IF YOU’RE looking for a pair of cheap wireless earphones to get a loved one for Christmas, you could do a lot worse than the Beats Flex.
Beats, which is owned by Apple, is best-known for producing stylish, pricey over-ear headphones, but has chosen a different route for the Flex neckband buds.
Shipping for just £50/$50, they offer many of the features of Apple’s £159/$159 AirPods but at less than a third of the cost.
The gadget looks a lot like the now-discontinued Beats X, featuring a flat, flexible cable that hooks the buds together and rests on the back of your neck.
However, they connect to your phone via Bluetooth, making them technically “wireless”, despite the cable.
For me, the design doesn’t look as good as that of true wireless earphones like the AirPods, but ensures you won’t lose one of your buds.
They’re even magnetised and can stick together to help keep them tidy when they’re in your drawer or just hanging around your neck.
Attached to the Flex cable are two buttons that let you adjust the volume, control playback and activate the voice assistant, which is particularly handy when you’re on the move.
All in all, the Flex buds boast a tried and tested design that manages to feel premium despite the price tag.
So how do they sound? For their price, the Flex buds offer a superb sound that’s perfectly good for casual listening.
They put out punchy bass and good treble without hitting the quality highpoints of Beats’ luxury Powerbeats Pro.
The Flex buds don’t have the noise cancellation technology offered by pricier brands, but do a decent job of blocking out the noise of passing cars and other potential disturbances.
I found the buds were comfy for one or two hours at a time, but started to feel a bit cumbersome when worn for longer than that.
That’s okay though, as they are very much designed for casual day-to-day listening, rather than long stretches across a whole afternoon or evening.
The Flex charges via USB-C and the battery lasts an impressive 12 hours, meaning I was able to go days at a time without charging them.
This is a fair while longer than the nine hours offered by the Powerbeats Pro, or the entry-level AirPods’ five-hour battery life.
However, those pricier true wireless buds do come with charging cases that allow you to juice them up on the go – unlike the Flex.
Apple has stuck the older W1 headphone chip in its new buds, rather than the new H1 chip, but you still get all the instant setup and synced pairing across devices that make Apple’s audio tech a joy to use.
Overall, I’d say the Beats Flex are a fantastic option for anyone looking for great-sounding earphones but want to avoid breaking the bank.
They don’t offer the better sound quality boasted by Apple’s higher-end tech, and their design certainly won’t suit everyone, but for the price, they’re an absolute steal.
Final verdict: 4/5
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