The field of truly wireless headphones has become our second calling after smartphone companies all embraced the latest accessory. The latest addition in our office is a pair of Amazfit Powerbuds – truly wireless earbuds with a heart-rate sensor.
These are the first TWS earphones by Amazfit, a brand by Chinese company Huami specializing in smart wearables.
The Amazfit Powerbuds ship in three colors – Black, White, and Yellow, with the last one having some neon accents. We received the Black ones, which have neat red details that bring a bit of life to the otherwise understated matte paint job.
The charging case looks similar to the Xiaomi Airdots’ one, but we can also compare it to the Galaxy Buds design. Amazfit could’ve done a better job with the crease that assists users were to open the case – it is not thick enough, and since both halves of the pill-shaped case are equal, you might end up opening it upside down.
Even so the earbuds are held by strong magnets, so falling out is not an issue. Amazfit decided to provide magnetic earhooks that have dedicated place in the “ceiling” of the case, and they are for extra stability when exercising. The magnet is strong enough to help the hook hold the earbud if it slips out (though it didn’t slip out once during our tests), but it isn’t strong enough to withstand putting the actual earbud with the hook on the ear.
Putting the earbuds with the hooks becomes a small hassle and muscle memory is hardly helping. Plus the buds are staying safely in place, so you might end up not using the hooks at all.
The Amazfit Powerbuds do not the largest drivers – at 9mm they are nothing glamorous. The overall sound is a bit dull, but the Amazfit app brings an equalizer that has some presets, but you can set up your own sound. However, audiophiles will definitely end up disappointed, because there is only one setting – if you are listening to different styles of music, tough luck.
Voice calls work effortlessly, provided you are in solitude. Given the Amazfit Powerbuds are going to be used for sports activities and not during mass gatherings (which are mostly banned at the moment anyway), there isn’t going to be an issue with being heard on the other side.
Speaking about features, the heart rate sensor in the right earbud makes the PowerBuds part of a very rare breed. It has two PPG (photoplethysmogram) optical sensors, that work just like any other similar sensor in a wristband or a smartwatch.
However, here you don’t have passive tracking – the sensor can only be enabled when there is an activity being recorded through the app. It mostly makes sense too – since you are unlikely to have the Powerbuds in your ears all the time general tracking wouldn’t be very useful.
We decided to put the buds against the Mi Smart Band 4 – they are both Xiaomi ecosystem products that work in a similar way and provide the info for reading through the same engine. Looking at how the data stacks against other info like cadence or elevation, it is easy to conclude the Amazfit Powerbuds do a great job in providing detailed reports on your heart rate and is obviously doing much better than the smart band. Part of the explanation is that the outer ear skin is quite thin, allowing for the sensor to be more accurate.
Battery life is something very important, and Amazfit provided a lot of power – the case has a 450mAh battery, and each bud holds 55mAh. In theory, the earbuds should provide eight hours of uninterrupted audio experience, but we can hardly think of a scenario where you’d want to keep the earbuds in the ears for such a long time.
The Powerbuds have a capacitive surface that enables some touch gestures to play/pause music. There is also intelligent ENC that Amazfit is calling Thru Mode and it works pretty well after you turn it on with double-tap – that’s the default setting, you can change it in the Amazfit app.
The application is where you can check all the data, features, and settings the Powerbuds have, but it is the most frustrating part of the Amazfit universe. It is extremely cluttered, with half of the functions greyed out but not hidden, and analyzing your past activities is a lengthy process.
If the Powerbuds are the only Amazfit device in your life, the app will welcome you with plenty of zeros and “no data available” messages. The homepage is developed for smartwatches and smart bands, but it is absolutely useless for earbuds. There is only one option available – the flower-like button in the upper right corner that stores all the data that Amazfit devices can record.
The second panel, Enjoy, has a similar look – you can’t set an important event reminder, or measure a baby’s weight safely and accurately – you’re left with the social aspect of Amazfit, provided you have friends that use devices by this brand. There is also Profile, where all the settings for the Powerbuds can be found like the equalizer, updates, etc.
Amazfit Powerbuds are priced just below $100 and with the proposition of amazing battery life and the rather rare heart rate sensor they make a very tempting proposition for a lot of people.
If you don’t plan on using them for sports and thus not take advantage of the sensor you’d probably be able to get another pair with less clumsy application. However for those looking to gain a bit of extra insight in their running performance the PowerBuds are an outright bargain.