If you’re making the best use of your smartphone, tablet, or Bluetooth-equipped e-reader (such as that new Paperwhite Amazon has just put on sale), you might want a good pair of Bluetooth earbuds, for listening to music, making calls, and (of course) playing audiobooks. After my most recent pair of Backbeat Go 2s gave up the ghost, I happened to notice Amazon now has the Backbeat Go 3 model available, and picked up a refurbished set on the cheap. I’m delighted to report this may be the best pair of Bluetooth earbuds I’ve ever owned.
The Backbeat Go line is a set of Bluetooth earbuds connected together by a wire with a control box on it, that you can either dangle beneath your chin or wrap behind your neck. Being tiny, with room only for tiny batteries, they come with a carrying case that includes a USB battery pack built in, like a miniature version of the Anker-branded USB battery packs people carry to recharge their phones. When you’re not listening, you plug them back into the case and they charge from the battery. You can also connect the earbuds directly to a charger, or charge the case while the earbuds either are or aren’t in it.
The above paragraph describes both the Backbeat Go 2 and 3 models, but the 3 has a number of useful improvements over the 2.
To start with, it has a much better carrying case. The red and black plastic case that came with the 2 (pictured above) was really rather small, and very hard to squeeze the earphones into after plugging them in. After a while I just shrugged and left the case in my backpack, and carried the ‘phones by themselves in my pocket. (This probably led to the crush damage that ended up breaking them, leading me to need to order the 3.)
However, the grey canvas case that came with the 3 is much better. Instead of a flap you close, it has a “squeeze to open” top like a coin purse, and its interior is much roomier. It takes up more room in my pocket, but I think it’s a useful trade-off. It also includes a touch-sensitive charge meter, which displays a three-part power indicator for the case along one side and the earbuds along the other. Just tap it and it lights up.
The earbuds themselves have a longer, more angled shape that seems to fit better in my ear, and probably also includes more room for batteries. I do know the battery power on these earbuds seems to last longer than the ones in the 2. I’ve listened to the 3 for several hours at a time without needing to recharge, whereas the 2 only lasted 2 or 3 hours at most. The user interface is generally nicer, too, with a faint “click” sound whenever I push the button.
Another clever innovation is the Backbeat Go 3 companion app, available for iOS and Android. This app is supposed to automate the process of switching your earbuds from one device to another—and I have to say, that’s definitely a great idea. One of the most annoyingly awkward aspects of using Bluetooth devices to date has been going through the gyrations necessary to un-pair them from one device and pair them to another. After a while, I ended up just carrying around two separate Bluetooth keyboards, just so I could easily use one with each different device without having to keep un-pairing and re-pairing, and used plug-in earbuds with my tablet while I kept my Backbeat Go paired solely to my phone. But the app makes it a lot easier to manage these Backbeat Go 3 earbuds.
(Though, I’ve noticed the app isn’t strictly necessary either. Once you’ve paired the Backbeat Go 3 to more than one device, like a tablet and a smartphone, all you have to do to switch them from one device to another is turn the Bluetooth on the new device off and back on, and it automatically reaches out and grabs the earbuds, even if they’re currently connected to something else. Convenient!)
As for sound quality, I haven’t got any complaints. Music sounds great, and so do audiobooks and other spoken-word content. I’m not sure how I’d rate it in a listen against earbuds with wooden resonation chambers, or more expensive audiophile gear, but everything sounds just fine to me. It also works great for phone calls, both in speaking and listening.
It may not be strictly necessary to shell out the full $50 list price to get them new; the $24 refurbs work just fine for me. Whichever ones you buy, if you do it from one of the Amazon links in this article, I’ll get a small affiliate fee out of it. Enjoy!