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Amazfit Powerbuds review: Good audio with a fitness twist
What we like
What we don't like
True wireless earphones have truly been commodified. With many smartphone manufacturers making their own versions, a product has to stand out in all the right ways to make an impact. Amazfit — the purveyors of some of our favorite fitness wearables — recently launched its own take on true wireless earphones with an interesting fitness-focused twist. The Amazfit Powerbuds join the likes of the Jabra Elite Sport in offering heart rate tracking built into the earphones.
In the Android Authority’s Amazfit Powerbuds review, we find out if a fitness focus is enough to stem strong competition.
Amazfit Powerbuds: How’s the design?
Amazfit has taken a fashion-forward approach with the design of the Powerbuds. The casing of the earbuds is compact enough and features a unique red overlay atop the matte black plastic. Each earbud weighs about 6g, and while I could always feel the weight in my ear, I never felt bogged down — even after hours of listening.
Looking in from the outside, the Amazfit fit compactly in the ear, but the heart rate tracking assembly prevented it from resting flush against my outer ear. However, I can’t really complain here as the earbuds never fell off once, even with a spot of running. The sensor for heart rate tracking is located on the right earbud, and it’s designed to be in constant contact with the ear to ensure a consistent reading.
Touch gestures on the Amazfit Powerbuds can be a bit hit or miss, but can be customized extensively.
Both earbuds include touch surfaces for control. I’m not a big fan of gesture-based control on true wireless earphones, and while the Amazfit allows for a lot of flexibility in setting up the controls, my experience was a bit hit or miss. You can configure single, double, or triple taps for controlling playback, enabling pass-through mode, or invoking Google Assistant. In my time with the earphones, there were a few instances where multiple taps weren’t recognized.
Amazfit includes a range of silicone tips in the box. I found the fit to be good enough, but despite trying multiple tips, I could never achieve a tight enough seal and ambient noise was always audible — even with the music turned up loud.
Elsewhere, Amazfit has a very nifty trick up its sleeve. The included ear hooks are magnetic and easily latch on to the earbuds. When it comes time to stow them, the hooks slot back into the case to ensure you don’t end up losing them.
The case is on the larger size, but makes up for it with the convenience of offering storage for the ear hooks. It definitely won’t slide into a coin pocket, but is discrete enough in a regular pocket and didn’t cause any unsightly bulges. I wish the lip on the outside of the case had a bit more depth as it was particularly hard to open one-handed.
The built-in magnetic storage for ear hooks is a handy addition to the case.
The buds slot in securely and are held in place by magnets, just like most true wireless earphones. A single LED placed on the outside indicates charging status, as well as when the headset enters pairing mode.
Speaking of which, Amazfit has a somewhat inconvenient approach to this. You must hold down a button on the inside of the case to put the earphones in pairing mode. This can be a bit of a nuisance if you need to jump between devices while still wearing the Powerbuds.
Overall — minor nitpicks aside — there is little to complain about the Amazfit Powerbuds’ design. The build quality lives up to the positioning. The IP55 rating is more than welcome given the fitness focus, and the included easy-to-store earbuds are a nifty addition.
How do the Amazfit Powerbuds sound?
For a fitness-focused pair of true wireless earphones, the Amazfit Powerbuds sound remarkably good. Elevated bass is often the norm with workout earbuds, but that really isn’t the case here.
Be it treble highs, vocal mids, or just the deep lows of a bass guitar, the Amazfit Powerbuds sound accurate all the way through. Vocals sound crystal clear, and clarity is retained even with other instruments thrown into the mix. That’s not to say that the earphones are light on bass.
The Amazfit Powerbuds deliver great sound, fitness features, and excellent battery life at an affordable price point. The microphone quality isn’t worth writing home about, but the other features make up for it.
Tracks like The Box by Roddy Ricc will have you bobbing your head, but it’s a measured bass that doesn’t mask vocal frequencies.
As I was listening to Borderline by Tame Impala, the falsetto vocals didn’t sound shrill or overbearing. This is a sure sign that treble notes aren’t emphatically emphasized by the dynamic drivers. Sure, you might not hear all the intricate vocal details, but for the price and primary function as workout earbuds, the Amazfit Powerbuds more than deliver on audio quality.
The Amazfit app lets you dial in the sound exactly how you like it.
Audio can be further tweaked to suit your preferences. The accompanying Amazfit app has a range of presets, as well as a 10-band equalizer to dial in the sound exactly to your preferences. Finally, Bluetooth codec support includes SBC and AAC. Most modern phones should default to AAC, affording you high-quality music listening from streaming sources. Although, Android users may want to force SBC streaming, since AAC performs unreliably across Android devices. The operating system has a hard time with consistent streaming quality via AAC.
All the fitness features
The Amazfit Powerbuds has a unique feature up its sleeve. The sensors on the right earbuds can be used to track your heart rate during activities. This makes a lot of sense if you’re tied into Amazfit’s fitness wearable ecosystem, but not so much if you’re not. Few — if any — third-party apps let you enter heart rate data manually, and you’ll want to be truly invested into the Amazfit ecosystem to reap the benefits.
While running trails remain closed, I took the Amazfit Powerbuds for a quick walk around the block to compare the heart rate measurements against my Fitbit Ionic. The results were reasonably consistent across the devices with a small enough margin of error.
How’s the battery life?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus might set the standard for battery life amongst true wireless earphones, but the Amazfit Powerbuds don’t fare too badly either. Amazfit promises eight hours of use on a single charge. In my testing, I got a little over seven hours of use from the Amazfit Powerbuds with the volume set around the 60% mark.
The Amazfit Powerbuds consistently delivered over 7 hours of battery life.
The battery case gets you two full charges in addition to the eight hours that the earbuds promise. Totaling 24 hours of playback, the battery life should suffice for most users. Fully charging the earbuds takes just north of an hour, and a quick 15-minute charge promises three hours of use which should suffice in a pinch.
Are the Amazfit Powerbuds good for calls?
The Amazfit Powerbuds are fairly hit or miss for cellular calls. While the connectivity was good enough, audio on both ends was a bit muffled and often sounded tinny. The electronic noise cancellation didn’t do a particularly good job at cutting back on ambient noise either. The Amazfit Powerbuds would not be my first choice if making calls is a primary use case.
Should you buy the Amazfit Powerbuds?
Priced at $99 in the US and Rs. 6,999 in India, the Amazfit Powerbuds true wireless earphones sound great and have excellent battery life. The fitness features work as advertised but I wouldn’t necessarily buy the earphones just for that, unless you are already tied into the Amazfit ecosystem of fitness wearables. The IP55 rating is great to have and the magnetized ear hooks are a very well-thought-out addition.
There are other options like the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 and the Redmi Buds S that deliver decent sound at similar or lower prices, but the feature set here is hard to match, and that makes the Amazfit Powerbuds true wireless earphones a win in my books.
Overall, there’s little to fault here and if you are in the market for a new pair of fitness-focused earphones that also sound great, the Amazfit Powerbuds true wireless earphones get a resounding thumbs up from me.