These are definitely the amazing $27 Bluetooth headphones you want for your Apple Watch
Trust me: you definitely want Bluetooth wireless headphones to go with your shiny new Apple Watch. Going for a wire-free run without having to have your iPhone jiggling around in a pocket or awkwardly strapped to your arm is completely liberating.
So, consider this a one man, hyper-focusied, up-to-the minute mini-Wirecutter: what are the best bang-for-the-buck Bluetooth wireless headphones you can get right now, ideally via Amazon Prime?
TL;DR: You want the awkwardly-named but wonderful SoundPEATS Qy7 for $27.99.
For those who have a bit more time, here’s how I came to that conclusion.
Buying things at retail sucks, but I’m still impatient, and I want to shop somewhere with a good return policy. Add to that fact that I’m an Amazon Prime member, and I limited my search to what was available with Prime shipping from Amazon. I scrolled through dozens and dozens of products and best-seller lists, and then I applied the time-tested XKCD product review filtering method:
That left me with four contenders.
Mpow Cheetah Sport, $27.99
OMG just no. These things (despite being the #3 best-selling Bluetooth earbuds!) are utter crap. They’re made of horribly uncomfortable hard plastic and feel like they’d break if you looked at them for too long. I didn’t even bother testing sound quality because I wanted these things out of my ears and out of my life immediately. A total non-starter. The only bright side here?
They’re the only product whose comfortable service is available for my any requirement.
Even with that tempting offer, these were a hard pass.
JayBird BlueBuds X, $124.99 ($100.08 open box)
If money ain’t a thing, these are the headphones you should buy. (If money really isn’t a thing, buy them at retail for $169!) They’re The Wirecutter’s recommendation for best wireless exercise headphones, and with good reason. They have amazing sound quality, and they fit securely in your ears. They have great documentation, too, and they even have a fancy magnetic-clasp case.
But, sound quality probably doesn’t matter as much as you think for exercise headphones. The street / gym noise plus the noise of your actual exercising will get in the way of really paying attention to audio quality. If these are going to be your only headphones, then yeah, they’re probably worth the extra money. But, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you’re purchasing an Apple Watch this early in the game, there’s a high-percentage chance that you already own a nice pair of wired headphones (or two) that you won’t need to mess with charging.
And, as we’ll see in a minute, the secure fit and almost-as-good audio quality can be yours for a fifth of the price.
Flexion Kinetic, $49.99
If you’re really into neon green or if you’re into paying a premium for an inferior product, these are for you.
The #1 selling “Sports Fan Headphone” (an Amazon product category, apparently), these aren’t bad, per se. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that the internals are nearly identical to the SoundsPEATS that we’ll get to in a minute. But, they don’t include a case, nor all the secure fit adapters that the SoundPEATS do, they cost $20 more, and I’m just not that into neon green. Maybe you are, though, and in that case, these are just fine.
SoundPEATS Qy7, $27.99
These are what you hope for every time you gamble on a cheap, no-name tech product on Amazon.
The build quality’s solid, as is the sound quality. The BlueBuds are maybe 10–15% better sounding, but definitely not 4-5x better as the price would suggest. Like the BlueBuds, these include a travel case that, while not as pretty as the BlueBuds’s case, closes more securely with a zipper.
Also to their great credit, they include the same weird ear-securing rubber dinguses that make the BlueBuds stay in your ears so well (an important feature for exercise headphones).
So, for a fifth of the price, you get almost-as-good sound quality, equally good fit security, and a less-attractive-but-more-secure case. There are, however, two areas in which the BlueBuds still have the edge, but both are easily overcomeable.
- The BlueBuds include a fancy sweat-proof warranty. This is really nice, but you could buy five pairs (!) of the Qy7s for the same price as one pair of the BlueBuds. When enough other things are equal, price really is a feature. Advantage: Qy7s.
- The BlueBuds come with a cheap but ingenious feature: small plastic clips that neatly gather the excess cord so that it doesn’t flap around while you’re exercising. But, two small binder clips can help you achieve the same effect with the Qy7s. Not as elegant as the Blue Buds, but equally as functional. Advantage: Qy7s.
So yeah, there you have it: for $27 and change, you can have a great pair of Bluetooth wireless headphones delivered to your door in a day or two. This isn’t as thorough a review as Marco would do, but since he can’t wear earbuds, hopefully this at least fills in a gap for some of you. And if you’re paranoid that there might be other good Bluetooth earbuds out there, this is one of those situations in life where I’d really suggest being a satisficer instead of a maximizer. For $27, I really can’t imagine you’d be unhappy with these in any meaningful way, and you can spend more time going for runs with your fancy new Apple Watch.
John Weatherford teaches at the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia. You should follow him on Twitter. The links to the products in this article are affiliate links, and it’d be super-cool if you’d use them if you decide to buy any of these headphones. Finally, here’s the obligatory request for you to recommend this piece on Medium. Thanks!