- Great battery life
- Decent, bass heavy sound
- Dependable pairing
- Bit bulky
- Pass through tinny
True wireless earbuds have exploded in popularity, and seamless pairing and connectivity and much-improved battery life have now made them intuitive devices.
The Apple AirPods led the market, and now every major hardware manufacturer has a pair – from the Samsung Galaxy Buds to the Google Pixel Buds and sporty offerings from the likes of Jabra, Jaybird and more.
And as sure as the sun rises in the morning, Chinese smartphone brands have appeared with their own cheaper options.
And as we’ve seen in smartwatches, fitness trackers and smartphones, Amazfit has arrived with the PowerBuds – a sub-$100 set of wireless buds that more than stand up to fully priced rivals.
And for the low price the PowerBuds boast a bustling feature set. It adds heart rate monitoring, pass-through and fast charging to the mix, with long battery life and optional ear loops.
But are they all noise? We’ve tested them to find out.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Design
The Amazfit PowerBuds do have a slightly bulbous design, thanks to the build in PPG sensor. Size-wise equates to something like the Jabra Elite or Jaybird Vista, rather than something like the AirPods Pro which are far more lightweight and comfortable.
There’s a magnetic loop in the top of the case for workouts, adding a bit of extra stability if you need it. The stalks sit into a groove on the top of the headphone, and then loop around your ear. We didn't need them, but it's a nice option to have if you’re worried about a loose fit.
The PowerBuds use a small charging case, which is diminutive compared to something like the PowerBeats Pro but still chunkier and rounder than the Apple AirPods Pro.
We had no trouble pairing the PowerBuds, and even more importantly they stayed paired, so there was no trouble opening the case and heading out the door for a run.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Gestures and smart features
There are a bunch of gestures that you can use from the PowerBuds themselves and these can be customised in the Amazfit app.
You get two gestures: double tap and triple tap on left and right.
This means you can store up to four commands including:
- Music pause/play
- Thru Mode on/off
- Wake up voice assistant
We actually found these pretty easy to control, and the touch itself was pretty reliable. However, a few times we did find pass through enabled itself at random times. Despite that small issue, everything worked well.
Pass through enables you to hear the outside world with the headphones still in by using microphone and playing a live feed of the ambient environment along with your music.
It helps you hear approaching traffic, have a general awareness or hear announcements on public transport.
It's not brilliant, and the sound being recorded is pretty lost within your own music so you’ll need to turn that down to get any benefit. But it does the job if you want to hear a car coming while you're running.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Sound quality
Overall we were impressed by the sound quality, although it won’t be wowing any audiophiles.
It's certainly no match for the AirPods Pro in terms of all round performance, balance and the separation of music.
The PowerBuds do err towards a heavier bass, which is best suited to listening while working out.
If you’re in the gym or out for a run, a good bassline does more for motivation than perfectly balanced high and mid-range frequencies, and the PowerBuds are geared in this manner.
As if to prove the point, Amazfit also provides a feature that matches bass to your workouts and pumps up the low end even more.
Bass is a little muddy, but for a pair of sub-$100 buds with the feature set on offer here, we’re not going to linger on the minutiae of the audio performance.
The sound here belies the price, but if top quality separation of frequencies means that much to you then spend more money elsewhere.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Battery life
The stated battery life is around 8 hours from the buds, and you’ll get another 16 hours (two charging cycles) when you pop the buds back in the case.
That’s around 24 hours in total. What’s more, 15 minutes in the case will give you 3 hours of listening.
That’s great battery life, and tears strips off the likes of the likes of the Jaybird Vista and the Jabra Sport Elite – and even the Apple AirPods Pro will last 4.5 hours at a time but the same 24 hours from the case.
Amazfit PowerBuds: Heart rate
The PowerBuds feature an onboard PPG heart rate sensor, so you can get biometric data from your workouts.
This isn’t really new – the Jabra Sport Elite range has been doing this for a couple years.
The ear is actually a great place to take readings from, thanks to thin skin and relatively stable position on the body.
But sadly, the usefulness of extra sensors have waned.
To record a heart rate based workout you need to record it in the Amazfit app.
Start it before you go and it will record the session, including GPS tracked distance, and the heart rate data.
If you run with smartphone running apps like Runkeeper or Strava then the temptation will be to buy a pair of heart rate enabled headphones to get the extra data.
However, we spot checked with popular running apps and we weren’t able to add the Amazfit PowerBuds as an external heart rate monitor. That does remove usefulness as you’ll need to use the Amazfit app to track workouts.
However, as the Amazfit app does sync to Strava you can have the data end up there – which is a great way of using the app.
In terms of accuracy, we had no complaints. The live and average bpm was locked onto a chest strap and Garmin Instinct Solar we were reviewing simultaneously. However, the horrible robotic voice feedback of run data was enough to convince us the PowerBuds should be for music only.
How we test