Beats Flex – Apple’s most affordable in-ears in the test
When you think of the headphone manufacturer Beats, which was taken over by Apple in 2014, you usually think of premium headphones for well over 100 Euros. While the RRP of the last Beats in-ear headphones with Bluetooth, the Beats X, was still 149 Euros, Apple surprises us with a very low price. Since October, the Beats Flex have been available in the colors Beats Black and Yuzu Yellow for just 49.65 Euros. The color palette will also be expanded with Smoke Gray and Flame Blue at the beginning of 2021.
Despite the significantly lower price, they tout premium sound, improved drivers, an advanced microphone, Class 1 Bluetooth for long range with few interruptions, and 12 hours of battery life. The following test shows how well this has worked out.
|Connectors:||Bluetooth, Wireless Technologies|
|Battery life:||Up to 12 hrs. playback|
|Other features:||Bluetooth, inline microphone audio, inline volume control, wireless technology|
|Scope of delivery:||Beats Flex wireless in-ear headphones, USB-C to USB-C charging cable, ear inserts in four sizes, quick start guide, warranty card|
|Colors:||Beats Black, Yuzu Yellow (already available), Flame Blue, Smoke Gray (Available in early 2021)|
Scope of delivery
The Beats Flex come in a small black cardboard box. After opening it, you look at an illustrated quick start guide that explains the most important things. Directly behind it, the headphones are stowed. Furthermore, three pairs of ear inserts (in addition to the already attached ones, so four pairs in total), a 20 cm long USB-C cable, safety instructions, a warranty booklet and a red Beats sticker are included.
Design and workmanship
Except for the two red logos on the headphones and a Beats lettering on the left side, the Beats Flex are completely black. The headphones are magnetic and can be safely hung around when not in use. The cable is flat and a bit thicker and sturdier in the neck area. To the left and right of the neckband are two cases.
On the left neckband case, there are two controls, in addition to the microphone and USB-C port for charging. One for play and pause or for answering and hanging up a call or also for calling up Siri and also, as a second control element, the volume rocker. The headphones are turned on and off on the right neckband casing, and a small LED signals the current status.
There is nothing to complain about the workmanship. The in-ear headphones made of plastic are well workmanship all around and feel valuable. The shape memory neckband made of Nitinol, a nickel-titanium alloy, also leaves a good impression and feels comfortable against the skin when worn.
Practical test and sound quality
While you only have to hold the Beats Flex next to the device to pair it with iOS devices thanks to Apple’s W1 chip, pairing works quite classically with Android. To allow pairing with the smartphone, you hold down the power button a bit longer. The in-ears are now visible and can be selected in the smartphone’s Bluetooth settings.
The Beats app is available in the Play Store for further options. In it, you can add your headphones, see the battery level and have several setting options. For new users, there is a tour that briefly introduces the settings. Among other things, this includes the very practical automatic start and stop of playback. If the two headphones are separated, then the music starts, if you connect them, then the playback stops. This worked very well and reliably in everyday use. Furthermore, you can automatically answer calls, rename and register the Beats in the app, discover more Beats products or access the user manual in the same way.
In the test, the sound could convince us. While Beats headphones were previously known for being very bass-heavy, the Beasts Flex are very well-balanced. During the many hours we tested the in-ears with music of various directions, podcasts and audio plays, we never had the impression that something didn’t fit or a certain direction didn’t suit the headphones. All ranges came across very well, the bass was also there, but not overly superficial, but just the right amount. We can definitely recommend the Beats Flex as an all-rounder. The matching ear inserts are very important for the sound. After an hour, in which the Beats Flex already left a good first impression in terms of fit and sound, we changed the ear inserts, which noticeably improved comfort and sound.
The Beats Flex also left a good impression when making calls. The voice of the other party was clear and understandable, ours for the other as well. If you talk on the phone a lot, you will definitely use a different headset, but the in-ears are definitely suitable for a few short conversations in between.
The wearing comfort also convinced us. The slightly thicker neckband fits very well, and the two neckband housings were never perceived as annoying. The headphones also sat securely during faster movements. The low weight of only 18.6 g also meant that the headphones were hardly noticed in everyday use.
Concessions only have to be made during sports, such as fast workouts and jogging. Both were possible with them, but the headphones slipped out of our ears a bit now and then. If you do a lot of sports and want to use your in-ears for that as well, you should definitely go for proper sports headphones, like the Powerbeats. However, it has to be taken into account that the Flex are not advertised as sports headphones anywhere.
The Bluetooth connection was always very good and stable in the test. While some headphones quickly drop out when you move a bit further away from the smartphone in the house, there were no problems here. At a distance of more than 15 meters and several walls between the smartphone and the headphones, the connection was still flawless.
Unfortunately, we could not achieve the promised 12 hours of battery life in the test. When playing music with Spotify, at very high quality and a volume of 50%, it was already over after 609 minutes, which is just over 10 hours.
However, Apple promises with Fast Fuel that the headphones are quickly ready for use again. After 10 minutes of charging, the battery should be sufficient for 90 minutes of playback. With a usual 18W charger, the empty Beats Flex were back at 24% after 10 minutes of charging, which is even 146 minutes of playback and thus almost an hour more than Apple claims. It is also positive to point out that Apple does not rely on the micro-USB or Apple’s own Lightning connector, which is still widely used but outdated for accessories, but on USB-C for the Beats Flex.
With an MSRP of under 50 euros for the latest in-ear model, Apple probably surprised some in October. Despite the low price, the Beats Flex are convincing all along the line. They are very well workmanship, the sound is very balanced and they are very comfortable to wear in everyday life. They are also suitable for occasional sports. In terms of battery life, we unfortunately only achieved 10 instead of 12 hours in the test. Apart from that, however, there is nothing to criticize, so we can recommend the Beats Flex with a clear conscience.
Value for money
Beats' most affordable in-ear headphones convince with a very good and balanced sound in the test.
Beats Flex price comparison
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