There’s plenty the PowerBuds Pro offer for fitness bods, but overall performance isn’t in the same league as some of their rivals.
- Comfortable and lightweight design
- Appealing audio performance
- Lots of fitness-focused features on offer
- Not really for casual fitness users
- Not the most secure fit
- Weak noise cancellation
- Fitness tracking doesn’t appear to be most accurate
- UKRRP: £119.99
- USARRP: $149.99
- Zepp appFeatures several health-monitoring features
- Heart rate monitoringCan follow heart-rate through earphones
- Cervical spine posture remindersTells you not to hunch!
Hear the name Amazfit and you might think someone has mangled the pronunciation of Amazon. However, Amazfit isn’t a fitness division of the online retailer; it’s a brand with its own identity, delivering fitness-based products that include smartwatches, fitness gear and true wireless earphones.
The PowerBuds Pro – not to be confused with the similarly named PowerBeats Pro – are Amazfit’s top-of-the-line wireless earbuds and come including an enormous amount of fitness tech into their small frame – the ‘Pro’ moniker a clue to the presence of active noise cancellation.
Incorporating ANC is a trend that’s picking up speed with fitness-based true wireless, the aim being to squash all that irritating external noise to help you focus, while also including a Transparency mode for those occasions to hear what’s around on you. There’s no shortage of competition, but the sheer number of features – including health monitoring – ought to give the Amazfit a leg up on some of its rivals.
- Stem design
- Force sensor for operation
- Lightweight and comfortable
The PowerBuds Pro go down the stem route of design – and if you feel that perhaps this isn’t the wisest choice then you’d have a point, although not necessarily for the reason you’d think. In terms of staying put the design is fine, if not wholly secure; the earphones move about slightly during runs, requiring some push back every so often. While they haven’t slipped out of my ears, they don’t slot in as effectively as, say, the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC.
No, the issue is more to do with the controls. Rather than touch or even physical buttons, Amazfit has chosen to implement a force sensor for the PowerBuds Pro, and the effect is one of rising frustration when your fingers fumble to find the sensor to pause a song or switch sound modes. When standing still this mode of operation is just about fine, but whilst running you unconsciously slow down, unnecessarily complicating what should be a simple operation.
It’s a disappointment, since the overall design of these buds is pretty good. The white finish is a potential dirt magnet, but the PowerBuds Pro present a clean look that fits their health focus. There are no issues with comfort, the 6.7g weight and ergonomic shape are a decent combo, and the PowerBuds Pro come with four ear tips (XS to L) to customise the fit a bit better. An IP55 rating means these buds are tough enough to resist dust (although not completely) as well as jets of water.
The charging case is sensibly sized and pocketable. The only issue I experienced was that at times it felt like I might need a tweezer to extract the earbuds from the case, as a result of their smooth finish and the tight confines of the case.
- Below-par noise cancellation
- Lots of health-related features
- Average battery life
Look at the PowerBuds Pro’s product page and you’ll discover that these buds are laden with features to supervise your physical well-being, from heart rate monitoring to “cervical spine posture” reminders. However, you’ll need more than just the earphones to get the most from them.
Attempting to use features such as the PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) Measurement and Heart Rate monitoring once you’ve opened the Zepp app and logged in (Google is supported) sees a message pop up that they require additional equipment. The app and earphones aren’t for the casual running set – they’re for those who wear chest straps and smartwatches. If that’s not you, you’re not really the market for the PowerBuds Pro.
Despite that, there are features you can make use of without extra equipment. The Hearing Health feature analyses and measures in-ear volume in real-time, suggesting how often to listen to audio per week to protect your ears. The Cervical Protection feature makes you aware of how much you tilt your head, an action that puts pressure on your upper spine. Calibrate it, and it will display how much pressure you put on your neck. It’s something I’d never really thought about until I started using the Amazfit buds.
Running detection does what it says on the tin – or does it? Having toggled it on and gone for a run, the data in the Zepp app didn’t match my Fitbit, recording my 4.17km run as 2.67km. Who to believe? I trust my Fitbit watch (and aching legs) a bit more.
There’s also a heart rate monitor that plays a tone when your heartbeat gets too high (you can set how high in the app), and there’s bass boost (Motion Beat mode) that automatically boosts the low-end when the earphones sense you’re working out. Third-party apps such as Runtastic, Endomondo, Runkeeper, MapMyRun, Keep and Gudong are supported, although I’m no expert on the efficacy of those apps.
Noise-cancelling has become a regular feature on fitness earbuds, but the PowerBuds Pro aren’t as competent as other similarly priced rivals. Despite the mention of ANC reduction by up to 40dB, it’s ambient sounds that are batted away with the most competence rather than heavy traffic or the clanking of dumbbells.
