Beat continues to perfect its catalog by launching the Beats Flex, very affordable wireless headphones, sold under the bar of 50 euros.
Today, we can indeed say that the takeover of Beats by Apple was beneficial for the audio props. The company gladly abandoned its bling-bling brand image. Its last three products – Powerbeats Pro, Solo Pro and Powerbeats – are there to confirm it: you can count on Beats products when it comes to combining ease of use and audio quality.
In October 2020, Beats continues to complete its catalog by welcoming the Flex headphones. The particularity of these new accessories for the ears lies in their price, placed under the bar of 50 euros, or three times less than the Powerbeats (and five times less than the Powerbeats Pro). For this very affordable price, we have to make some concessions. But such a positioning necessarily arouses curiosity: what must be sacrificed to pay so little?
Flexibility above all
Taking the form of the BeatsX, the Beats Flex are wireless headphones, but not 100% wireless. Indeed, they are connected to a neck strap corresponding to the name Flex-Form. This is a design thought for the practical side, articulated around an ultra flexible material capable of being twisted in all directions. In appearance, the Flex gives the impression that it can be torn off in seconds. It would thus be legitimate to fear a limited durability. We lack perspective on this point, but still it is that we will not advise to put the Flex too much to the test, under penalty of quickly damaging them. They have no particular resistance to water, and do not come with any storage pouch. Unlike Powerbeats (Pro like normal), use in sports practice is not a good idea.
Beats opted for a pop color palette for the Flex. In addition to black and gray, there are light blue and tangy yellow (which is slightly green).
The Beats Flex are equipped with the W1 chip developed by Apple. It allows the headphones to be connected in a few seconds to a device designed by the Cupertino company (then to find them on all those sharing the same iCloud account). However, they ignore the H1 chip, more advanced and which allows for example the voice command “Hey Siri”. Of course, the Beats Flex are compatible with Android devices – including the ad hoc app.
Flexes go straight to the point
In terms of advanced functionality, it can be noted that the Flex automatically pause the music when you put them back to back (they are magnetic). Practice, knowing that this will not turn them off completely.
At the button level, the Flex go straight to the point with the volume control on one side and a tiny multifunction button on the other (located inside the left control strip). We find the standard operations: one click to play / pause / manage a call, two clicks to go to the next song, three clicks to go back to the previous song and a long press to launch the voice assistant.
Once you wear the Flex, you think Beats designed them for comfort. Very light (less than 20 grams), they do not impose any feeling of weight on the shoulders or on the chest (when they are not inserted in the ears). Otherwise, they remain in-ear, a form that some deplore. The Flex will not make you appreciate it more, despite the presence of four sizes of tip and an intrusive character ultimately very light (we have known more uncomfortable).
Be sure to try out all tips due to the very disappointing passive isolation of the headphones. The Flex have no trouble fitting in the ears. But the same cannot be said of their propensity to naturally dampen outside noise. To correct this problem, opting for a larger cap can help. As far as we are concerned, we did not hesitate to test the bigger ones and we immediately felt a positive difference.
As already mentioned, Flex are not designed for aspiring athletes. Their shape predestines them more for sedentary use while the neck strap can hinder certain movements.
A sound logically behind
Can we really be demanding with headphones sold below the 50 euros mark? The answer is no when we observe a market which today concentrates high-end references sold five times more expensive. However, that doesn’t mean you have to bury Flex too quickly. Despite their at best relative passive noise attenuation, Beats headphones manage to do well with overall balanced rendering. As has already been written for Powerbeats, Powerbeats and Solo Pro, the manufacturer has abandoned this emphasis on knocking bass. This is a real plus for the Flex, which still retain this DNA focusing on the bass to ensure dynamic listening.
A globally balanced rendering
Of course, one should not wait for the wonders of the Flex. They will go further than the EarPods – always delivered with the iPhone in France (since it is the law) – but do not offer a precision at all times. Faced with this somewhat messy side, we must remember that for 50 euros, we can hardly offer such an appreciable quality / price ratio. This observation implies inevitable concessions and, in any case, music lovers will turn to a much more expensive solution.
12 hours of autonomy
With twelve hours of battery life announced by Beats, the Flex has enough to last a full day. They are compatible with Fast Fuel technology, which allows them to recover 1.5 hours of listening in 10 minutes of charging.
Thinking of finding a Lightning port on the headphones? Well no. For Flex, Beats has chosen USB-C. It may seem surprising, but it will delight Android users all the more (more used to this interface which has taken place on many smartphones).
Note indicative : 3/5
Let’s put aside our requirements to appreciate the Beats Flex at their true value. For less than 50 euros, the company offers the simplicity of use of the products, in the same spirit as Apple, and an undeniable quality / price ratio. There are logical concessions, but nothing downright crippling for an entry-level product.
We could make a list of things that are wrong with these Flex Beats, putting that questionable passive isolation on top. But as much to focus on the qualities: a practical design, a welcome comfort, a sound reproduction up to the amount invested and a USB-C port. Yes, a USB-C port.
- The price
- Integration into the Apple ecosystem
- The USB-C port
- Questionable strength
- Lack of sound clarity
- Isolation passive risible
The continuation in video
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