Hands-on with the Aukey Bluetooth sports earbuds: Can't be beat for just $30

If you enjoy listening to music or podcasts while you workout, commute, walk, or relax, then Bluetooth headsets are the way to go. You can now experience wireless music for just $30.

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(Image: Matthew Miller, ZDNet)

I love to run and find that I can go longer and faster when I listen to music. However, I hate wires flying all over the place so I only run with wireless Bluetooth headphones.

Every pair I have enjoyed using in the past cost over $125 so there is a cost to enjoying music while I run. A couple of weeks ago I was sent the new Aukey EP-B4 Bluetooth wireless stereo sports headset and thought there was no way a $30 headset, via Amazon, could even come close to what my $125+ pairs provide. I was wrong.

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(Image: Matthew Miller, ZDNet)

Retail package

The headphones arrived in a simple plain brown recyclable box with the Aukey name and headset model number on the outside. Inside you will find the headset, short six inch USB cable, instruction manual, three pairs of earbud tips, and six ear hooks. The three pairs consist of one small, one medium, and one large pair. The packaging is simple and well designed.

Hardware

The Aukey EP-B4 earphones are primarily glossy black with lime green highlights and a lime green cord, about 24 inches in length. There is a small green piece that lets you tighten up the cord behind your head so it doesn't bounce around when you workout.

Specifications of the headset include:

  • Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX technology support
  • Talk and music playback time up to 4.5 hours with the 80 mAh battery
  • Dimensions of 40 x 24 x 32 mm
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(Image: Matthew Miller, ZDNet)

The right side earbud has the volume button on the front and it's quite long so you can easily find the volume up and down when working out. The mic opening is positioned below the volume down button. I didn't think there was a mic on this headset due to the low price and lack of inline controller.

There is a multi-function button on the outside towards the upper back side. The indicator light is below the word Aukey on the multi-function button. This actually can be an issue if you are trying to get into pairing mode and covering up the indicator light.

The left side earbud has the same look as the right side, but where the Aukey name is does not press in and it is not actually a button. There are no controls on the right earbud, but there is a lime green cover over the microUSB port. It's great to see standard microUSB being used here, but the cover is a bit tough to pry off if you have short nails like me.

The default medium earbuds fit me well and I used the medium hook as well. I have a hard time distinguishing much difference in the hooks, but just kept trying them out until it fit my ear. The hooks do not go over your ear, but push against the back of the inside of your ear opposite of the opening where the earbud tip fits.

Aukey states that this headset is water and sweat resistant. I sweat heavily, especially in this 80 to 90 degree heat wave we are having in Washington, and after three runs with the headset everything continues to work well. Aukey does have an 18-month warranty so the headset should stand up to my workouts and if not, then a call to customer service will be made.

Experiences on the road

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(Image: Matthew Miller, ZDNet)

My primary exercises are running and cycling, but I never listen to music when I bike as that is a safety hazard that I don't need to deal with. Finding headphones that can stay in my ear while I pound the pavement and sweat like crazy is a challenge so I was pleasantly surprised that these $30 headphones worked as well as they did.

When I first started running and was into my first mile, the earbuds kept slipping out and I was about ready to pull them off and put them in my Roo sport bag. I tilted them a bit to try to get the hook situated better in my ears and that must have worked.

For the next five miles I ran with classic rock pumping from my Apple Watch to the Aukey EP-B4. Music playback was flawless with no skipping and volume was more than adequate as I knocked out the miles.

To move forward or back a track, you simply press the volume up or down and hold it for a second. This is tough to do while running without knocking the earbud out, so I would stop running for a second if I wanted to switch songs. I usually setup a playlist in advance and just let it go. Controlling volume with a simple press of the volume button did work well though.

You can also use the multi-function button to play or pause music. I did this when I passed people and greeted them since the music was too loud for me to hear them.

I connected the headset with my iPhone and carried out a few calls to test the headset. People sounded great to me and all the callers said I sounded decent. They did say I was a bit muffled so I raised my voice a bit and they said that was better. For $30, I don't think you can ask for more than that for calling wirelessly.

You can also initiate Siri, and other voice command software, using the multi-function button.

Conclusion

The Aukey EP-B4 is not the best Bluetooth workout headset available today, but it is the best available at just $30. The battery life is long enough to get through a marathon, but not go all day. It is convenient to use at times outside of just working out as well. I listened to the headset while spending 45 minutes mowing my lawn and enjoy the hands-free experience.

I'll continue to use the Aukey EP-B4 headset at times, but plan to stick with my favorite BlueAnt Pump HD Sportbuds that you can also find on Amazon for about $47. The BlueAnt model goes over my ear and stays in place even better than the Aukey ones.