The slight looseness of the fit doesn’t help to maintain a consistent seal when running, and when used indoors the sound of the machines and other people in a gym is more audible than it was with a Beats Fit Pro or a JBL Reflect Flow Pro. Changing the ear-tip size didn’t help, and it’s more a case of increasing the volume of the content you’re playing through the buds in order to quieten external sounds.
There’s a variety of ANC modes to choose from when using the PowerBuds Pro from Adaptive, Travel, Workout and Indoor. There isn’t much difference in quality between the ANC and the (pass) Thru mode when listening to audio – the latter offering a bit more openness and clarity to what’s around the listener, although there’s a slight hissy tone when the Thru mode is applied.
Battery levels are good… if you don’t factor in noise-cancelling. Thirty hours in total and nine per earphone looks great, but 5hrs 45mins (a very specific number) and 19 with ANC falls short compared to the Jabra Elite 7 Active (8 hours; 30 hours) – and these figures are without features such as heart rate monitoring switched on.
There’s no mention of either fast or wireless charging, and connecting the charging case’s USB-C port to the mains results in 2.5 hours to recharge from empty.
A quick mention of other features sees Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity (SBC, AAC), with no connectivity dropouts noted, Google Fast Pair for Android devices, wear detection and voice assistant support (no digital assistants come built in). For all the features the PowerBeats Buds offer, it would have been nice for the app to incorporate an ear-fit test.
- Good bass performance
- Wide, spacious sound
- Solid tonal balance
The Amazfit PowerBuds Pro’s audio performance is a three-pronged attack of clarity, width and bass. Playing the go-to bass test track bad guy by Billie Eilish, the Amazfit convey plenty of width. Eilish’s voice is heard across the soundstage, notably at the beginning where it appears in the extreme upper-left. Bass is powerful in its description, with a knack for weight and punchiness rather than ear-shaking rumble.
It isn’t quite as effective as the Adidas in describing the rumbly sub-bass of Eilish’s xanny, but effective nonetheless and better than the JBL Reflect Flow Pro in this regard, if you’re a fan of bass. Dynamism, in the sense of the difference between quiet and loud, isn’t as expressive as the JBL buds, however.
Like the Adidas, the Amazfit’s rendition of Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now pitches the instruments and choir all at the same level. Push the volume and there’s more drama and excitement, the brass trumpets blare with more energy, and the way the PowerBeats Pro organise the soundstage is inviting to the listener – so, at least in my case, I felt more involved as the track reached its coda.
There’s a nice richness about the Amazfit’s sound, too; the guitar that opens Justin Timberlake’s Like I Love You is warmly described compared to the Adidas and JBL. It’s a characteristic that’s applied to vocals as well – Timberlake’s falsetto tones come across with a smooth naturalism and liveliness.
So, with a mid-range that displays a dash of warmth, and a bass performance that’s strong, the top-end of the frequency range acquits itself with sharpness and clarity for an overall tonal balance that’s good – although I could perhaps ask for the Amazfit to register a little more brightness.
The warmth doesn’t obscure levels of clarity and detail, and while there isn’t the most assertive sense of attack, the Amazfit can keep a rhythm well enough to excite, with more propulsive tracks that are likely to appear on anyone’s gym playlist. Slower dance tracks such as The Weeknd’s Starboy find a nice blend of coursing beats, background bassline and vocals for a flowing, engaging and expansive listen. The Amazfit PowerBeats Pro won’t let you down in the audio department.
Should you buy it?
If you take your workouts seriously There’s a lot of measurements and monitoring available via the Zepp app, and if you have chest straps and smartwatches to call upon, the PowerBuds Pro are another tool in your armoury in the battle to stay fit.
If you’re more of a casual fitness person To get the most out of the PowerBuds Pro and Zepp app requires a fair bit of extra stuff; if you’re simply looking for some earphones to accompany you on your workouts, there are cheaper options available.
The Amazfit PowerBuds Pro pack in plenty, but not all of it is a success. For one, the decision to use force sensor for operation isn’t conducive to these buds’ workout-friendly ethos. Noise cancellation isn’t the most effective either, and battery life lags behind that of the PowerBuds Pro’s closest rivals.
But these earphones do sound expressive and spacious (once the volume is punched up) with an appealing bass performance. And if you have the necessary equipment to take advantage of the features the Zepp app offers, you may find the PowerBuds Pro simpatico to your workout ambitions. For more casual users, though, there are better options available.
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Tested with real world use
Tested over several weeks
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There’s no Qi wireless charging support for these earphones.
Thru mode is the transparency mode on the Powerbuds Pro that lets in external noise so you can hear more of what’s around you.