If you’re looking for a good pair of wireless headphones to go with your new headphone-lacking smartphone, you’ll probably want a pair that last a long time between charges, have good sound quality, and offer features like noise cancellation. Plantronics’ new BackBeat Pro 2 headphones provide all of those features, and they do so at a price that’s well below the rest of the field.
The new BackBeat Pro 2 is an update to the original BackBeat Pro. It has all of the same features — 24-hour battery life, active noise cancelation, over-ear design — but comes with a refined, streamlined design. At $199.99, the BackBeat Pro 2 is considerably less expensive than the Beats Studio Wireless or Bose QC35, yet provides a similar level of features. (A special edition that also includes NFC pairing and a special color is being sold for $249.99.)
The original BackBeat Pro had a large, cumbersome design, which accommodated its sizable physical controls for volume and track skipping. The new model still has those physical buttons and switches, but its size has been trimmed down significantly. The earcups have been switched to an oval design, which Plantronics says fits more ears than the round cups in the previous model. I found them to be comfortable and lightweight in my testing, and I appreciated the physical buttons for play / pause and volume control, which are easier to use than the touch-sensitive controls on many other headphones.
Plantronics says it has tuned the sound of the new models to emphasize bass more than before, but they still aren’t as bassy as Beats headphones. The sound is clear and pleasant, but it’s largely unremarkable. Same goes for the aesthetics: while the Pro 2 is a lot better looking than the first model, it’s still not a fashion icon.
Despite its low price, the BackBeat Pro 2 has advanced features that aren’t too common at this price range. The active noise cancelation feature worked well to drown out the droning of the train during my commute, but it wasn’t as isolating as the class-leading Bose. The headphones also include an open-listening mode that lets in outside noise to hear conversations or announcements. And perhaps my favorite feature are the smart sensors that automatically pause and resume music when you take the headphones off and put them back on your head.
Though the Pro 2 has been redesigned for the better, it still has a practical design that emphasizes usability and functionality over aesthetics. If that’s what you’re looking for in a pair of wireless cans, you can get the BackBeat Pro 2 starting today.