Audio Quality and Performance
For testing on the Philips UpBeat, I started off by trying them out while mowing. Turning them on was as simple as pulling them out of their case and I didn’t have to do anything crazy for Bluetooth pairing, just hold the button until the logo turned blue and then search for them with my phone. Once synced I put on Pandora and tossed my phone in my pocket and put each of the earbuds in my ears. I would prefer that the Left and Right indicators be a little easier to see, but once I had the correct earbud in hand they slid in my ear and I twisted them up making sure to hook the rubber tab around my ear. I use a metal cased earbud normally and the weight seems similar to the UpBeats. If you use a small plastic wired earbud you may notice the extra weight, but it wasn’t enough to be an issue. I moved around making sure they were in place and went on my mower way.
Volume levels were good. The default volume was great without the mower running, but I did have to turn things up into “hey you may hurt your hearing” warning levels to compensate for the loud mower. I ended up with a nice mix of being able to hear the mower to avoid running something over but also being able to listen to my music and there was enough volume left to turn things up to everyone around me is dead to me levels. The sound quality wasn’t up to my higher end wired model level, but right where you would expect given the Bluetooth connection. Bluetooth still has its limitations, especially with the older A2DP that the UpBeats are running. That said I enjoyed rock music and even flipping into my rap channels I was happy. Bass could be better, they weren’t ear rattling for sure.
As someone who has had problems with some earbud styles staying in my ears, even just the idea of everything being wireless can cause a little stress. The extra hook at the top of the UpBeats helps a lot in making me feel better about them staying in my ear. I didn’t run into any trouble with them staying in while mowing or walking around. I did have my wife also try them out and she did have to play around with the tip sizes to get them to fit and to stay in place.
The three-hour battery life when listening to music worked out really well when doing lawn work and would be solid for most active activities like a long run. But if you need music for a full day of work or an entire day at the beach you are going to have to pop them out and recharge from time to time. Having the battery backup in the carrying case helps a lot with that, any off time they are charging so they are almost always charged and ready to go. The case lets you know when it needs recharging with the four LEDs on the front. This lights up as soon as you put the UpBeats in the case or anytime you open up the lid. It also shows the charge when you are plugged in to let you know when it’s full.
Bluetooth range was an issue and concern for me. Specifically, when mowing I ran into issues on my Samsung Galaxy S10 which had one ear cutting out from time to time. Swapping my phone to my other pocket would change the ear and if my phone was deep in my pocket both would cut out. I thought this was an UpBeat specific issue, but when testing with other phones I didn’t have as much trouble. Away from the mower I didn’t have any trouble with my phone on my desk and walking around to almost my entire house.