Workouts: Jaybird X3 vs. Bose SoundSport Wireless vs. Powerbeats3
I used the headphones that come with iPhone almost exclusively for the last ten years.
They were free, fit in my ears, and sounded good enough.
I’ve used different wireless headphones but never as my primary headphone.
Wireless headphones didn’t appeal to me because of terrible Bluetooth setup, battery issues, and price.
Last year, Apple eliminated the headphone jack from iPhone. This accelerated headphone technology in an already fast moving sector.
It’s been a year without the headphone jack.
Where did I go for wireless headphones?
Amazon’s great, but you’ll run into obstacles if you don’t know exactly what you want.
It can be hard to determine if something is really a five-star product, or if it’s been rated five stars because it’s a good deal. Is a $40 pair of highly-rated headphones the same as a pair with the same rating for $200? Has the reviewer tried more than one pair? (When you’ve only tried one brand of headphones you don’t have a great perspective.)
I’ve tried eight different wireless headphones this year.
I looked at comfort, sound, sweat resistance, battery life, syncing, and how well each pair stays in place.
I tried terrible options, affordable options, pricey options, and reached a few conclusions.
I’ve narrowed it down to the four best wireless headphones (Jaybird X3 vs. Bose SoundSport vs. Powerbeats3). I wrote about budget options if you’re interested in that instead!
#3 – W1 chip but overpriced.
- Powerbeats3 sound like a premium headphone, as they should. The bass can be a little heavy at times, and I found SoundSports to sound better, but overall, it’s a quality sound.
- Now all of the wireless Beats products have the W1 chip too. The W1 chip works with Apple’s iCloud and makes switching between your Apple products seamless. As soon as your turn on the Powerbeats3, it pops up on your phone’s screen (with the exact battery life displayed). Click one button and you’re connected. You don’t have to go into the Bluetooth settings.
- The battery life is ridiculous! You get 12 hours of playback. No one other Bluetooth headphone is close to 12 hours.
- There’s a feature called Fast Fuel that gives you an hour of playback with a five-minute charge.
- Powerbeats3 are sweat-and water-resistant.
- There’s a small piece in the middle of the cord to make it tighter, which sounds negligible, but it’s useful and better than any clip you’ll see.
- These retail for $200, although Amazon frequently has them on sale for $150. $150 is better than $200 but I’d still rather have the SoundSport headphones at that price.
- I found these to be comfortable, but getting a proper seal wasn’t always easy. When I first tried these on, I couldn’t figure out why they sounded so poor. It was because I didn’t have a full seal. The seal is crucial for music to sound well. I had to go with the biggest pair of buds, and that gave me a seal 80% of the time.
- I sold my Powerbeats3 after I finished this review, so I can’t speak to the longevity, but they seem to be breaking down on everyone. This should scare you, and it’s why I’ve lowered my grade further.
#2 – Solid sound and fit.
Jaybird X3 Sport (B)
- The Jaybird X3s sound great. I wouldn’t mind a little more bass, but these are top-notch headphones without a doubt.
- There are a bunch of attachment options so these headphones will not fall out of your ears. There are too many size options not to find the right fit. There’s an earplug type (if you want noise canceling) and the normal rubber type, with three sizes for each.
- The app is cool and well designed; it lets you change the sound and EQ settings.
- They’re perfectly sized, 34% smaller than the previous generation.
- You’ll get about eight hours of music playback.
- A voice tells you the battery life when you turn them on. It’s a simple but useful feature.
- These headphones can handle sweat without a problem.
- Everyone has Micro USB cords laying around (it’s a standard). But to charge the Jaybirds, you’ll need the particular base piece between the Micro USB and the headphones. If you lose this piece, good luck finding a new one.
- When you power on the headphones, there’s a loud, annoying intro sound played each time. It can’t be turned off.
- The Jaybirds are not falling out of your ears, but they sacrifice comfort to achieve this. They’re perfect for a run or workout, but not something I’d want in my ears for over an hour.
#1 – Almost perfect sound and fit.
Bose SoundSport (A)
- Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones sound amazing! These sound the best of the eight that I tried. I assumed Bose’s sound may be overrated due to their brilliant marketing, but these are the real deal. I don’t think there’s a better, in-the-ear, Bluetooth sound experience.
- These are by far the most comfortable of the eight pairs. The silicone ear tips are softer than other brands yet still stable. They look big and heavy, but after they’re in your ears for a couple of minutes, you completely forget about them. I had a few of my friends try them on, and we all decided these are the most comfortable.
- They’re not going to fall out of your ears no matter how intense your workout is.
- While some users complained of these not being fully sweatproof, Bose released a fix for the problem.
- These gave me around six hours of battery.
- The Bose app is awesome. It makes it easy to connect (via NFC and Bluetooth) and change music devices. You can also tune the sound. For instance, there are settings for podcasts/movies vs. music.
- The mic works great for receiving phone calls, and you can sync your contacts with the headphones.
- Two people can listen to the same music source with two different headphones with their technology.
- For $50, you can buy the Bose Charging Case, which gives you an extra 18 hours of playback.
- I don’t love the design. They’re huge and look awkward (they’re way bigger than any of the others).
- Sometimes the power button and volume buttons are hard to press.
Which one is for you?
In my experience, Powerbeats3 were solid. But I don’t recommend them due to the longevity concerns that many online users have written about. If you want over-the-ear hooks, you’re not worried about them breaking AND can find them for $150 (rather than the $200 retail price), Powerbeats3 are something to consider.
I liked the Jaybird X3 headphones. They give good battery life, solid sound quality, and won’t move during a workout, but they’re not the most comfortable pair.
I kept my Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones. If you’re in this thing for sound quality and/or do heavy workouts, Bose SoundSport headphones are an almost flawless product. They are my favorite fit and sounded the best of those tested, but you have to get over the bulkiness of them.
I hope I cleared up some confusion and helped in the buying process. Hit me up on Twitter (@camsecore)!