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Beats shocked us all earlier this month when they announced the launch of their new budget Beats Flex earphones. The Apple-owned audio firm is renowned for its premium music makers, but this latest release can be yours for under £50. Despite that low price tag, Beats has still bundled the same clever wireless connection to your iPhone found in £159 AirPods.
So, there’s no doubt that price tag is clearly enticing, but are the Beats Flex really worth your hard-earned cash? Express.co.uk has been putting them to the test and here’s what we think…
Let’s kick off with the positives as there’s certainly plenty to like about these new budget Beats. First, they include Apple’s clever W1 chip which means, straight out of the box, they will connect seamlessly with your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Simply switch them on, hold them close to your Apple gadget and you’ll see an image of the Flex pop-up on the screen with a single button to pair the earphones. It really is that simple – no digging around in the settings menu trying to find a Bluetooth connection and, just like AirPods and AirPods Pro, these earphones will be paired with any Apple gadget registered to your iCloud account. So, you can pick-up an iPad and not have to worry about pairing the Beats Flex all over again.
Unfortunately, things are a little less painless for Android users. Following its acquisition of Beats, Apple has put its own stamp on the hugely-popular headphones and portable speakers – switching from USB to its own Lightning chargers and bundled in the Apple-only W1 chip. Of course, the Beats Flex still use Bluetooth, so Android smartphone and tablet owners can use these earphones, but they’ll need to dig through the settings menu and kickstart the pairing process with each new device.
Design is definitely a huge positive as these wireless earphones feature a loop which goes around the back of your head that means you can’t drop or misplace a ‘bud when you pop it out of your ear. Instead, they simply dangle around your neck on the thin cord. Beats has also included magnets inside the buds to ensure they stick together. It says this makes them more secure and, once snapped together, they also auto-pause the music for longer battery life. This is something we saw from OnePlus with its OnePlus Bullets Wireless, which pause your music when they snap together and also turn your smartphone to loudspeaker – so you’ll never miss a call because the ringtone is playing through paired headphones.
On the cord are all the usual controls – to turn on the Beats Flex as well as skip tracks and pump up the volume. You can also summon Siri on your phone without having to touch the screen using the buttons.
Once they are booming out your tunes, you’ll get an impressive playtime of 12-hours and they can be fast refilled with a quick 10 minutes in the plug offering another 90-minutes of music.
So, there’s plenty of features to like, but how do they sound?
Well, if you get the fit right in your ears it’s hard to fault the Beats Flex for the price with music sounding clear and packed with crisp detail. They are not the most bass-rich earphone we’ve ever tried – something that Beats used to be known for – but there’s nothing wrong with the way they sound.
However, it did take us a while to find the ideal tip for our ears. Out of the box, Beats supplies four options, and even then they still felt a little loose in ours ears and we found ourselves pushing them hard into the ear canal to make them feel secure. If the fit isn’t right these earphones sound truly terrible, so it’s really important to try each tip to get things right as things improve dramatically once plugged properly in your ears.
Of course, these are budget earphones so they don’t play and pause when you take one of the buds out of your ears and there’s no noise-cancelling tech tucked inside but those missing features can be forgiven for the price.
We’d also say that they don’t feel as premium as the more expensive Powerbeats but you are paying almost half the price for the Flex so it’s harsh to fault the overall build quality too much.
For gym-goers, we’d also say it’s worth spending the extra money on the Powerbeats as their design, which loops over the ear, means they stay put no matter how hard you pound on the treadmill – we wouldn’t have the same confidence with the Flex.
The Beats Flex ship in four colours with Beats Black and Citrus Yellow available now and Smoke Gray and Flame Blue coming early next year.
Beats Flex review: Final Verdict
If you love the Beats brand and want some shiny new earphones on a budget, the Beats Flex tick all the right boxes. For under £50, you get wireless earphones that connect to Apple devices in a flash and will work with Android gadgets too. With the right fit, they sound great and are capable of blasting out the tunes for over 10 hours without needing to go near plug – that’s over double what Apple AirPods can muster.
But getting that right fit isn’t always easy. In our time with these affordable wireless earphones, we struggled with the fit and there are definitely better earphones if your music is all about the bass.
That said, there’s plenty to like at the Beats Flex and that low price makes them sound seriously appealing.
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