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Usually more extended thoughts by Michael Camilleri.

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A paen to BeatsX, the other wireless earphones that incorporate Apple’s W1 chip.

In Praise of BeatsX

In August 2018, my BeatsX earphones refused to turn on. As noted in the original article, I’d had issues with the battery previously and I decided to take the opportunity to try out the AirPods. While there are features of the BeatsX I miss, I’ve found the AirPods do not suffer the same issues as the BeatsX and would recommend them to anyone looking for wireless earphones.

Sometimes it can feel lonely being the owner of a pair of BeatsX earphones.1 AirPods are Apple’s wireless earphones. BeatsX are Beats…’s.2

And so while it’s common to hear tech enthusiasts—particularly those who use Apple products—sing the praises of AirPods, I can’t recall hearing anyone talking up BeatsX. That’s a shame because the BeatsX earphones not only do almost everything the AirPods do, they have a few features that arguably make them a superior product.

The most obvious difference between the BeatsX earphones and the AirPods is the cable. This connects the two earpieces together, falling down to your shoulders and wrapping around the back of your neck. Because it wraps around your neck, it allows the earpieces to be magnetically clasped together on your chest when not in use.

The cord makes the killer feature of BeatsX possible: their omnipresence. The AirPods need to be put somewhere when not in use (be it a pocket or a bag). Because the BeatsX can be worn around your neck when you’re not listening to something, they are always there, ready for whenever you need them. This kind of convenience has no measurable value, and may even sound absurd, but I swear to you, it’s real and significant.

The presence of the cable also allows for a microphone clicker and the usability improvements that brings. You don’t need to try to talk to Siri or tap on a tiny plastic device in your ear. Starting, stopping, skipping forward through podcast ad breaks: it all works just as well as it ever did.

Then there are the more mundane benefits that come from having a cable.

  • There’s no risk of losing the BeatsX earphones when you take them out of your ears.3

  • Nor is it a problem to have just one earphone in; great for when you’re doing chores around the house and don’t want to be completely anti-social.

  • The cable is used to store the battery which, unsurprisingly, is larger than what can be squeezed into the AirPod earpieces and provides longer battery life (the BeatsX earphones can also be ‘fast charged’ with two hours of battery life coming after being plugged in for five minutes).

The BeatsX earphones aren’t perfect. Things that should be improved:

  • The power button is awful. It’s a mushy, shameful excuse for a real button that is essential to use (you have to hold down for a second to turn the earphones on and off). Every interaction with it is awful.

  • There appears to be (or, at the very least, have been) issues with the battery. I encountered this problem within six months of purchasing my initial set.4 After sending it back to Apple for service, I’ve not had any significant problems with my second set.

  • Just as the AirPods auto-pause when you remove one from your ear, the BeatsX earphones should auto-pause when the earpieces magnetically ‘close’.

  • The cable feels too long. You might think from some of Apple’s promo material that you can wear it like a douchey titanium necklace. Alas, unless you have a neck like an ox, be prepared to look less like you’re competing in the X Games and more like you’re wearing the chain from a pair of granny glasses.

Here’s hoping for an improved version 2. ✺

  1. Not totally. I mentioned on Micro.blog that I felt the BeatsX earphones didn’t get the recognition they deserved and, to my surprise and delight, a bunch of people quickly replied to say they loved their BeatsX, too. So they’re out there (albeit on a niche social network).

  2. The name is undeniably awkward. How do you even say it in casual conversation? Beat-sex? Beat-sexes? The verbal salad that is ‘BeatsX earphones’? ‘AirPods’ is the clear winner here.

  3. The eartips that fit over the earphones proper are a different story. Four sets of differing sizes are provided in the box with the idea being that you can customise the ‘fit’ for your ears. That’s fine as it goes but I lost one and was left having to order a third party replacement.

    Apple supposedly will replace them if you make a support request but there’s no indication of this on their site and I’m not sure how much it would have cost if I’d done it.

  4. I almost bought a replacement set after giving them to the Apple Genius because I didn’t want to go home without a pair. To be clear, the repair was free.