Ameya DalviSep 10, 2020 15:22:35 IST
Price: Rs 6,999
I have tested a variety of wireless earphones with basic to advanced features, but earbuds with heart rate monitoring is an absolute first for me. That’s what you get when a fitness brand decides to create an audio product without straying far from its core strength. To be fair, music and fitness activities often go hand in hand, so the idea of combining those two doesn’t seem outlandish at all. Now that we have a working product, let’s see how the Amazfit Powerbuds perform in both departments.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Build, design and features (9/10)
The Amazfit PowerBuds have an unusual design, as if made up of two parts stuck to each other to form some artistic sculpture. Despite that, they aren’t bulky and don’t awkwardly stick out of the ears when you wear them. Their build quality is rock-solid with a smooth matte finish and a very fine dotted texture at the back, that creates the optical illusion of a red glow. They are fitted with silicone tips that go into the ears, and you get four different sized pairs in the bundle to choose from. The right earbud has a heart rate sensor that comes in handy during a workout.
The earbuds are fitted with a 9 mm driver and a 55 mAh battery each. The pebble-shaped, sturdy charging case provides another 450 mAh of battery backup. It can be charged using any Type-C USB charger. In case you do not have one, a USB-A to Type-C cable is bundled in the package. The earbuds are touch enabled, but the functions need to be configured from the Amazfit app (now called Zepp). You can assign up to two different tasks for each bud when you double or triple-tap them. You can choose to play/pause tracks, jump to the next/previous track, activate Thru Mode (ENC), summon the virtual assistant and more.
There is no volume control option on the buds, nor can you configure them from the app to change the volume. You will need to do that from the source device itself. The audio pauses automatically when you remove the buds from your ear, which is a useful addition. The Amazfit PowerBuds are IP55 rated dust and water resistant. So it’s absolutely safe to take them to the gym or for a jog without worrying about sweat ruining them. They are Bluetooth 5.0 compliant and support SBC and AAC codecs. However, there is no support for Qualcomm’s aptX or aptX HD codecs, something I like to see on earbuds upwards of 5K.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Comfort (8/10)
Each earbud weighs around 6 gm, but they feel a tad heavier in hand, probably due to their sturdy construction. They don’t feel uncomfortable in the ear, but you need to twist them around a bit to get the position and fit right. The weight distribution is good and you don’t feel any heaviness in the ear. The buds fit snugly, but if you are the kind who worries about them popping out at an inopportune moment, you also get detachable ear hooks that connect to the earbuds magnetically and give you a more reassuring fit. The implementation is actually quite cool, and they can be neatly stacked away in the lid of the charging case if you don’t need them. I preferred them without the hooks, but to each their own.
There is no active noise cancellation here, but there is ENC to reduce ambient noise during calls. With the right sized silicone tips, you get a good seal and more than decent passive noise isolation. It wasn’t as good as in case of the Sony WF-XB700 earbuds though. It is extremely important to choose the right sized tip here, because these earphones produce just the right amount of bass, and if the seal around the ear canal isn’t perfect, the sound may feel a bit too bright (treble-heavy) with inadequate bass.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Performance (8/10)
Syncing these buds with the phone was a smooth process. You need to leave the buds in the case and press the button in there for a couple of seconds to get them into pairing mode. After that, just find them in the list of Bluetooth devices and connect. However, if you pair these with a second device, it is advisable to disconnect them from there (rather than just switching off Bluetooth on the phone), as they fail to pair with the original device automatically if you don’t. The connection stays strong for well over 10 metres with a clear line of sight, and a little less than 7 metres with a concrete wall in between. There were absolutely no syncing issues or delays between the two buds; probably a problem of the past since the advent of Bluetooth 5.0.
The Amazfit PowerBuds are sufficiently loud at around 75 percent volume level. The sound quality of these buds is quite lively, and though not perfectly neutral to please the audiophiles, it is quite enjoyable in a wide variety of music genres. All three frequency ranges are reproduced pretty well with no particular range given undue boost. The bass, though not thunderous, is tight, punchy and adequate. The midrange frequencies can be heard well too, with good clarity in vocals and decent instrument separation. The highs are sharp enough without sounding sibilant.
There is ample detail and good balance in the sound output. The soundstage too is fine, though not exceptional. The sound output should please most listeners, except bassheads. If you don’t find the default sound of the buds good enough, the app provides you with a 10-band equaliser to tune them to your taste. If you are feeling lazy, you also have ten equaliser presets other than a custom option. This is a great feature for those who like to tailor the sound output of their earphones.
Typically, that is where I end the performance section for earphones, but there’s more to the Amazfit PowerBuds than just audio. The right earbud has a built-in PPG heart rate sensor for continuous monitoring of your heart rate during workouts. The information is relayed to the app that then calculates fitness-based stats such as the intensity of the workout and calories burned, and presents the data. While the fitness activity tracking options aren’t as elaborate as in case of a full-fledged fitness watch like the Amazfit GTR, they are good enough for cardio activities such as walking, running or cycling.
The buds and app use the phone’s GPS to track the location and distance travelled. The recorded heart rate is fairly accurate (upwards of 95 percent), and you get alerts if it gets abnormally high or exceeds your set parameters. Long story short, the Amazfit PowerBuds may not replace fitness watches, but are a more than handy fitness tool. Another interesting addition is the Motion beat mode that enhances the bass during workouts. I preferred to switch it off, as I liked the default sound of the earbuds, but it is worth a try.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Call quality (8/10)
The call quality is pretty good here, though not perfect. The person on the line was clearly audible and I was heard loud and clear too. The voice doesn’t feel boomy or tinny and is as good as you get when using the phone microphone. However, a bit of ambient noise can be heard by both parties when using these earphones outdoors, even with the presence of ENC. Despite that, you are perfectly audible with minimal distractions; so not a deal breaker.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Battery life (9/10)
This is another area where the Amazfit PowerBuds excel. The company advertises a figure of 8 hours on a full charge, and it is pretty much on the money. I managed to get a shade over 8 hours out of them, predominantly listening to music and with an hour of workout daily. The carry/charging case manages to recharge these buds twice more, taking the total battery backup figure close to 24 hours, which is pretty solid for the segment.
What’s even better is, when the earbuds run out of juice, you can charge them in the case for just 15 minutes and get close to 3 hours of run time out of them. Impressive! The battery status of the earbuds is visible on the phone they are paired with, and also in the app. In fact, the app shows you the battery status of each of the buds and also the charging case. It takes about an hour or two to charge the case fully, depending on the charger you use.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Price and verdict
The Amazfit PowerBuds can be purchased for Rs 6,999 with a one year warranty on Amazon India or on the company website. The price may seem slightly on the higher side compared to some of the popular options around, but these are more than just earphones. Beyond the good sound quality and even better battery life, the fitness features are handy, and more importantly, work well with good accuracy. If you already own a fitness tracker or do not need a heart rate sensor, or simply want the best sounding true wireless earbuds in this budget, the Creative Outlier Air or Lypertek Tevi may serve you better. Stay tuned for reviews of those two earphones.
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