In my quest to replace my slowly dying pair of Plantronics Backbeat Fit bluetooth earphones, I find myself reviewing – the Plantronics Backbeat Fit bluetooth earphones.
It’s the updated version of my earphones, which have seen a few tweaks since the originals first graced my ears back in 2014. They’ve got new colours, small design and usability updates but they’re retailing for $179 RRP, a slightly more expensive price than previously, but there’s more features now.
As a fitness junkie, I tend to be sweating it out in the gym fairly regularly and a comfortable pair of earphones is what I need. Wireless tis a must for me, and hence Bluetooth tends to be the best choice for my needs – and with 3.5mm jacks going the way of the Dodo, here we are.
What’s in the Box?
It’s a pretty simple package, there’s the Backbeat Fit headset itself, a quick start manual (in a variety of langauges), Safety information card, and of course a small microUSB charging cable.
There’s no charger included in the package, you simply plug these guys into a USB port on your PC and you’re charging. You can also use one of the dozens of 1A/5V chargers you probably have lying around the house to charge them as well.
Fit, Design and Comfort
The form factor on the Plantronics Backbeat Fit is a little more rigid than most other sports Bluetooth earphones on the market. The rubber shell encasing the earphones goes over your ears, and the joining cable actually has enough rigidity to sit slightly off the back of your head as it wraps around.
The rigidity of the form factor is the only downfall for these earphones with the over-ear piece sometimes rubbing the top of your ears if you wear them for extended (say greater than 5-6 hours) periods of time. If you use them to go for a run, or a gym session I barely noticed this.
Plantronics when they updated the headset has made the earpieces able to swivel in this latest version. The change in design allows you to point the speaker holes more directly into your ear canal. This makes for a better fit, and overall better sound quality getting into your ears.
The ear tips swivel for better sound, but the earbuds are designed not to completely block out noise around you. Plantronics call this an ‘open eartip’ design which lets you stay aware of your surroundings.
On my older pair of Backbeat Fit I found the volume to be a little low, but it appears this is resolved in this version. Sound quality is good for music or podcasts, it’s not high fidelity sound but it is good.
Whether you want Noise Cancelling or not is up to you, but when going for a run I like to be aware of my surroundings and any traffic if I have to cross roads, or bikes coming up behind me on a bike path. The Plantronics Backbeat Fit are the best at this, and they also allow you to have a conversation without taking them out of your ears.
The rest of the design of the Backbeat fit, in terms of button placement, is completely the same. On the right you have a large ‘Call Button’ and a smaller power button. On the left you get the large Play/Pause button and a smaller volume control button.
Around the left hand side you have an indicator light. The light flashes red while charging, and switches to solid blue when charged. The light also sparks up blue when you turn the headset on and red when powering them down.
A microUSB port is again built-into the right hand side with a small plastic port covering the unit. It’s a nod to the waterproofing that’s now been included in the latest version of the Backbeat Fit.
That’s right, the Backbeat Fit is now waterproof with an IP57 water/dustproof rating. Though it says waterproof, I’m not taking these bad boys swimming, but for a sweat heavy work out I’m confident there will be no issues.
The Backbeat fit range is available in five colours: Power Blue, Sport Grey, Stealth Green, Fit Fuchsia and Black Core. After three years on blue, I’m rocking the Sport Grey and I like the change – though Fit Fuchsia looks pretty good.
With any sporty Bluetooth earphone, it seems like you can expect around 8 hours of battery life, and so it is too with the Backbeat Fit.
Once fully charged, when you turn on the headset you’ll be greeted by a voice telling you whether the headset is connected to your nearby device or not, and then a brief on how much battery life you have, starting with ‘Battery Full’, then other variations ‘7 hours remaining etc’.
Did I see 8 hours of battery life? Yep. For sure. In fact, I think I got a little more. I generally did a half hour on the cross trainer, an hour at the gym, driving around for an hour each day and got about 3-4 days between charges.
As above, charging is easy, plug them in at your desk and you’re good to go a little while later. How long? It took me about 2 hours to charge them from flat to full on average.
It always boggles my mind when there’s a companion app for earphones, but there’s usually one these days. Plantronics is no different with the Backbeat Fit Companion available on Google Play.
The app is used mainly for updating firmware, or changing configuration of your headset, like the language of the voice telling you how long you have left on your battery. You can also use the app to control which device you’re connected to.
As apps go, you could theoretically not install it and be none the wiser. I had a firmware update when I connected to mine, but beyond ‘Performance improvements’ there was nothing overwhelming included, but I’m up to date, so that’s good.
It’s hard to be objective about these when I’ve been using this design for so long. Putting on the Backbeat Fit is a similar feeling to slipping into your favourite pair of slippers really, and they do feel comfortable even after using several other earphones over the last several months – but I need to be objective.
I enjoy the open eartip design of the Backbeat Fit that allows me to listen to my surroundings, they also have 8 hours of battery life but that is mostly standard on BT earphones these days. The waterproofing is nice to have, especially if I go running in the rain.
They still have a fairly rigid design that’s love or hate for most people. Simply putting them on was enough for the majority of people to make up their mind on these earphones – and most people found them comfortable.
Pricing wise, there’s a lot of competition at this end of the market. I’m a fan of the fit and finish, especially the over-ear design. While fins work well to secure earphones in, there’s always a nagging doubt that perhaps the earphones you’re wearing will fall out – and I don’t get that with these earphones.
There’s still a number of sports based Bluetooth earphones around to look at, but the Plantronics Backbeat Fit are definitely front runners for my money at the moment.