Thursday, November 20, 2014

Motorola Buds Bluetooth Headset Review

As a Sprint Product Ambassador, I received a set of high end Bluetooth headphones, the Motorola Buds, to try out.  Juvenile drug references aside, these should be some of my new favorite headphones for music and online radio listening.   With their around the neck design, they move the weight and bulk off your ears or head down to your collar.  Only the ear piece comes up to your ear.  I've been using Bluetooth Stereo earphones since the Motorola M9 series, graduating to the Altec Lansing Backbeat 9xx from Plantronics, and now to the Moto Buds. Normally, I'll listen to music at the desk over my Grado SR-60's or Sennheiser studio earphones.  I'm kind of a bigot about sound quality and noise isolation.

Unboxing and Intro

In the box, you find a simple frustration free package consisting of the headphones, a USB dongle and a ‘get started’ guide.  The ear tips are noise-isolating rubber, and three (small, medium and larger) are included in the package.  They recommend charging the headphones before use, but with no charger, how do you do that?  Fortunately, the USB port is standards compliant, allowing you to repurpose your existing phone charger, tablet charger or a spare USB charger you have around.  The short dongle could work in a pinch too.

Pairing is as simple as holding the rear power button until the status light flashes blue.  Within a few seconds of finishing charging, I had the Buds paired to my LG G3 Vigor and playing streaming music off my Amazon library.  Sound quality is clean and clear and they play nearly loud enough to satisfy a live music fan like me.  Comfort is excellent, no weight or bulk on your ears and no heavy wires wrapping around your head.  Both the Moto M9 and the Altec headphones had weight and bulk problems. These fit the bill for comfortable all day headphones!

Standby Time

Life got in the way and I forgot to use the Motorola Buds for the past couple days.  Really, about three weeks now!  Man, time flies. Even better, I'd left them powered up in the cabinet.

I'd fully charged them and played music over them for about an hour, then let them sit in the cabinet.  Fired them back up today, pressed and held both volume buttons and got a voice report that it still had over 4 hours playback time!  That's the kind of standby time I like!

Bluetooth Range

A lot has been discussed about how the Motorola Buds are a 'Class 1' Bluetooth device, giving a theoretical range of 150 feet, compared to the typical 30 to 40 feet of a regular Bluetooth headset.  In the office, I've paired them with both the LG G3 Vigor and an older Samsung S3.  With the Vigor, I got about 140 feet away before dropping music; with the older S3, I got about 120 feet away.  This is in typical cube land with metal cube walls and high RF noise levels from phones, other BT devices and ubiquitous WiFi.

Really amazing range on the Buds!

Microphone and Call Quality

The microphone on the Motorola Buds is located on the left arm, on the inside.  It's a small black slot.  It's an interesting design choice - where do you put the microphone on an around the neck headset?

On my old Plantronics Altec Lansing Backbeat headset, the microphone was located on the edge of one of the ear pieces - and was constantly getting blocked by my oversized ears, causing muffled sound.  With the microphone on the collar piece of the Buds, it should pick up your voice more clearly.

In reality, it's quite variable in performance.  If you are moving around, the collar piece will rub against your clothing, causing interesting sounds to be broadcast on your conference call.  If you're facing to the right or leaning back while speaking, your voice becomes distant.  In typical use, facing straight ahead with little movement, the sound quality is acceptable.   For improved quality, just be sure no clothing is blocking the microphone.  Additionally, you can lift up the left arm of the headset ensuring the mic is closer to your mouth.

I've read some cautions from folks who like to wear the Buds under their collar to conceal them more -- this will block the microphone and cause poor audio quality on calls. 

This headset isn't designed for the conference call road warrior, but it has acceptable voice performance with the collar mounted microphone.


The Motorola Buds are more comfortable with acceptable sound quality than any prior bluetooth stereo headphones.  They offer great range and excellent battery life.  They suffer from the same audio pickup problems as most stereo headphones without a dedicated mic.  I'll keep my Plantronics Voyager Pro for conference calls, but I'm wearing my Buds every day rockin out to Moby and NPR.  You can purchase the Motorola Buds from for $69.

Disclaimer: The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PAs do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. #sprintemployee.  I was not compensated in any way for this post other than the use of the device.

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