Amazon unveiled its much-anticipated AirPods competitor, Echo Buds, at a press event earlier today — and I was able to quickly try out the new Bluetooth wireless earbuds.
The Echo Buds cost slightly less than Apple's version ($130 versus about $160) and will be released Oct. 30. The buds have a microphone that listen for the "Alexa" wake word and can understand prompts like "Alexa, turn the volume up" or "Alexa, play some music."
You can also tap and hold the side of the bud to activate your phone's default assistant, whether it's Siri or Google Assistant. Like AirPods, music will automatically pause when you take out a bud.
The battery life is similar to that of AirPods. The Echo Buds have five hours of music playback. When the Echo Buds run out of power, they can be recharged from their case, which is about the size of an Altoids tin and holds up to 15 hours of battery life. (The case itself can be charged via micro USB cable.)
One thing that's most notable about Echo Buds is that it has built-in noise cancellation. In my test, the Echo Buds' noise reduction seemed to be better than the AirPods in two ways:
The first was its software. Noise reduction in the Echo Buds was developed by Bose, and it can easily be turned on and off by double-tapping the side of the buds.
The second was the fit and feel of the earbuds. Echo Buds come with three grippy ear tip sizes (small, medium, and large) that seem to seal out external sound better than the one-size-fits-all hard plastic of AirPods. I couldn't run around the demo area — but I did shake my head around (video below). And based on that experience, I think the buds would stay put during a workout. Amazon also says the buds are sweat-resistant.
While the earbuds are designed to work primarily with iOS and Android devices, they can also connect to laptops. A button on the back puts the headphones into pairing mode.
Setting up the Echo Buds is very similar to setting up an Echo device. When you first open the Echo Buds case, you'll see a prompt on your phone in the Alexa app. A new section for the buds will appear in the app, through which you can enable or disable noise reduction and the buds' microphone for privacy.
The earbuds, which use Bluetooth 5.0, can be connected to one device at a time (some Bose headphones can be connected to multiple devices at once).
Amazon's new Echo Buds can be preordered now. And keep listening for a more in-depth review!