Beats is today announcing what the company says are its “most affordable premium wireless earphones to date.” The new $49.99 Beats Flex earbuds are an evolution of the neckband-style Beats X from 2017; they now charge via USB-C, have longer battery life (12 hours), and the internals have been reworked for better sound quality and improved mic performance. They’ll be available starting on October 23rd in black, yellow, blue, or gray.
Like the Beats X, the Beats Flex have a lightweight “Flex-Form” cable that rests around the back of your neck when worn, and the earbuds can magnetically attach to each other when not in use. Beats has taken a cue from OnePlus this time around: your music will automatically pause when the buds are magnetically linked, and playback resumes once you put them in your ears.
As for the sound quality refinements, here's what Beats says is new:
Beats Flex employs a proprietary layered driver with dual-chamber acoustics to achieve rich, balanced sound with outstanding stereo separation. Laser cut micro-venting and an optimized driver angle ensure ear pressure relief and accurate sound delivery. Additionally, an advanced digital processor fine-tunes the audio for accurate bass, precise mids, and low distortion across the frequency curve.
The Beats Flex earbuds charge over USB-C, marking a move away from Apple’s Lightning connector, which was used on the Beats X. But they retain the Apple W1 chip for instant pairing with iPhones or iPads and software features like audio sharing. Plugging them in for just 10 minutes will get you an hour and a half of listening time.
Beats is announcing the Flex earbuds on the very same day that Apple is set to reveal the iPhone 12, which has been rumored to ship without any earbuds bundled in the box for the first time. If AirPods aren’t your thing, Beats is happy to try to fill that void with these new $50 earbuds.
But the move to USB-C is also a sign that Beats is making more of an effort to appeal to Android phone owners. The company offers an Android app that can be used for quick pairing and firmware updates. With Apple expected to unveil its own set of premium, noise-canceling headphones in the coming months, it makes sense for Beats to branch out beyond the Apple ecosystem.