I’ve reviewed a lot of true wireless earbuds over the last year, but it’s been a hot minute since I took a set of neckbuds for a whirl. The Beats Flex have been an excellent reminder that this type of earbud is still such a great choice if you want a solid set of ‘buds that won’t break the bank. They’re excellent for just $50.
Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing amazing or standout about these earbuds. You don’t get ambient mode or ANC. There’s no ear detection. There is, however, automatic play/pause thanks to the magnets that keep the buds together when they’re not in your ears. But otherwise, they’re just a very standard set of wireless earbuds.
The simplicity and low price are what makes the Flex so appealing in the first place, though. They’re a great upgrade from the normal wired earbuds that ship with many phones, like the standard EarPods that used to come with iPhones. If you’re still using an old set of wired buds, this is the best upgrade path for you (assuming you’re not willing to drop at least double the price on a set of true wireless buds, of course). They sound pretty good, are incredibly comfortable, and last about 12 hours on average. That’s a lot of ticked boxes for $50.
Sound Quality: Better Than Basic
There was a time when the name “Beats” meant “these headphones have way too much bass.” That time has come and gone (despite the common misconceptions that I still hear about this subject), with the Flex going lighter on bass than most other Beats I’ve heard recently.
That’s not to say they’re missing a defined low end. It’s still very much present, though you may be underwhelmed if you’re the “give me all the bass you can stuff into my brain” type of listener. I find the balance to be very good for most listening purposes, but I personally prefer a bit more low end in music than what the Flex offers. That said, it’s not something I’ve noticed myself missing after just a few minutes of listening to the Flex.
As for treble and midrange, that’s really where these ‘buds have the biggest impact. The balance between the two is very good, with chimey highs and a very well-balanced midrange that leads to an excellent overall listening experience—especially if you like podcasts or watch a lot of videos with earbuds in.
Overall, the Flex sound good. They may be lacking in low end for users who prefer bassier headphones, but the “average” listener can appreciate the overall balance offered here. The cost to sound quality ratio is very good with the Flex.
Comfort: I Forgot How Comfy Neckbuds Can Be
One of the best things about neckbuds is that the actual buds are quite light, which makes for a pretty comfortable fit. True wireless buds have a lot going on under the hood, so they’re often weightier than non-TW earbuds, which leads to more ear fatigue and discomfort.
The Flex are no different here. The buds are light, there’s plenty of length to the connected cord so it doesn’t constantly pull on the buds, and even the controls on either side are lightweight enough that I don’t even notice them. Overall, these are probably some of the most comfortable neckbuds I’ve worn in … well, as long as I can remember, really. A+.
Speaking of the controls, let’s take a quick look at those. Like pretty much everything else about these, they’re pretty simple. The power button is on the right side, and … that’s literally it. The left side houses the USB-C charging port—a nice departure from other Beats, which rely on Apple’s Lightning cable for charging—the volume rocker and multifunction button. The multifunction button is play/pause with a single press, track forward with a double press, track back with a triple press, and calls up your device’s digital assistant with a long press.
Once you get used to wearing the buds, finding the controls becomes second nature. It took me a bit of time to get accustomed to how high up the controls are, but once I figured it out, it was smooth sailing from then on out.
The most bothersome thing I encountered with the controls was turning the buds on. There’s no “powered on” sound, so you have to hold the button for a couple of seconds and hope they turn on. There is, however, a connected tone, so at least you’ll know when they connect. There’s just a weird disconnect between turning them on and waiting for them to connect where it’s not clear if they’re actually on.
Also, there’s an app for Android. (This isn’t really about comfort, but whatever.) It’s also a simple sort of app—there’s no EQ or customizable controls, really. You can toggle the automatic play/pause feature, which also applies to calls. You can also rename the buds if you want. And that’s pretty much all there is to the app. Still, it’s worth having installed—you can use it to quickly see the remaining battery percentage of the buds if nothing else.
As an aside, I also noticed that the buds connected much faster to my Pixel 5 with the app installed, which helps cut down on the previously mentioned power on/connection tone delay. There’s no app for iOS because the features offered here are native on iOS thanks to the M1 chip in the Flex.
Conclusion: Excellent Earbuds for a Fiddy Spot
I think the best customer for the Beats Flex is anyone looking to replace a set of wired earbuds with something wireless that won’t break the bank doing it. The target audience here isn’t the person looking at AirPods or other true wireless earbuds that are more than twice the cost of the Flex, and the audio quality/features reflect that.
But if you’re in the market for some reliable, comfortable earbuds that sound pretty good and will easily get you through a day, the Beats Flex are your huckleberry.
Here’s What We Like
- Excellent value
- Very comfortable
- Good battery life
And What We Don't
- Lacking a strong low end
- No power-on sound