The true wireless earbuds trend has trickled down to even non-smartphone manufacturing brands. However, most of the new brands that started making these truly wireless earbuds focus on budget offerings. Earbuds that cost lesser than Rs 5,000. Now, however, Philips has launched a new pair of true wireless earbuds that aren’t exactly targeting this crowded space. Enter the Philips UpBeat true wireless earbuds. With a box price of Rs 8,999, the buds compete with brands like Jabra, Jays, Skullcandy, JBL and Samsung. The buds promise good sound, great battery and even doubles up as a power bank. But are they worth the buck? Let’s find out.
The Philips UpBeat offers a stemless design with ear hooks. These ear hooks are actually attached to a separate rubber layer on top of the design of the actual buds. This makes them removable, in case you don’t need the extra securing. We found that the rubber layer often covered the magnetic charging pins on the back of the buds. This meant that sometimes when we put the buds back in the case, it wouldn’t charge on one end. So, unless you need the hooks, we suggest you take them off.
The earbuds are well-shaped and very comfortable to wear. There are buttons and microphones on the face of each of the buds. Further, the circular buttons have backlit Philips branding on them. We’ll talk about what the buttons offer later. The case has a 4-part LED light up front that lets you know when the buds are charging inside and how much battery is left in the case. Unfortunately, there is no physical button to trigger the LEDs on command. The back of the case features a micro-USB slot for charging the case and a USB port.
The buds come with a case that is significantly bigger than most TWS earbud cases. That’s because there is a 3350mAh battery in the case. This gives the whole unit a lot of battery life. Moreover, it allows for USB charging via a slot on the back. This is great if you choose to keep your case in a bag or something. However, managing to fit the case in your jeans might be a bit troublesome at times. The case does come with a 3350mAh battery that offers 70 hours worth of extra playback time and doubles as a power bank. You can use it to charge your phone or other smart devices like a fitness tracker or smartwatch.
The Philips UpBeat‘s price tag puts it in the fighting pit with some big names in the audio industry. Thankfully, the sound on the buds doesn’t disappoint. We managed to get clean sound from the earbuds. The output is heavy on the bass. The rich bass carries a thump to it, making the Philips UpBeat ideal for genres like Hip-Hop, EDM and dubstep.
That by no means make the buds lacking in other departments though. Unlike most earbuds that offer a bass-heavy experience, the UpBeat manages higher frequencies pretty well too. The audio balance, however, slightly favors lower frequencies. This makes the buds ideal for some users and a decent performer for others. There is also support for AAC codecs and users can enjoy high-quality audio playback.
However, the bass output is very clean. Tune in to tracks like Tony Montana’s original Bala mix or Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, and you see how good the bass output is. The thump we spoke off comes off rich and not as just muffled low-frequency vibrations. When you’re listening to music on the other end of the spectrum you enjoy a good experience too. This is evident by how clear the vocals are on tracks like My Immortal by Evanescence. However, when the bass guitar and drums kick in, you can see the slight shift towards the bass, making our point.
Buttons, Call Quality
The buttons on the earbuds offer quick controls. A single tap on either end will either play or pause your music. Similarly, a double-tap on either end will bring up your voice assistant. A long press on the left end will go to the previous track and a long press on the right will skip to the next. However, these gestures remain the same when you’re using only one of the buds. So if you use only the left bud, you can’t skip to the next track; if you use the right, you can’t go to the previous one.
The pairing was quick and easy and the range was good thanks to Bluetooth 5.0. Call quality was above average on the buds. Calling on most true wireless offerings is often a hit or miss. Receivers hear you well if you’re indoors or in a quiet environment. However, if you move outdoors, the performance gets significantly worse. But this wasn’t the case with the Philips UpBeat. Our receivers heard us pretty well until the ambient sound got very loud, at which point even the phone’s microphone would have given up.
The Philips UpBeat fails in very few areas, and one of them is battery life. The company claims the big case of the buds provides about 70 hours of battery life. However, the earbuds themselves offer only about three hours of playback on a single charge. That is a disappointing number by today’s standards and that too from a brand like Philips.
Today, even budget true wireless earbuds like the Detel Di-Pod offer over five hours of playback on a single charge. We expect more than at least four hours of playback from the Philips UpBeat. Ideally, this shouldn’t matter if you don’t listen to over three hours of music on a stretch. But if you do need long hours of playback, these buds are not for you. That being said, charging the buds in the case fully still requires about an hour and a half. Charging the case requires more or less the same time.
The Philips UpBeat true wireless earbuds are a good pair of buds to have. They are great performers when it comes to sound and call quality. But the buds are let down by a few small flaws. These include the troublesome ear hook coverings, poor battery life and semi-loss of control when you’re using only one of the earbuds for music. These are compensated with the rich sound, big case battery and power-bank capabilities. However, the single charge battery life remains one big tradeoff for these buds priced at Rs 8,999.
If you want a pair of true wireless earbuds that can charge other devices and provide good sound and call quality, The Philips UpBeat is a great option. However, if the power bank feature is not something that matters to you, but single-charge battery life is, you might want to look elsewhere. The Philips UpBeat is available for Rs 8,999. However, the brand is giving away a complimentary pair of earphones worth Rs 1,449 along. This is part of the brand’s valentine’s day offer.