Amazon wants Alexa to be everywhere. First, it brought its virtual assistant to your homes with its Echo smart speakers and smart displays. Next came cars with Amazon Auto. Now, it wants Alexa to go wherever you go. For this, the company recently launched the second-gen Echo Buds in India. Also Read - iPhone 13 gets a major discount on Amazon, Flipkart: Check price, offers
The second-gen Echo Buds are the successor to the original Echo Buds that were introduced back in 2019 and they are available in India at a cost Rs 11,999 for the USB Type-C wired variant and Rs 13,999 for the wireless charging variant. Notably, while this is the second iteration of Amazon’s TWS earbuds, it is the first time that the company is bringing the device to India. Also Read - Mother's Day 2022: Best tech gifts under Rs 5,000
Amazon hasn’t made monumental changes to the second-gen Echo Dot when compared to the original Echo Buds. The earbuds still offer active noise cancellation (ANC) functionality. But this time, the company is using its own tech in the second-gen TWS earbuds instead of using Bose’s Active Noise Reduction technology as it did in case of the original Echo Buds. In addition to this, the company has also made some subtle changes to the design of the Echo Buds. These changes make the overall device look more rounded and balanced. They also give you more area for touch controls. Also Read - How to change language in Amazon app
Now, there’s more to the Amazon Echo Buds than what meets the eye. Meaning, the company’s second-gen TWS earbuds have much to offer than the ANC feature and hand-free Alexa functionality. We will talk about that and more in the review below. So, keep reading!
Let’s start with the design.
Amazon, as mentioned before, has made some subtle changes to the overall design of its second-gen Echo Buds TWS earbuds. Most noteworthy of them being the case of the device.
The charging case of the first-gen Echo Buds had a clam-shell design. It was flatter in shape. However, Amazon has completely altered this design. The case of the second-gen Echo Buds is compact and it resembles the case of other TWS earbuds available in the market right now, such as Apple AirPod or the Jabra Elite 75t. At the back you get the USB-C charging port and button to reset the device and in the front you get a single LED light that indicates the battery life of the earbuds. While a yellow light indicates that the battery of the case needs charging, green light indicates that the battery has been completely charged while a blue light refers to the state where the device is ready to get connected.
This nomenclature is the same for the two LED lights inside that indicate the status of each earbud. Besides the design of the charging case, Amazon has also made changes to the design of the buds, which are more rounded this time compared to the original Echo Buds. They also have a silicon cover on the top with the Amazon logo, which provides more room for using the touch controls. It also makes them scratch resistant.
Design aside, the second-gen Amazon Echo Buds are quite comfortable to use, especially when used for prolonged durations. Part of the credit for this goes to the silicon top while the other half goes to the shape of the buds. The nozzle fits in your ears without digging in deep and bulbous design ensures that the earbuds stay in place all the time. Amazon ships three different sizes of sports fins inside the box for better grip. But I never had to use them owing to its well-rounded yet incredibly comfortable design. But in case you aren’t sure, Amazon has a fit test in its iOS and Android apps that tells you how good of a seal you have achieved.
Design aside, the second-gen Echo Buds are a decent performer if not an exceptional one. The device has features that make it a value for money product, especially at its price point, yet it has ample scope for improvement.
Let’s talk about the sound first. The second-gen Echo Buds offer a clear and balanced sound for most parts. And it maintains this quality even on high volume levels. However, don’t expect a booming bass sound from it. EDM hits such as David Guetta’s Titanium, rock hits such as Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams and Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol or Indie hits Wake me up when September ends sound pleasant but there is a humm in the background which brings the overall experience – that could have been great – several notches down. The sound also lacks the distinct quality that we have come to admire in the Echo smart speakers over the years. You can tweak it a little using the controls in the Amazon Alexa app, but don’t expect any presets or fine tuning options.
Moving on, the ANC feature of the second-gen Echo Buds offers subpar performance. In the passthrough mode, it filters out the ambient noise efficiently. But in the ANC mode, it fails to block the ambient noise completely. I have tested the feature in the BGR newsroom, which is definitely one of the bustling places around, and in the market near my place. Every time I turned the ANC feature on, the Echo Buds failed to block the sound completely, which for me was a kind of a let down.
While the ANC feature was a bit of a let down, the touch and hands-free Alexa controls weren’t at all. For those who aren’t sure, the second-gen Echo Buds come with touch-based controls that let you perform tasks such as cancelling or answering a call, turning on ANC or controlling the music with the tap of a button. These controls work perfectly and so does the hands-free Alexa functionality. You can ask to call you a cab, call a contact or open another app and it will never falter.
Beyond the ANC, the second-gen Echo Buds have several features that warranty a premium price. For instance, you can ask Alexa to track your workout and it will tell you the distance that you have covered and the number of calories that you have burnt. This feature can be activated either from the Alexa app or by asking the Alexa on-device to do so using voice commands. In addition to this, you can also use each bud separately – a feature that is available mostly in the premium earbuds. However, you shouldn’t expect multi-point Bluetooth connectivity, which means you can connect only one device to the Echo Buds at a time.
Lastly, the battery. The second-gen Echo Buds performed fairly well in this department as well. Sans the ANC feature turned on, the battery of the Echo Buds lasted for almost a working week for me on light usage. With the ANC on for most part, the battery lasted for around four days on light usage. As far as charging is concerned, you can either use the charging wire that is shipped inside the box or you can use a Qi charger if you opt to buy the Rs 13,999 variant.
Should you buy Amazon Echo Buds second-gen?
In a nutshell, yes. There are several things that work in the favour of the second-gen Echo Buds. The list includes premium features such as hand-free Alexa, workout mode, wireless charging and the ability to use a single bud at a time.
On the other hand, there are areas where the Echo Buds could use some improvement. These areas are the ANC functionality and the sound. That said, Amazon has an excellent track record of making exponential changes to its device. Its Echo smart speakers are a testament to this trend. It is highly unlikely why the company would divulge from this trend now. Until that happens, the Echo Buds at a price point of Rs 13,999, leave you wanting for something more.