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Last year I had the chance to try out the Amazfit PowerBuds headset and was impressed by the sound quality, long battery life, and secure fit thanks to the innovative removable ear hooks. This year, Amazfit joins the expanding brands releasing active noise cancellation (ANC) capable earbuds with the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro. The headset is available now in white for $149.99.
Over the past few weeks I have been working, running, walking, and relaxing with the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro sent along for evaluation. There's a lot to like with these new earbuds, but some of the advertised features are not as useful as advertised.
The Amazfit PowerBuds Pro looks very similar to the Apple AirPods Pro and you could easily mistake them for each other, if not for the matte finish charging case. The PowerBuds Pro are a bit bulkier than the AirPods Pro, but if you like the AirPods Pro style and want something with many of the same features for $100 less then they are worth considering. The PowerBuds Pro also offers longer battery life than Apple's earbuds.
Speaker size: 9 mm
Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 BLE
Microphones: Three in each earbud
Dust and water resistance: IP55
Battery life: 68 mAh in each earbud and 510 mAh in the case. Up to nine hours of play with the charging case providing 21 more hours of battery life with ANC off. With ANC on, you can expect up to nearly six hours of playback time and another 13 hours from the charging case. A 15-minute charge provides up to 2.5 hours of battery life.
The charging case has a matte soft touch finish and is colored to match the earbuds. There is a LED light on the front to indicate charging and connection status. A pairing button is found on the lower back with the USB-C port on the bottom. Wireless charging of the case is not supported.
Four sets of silicone eartips are provided. It's important to try out the earbuds in the situations where you listen to audio and remember that you may need to use different size tips in each ear. I found the right earbud kept falling out when I ran with both having the large tip so I put in an XL tip in my right ear to improve the fit.
The heart rate sensor module is positioned at the end of the right earbud. You can use the earbuds independently, but if you want to use the heart rate feature make sure you at least have the right earbud mounted in your ear.
Three microphones are present on each earbud to offer enhanced noise reduction and good call quality. Callers confirmed I sounded good while using this headset and they also sounded great on my end. Amazfit uses microphones and AI call noise-reduction algorithms to optimize call quality performance.
The earbuds are designed with an IP55 dust and water-resistant rating so you can wear them while exercising in just about any condition, other than swimming. Just about six hours of battery life are advertised for the earbuds with ANC on and my tests confirm that is accurate. You can go three hours longer if you turn off active noise cancellation.
Amazfit advertises up to 40dB of noise cancellation with the hybrid digital adaptive noise-reduction and passive sound isolation design. You can also set up noise cancellation modes to quickly transition to different listening modes throughout your day.
Google's Fast Pair service is supported by the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro so once you pop up the flip lid on the charging case a pop-up should appear on your Android smartphone to easily and quickly connect and pair the earbuds. The earbuds are also supported on the iPhone, including support for the Zepp app.
The Zepp smartphone app is a comprehensive app with a Home panel that shows all sorts of data, such as steps, calories, sleep, weight, heart rate, stress, PAI, and much more. You can spend a lot of time going through all of the features and options in the app and if you have an Amazfit watch then you will definitely want to explore the app.
Amazfit PowerBuds Pro review: in pictures
To optimize the PowerBuds Pro headset for use, tap on the Profile screen to view the PowerBuds Pro under the My devices section. Tap on the earbuds name to then customize the noise control setting (thru mode, ANC off, ANC on), gestures, music equalizer, hearing health, cervical protection, and several other settings. Updates for the earbuds will also appear in the application.
Gestures on the PowerBuds Pro are executed by squeezing the bottom portion of the stem. Long press (hold), single squeeze, double squeeze, and triple squeeze gestures are supported for each earbud. It takes practice to get these gestures right and while running I grew so frustrated with this method that I rarely used gestures while working out. Volume control is not available as a gesture so the only one I ended up using was the single squeeze to pause/play audio when I ran post other people and wanted to greet them.
In the music equalizer, there are 10 preset settings and a custom option to control the spectrum to your preferred audio setup. I wasn't that happy with the presets so I created my own setting.
The hearing health option is similar to what I experience on my Apple Watch where the software will track your audio volume and listening time to help you manage your exposure to excessive volume. When enabled a decibel meter will appear at the top of the display with recommended listen times adjusting for that volume level. Notifications will appear when you exceed the recommended limits.
One unique feature of the PowerBuds Pro is the cervical protection option. Tap to open up this setting and then sit up straight to have your posture calibrated. The software will then monitor your alignment and play a relax reminder if you sit too long or your posture gets too far out of range of your calibrated posture for an extended period. It's an interesting idea, but it also requires that you wear the earbuds for extended periods of time to correct your posture. I have great posture, maybe from my 12 years of military service, but my youngest daughter might benefit from wearing these earbuds as she may listen to the software instead of my hounding her about sitting up straight.
Other options for the earbuds include wear detection, running detection, third-party app support, high heart rate alerts, motion beat mode, tap to hear your fitness status, and factory reset.
Heart rate sharing is an interesting option, but it is a bit limited. With this function enabled, your heart rate is recorded in the Zepp application. I tested out the heart rate capability and found the results were about 5-12 beats per minute higher than both my GPS sports watch and heart rate chest strap. I honestly expected the PowerBuds Pro to have better output. The run tracking didn't plot out GPS and was pretty limited though so I personally did not find any utility with the heart rate option. If you run, bike, walk or exercise outside with your phone and use the Zepp app then having the heart rate monitor in the ear is a decent solution for capturing a better picture of your workout.
Daily usage experiences and conclusion
Music sounded great on the earbuds, with outstanding volume, clarity, and bass. There was a clear difference with ANC on or off and the earbuds passed my gas lawnmower and blower test with flying colors. The different silicone tips helped keep the earbuds securely in place, no matter what exercise or activity I was engaged in.
The unique features like cervical posture reminders and heart rate are interesting and may be useful for some people, but they were extras that offered little value to my usage patterns. The hearing protection monitoring, call quality, ANC performance, and long battery were attractive to me and I would consider these functions worth the $150 price point.
Voice assistants work very well on the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro, including Siri and Google Assistant. Priced $100 less than the Apple AirPods Pro, the PowerBuds Pro are a great option for the ANC results and long battery life. It's great to have so many good quality options available in the wireless earbud space today, but it is also overwhelming at times. Buyers can be confident in finding an excellent set of wireless earbuds with ANC for less than $200 and the PowerBuds Pro are one of the better contenders in this area.