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Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 review: Take it to the pool or the streets

April 11, 2019
Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: A top-down image of the right earbud next to the open and empty carrying case.
Editors choice
Editors choice

Plantronics Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100

Swimmers and runners in the market for true wireless earbuds should consider the Plantronics BackBeat 3100. Adorned with flat, holographic panels, the earbuds are as functional as they are eye-catching. While connectivity could be improved, it's par for the course with true wireless technology.

What we like

IP57 dust- and water-resistance<br>
Stable fit<br>
Touch and physical controls<br>
Bluetooth 5.0<br>
Ambient Aware ear tips<br>

What we don't like

Sound quality<br>
Battery life<br>

There are a few salient categories of true wireless earbuds: the AirPods wannabes, the cheap but good stuff, and the sporty variants. The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 falls into the third division and includes IP57-certified earbuds with a 740mAh charging case. If you can overlook the bulky design and high price, it’s the ideal union of durable and functional.

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What is Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 like?

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: The earbuds in the case, which lays open, and flanked by two faux greenery pieces.
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 launched with a price tag of $150.

Like the beloved Plantronics BackBeat Fit, the 3100 model is built to endure. The IP57 rating denotes dust- and water-resistance, while the malleable ear hooks promote a secure, comfortable fit. Each earbud houses a holographic panel but they differ in functionality: the left one is touch-capacitive and permits volume adjustments. The right one, on the other hand, lacks touch capabilities but allows for playback and call control.

Best Bluetooth headphones
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The Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sony WH-1000XM4 lay folded up on a wooden bench.

Since the carrying case houses a substantial battery, its frame, too, is large. Quick charging is afforded whereby 15 minutes of charging provides one hour of playback, and the case provides two extra charge cycles to the to the 3.72 standalone battery life. Be aware, though, of how the earbuds are returned to the case: the exact, textured cutouts look nice but make it too easy to place the ‘buds in without initiating charging.

Although the BackBeat Fit 3100 affords a slew of comprehensive controls, listeners can't access virtual assistants from the earbuds.

Working out with the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 takes some getting used to, but I found it to be a pleasure. The Ambient Aware ear tips promote safety by keeping the listener aware of her surroundings. They don’t create a seal though. Unfortunately, connectivity stutters sporadically occur when outdoors but are bearable.

Related: Why true wireless connectivity is so bad

How do the earbuds sound?

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: A woman wearing the earbuds in profile view to show the size.
Although the earbuds protrude quite a bit from the ear, stability isn&#8217;t compromised.

They sound fine. As is the case with workout earbuds, sound quality takes a backseat to durability and functionality. Bass frequencies receive a hefty amount of emphasis, but much of it goes unheard due to the ingress of external noise from the non-existent seal. Pushing the earbuds against my ear canal results in an audible exaggerated low-end, but doing so during a workout is just impractical.

Vocals and treble frequencies maintain an audible presence, but it’s nothing emphatic. Highs are especially difficult to differentiate during a song occupied by more than two instruments. Generally speaking, detail and clarity are lacking too. At first read, it may seem I’m knocking the audio quality, but that’s not the case. Given the context of how the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 will be used, the sub-par audio quality is forgivable and can be understood as a repercussion of the Ambient Aware benefit: continual awareness of one’s surroundings.

Should you buy the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100?

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: A top-down image of the right earbud next to the open and empty carrying case.
While the precise cutouts are a nice touch, users must be aware of how the earbuds are placed to initiate charging.

If you’re an athlete in the market for true wireless earbuds, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 stands as a smart and safe choice. The controls are easy to command and the ‘buds stay in place, even if it doesn’t always feel like they will. Connection reliability is disappointing, but only because the company usually outshines the competition when it comes to Bluetooth stability. Unfortunately, this is the main plague of true wireless earbuds and something competitors and Plantronics alike will improve upon as the technology advances.