Replace: The Beats Flex at the moment are accessible in two new colours, Smoke Grey and Flame Blue.
Six months out from the launch of the Beats Flex and we nonetheless really feel the identical method about them: they’re inexpensive, however nonetheless premium, earbuds from Beats. They’ve conventional Beats sound with a standard Beats design and lots of the identical options of different Beats headphones, however at a quintessentially non-Beats worth.
A few of these included options are the Apple W1 Wi-fi Chip; a built-in sensor for auto-play/pause; a 12-hour battery life with Quick Gas and, our private favourite, a laser reduce micro-venting chamber to cut back in-ear strain.
On paper, the Beats Flex are an important deal – however, spend a while with them, and also you’ll perceive why the value is what it’s.
Worth evaluation and launch date
The Beats Flex have been introduced on September 13 2020, the identical day as Apple’s iPhone 12 occasion, and launched in two colours – Beats Black and Yuzu Yellow – on Apple’s web site October 21, earlier than hitting all retailers on November 20.
On January 20 2021, Beats added two extra colour choices to the lineup, Smoke Grey and Flame Blue, that additionally look fairly slick.
The worth for the Beats Flex is ready at $49.99 (£50, round AU$70) which makes them the most cost effective wi-fi earbuds the corporate’s ever launched, costing even lower than the wired urBeats3. There are nonetheless some respectable options on the market in that worth vary (see: Optoma Nuforce BE4 or OnePlus Bullets 2) however they’re fairly inexpensive for the normally premium model.
It’s additionally value noting that, with Apple eradicating the pack-in headphones from the newest iPhones, the Beats Flex are the apparent selection for folk who want a pair of earbuds – and when you’re solely shopping for them for that purpose, effectively, the Flex are a good different to Apple’s normally lackluster pack-in earbuds.
Though Beats hasn’t mentioned it to us immediately, the Beats Flex appears to be a direct sequel to the older BeatsX Headphones that it launched in 2016. Each are wi-fi (however not actually wi-fi just like the Powerbeats Professional or Apple AirPods) and look equivalent.
The earbuds themselves are literally pretty mild (18.6g), however the twine that runs between them is about 32 inches and wraps across the again of your neck. It’s a bit cumbersome having such an extended twine wrap round your neck and, admittedly, having the 2 earbuds linked through a cable isn’t precisely what we’d think about the perfect resolution in 2020.
That mentioned, the cable isn’t with out its benefits: at the start is the truth that they’re tougher to lose than absolutely wi-fi earbuds. The second is that the wire between the 2 buds can present a house to in-line quantity controls, a multi-feature button and an even bigger battery, permitting the headphones to last more between prices.
What a couple of play/pause button? Nicely, you should use the multi-feature button, however the Beats Flex are additionally outfitted with a sensor that may routinely pause the music while you take them off, and resume the music while you put them again on. Not solely is that helpful, however it will possibly prevent a ton of battery life, too.
Talking of, charging is completed by means of a USB-C port on the left facet of the earbuds close to the amount controls. In keeping with Beats, the headphones have a 12-hour battery life and quick charging that may present an hour-and-a-half of playback off a 10-minute cost.
The distinction between the Beats Flex and dearer Apple wi-fi earbuds just like the AirPods Professional is that the latter makes use of the newer H1 Wi-fi Chip that permits hands-free Siri whereas the previous makes use of the older W1 Chip. Apart from hands-free Siri, the dearer H1 Chip helps Bluetooth 5 versus the W1’s Bluetooth 4.2, which implies you’ll get a barely longer battery life with the H1 Chip, too.
Surprisingly, although, we didn’t discover any of that to be a deal-breaker. The W1 Chip is much less superior than the H1 nevertheless it nonetheless will get the job accomplished, and the semi-wireless type issue is manageable if a bit of unwieldy. The truth is, up to now, the largest fault of the Beats Flex’s design is that they don’t include wing tricks to safe them in your ear – with out them, getting that excellent seal will be finicky and might come undone simply.
On a optimistic be aware, the Beats Flex does include just a few completely different eartips – together with some giant and double-flange suggestions – that may assist make discovering the right match a bit of simpler.
After making an attempt just a few combos of eartips we finally landed on a good seal and have been lastly capable of take a look at out the Beats Flex’s audio high quality. What we heard is just about what you’d count on – a deep v-shaped sound that accentuates the highs and lows of the audio spectrum on the expense of the mids.
