Amazon Echo Buds 2nd-gen review: handsfree Alexa, good sound, and great fit

The Echo Buds 2nd-gen feature handsfree Alexa capabilities

Inside your speaker, on your TV, on your wrist, in your car… Alexa really is ubiquitous. And now, with the new Echo Buds 2nd-gen, she can be inside your ears too. While the first-generation Echo Buds never made it to our shores, Amazon has chosen to bring the improved 2nd-gen model to India a few months after its US release. Featuring always-on Alexa capabilities along with ANC and optional wireless charging, these buds do seem quite interesting. Let’s take a closer look.


While the Echo Buds 2nd-gen do promise quite a bit in terms of features and capabilities, one aspect where they lack is design. It’s as if the product designers took the most boring, most generic TWS design available and used that for the Echo Buds. The white ones might look slightly better, but the black model I got for review does look quite drab and boring, mildly put.


The smooth, matte-finish case is fairly large, but does feel solid when held in the hand. It sports a subtle Amazon logo at the bottom, while a Type-C port and a pairing button can be found at the back. The spring-loaded lid opens up to reveal the pair of buds inside. The round, stemless buds feature matte finish on the outer half, while the inner portion is glossy. The buds are quite lightweight and comfortable to wear over long periods. They’re IPX4 rated too, and impervious to sweat or light rain.


The fit is excellent, and Amazon even throws in three pairs of differently sized rubber tips, along with three pairs of wing tips that aid stability. The setup process includes an ear tip fit test that ensures you get a proper seal for an optimum listening experience. Speaking of steup, you need the Alexa app installed on your phone to set up and pair the Echo Buds, and the process is quite quick and straightforward. Once set up and paired, you can just used the hotword to invoke Alexa and get her to do your bidding.


For the most part, the handsfree Alexa capabilities of the Echo Buds are the same as what you’d experience on an Echo smart speaker. Uttering “Alexa” invokes the smart assistant and then you can ask her to play music, set alarms or reminders, ask queries, get news and weather updates, control compatible smart home devices, make calls over Alexa and more. You can even ask it to track your run or walk before starting your workout.


The Echo Buds 2nd-gen use 5.7mm dynamic drivers and feature three mics for noise cancellation. As far as audio codecs are concerned, you get support for AAC and SBC. A passthrough mode can be enabled as well, for when you want to be better aware of your surroundings. Touch controls are supported, and can be customised via the Alexa app. The app also provides a customisable equaliser, and while there are no presets, you can tweak the bass, mids and treble.

In terms of pure sound quality, the Echo Buds 2nd-gen offer good noise cancellation and punchy base, though these aspects can’t really be called best in class for a pair of TWS priced over Rs 10k. The soundstage could have been wider, and the audio could do with a bit more texture, but overall, I don’t think casual listeners will find much to complain here in terms of sound quality. Coming to the battery life, the Echo Buds 2 are rated for up to 5 hours with ANC and handsfree Alexa enabled, and up to 6.5 hours with these features turned off… par for the course and not really worth shouting about I think. The case adds another two additional charges. As far as juicing up is concerned, a 15-minute charge via USB Type-C promises 2 hours worth of music playback. Worth mentioning that wireless charging is optional, and if you want this feature, you’d need to shell out Rs 2,000 extra over and above the price of the base model.\

Verdict


The Echo Buds 2nd-gen are priced at Rs 11,999, and if you want the ones with wireless charging, they can be yours for Rs 13,999. Now, if sound quality is priority, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are still worthy options in this price range. That said, the Echo Buds 2nd-gen tick quite a few boxes, including comfortable fit, good sound, and optional wireless charging. The handsfree Alexa capabilities are a lot of fun, and quite useful too, especially for playing your favourite music when you’re out for a walk or a run.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Always-on Alexa can be handy
  • Good sound quality

Cons:

  • Bland design
  • Average battery life
  • Noise cancellation could be better
  • Not the best audio for the price