BeatsX wireless earbuds offer AirPod tech inside a $150 package. However, the behind-your-neck set is well overdue for an update since it debuted in early 2017. The company isn’t trotting out a new version of the X just yet, but it is giving budget conscious buyers an even more affordable alternative with the $50 Beats Flex. And thankfully, Beats retained Apple’s previous-gen W1 chip which brings fast pairing with iPhone and iPad on top of iCloud syncing for quickly switching between devices.
The Beats Flex doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the latest AirPods offer — like always-on Siri — but it does give you the ability to check battery level or employ audio sharing. And that’s in addition to the aforementioned handy quick pairing and iCloud sync. The limited feature set is due to the fact that Beats Flex packs in the older W1 chip from Apple rather than the newer H1 tech that powers tools like hands-free Siri. The company gives Android users access to features like quick pairing and battery status through the Beats app. Thanks to relocated on-board controls that now sit close to your collarbone, you can summon Siri or another voice assistant with the touch of a button. There are also controls for volume, music and calls. Beats says the built-in microphone is designed to cut down on wind noise, so your conversations should still sound decent even when you need to step outside.
Beats Flex will automatically pause when you snap the magnetic buds together. Beats says new drivers with “dual-chamber acoustics” give the earbuds “rich, balanced sound with outstanding stereo separation.” The company also explains the angle of the driver and tiny vents offer relief from ear pressure while keeping things sounding good. There’s also “an advanced digital processor” for accurate bass and mids with low distortion at all frequencies.
Beats is promising up to 12 hours of listening time on a charge. That’s four hours longer than the BeatsX. Plus, the company’s Fast Fuel quick-charge feature returns, providing an hour and a half of music in 10 minutes.
Eventually, the Beats Flex will be available in four colors: black, blue, gray and yellow. The black and yellow variants are available for pre-order today and will ship October 21st. Blue and gray color schemes are expected to debut in early 2021.
At $50, the timing of these affordable Beats earbuds seems like no coincidence. Apple is no longer shipping iPhones with a set of wired Lightning buds in the box, so as a consolation, the company and its audio-focused subsidiary are offering a low-cost alternative. They may not be as iconic as AirPods or AirPods Pro, nor do they have all the latest features. But the Beats Flex will certainly get the job done, and they’ll do so without a significant financial commitment.