Samsung has announced a new set of wireless headphones with a flexible neckband and a button to activate its Bixby voice assistant for the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
The new U Flex headphones arrive on the heels of Samsung's US launch of Bixby, its answer to Siri or Google Assistant, which aims to replace all touch actions on a device with voice commands.
Instead of reaching for the Galaxy S8 and pressing the dedicated Bixby button, U Flex users will be able to activate it and take calls from buttons on the lobes of the neckband.
Samsung's promotional video suggests users will be able to leave their phone in their pocket when active but still use some functionality thanks to Bixby voice commands.
Users might also be physically away from their phone and still use Bixby, so long as they're in Bluetooth range.
Samsung's video suggests users can use the headphones to control their phone using Bixby voice commands, even if it's in a pocket or bag.
The Bluetooth headphones consist of earphones with a wired connection to a flexible neckband that can be bent up to 100 degrees without becoming damaged. The earphones themselves contain magnets that form a closed loop when not worn.
The button to activate Bixby is called the Active Key, which is on the left side lobe of the neckband. It can also be configured via the Samsung Level Android app to launch other features such as the clock, timer, the Samsung Health app, and favorites.
Samsung notes that activating the Active Key will either play back selected results, or launch its voice assistant.
The right-side lobe has a Play button, volume controls, power switch, and covered micro USB port. Users can press the Play button to answer a call that the user is alerted to via a vibration or a flashing blue light.
The earphones are compatible with other Samsung handsets than the Galaxy S8 or S8+ but they'll launch S Voice instead of Bixby.
Users can also configure advanced settings, such as the equalizer, in the Samsung Level App on a Bluetooth-paired Android device.
Samsung says the headphones can be used for playback for up to 10 hours per charge. That's double the AirPod's five-hour play time on a single charge, which Apple addresses with its AirPod charger's to boost to 24 hours.
A nano-coating technology also shields the device from splashes. Charging the U Flex headphones requires lifting the micro USB port cover and connecting the device to a charger. Samsung doesn't say how long it takes to charge.
Other smarts in the U Flex headphones include Samsung's Scalable Codec technology, which it uses to ward off Wi-Fi signals that interfere with the Bluetooth connection.
They also feature "two-way speaker units" with 11mm woofers and 8mm tweeters (0.43 inches, 0.32 inches).
Samsung hasn't provided pricing or availability yet, but says the headphones will be available in black, blue, and ivory.
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