Usually, whenever a company launches a new entry in a series, you’d expect the gadget to be bigger and better than the older models. That’s exactly what Amazon did with the second generation Echo Buds.This time, however, the tech giant is doing the opposite with the latest Echo Buds by incorporating a more lightweight design.
Noise cancellation, a major feature on past models, is now gone. Same goes for the differently sized silicone tips. Now, it’s just one pair of silicone covers (with a backup pair) to fit everyone everyone. The new Echo Buds also sport a “semi-in-ear design”, losing the tight seal the others were known for. This means outside sound will seep through, ensuring you'll be aware of your surroundings at all times.
So the audio coming out of these earbuds won’t be as all-encompassing, but they still have some interesting features. By overhauling the design, Amazon was able to improve the battery life significantly as the devices can now last up to 20 hours on a single charge “with the case fully powered”. The Echo Buds 2nd Gen, in comparison, could only last up to 10 hours with the case.
The rest of the features on the new Echo Buds are carryovers from previous installments. Alexa is back helping people set reminders or resume a podcast through the earbuds. Touch controls can be customized so you can have a double tap either play music, “answer phone calls, [or] mute your mics”. Speaking of which, the devices come with two microphones that, when used alongside the “voice detection accelerometer”, allow the buds to “distinguish between the person speaking on a call versus others around” you.
Multipoint pairing is making a return so you can “switch audio between two devices simultaneously”. Then you have the VIP Filter that allows users to select which notifications they want to hear and which ones to keep silent.
Interestingly enough, the latest Echo Buds are very similar to Apple's original AirPods. They both have the same one-size-fits-all design, lack noise cancellation, and even have a similar battery life (the AirPods can last up to 24 hours with the charging case). But the biggest difference is Amazon’s offering is way cheaper.
Instead of paying $140 for a pair of AirPods, these earbuds cost $40 (£32 or around $60 AUD). Not a bad price, truth be told. However, they're only available in the United States at the time of this writing, according to an Amazon representative. The Echo Buds are currently available for pre-order with the release date set for June 7.
Alongside the earbuds, Amazon launched a variety of new Echo smart devices including the semi-spherical Echo Pop smart speaker. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s coverage of the update.