Review: Wearbuds Pro, the Bluetooth earbuds that live in your watch
The Wearbuds idea is simple enough: take a set of quality Bluetooth earbuds, and instead of selling them with a charging case, build them into a semi-smartwatch that doubles as a fitness band. So you never have to carry a charging case in your pocket, and your earbuds are super-accessible at all times.
A solid idea, so how's the execution? Well, Aipower's latest Wearbuds Pro device has been on my wrist for the last couple of weeks and for the most part I think it does a very good job.
As somebody who doesn't typically wear watches, I find this a pretty big and chunky thing to have on my wrist, sitting a good 2 cm (0.8 in) proud of my skin. That's a necessary evil, and considering that the watch not only contains the earbuds but doubles as a charging case with 15 hours of battery life, it's impressive how compact they've kept it.
The earbuds click in and out by pressing on them, and turn themselves on when they're removed from the watch. This solves one of my biggest issues with true wireless earbuds, that being that so many of these damn things turn themselves on when you don't want them to. I have had no such problems with the Wearbuds, although it should be noted I've knocked them on things and accidentally popped the buds out, something you might have to watch out for.
These are some of the smallest in-ears I've come across, and as such they fit very well and never give the impression that they might fall out. They use the AptX audio codec over a nice solid Bluetooth connection to stream high-quality audio.
How do they sound? Well, to me they sound crisp and clear, if a little middy and a touch lacking in the very bottom end. But ever since hearing all my friends' and colleagues' personalized Nuraphone profiles, I've become aware that there's no such thing as good sounding headphones or earbuds, there are simply models that suit your personal hearing more or less.
So nobody's opinion on sound quality but your own will be relevant or instructive, I'm sorry! They certainly don't sound bad to me, my ears adjusted to them pretty quickly and I've enjoyed listening to a bunch of different music and audiobooks. One thing I can say for sure is they're among the better earbuds I've used for making phone calls, delivering a clear, present voice even if it does come with a lot of background noise in noisy outdoor situations.
As for the watch itself, I find its silicon band pretty comfortable and its bright, color TFT screen sharp, clear and readable under all conditions. I've accidentally scraped it against a brick wall, and while this left a small mark on the metal casing, the 7H Corning glass screen looks untouched. The screen stays off most of the time, using accelerometers to figure out when you're looking at it and turn on only when needed, and it does a pretty good job of that.
The touch functionality is occasionally hit and miss, but for the most part responsive and intuitive. As well as the watch functionality, it can count your steps and take your heart rate. It can also display message alerts for your phone, albeit in a pretty useless fashion that merely tells you there's a message there instead of letting you read it.
It also acts as a fitness tracker; you can nominate what kind of exercise you're going to do from a pretty decent list, and it'll log things like steps, distance, floors, duration, calories and heart rate for the session, collating your results in the Wearbuds app for... well, whatever purposes people use that stuff for. It all works pretty well as far as I've been able to ascertain through lockdown here, although the heart rate tracker does seem to take a solid 20 seconds to get a reading, and only grabs your heart rate when you ask for it unless you've initiated a workout.
I'm not a huge fan of the proprietary magnetic charger, which snaps onto the back of the watch to give you a couple of days' worth of power if you don't use the earbuds. You'll need to keep a USB slot free for it instead of being able to charge with your phone charger, and it's a little awkward to use where some smartwatches give you a nicer cradle. On the other hand, the whole thing is IP6 water-resistant, which would probably be compromised by a USB-C port.
All in all I think the Wearbuds Pro are a solid execution of a good idea, and a very convenient way to keep your earbuds handy. At US$89 on Indiegogo, it'd be decent value for the earbuds alone, and when the campaign launches on August 4 I suspect it'll be highly successful. The usual crowdfunding cautions apply, but the unit we tested seems fully production ready right down to the packaging, and Aipower has delivered in the past.
Check out a quick video below.
Source: Wearbuds Pro by Aipower