the AirPods, and like the AirPods, the BeatsX’s bat­tery life will ap­pear in the Bat­ter­ies wid­get in iOS’s To­day view. The bat­tery life is also view­able on the Mac, if you Alt-click the Blue­tooth icon in your menu bar and then mouse over the con­nected BeatsX.

Speak­ing of bat­tery life, the BeatsX de­liv­ers. Ap­ple es­ti­mates eight hours per charge, but mine can rou­tinely squeeze out closer to nine. The AirPods last five. And in my tests, a quick 15-minute top-up boosted my BeatsX from to­tally dead to 73 per­cent charged—let’s hear it for the W1 chip’s killer quick-charg­ing fea­ture.

The BeatsX charge with a Lightning ca­ble, and one is in­cluded. This isn’t quite as cool as the AirPods’ charg­ing case, but it’s cer­tainly more con­ve­nient. Most iPhone users own mul­ti­ple Lightning ca­bles, and you could use a por­ta­ble USB bat­tery to top up on the go. The pack­age of bat­tery, ca­ble, and BeatsX (even in their lit­tle rub­ber car­ry­ing case) is bulkier than the AirPods in­side their case, that’s true. But I once left my AirPods case at the of­fice and then walked out wear­ing them, which re­sulted in un­us­able, dead AirPods for a whole week­end, some­thing that just wouldn’t hap­pen with these.

Great sound

The sound of the BeatsX is full and clear, sim­i­lar to the AirPods’ sound. I like the sealed-off feel­ing from sil­i­cone ear­buds that fit snugly into my ear canals, and I think it gives a more com­plete bub­ble of sound that doesn’t need to be quite as loud to be ef­fec­tive at shut­ting out the world.

The AirPods stay put in my ears, but they aren’t de­signed to seal off your ear canals, so more out­side sound bleeds through and the mu­sic feels a lit­tle airier, in my opin­ion. But both sound good to my ears, and worth their premium price. I’ve heard peo­ple com­plain that Beats head­phones tend to be too bass-heavy, but I like a bass-heavy sound, so I ei­ther didn’t no­tice or didn’t mind.

Ver­dict

If you aren’t us­ing these with ex­clu­sively Ap­ple de­vices, def­i­nitely get BeatsX be­cause of the in­line re­mote. The but­ton-less AirPods are too re­liant on Siri or the con­trols on your phone. If you are all-in with Ap­ple gear, ei­ther is a fine op­tion, but the BeatsX has the com­fort, long bat­tery life, and con­ve­nient charg­ing that give it the edge.

AirPods on the left. BeatsX on the right. Maybe they’d blend in bet­ter in black, grey or blue

Pair the BeatsX to your iPhone, and they’ll au­to­mat­i­cally show up in the Blue­tooth menu on your Mac run­ning macOS Sierra

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