Even as late as 2017, many true wireless in-ear solutions were out of reach for many music-loving commuters.
A less fancy neckband design, on the other hand.
Provided a more cost-effective and nonetheless (kind of) wireless alternative.
True wireless headphones with wireless charging became a reality for around.
The same price as a round of drinks for your household bubble as competition and manufacturing intensified and improved.
Beats Flex: Holistic Review
So, why has Apple opted to defy the genuine wireless trend by delivering the Beats Flex?
A low-cost wireless neckband design under its Beats subsidiary brand, in 2020?
Things become evident when you consider that Apple has ceased including free headphones with its latest handsets.
Apple still sells a low-cost set of Lightning wired earbuds.
But if you’re concerned about the sound of your smartphone, one step up leads you to the Beats Flex.
They come in a variety of new colours (including our Yuzu yellow example).
Charge through USB-C, have a 12-hour battery life, and can split sounds with neighbouring Beats.
Or AirPod headphones thanks to one-tap audio share (provided you have an iPhone 8 or later running iOS 14).
Did we mention they are only £50 ($50)?
Beats Flex: Comfort
Because the pre-fitted pair is too large for our ears, the Beats Flex comes with four ear tip alternatives.
A unique and smaller double-tip option works well.
However, the tips are generally on the larger side.
The bud necks are tastefully positioned at a small angle from the driver housings.
In order to provide a fit that does not tug on the cable when worn.
Because all touch functionality is located on two in-line control centres on the cable.
Both of which lie comfortably on your collarbones for easy access.
You shouldn’t have to worry about touching the earpieces once they’re in.
The cable is flat, almost like a strand of tagliatelle.
And while it’s long enough for most wearers, it kinks.
And tangles a little throughout our listening.
The cable also makes some slight noise when it pulls.
Beats Flex: Build
These earbuds are essentially a development of the 2017 Beats X neckband-style earbuds.
They now charge through USB-C.
And feature a greater battery life (12 hours as opposed to 8 hours).
As well as a ten-minute ‘Fast Fuel’ charge that provides 1.5 hours of listening.
They’ve also been reworked to increase sound quality and mic performance.
The left-side control panel contains an easily accessible volume switch.
(push the upper edge to increase, the lower edge to reduce).
And a small button on the interior that can be touched once to play and pause music.
Twice to skip songs, and three times to skip backwards. Long-pressing it brings up Siri.
During calls, the built-in microphone is crystal clear, making call-handling a breeze.
The right control centre contains a power button that mimics the positioning.
And the size of the USB-C connector on the left-hand side of the controls.
But it also has a single LED light to show power and battery life:
This shines white for ‘on,’ flashes white while pairing, and blinks red when charging.
Beats Flex: Sound
The Beats Flex headphones sound noticeably better than Apple’s 2012 wired EarPods.
In comparison, the once-bundled EarPods sound too bassy.
On Tidal, we listen to The Waterboys’ The Whole Of The Moon.
And the Beats Flexes provide a much more unified blend across the frequencies.
And a greater sense of timing throughout.
Melissa Etheridge’s rich and expressive singing is dominant.
And detailed across the mid to low frequencies in Come To My Window.
It’s not flawless, mind you. As the music progresses, we notice treble restrictions.
Instruments like the throbbing electric guitar chords come over a touch weak.
Lacking the glittering intensity of our reference product at the price.
The genuine wireless Earfun Air.
It’s a shame, considering the Beats Flex in-ears still have a foot-tapping sound.
And an agile, crisp bassline, but the high end has lost an ounce.
Beats Flex: More Features
We listen to Charles Bernstein’s theme from the film A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Which has plenty of atmospheric tension in the mids and lows.
Synths, twigs crackling in the grass, spine-tingling keys.
And tinkling, distant laughter peals are just not as powerful as they are through the Earfuns.
It’s a minor quibble; the Beats Flex has a thoughtful, smooth sound profile that’s better.
Then once that’s harsh or bright across the top frequencies.
But it’s worth noting even at this low price point.
If your budget allows, Earfun’s true wireless alternative avoids potential cable noise.
Sounds better for detail through higher frequencies.
And lasts longer before needing to be charged.
That said, the Beats Flex clearly outperforms much of what is currently available for iOS users at £50 ($50)
– It’s well-featured for the price and well-made.
The Beats Flex is ideal for individuals looking for a low-cost, Apple-centric neckband design.