Walking the halls of CES this year the endless sea of true wireless earbuds is a bit overwhelming and the vast majority completely fail to stand out. Having spent the day seeings dozens (it felt like hundreds) of them on the show floor, I wasn’t thinking that Amazfit was going to be able to impress me when they first flashed the PowerBuds up on the screen during their press event yesterday.
But the more I watched of the presentation the more I came away excited to try them out as there were a number of touches that I hadn’t seen from any of its competitors. As you might assume if you are familiar with the Amazfit brand the PowerBuds are fitness-focused, which does narrow the field a bit already. A large percentage of the true wireless earbuds have opted for let’s say an AirPod inspired design, some with excellent results like the Huawei FreeBuds 3, but that design lends itself more to casual listening rather than active endeavors.
The PowerBuds opt for the smaller form factor used by some of my personal favorite true wireless earbuds like those from Jabra and Jaybird. At just 6 grams per earbud, they are incredibly light and trying them on after the presentation they stuck solidly in my ear even with just the basic tip and fin on the earbud. But the addition that really caught my eye were the magnetic ear hooks that fit in the top of the PowerBuds case and snap on quickly to offer even more stability and security for particularly strenuous activities. Each hook weighs just 1 gram and because they are removable you still get a compact case rather than the bulky case for something like the Powerbeats Pro.
The case feels well constructed and holds itself shut and the PowerBuds in place with magnets to avoid having them pop out as you open the case. The case charges by USB-C and holds an additional 450 mAh battery, adding 16 additional hours of battery life to the 8 hours that the earbuds themselves hold.
The PowerBuds do not offer active noise cancellation, something I don’t consider to be a significant concern for fitness earbuds, but it is a consideration for those that may want to have just a single pair of headphones and would miss the noise cancellation for plane travel and the like. The headphones do offer a solid seal for passive noise cancellation and feature a Thru Mode to make sure you aren’t missing any important environmental sounds if you are running or biking on the road for example.
Another fairly unique feature to the PowerBuds is heart rate monitoring, it’s a feature that I’ve had in my Jabra Sports Elite and while I wouldn’t try to make any serious health decisions based on the heart rate tracking in my headphones, you can get a good sense for your exertion levels. The headphones can give you audio cues (and records in the app) to let you know your heart, workout zone and if you have pushed into a rapid heart rate.
I already spoiled it in the headline, but another highlight of the PowerBuds is the price, they are expected to launch in February at $99.90. That’s a compelling price point given the functionality and build quality of these true wireless earbuds and make them one of the handful of options I’m coming away from CES really wanting to test out.
I was only able to spend a few minutes handling them and listening in a crowded press room, but they did not disappoint in that admittedly limited and less than ideal testing environment.
We’ll try to get our hands on them for a full review as soon as we can and if you have any specific questions that I failed to address let me know and I’ll answer as possible or we’ll address it in our full review.