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Beats Flex Review

Last updated: 10 months ago
9 min read
Editor
rating
3.6
Beats Flex earbuds hanging

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Beats Flex are the cheapest Beats headphones, with a balanced sound and a W1 chip for seamless pairing with Apple devices.

Beats brand has completely redesigned itself after Apple took them over.

New Beats products are now better built, almost all come with the H1 or W1 chips, and most importantly, they don’t have obnoxiously bloaty bass anymore.

The latter is also true for the Beats Flex, which are surprisingly balanced sounding. Of course, there’s a boost in bass, but it’s hardly suitable for bass heads.

Speaking of chips, despite having one, a companion app for Android gives you the ability to check battery status percentages and lets you customize features, just like on an iOS device.

The battery of 12 hours is good enough for a full day, and the comfort is long-lasting, too.

On the flip side, wireless neckband design comes with some disadvantages. It produces microphonics, and it can pull on your earbuds if stuck under the clothes.

Since the cable likes to twist, it’s sometimes difficult to locate the on-device controls. You’re constantly brushing the modules with your fingers searching for the correct button.

Nevertheless, for $50, they sound like a bargain. But are they? What else can you expect from them? Read on and find all the details in the review.

  • Balanced sound
  • Affordable Beats with a W1 chip
  • Beats app adds iOS functionalities to Android users
  • USB-C port
  • Great passive noise isolation
  • Comfortable design
  • Neckband design hurts the overall stability
  • No carrying pouch included
  • Lack of sweat resistance
Editor
rating
3.6
By HeadphonesAddict
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ratings
2.4
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CONTENTS (show more)

    Sound

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    Surprisingly, the sound signature is very balanced, with just a slight boost throughout the bass region. While the sound is pleasing and smooth, it lacks details and clarity.

    Check the Beats Flex Sound Test

    Beats Flex Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Learn how to understand sound comparisons.

    The days of bassy Beats headphones are supposedly gone. Sure, Beats Flex still have a bit of bass emphasis, but it’s hardly distracting.

    However, for the price, not everything can be perfect, and the overall decent sound quality of the Flex lacks clarity, detail, and transparency.

    Bass

    This time around, the quantity is moderate, which is good news for casual listeners but a bad one for bass heads. Still, don’t expect accurate bass.

    While the MiniDSP H.E.A.R.S measured a considerable boost in the bass, it isn’t so bad. There’s a boost for sure, but not nearly as severe.

    The low end is punchy and relatively controlled, although it can start losing its focus on more fast-paced genres, like drum’ n’ bass.

    It extends low and produces a gentle rumble. Most music genres sound accurate and great on Beats Flex, which is nice to hear from a pair that costs $50.

    Midrange

    Due to the boost in the bass, the midrange sounds warm yet natural. Both instruments and vocals are rendered naturally and without harshness or sibilance.

    However, the tuning is excellent, but the detail isn’t. It feels as if a veil is covering all the details, muffling the sound, and you only hear the essential parts of the music.

    Treble

    The same sensation continues in the treble. It’s smooth and without harshness but lacks transparency and clarity.

    Cymbal hits sound a bit splashy and lacking in texture, and there’s hardly any air to the sound.

    The soundstage is good. You can hear instruments and effects slightly out of your head.

    Due to the lack of stronger treble, the imaging is nothing to write home about. It does the job done but don’t expect pinpoint accuracy.

    Overall, Beats Flex output an accurate response that is unfitted for such a brand, and that’s a good thing. However, the technical performance for the new acoustic drivers is subpar and leaves a lot to be desired.

    Of course, looking at the price, your expectations have to be relatively low. While you will get similarly priced earbuds with better sound quality, Beats Flex are still worth considering if you like natural tuning.

    Beats Flex Frequency Response

    Beats Flex frequency measurement
    The main problem isn’t in tuning, but in overall transparency and details, which are somewhat lacking.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    Comfort is great, and you can wear them all day long without experiencing fatigue. However, the fit isn’t ideal, as earbuds quickly pop out during light sports activities.

    Beats Flex come with 4 pairs of ear tips. Besides small, medium, and large tips, you also get one double-flanged pair.

    Tips are a bit wider than usual, forming a dome shape. You feel a slight pressure in your ear canals upon inserting them. However, they stay comfortable afterward and don’t cause any more annoyance.

    The earbuds’ housing is relatively small and unintrusive. Its smooth surface prevents the in-ear headphones from poking into your ears.

    On the other hand, stability isn’t all that great. That’s primarily due to the neckband, which adds to the weight and can start pulling on earbuds.

    You shouldn’t experience any problems during regular use, where the neck band doesn’t move much.

    However, as soon as you start jumping or running, the neckband jumps too. Consequently, it starts moving from left to right, loosening the grip of the earbuds.

    Eventually, Beats Flex pop out or, in the best-case scenario, lose the seal.

    Beats Flex buds
    Tiny housing never pokes into your ears, even if you have small ones.

