Beats Flex are a well thought out product offering 12 hour battery, easy controls and a sound worthy of the relative low entry price, including ease of use features once reserved at a price range out of reach for many.
A fan of in-ear headphones, Beats-x were my go-to wireless headphones for casual listening on iOS and Apple TV since debuting in 2017. Whilst last years purchase of AirPods Pro mainly relegated Beats-x to becoming my second pair of headphones, the 8 hour battery life was one I’d rely on for longer private TV series binges despite the lack of noise cancellation and spatial audio.
The newly released Beats Flex not only improve on the Beats-x battery capacity by a third - with up-to 12 hours battery life on a single charge - it also decreased the point of entry for W1 equipped wireless headphones from $129.99 to a more reasonable $49.99. The headphones mark the continuation of a strategy rolled out by Apple in recent years to offer more accessible entry points across all of its product lines.
Beats Flex includes a W1 chip which offers a host of features I’ve come to rely on including quick pairing, auto-switching and audio-sharing. tvOS 14’s adoption of Audio-Sharing with other W1 and H1 equipped headphones explains the headphones packaging featuring prominent reference to Apple TV. Shared private listening on tvOS is a quality of life feature that has made life easier for many trying not to distrub others, so its nice to see that the cost of entry to the feature no-longer exceeds that of the entry level Apple TV HD.
One feature thats new to Beats Flex is an auto pause feature when both ear-buds magnetically connect. An obvious feature which was lacking in the previous model and so it’s inclusion this time around is a welcome one. Also included in the package are multiple sized silicon tips and a USB-C charging cable - expanding the headphones appeal beyond the Apple primary audience.
Missing from the Beats Flex package are silicone wings for a secure fit and a carry case. It’s also a surprise that given the questionable durability of Beats-x (I had three replacements within a year) Beats Flex appear to be the only pair of Beats headphones that Apple sell without an option to add Apple Care+ for extended protection beyond its 12 month limited warranty. Of course this could be an oversight but for now the sceptics amongst you may have cause for concern.
Sound is acceptable though my experience on-the-go is not one I will favour - spoilt by my AirPods Pro noise isolation - however audio quality from the microphone received fair reviews from those I called during my tests.
In conclusion Beats Flex are a great deal for those that prefer the wired approach to truly wireless headphones or simply cant justify the outlay for AirPods or AirPods Pro. With an appeal beyond the fresh faced models on Beats promotional pictures I can see these headphones being adopted by a wide range of listeners across a wide range of ages.
If Apple TV had the ability to request Siri through external wireless Apple headphones or speakers Beats Flex would be an Apple TV must-have accessory for those with hands not nimble enough for the Siri Remote. Whilst that moment cant come soon enough Beats Flex remains a great pair of entry point W1 headphones and come highly recommended.