Way back in September when Apple announced the iPhone 7, to ease the pain of losing the headphone jack Apple also talked about an updated line of Wireless Beats headphones that included these, the new Beats X earbuds. Unfortunately for whatever reason the Beats X were delayed for months and months but they have finally now launched and you can pick these up at your local Apple store. They retail for 150 bucks and I personally couldn’t wait to finally be able to try them out. So let’s go ahead and unbox them and see what the Beats X have to offer. As far as packaging goes nothing too exciting here, just a very familiar retail box that we’ve seen with other Beats products and around back just a short little blurb of information that you can read in a bunch of languages. But I’ll go more in depth with all the various specs in just a minute. We’ll peel back the sticker flip, open the plastic lid and there are the Beats X earbuds looking really nice in that all-white color. And by the way if white isn’t your thing, they do also come in black, grey and blue. Setting those aside for just a second and digging a little deeper in the box we can pull out this packet here that contains all the other accessories and documentation. And first things first you’ll notice we do get a nice collection of ear tips, three additional sizes along with the ones already installed on the Beats so four sizes in total to hopefully help you find the perfect fit. And also included are two different sized ear hooks to also help keep the Beats securely in your ears. Also included in the package is a Beats branded lightning cable which is what you’ll use to charge the earbuds. Definitely nice to include an extra lightning cable although it’s pretty short but you know what they say, it’s not the size it’s how you use it.
A big selling point for the X is their battery life. You get up to 8 hours of playback time but it’s really the charging time that sets it apart. With a fast fuel feature you can expect over two hours of use from just a 5 minute charge which is really convenient and pretty impressive and a full charge only takes 45 minutes. You’re also given this carrying case for storing the X’s this is the same case that comes with the power Beats, not as nice as the old cases that came with Beats earbuds. This is just a plain soft rubber flexible case with a wide opening, nothing fancy and doesn’t offer too much protection but it gets the job done. One last thing to mention as far as what’s included, hiding inside the stack of paperwork and instructions you’ll find a code for months of Apple music. Personally I’m still Spotify for life but free Apple music is cool too. With all that boring stuff out of the way, here are the Beats X earbuds and as you can see there are a couple different components to them. So let’s go ahead and walk through the hardware first. On the top end they’re pretty standard earbuds with that big obvious Beats logo and replacement rubber ear tips. They’re pretty small and there’s not much to them so they don’t take up a lot of space in your ear at all. And you’ll also notice they’re angled quite a bit in order to get a better fit inside your ear canal which at least in my experience is a welcome feature. Like I mentioned the rubber ear tips are easily replaceable in order to find a set that works best for you. One simple but really convenient feature with the X’s is the fact that they’re magnetic, it certainly keeps them from getting tangled. And when they’re just chilling around your neck when you aren’t listening to music at the moment you know they’ll safely stay on.
Surprisingly there are three sort of bumps or modules along the cables of the X’s. The first is the inline music controls, you’ve got your volume up and down and play pause buttons as well as a mic; always appreciate having inline controls. The second one is where the Lightning port is located so you could assume this is probably one of two battery modules most likely. If you’re an Apple user already you have lots of lightning cables lying around, so you can use any cables you already have to charge these up too. And the third little bump is where the power button is located and you get a small white LED indicator when the earbuds are turned on. These earbuds have kind of a neck band design so a big portion of the cable is a flexible and malleable band that sits around the back of your neck when you’re using them. It isn’t retractable or resizable or anything like the LG tones but overall the cable as a whole is quite a bit longer than something like the JayBird X3. In general the X’s are really light which kind of surprised me especially with all the components along the cable and that helps when these are resting around your neck. They aren’t exactly the most compact earbuds in the world, they don’t wrap up easily because of the stiffer neck band but you can shove them in the included carrying case or in your pocket just fine.
The Beats X have the new Apple W1 chip that we’ve seen on the AirPods and Power Beats 3, so set up on an iOS device is super simple. Power them on and your iPhone automatically recognizes them and asks you to connect. It’s quick and seamless but if you do run into any issues they’ll be located in the Bluetooth options and settings like any other device. And of course you can view their battery status directly from the notification center widget. Obviously the most important factors with any pair of headphones are comfort and sound. Because the X’s are so light, they’re really comfortable to wear even when they’re sitting around your neck or on your shoulders. The neck band stays in place and lets the cable have a little bit of slack so the earbuds don’t get pulled out when you’re moving around. They personally stay in my ears pretty well with just the standard ear tips that come with them. But I could probably go down the size for a little better fit. I wore these to the gym and with just some casual movement they worked out really well for me. Having access to the inline controls is also a big plus, they’re readily available and coming from using the AirPods for so long, I’ve really missed that convenient factor of the controls right on the earbuds. My only gripe in the hardware department is probably the overall length of the cable. It does help to have a little bit of slack like I mentioned so nothing tugs on the earbuds but these might just be a little too long. You probably do away with an inch or two and still be fine. What surprised me most about the Beats X was their sound after listening to these non-stop for a couple days now; I’m not exactly sure how I feel.
Right off the bat I personally heard a noticeable lack of bass which is surprising given that these are Beats. This is something that Austin Evans noticed in his review as well and while it isn’t a bad thing the sound profile overall was just very unexpected. It’s surprisingly balanced but I might go as far as to say it’s a little too balanced. The AirPods might have more bass than these and that’s saying something. The X’s were also a little more muddy than I expected as well. They are wireless which is something you have to take into consideration when talking about sound quality. But for whatever reason I don’t think they sounded nearly as good as like the Power Beats 3 for example which is a little expected but they aren’t that much cheaper than the power Beats 3. This will also probably come across as really weird but personally I also preferred the sound coming from my AirPods over the Beats X. I sat here for a while with one AirPod and one X in each ear flipping back and forth between the two and maybe I’m just used to AirPods now but again in my experience the air pods just sounded quite a bit better. Everyone’s listening experience is different and I completely understand that. Feel free to disagree with me if you’ve been able to try them yourself. Other people’s ears might be a lot better than mine but this has just been my experience overall listening to the Beats X’s. With all that being said the Beats X for the average consumer will probably get the job done. They’re definitely good enough for casual listening, they’re very comfortable and extremely light and the battery life and fast fuel feature really sets these apart. Being able to charge for five minutes and get two hours of use is a killer selling point. For 150 bucks I think the price is comparable to the likes of JayBird and some other quality earbuds but they’re obviously definitely is a premium in the Beats name.