    Therefore, if you plan to use them for workouts, you’ll have to be creative at trying to fixate them on your shirt and prevent them from falling out. Clips aren’t included in the box.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    2.5 Average

    Construction appears nicely made but lacks water protection. Also, strain reliefs are usually a weak point of every wired headphone, and the ones on the Flex don’t look reassuring.

    Considering the brand and the price, Beats Flex are made quite well. The plastic feels hard and of good quality, with all the pieces tightly glued together.

    However, that’s where all the fun ends. Earbuds lack an official IPX rating or sweat resistance, meaning that even a sweaty workout can pose a problem.

    Furthermore, every wired headphone’s weak point are strain reliefs. Beats Flex use pretty stiff ones, which can be a problem if you don’t store the earbuds carefully.

    Magnets that hold earbuds together can also pose a minor cosmetic problem. After constantly clapping the buds together, you might create scratches. Of course, that’s only cosmetics and doesn’t impact performance.

    Beats Flex both earbuds
    Magnetic earbuds also serve as a feature, primarily for pausing your playback or answering phone calls.

    Another thing users mention is that the battery likes to swell and burst open the control module.

    If that happens, stop using the earbuds and contact the seller for repairs.

    Battery

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    The battery life “only” lasts for 12 hours. For the size, it could be better. Thankfully, they support fast charging and have a USB-C charge connector.

    Beats Flex Battery Comparison

    Beats Flex battery graph

    While 12 hours of battery life sounds a lot for true wireless earbuds under $50, it’s pretty average for neckband wireless earbuds.

    Beats Flex have a total of 2 control modules and a lot of space to store a bigger battery. For example, iTeknic IK-BH001 manage to have 24 hours in a similar form factor.

    Nevertheless, that’s still a reasonable duration, enough for a full day of constant use.

    If you suddenly run out of juice, the Flex support fast charging.

    With a 10-minute charge, you receive 1.5 hours’ worth of playtime.

    Strangely, Beats opted for USB-C charging port. That might be a problem if you own an iPhone since they use the Lightning port. In that case, you’ll have to get a USB-C charger.

    Features

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    You get a decent number of features and controls. The app even adds functionalities to Android users, which are otherwise reserved for iOS.

    For under $50, you can’t expect them to shower you with features. However, they still offer more than other wireless earbuds at this price range.

    First of all, Beats Flex have 3 different physical buttons built into the 2 control modules. The circular one controls the playback and calls Siri the voice assistant, the on/off button is for power and pairing, and the rocker is to adjust volume.

    Different shapes help you distinguish them by touch, which is super handy. You just have to remember the functions and on what side is the button you want to press.

    Beats Flex left module
    A small left side indicator, a grill for a microphone, and a play/pause/skip button. The rocker for volume control is on top.

    Both earbuds also stick together with the help of magnets. That gives them additional functionality you can adjust in settings.

    If you have an Android phone, you have to download the Beats app. The latter enables a pop-up message showing the remaining battery percentage.

    It also offers you the ability to:

    • Rename the buds
    • Enable the play/pause feature when you attach/detach the earbuds
    • And even answer calls by performing the same action

    Basically, the app gives you all the features and settings otherwise baked into iOS (on iOS, you don’t have to download any app, all the settings are already in the Bluetooth menu).

    That means you don’t get an inferior user experience if you aren’t in the Apple ecosystem, like with the AirPods headphones.

    Of course, there are still some features only reserved for Apple users, like Apple’s easy pairing feature, and Audio Sharing.

    Microphone Quality

    Beats Flex built-in microphone mic works very well in a quiet environment, making your voice easily understandable and full. Although the clarity isn’t great, which is probably due to the fact that the integrated microphone is facing into a shirt and not towards your mouth.

    Also, the wire rubbing against your shirt doesn’t produce much cable noise during calls, which is excellent.

    On the other hand, mics use overly aggressive noise cancellation for reducing background noise during phone calls. It can occasionally muffle your voice to the point where you don’t understand the words anymore.

    that makes the Beats Flex a questionable choice for making calls in loud places.

    Beats Flex microphone test

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    Bulkier tips create a tight seal from the outside world. As long as you’re listening to music, you won’t miss the lack of active noise cancelling.

    Beats Flex rely entirely on passive noise isolation to block out external noise, so it has to be good. Thankfully, it’s better than average.

    Thanks to silicone ear tips with a wider dome, they completely seal off the ear canal. The difference in background noise loudness before and after is quite noticeable.

    Beats Flex earbuds hanging from tree
    Beats Flex block noise passively only. There’s no active noise cancellation.

    Of course, adding music to the equation eliminates any sign of ambient noise. Therefore, bus noises, people’s chatter, or traffic shouldn’t bother you.

    One thing worth noting is that the neckband produces some cable noise. Thankfully, it isn’t obnoxiously loud, so you get used to it quickly.