In our two weeks with the headphones we listened to a bunch of songs on Amazon Prime Music and Spotify, and have a good suggestion of what you’ll be able to count on by way of sound high quality. What we discovered was that the sound high quality was really comparatively clear for a pair of in-ear drivers, nonetheless they don’t have a really giant soundstage to the audio. Fortunately, there wasn’t any drop out or delay within the audio throughout our testing, which could be a downside with wi-fi fashions, in order that stability is a big boon for the Beats Flex.
Whereas all songs largely had the identical steep v-shape, just a few examples value calling out have been bass-heavy classics like Rick James’ Tremendous Freak and the treble-rich Jackson 5’s ABC that really exemplified the wealthy treble and chunky bass. Sadly these songs additionally spotlight how anemic the mids sound, so proceed with warning. On that be aware, there’s additionally no actual approach to tweak the EQ when you’re not pleased with the default sound – which is a little bit of a bummer.
Now, when you’re utilizing the Beats Flex with an iOS system, you’ll get prompts to sync them to your Apple ID and iCloud – which, in complete, takes below a minute. However when you use Android, you’ll must pair them like a daily pair of Bluetooth earbuds which not solely takes a bit longer however will influence the sound high quality because the Beats Flex doesn’t assist high-end audio codecs like aptX or aptX HD –all you’ll discover right here is SBC and AAC.
It goes with out saying, however at this worth the Beats Flex additionally does not supply noise cancellation, both. The correct eartips will help present some passive noise isolation by sealing off your ear canal, however there’s no fancy noise-cancellation tech inside them to dam out undesirable noise in your subsequent airplane flight.
The excellent news right here is that individuals we spoke to with the earbuds on mentioned we sounded nice – even higher than we did over speakerphone or different headsets. That’s an enormous feather within the Flex’s cap and will make them nice work-from-home or out-on-the-town headphones.
You can also’t knock them for his or her battery life: you’ll get rather less than 12 hours of use per cost, and charging solely takes about an hour or two. That mentioned, when you want some fast cost simply to get from work again to the home, Quick Gas (Beats’ identify for quick charging) does present an hour-and-a-half of battery life from solely a 10-minute cost.
The final characteristic that’s value declaring is that the Beats Flex – like all W1 or H1 Chip headphones – can have iOS’s new audio sharing characteristic that means that you can Share music between two pairs of headphones. It’s not a killer app by any means, however it’s good when you’re in a home with a number of Apple or Beats headphones and wish to Share music.
Must you purchase the Beats Flex?
Purchase them if…
You want an inexpensive pair of headphones in your new iPhone
With Apple eradicating pack-in earbuds from new iPhone containers, the Beats Flex are a reasonably apparent alternative when you want a pair of headphones.
You like Beats and need a second pair of wi-fi earbuds
If you already know you’re keen on Beats’ sound high quality and already personal a pair of higher earbuds from the model, the Flex are a stable second different that you would be able to throw in a bag and take with you. At $50 (£50, round AU$70), you gained’t really feel dangerous when you lose them, they usually supply many of the identical options as different, dearer Beats buds.
You’re consistently forgetting to cost your earbuds
In the event you can’t bear in mind to cost your headphones, the Beats Flex with Quick Gas is a good suggestion to select up. As a result of they’ll present an hour-and-a-half of battery life from solely a 10-minute cost, it’s no downside attaching them to the charger while you’re within the bathe and having them able to go as quickly as you’re accomplished.
Do not buy them if…
You need the very best sound high quality or premium options
It shouldn’t shock you that, at $50 (£50, round AU$70), the Beats Flex doesn’t have each cutting-edge characteristic like hands-free Siri or energetic noise cancellation and the sound high quality is simply OK in comparison with some higher-end earbuds. If that stuff issues to you greater than the identify, then perhaps the Beats Flex aren’t best for you.
You might have a tough time getting earbuds to remain in your ears
We take a look at dozens of earbuds yearly, and few of them supplied as poor of a match as the brand new Beats Flex. With out wingtips to carry them in, the Flex can simply fall out, making them a poor selection for the exercise crowd and anybody who’s ever had issues maintaining earbuds seated correctly. In the event you fall into that camp, we are able to’t advocate the Beats Flex for you.