Beats has introduced its most affordable earbuds yet, and while they don’t follow the true wireless earbuds craze we’ve been witnessing for the past couple of years, they do appear to deliver a treasure trove of features and (hopefully) performance that could make them extremely popular.
The new Beats Flex are a $49 pair of earbuds joined by a single cable that runs behind and rests upon the neck. Inside that cable is Apple’s W1 chip, which enables one-touch pairing with an iPhone or iPad, similar to the AirPods and AirPods Pro. The W1 chip also allows for quick switching among Apple devices synced to iCloud. The Beats Flex are also compatible with audio sharing, which lets a friend or family member listen in with you while having control of their own volume.
Android users aren’t left completely in the dark, though. Apple says the Beats App for Android will enable quick-pairing similar to the iOS experience, as well as at-a-glance battery status and firmware updates.
The Beats Flex charge via USB-C, and a single charge will net users up to 12-hours of playtime, depending on use factors like volume level — listen louder, and that playtime will go down a bit. Should you run out of battery, a 10-minute quick charge is said to net about 1.5 hours of listening. Unfortunately, the headphones ship with only a USB-C to USB-C cable, so you’ll need a USB-C adapter or charging block if you don’t already have one.
The headphones will come with a built-in microphone — which Apple claims now has improved wind-noise control — and onboard controls for play/pause, volume, taking calls, and triggering voice assistant. Beats did not specify Siri-only compatibility, so the control should extend to the Google Assistant as well.
The Beats Flex appear to have a light, flexible, and resilient cable so that they can be safely stuffed in a pocket, handbag, or backpack without worry of damage to the cables — an issue we see often with more delicate cables.
The headphones also have a magnetic clasp that snaps the earbuds together when not in use and automatically pauses playback for battery savings.
The Beats Flex will come with 4 eartip sizes and, at launch, come in two colors: Beats Black and Yuzu Yello, both available for pre-order today and available on October 21. Those two colors should also be available at retailers beginning November 20, with two more (Smoke Gray and Flame Blue) coming sometime in early 2021.