Amazon announced an update of its true wireless earbuds, the all-new Echo Buds. Up for preorder now, these succeed the original earbuds that featured Alexa, active noise reduction and solid sound quality.
The new Echo Buds will also feature Alexa, but the rest of the experience got a tune-up — full active noise cancellation, a custom driver and a redesign that makes them 20% smaller. The Buds come in two variants: one with a USB-C charging case for $119.99 and one with wireless charging for $139.99, a two-model strategy we’ve previously seen with Apple’s AirPods.
By preordering, you can score yourself a bit of a deal: While they won’t ship until May 2021, you can get the USB-C charging Echo Buds for just $99.99 or the wireless charging variant for $119.99.
But before you hit “add to cart,” let’s break down what’s new here.
What’s new with the all-new Echo Buds?
Amazon has shrunk the earbuds and the charging case for the latest Echo Buds, so they’re 20% smaller than their predecessor, meaning they won’t protrude as far from your ear. Amazon has also shortened the nozzle that sticks into your ear. This, combined with a vent, is meant to alleviate any extra pressure — changes we hope will reduce the boxed-in feeling we felt a bit with the original. This new generation of Echo Buds retains the IPX4 rating, though, which should let them stand up to sweat and water with ease.
You also get two color choices for the all-new Echo Buds: black or Glacier White. The Echo Buds, much like the Galaxy Buds Pro or Jabra Elite 75T, sport a circular design. And like the original, you’ll be able to control playback and modes by tapping the buds. The charging case is also smaller than the original and set in a vertical orientation, which should make it more pocketable.
Achieving a comfortable fit with Echo Buds shouldn’t be too hard, as Amazon will include four ear tips (small, medium, large and extra large) and two wings in the box. This way you can try out each size to find the best fit for your specific ears. And similar to AirPods Pro, the Alexa app for Android or iOS (which you’ll use for setup) features an “Ear Tip Fit Test” to aid in you finding the best fit.
The latest Echo Buds feature an improved dynamic driver that aims to make music sound more detailed and lively. There’s an Amazon-designed 5.7-millimeter dynamic driver in each bud, which Amazon says will deliver clearer tones across low, mid and high.
Amazon has developed full active noise cancellation (ANC) for the Echo Buds, having ceased its partnership with Bose that led to the active noise reduction on the original model. Amazon is promising a 2X improvement on noise cancellation over the original. The noise cancellation is powered by three microphones on each bud: two facing the outside and one facing the inside of your ear.
Those microphones are also used to power the Alexa experience. By using the command word “Alexa” or tapping the bud, you’ll be able to ask the assistant pretty much anything — to play music (from services including Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music), to tell you a joke, to give you a weather update or even to give you public transit directions.
Amazon will also roll out a VIP Filter via a software update after launch, which will let you strategically choose what notifications from your device are read aloud in your ears.
Amazon is promising that Echo Buds should deliver five hours of playback with Alexa and ANC engaged and six and a half hours with both of those off. That’s the same guarantee as the original, but Amazon is also factoring in full ANC here. In our testing, we averaged four and a half hours with Alexa enabled on the original Echo Buds. The updated case is rated to provide a total of 15 hours of use with both of these features engaged as well. Better yet, a quick 15-minute charge in the case should yield two hours of playback. Of course, we’ll be testing all these claims to see how long the buds last in the real world.
Between the new features and an updated design that focuses on comfort, the new Echo Buds have the potential to pack a punch in the earbuds space.
We’ll be going hands-on soon, but if you’re sold, you can lock in a preorder now. Not only do you save a bit on either model, but you’ll also score six months of Amazon Music Unlimited and Audible Plus.