Beats estimates Flex’s battery life of 12 hours, a step up from the 8-hour estimate for BeatsX and a solid-if-unspectacular figure in general. The headphones are now charged via USB-C instead of lightning as well, which should make them more accommodating for iPads and Android devices.
That said, Flex still uses Apple’s W1 wireless chip, which gives iPhone and iPad owners a simplified pairing process and the ability to quickly switch between devices synced to an iCloud account. Flex also supports Apple’s “Audio Sharing” feature when used with AirPods or other recent Beats headphones. Beyond that, there is a class 1 Bluetooth radio that will help maintain a smooth connection over longer areas. (This was a strength from BeatsX in the past.)
It is worth noting that the W1
Nevertheless, Beats Flex’s relatively low price will be enough to compensate for any trade-offs. For $ 50, the earphones fit well under BeatsX’s original $ 150 MSRP and are technically the cheapest product with Apple audio silicon. Beats headphones have generally also been more open to Android users than AirPods, due to the fact that they have a companion app on the platform.
Personally, I rated BeatsX favorably around the time they were first launched. I found them comfortable with a respectable bass-first sound and strong passive noise isolation. However, a flurry of users reported problems with the couple’s reliability over time, and the neckband design is harder to forget than real wireless headphones.
In general, Beats continues to exist in a somewhat difficult position as the parent company is increasingly invested in personal sound. The headphones remain hugely popular, but the series now competes directly with Apple-branded devices such as the AirPods and AirPods Pro. The company first made its name for selling expensive – some would say too expensive – headphones enhanced by high-profile marketing, but with Flex, Beats is in the rare position of explicitly targeting budget-minded buyers. With the latest iPhones packing in your earbuds, though Flex may appeal to those who want a pair of Apple-made headphones but don’t want to pony up for AirPods.
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