Sunday, October 25, 2015

SoundPEATS QY7 Bluetooth Earbuds - Initial thoughts

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Thanks to Amazon Prime, I received my new Bluetooth earphones the next day after placing the order. I will be replacing the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 which is having an issue as discussed in this post. 

It came in a nice pouch with lots of other spare ear tips and a charging micro USB cable. The default eartips worked fine for me so I didn't change them.

At first I paired it with my iPhone 6 which is my day to day phone at the moment. I could easily pair it with the iPhone. It shows the battery level of the earbuds when it is connected just like the Backbeats. The quality is very good too, much better than the Backbeats. The quality of the Backbeats were quite poor. I didn't feel this initially, but even compared to the Apple EarPods, they were very clumsy. Remember though that I'm not an audiophile and this is a subjective claim.

The other thing I love about the QY7 is its battery life. It would work way longer than the Backbeats. I haven't measured the battery life properly, but according to my experience it would go for more than 8 hours without a charge. I listen to podcasts while commuting to work and that is about 1hr in total. I would 90% battery left according to the battery status shown on the iPhone for the earbuds a day after fully charging the battery of it. If this is accurate, it could be as high as 10hrs. It could be that these earbuds carry a larger battery than the Backbeats because they are a bit larger. Also it appears that the earbuds turn themselves off after a while if it is not connected to a device. Not the most amazing design but I'm up for longer battery life.

Battery status

Another thing I'm very happy about is that the Jackery Zen portable battery charger can charge these earbuds without any problem. It wasn't able to do that with the Backbeats for whatever reason. (There was a workaround but it wasn't convenient.)

While the eartips fit much better than the ones on the Backbeats, there are certain design compromises that make it harder to use. Having all the buttons on the earbud compared to having them on the cable (inline) that is connecting the two earbuds is inconvenient. The buttons cannot be felt easily and they are too tight, especially the volume control buttons. I hardly use the volume buttons because of this. I keep it at max and control the volume from the phone. After using it for several days I've gotten used to the position of the main button though. Now I can press it without much difficulty.

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In addition to this, the power indicator is on the power/main button itself and when you press it, you can't easily see if the earbuds powered ON or not. You do have voice indicators but they aren't as nice as the ones on the Backbeats. I tam yet o hear the low battery indicators.

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The microphone is also located on the right earbud. So the distance to the mouth is too far especially and you have to speak up louder for the people on the other side to hear you. You'll have to remove it from your right ear and bring it closer to the mouth if you want to whisper. It was much easier with the Backbeats because the mic was integrated with the inline volume controller unit and it could be brought closer to the mouth without removing either earbud from your ears. But it should be noted that this inline volume controller could have been the cause of their death.

The charger port is also hard to get to. There is a small plastic piece covering the charger port. It requires a lot of force to be opened and it seems to be held by a very small section this I'm worried about its longevity.

All of these disadvantages were dwarfed by one issue I had after I tried pairing it with my Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 could simply could not detect it. I tried so many times without success to make it show up in the Bluetooth section of Android settings page. Finally I had to Google and see if similar issues were being reported by other users. Luckily one user had mentioned that pairing it with a second device is not as straightforward as pairing it with the first device. Since there are no devices paired when the earbuds are fresh out of the box, it automatically enters the pairing mode when powered on. But to pair it with a second device, you have to manually put it into the pairing mode. That is by holding the main button for 6 seconds. The catch is, you have to have Bluetooth on the phone turned OFF by the time the earbuds enter pairing mode – at least that was the case with the Nexus 5. Once the earbuds are in the pairing mode, you can toggle the switch to enable Bluetooth and then it will be detected by the phone like below.

What if you want to use it with a phone that has already been paired with it once (i.e. my iPhone 6)? It will not automatically connect upon powering up even when Bluetooth is enabled on this particular device. You have to tap on the QY7 entry to manually connect it. This I believe is because the QY7 only automatically connects with the device that was paired last – in this case the Nexus 5.

DetectedConnected

The issue with the Nexus 5 almost made me return the earbuds, because this is the phone that I would be using going forward. But now that everything is working as expected, I am really happy with the purchase. The durability of these earbuds though is an unknown as of this time.

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