    Bluetooth

    Star Rating
    5.0 Perfect

    The overall Bluetooth performance is impressive. Not only do you get a reliable range, but there’s also no visible audio lag in both videos and mobile games, even on Android devices.

    Bluetooth connection on Beats Flex is proof that wireless connectivity can be reliable, even in earbuds for under $50.

    Using Bluetooth 5.0, they provide a very stable Bluetooth range. Beats earbuds manage to pass the second brick wall and continue playing music for up to 65 feet (the other side of the house).

    When I try to pass those 65 feet, the audio starts to choke a little but continues playing, nevertheless.

    I’ve seen a similarly excellent performance from Apple AirPods Max. It’s good to know Apple doesn’t skim on quality antennas in their products.

    Beats Flex charging port and power button
    An exposed USB-C charging port on the left and an on/off button on the right, which also serves as a pairing button.

    The pairing process is also straightforward. You only have to turn the Beats Flex on for the initial pairing, and they show up in your Bluetooth menu.

    On iOS, you can see a traditional pop-up animation with battery percentage. You can get a similar experience on an Android device if you download the Beats app.

    The second pairing is also easy. You simply hold a dedicated on/off button for 2 seconds until the light starts slowly blinking. That means earbuds are ready to pair.

    Multipoint for seamless switching between devices is possible thanks to the W1 chip, but only between Apple devices.

    What Bluetooth Codecs Do They Use?

    Like all Apple headphones, the Beats Flex use SBC and AAC, the latter being a default Bluetooth codec.

    Is There an Audio Lag?

    Surprisingly, there’s no noticeable audio delay in videos whatsoever. Sure, there’s probably a couple of milliseconds of delay, but it’s hardly perceptible by a human eye.

    The same performance continues with mobile games, which is very impressive. The delay is so minimal that it’s suitable even for more competitive games.

    Should You Get Beats Flex?

    If you search for something affordable but with many features and a faithful sound signature, Beats Flex are the right pick for you.

    They’re also one of the best Beats headphones and a great pair for your Apple ecosystem, although they work equally well on both operating systems.

    Above all, you have to understand the pros and cons of the neckband design. While it’s handier to carry your earbuds around, it also worsens the fit and produces microphonics.

    Beats Flex wireless earbuds
    Beats Flex wireless earbuds are hard to compare to other Beats headphones, but for the price, they’re one of the better options.

    In conclusion, if you can get Beats Flex for under $50, go for it since you won’t regret the decision.

    However, paying more isn’t worth it, especially if you mostly care about sound quality.

    How Beats Flex compare to the competition?

    • Beats Flex come with more features and customizability. On top of extensive controls, the app also lets you enable the auto play feature when magnetically attaching both earbuds.
    • The sound signature is more balanced than with other models in this range.
    • They’re the cheapest earbuds to have a W1 chip for better iOS and macOS integration.
    • The battery life of 12 hours is on par with the rest of the wireless earbuds, but not among the best ones.
    • The sound lacks clarity, detail and feels slightly muffled. The competition isn’t perfect but at least has a better technical performance.

    Beats Flex Alternatives

    Tribit FlyBuds C1

    Tribit FlyBuds C1 buds and the case

    Similarly warm sounding but with a slightly recessed mids and overall clearer and more transparent audio quality.

    They’re comfier and more secure to wear, even during sports activities.

    Apart from an aptX codec, the Flybuds C1 lack any other premium features or customization that you find on the Flex.

    Tribit FlyBuds C1 review

    EarFun Free Pro

    EarFun Free Pro true wireless earbuds

    For about $10 more, you get less balanced but far more energetic and dynamic sound quality with better clarity.

    More so, earbuds offer active noise cancellation and ambient sound mode. Sadly, no app.

    Their housing is light and remains comfortable for long listening sessions. With the help of ear fins, they’re also more stable than the Flex.

    EarFun Free Pro review

    SoundPEATS Sonic

    SoundPEATS Sonic earbuds

    Balanced sounding earbuds with a more substantial sub-bass boost. They’re also more transparent in the midrange and more sparkly in the treble.

    Besides that, they offer basic functionalities without app support or dedicated chips for faster Bluetooth pairing.

    Although they’re just small earbuds, they pack a 14-hour battery life, 2 hours more than the Flex.

    SoundPEATS Sonic review

    What’s in the Box?

    Beats Flex accessories
    • Beats Flex wireless earphones
    • USB-C charging cable
    • 4 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L & double-flanged)
    • Quick guide & user guide
    • Beats logo sticker

    Specifications

    Type: Neckband wireless earbuds
    Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 8.2mm
    Frequency range: n/a
    Impedance: 32 Ohm
    Weight: 0.66 oz (18.6 g)
    Mic & Controls: Yes
    Water resistance: None
    Battery life: 12h
    Charging time: Quick charge – USB-C
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
    Wireless range: 65ft (20m)
    Microphone: Built-in, wind protection

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