There are dozens of stereo Bluetooth headsets on the market these days, but not all of them are created equal. These devices range in price from $20 all the way up to $200. The cheaper options offer basic functionality and often don’t offer any protection against water and sweat. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend an exorbitant amount of money for a good headset. If you only want to spend around $100, the Samsung Level Active may be right up your alley.
Design and fit
Samsung has been building headphones for years, so it’s not surprising that the sweat and splash resistant build quality of the Samsung Level Active is superb. The left and right earpieces are connected by a flat, tangle-free cord with the controls and built-in microphone about two inches from the right earpiece. Both earpieces are nicely curved and covered in soft-touch plastic with a round aluminum disc on the sides which sports the Level logo. The disc on the left earpiece rotates to reveal the microUSB charging port and the disc on the right earpiece can be pressed to turn the Level Active off and on.
Included in the box are four different tips for the earpieces, ensuring a comfortable fit for nearly everyone. Since the Level Active is intended for those who want to listen to music during a run or workout, Samsung also includes two different sized wingtips and over-ear hooks to help keep the headset from jostling out of your ear while you’re in motion. Overall, the fit is comfortable, once you figure out which ear tips, wingtip or over-ear hook combination works best. The headset is secure enough to stay in place for a long run, but you will need to make a few adjustments from time to time.
The audio quality of the Samsung Level Active isn’t better than what you get from a pair of $80 wired headphones, but it’s a lot better than what most people are used to hearing with the crappy headphones that they got when purchasing their phone. Listening to music is quite enjoyable with crisp highs and rich bass.
Phone call audio quality is good as well. Taking a call with the headset while on a run is quite doable. Users on the other line report that the audio comes through fine, as long as it’s not windy.
If you’re planning to use the Samsung Level Active to listen to music while running a marathon, you’ll need to run an 11 minute/mile pace if you want to make it to the end before the battery dies. Samsung claims that the 100 mAh battery inside the Level Active can keep the headset powered for 5.5 hours, but we typically had to plug it back in right around the 5-hour mark. The headset can be fully charged in about 45 minutes, but you can get about an hour of listening time with a quick 10-minute charge.
Like all the other Level Bluetooth headsets from Samsung, the Level Active works with the Level app which can be downloaded from the Play Store. The Level app allows you to keep track of the headset’s battery life, but it also enables text-to-speech dictation of your smartphone’s notifications. With the feature turned on, the app will relay notification details by voice to the headset. The app works best on Samsung devices since it is able to dictate the entire notification, but the dictation will be limited to the name of the application and the sender’s name if the headset is paired to a non-Samsung device.
If you’re looking for a Bluetooth headset for listening to music during your workouts, the Samsung Level Active is a great choice. It’s comfortable and delivers good audio quality. Samsung’s suggested retail price for the Level Active is $99.99, but you can buy the headset for at little as $69.99 on Amazon. The only real downside is battery life. We wish the headset offered more than 5 hours of battery life on a single charge. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, there’s always the Jaybird X2 which manages 7-8 hours on a single charge.
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