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Amazon takes on Apple’s AirPods with new Echo Buds

Update: we’ve tested the buds, and you won’t find better sound for the price. Learn more in our full Amazon Echo Buds review.  

Amazon has thrown its hat into the true wireless earbuds ring with the new Echo Buds.

Just like the Apple AirPods, the Echo Buds offer a mediocre five hours battery life with the accompanying charging case containing enough power for around another 20 hours of use. But unlike Apple’s offering, Amazon’s Buds come equipped with noise-cancelation, driven by Bose’s Active Noise Reduction technology — which is a bit strange considering it doesn’t even come bundled on the audio titan’s own SoundSport Free wireless earbuds.

Obviously, safety is the main concern when using noise-canceling. For example, you need to be able to hear the vehicles around you while crossing a busy street. This is why Amazon has made it extremely easy to control the feature — with a simple double-tap on either bud, passthrough mode can be enabled to allow ambient sound to seep through. Double-tap it again and the noise reduction feature will fire back up, blocking it out once again.

Meet the Amazon Echo Buds.

The Echo Buds come with Amazon Alexa built-in, complete with some Skills that were developed specifically for it — the most notable of which is the option to ask Alexa if (Amazon-owned) Whole Foods has a particular item while browsing the store, as well as finding out which aisle it’s stored in. Plus, Amazon has integrated the option to use the voice assistant that comes part and parcel with your smartphone, including Google Assistant and Siri.

Each bud has also been sealed just enough to secure a coveted IPX4 sweat-resistance rating from the IEC, making the Echo Buds a worthy workout companion — on paper, at least. It even comes with the option to disable the always-listening microphones, should you happen to find yourself in a situation where you’re in need of a bit more privacy than simply trusting Amazon to not listen in on your juicy locker-room conversation.

It’s an interesting proposition for Amazon, adding yet another pair of true wireless earbuds to the mix this late in the game, especially a pair with battery life that falls well below new favorites like Apple’s own Powerbeats Pro from the company’s Beats line, which offer up to nine hours per charge.

That said, the addition of noise-canceling puts the Echo Buds more on footing with Sony’s new WF-1000Xm3, which boast as much as eight hours per charge, but only six hours with noise-canceling engaged. Moreover, the Echo Buds’ $130 price point is nearly $100 less than what Sony is charging for their earbuds.

You can pre-order the Amazon Echo Buds right now, with orders scheduled to start shipping in October.

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