Honest Review: The Beats by Dre Powerbeats3

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HonestlyDo. Not. Buy.
Score:  3 out of 10
Pros:  Great fit, great sound, better than most at remaining in ear during workouts, wireless, battery life is wicked good,
Cons:  Not reliable, do not work, multiple issues, expensive, easily become junk, charging issues, volume issues, bluetooth issues, company doesn’t repair

Experience:

December – These earbuds were recommended to me by the IT guy for my office.  He swore up and down that these were the only headphones I’ll ever need, and that with the “3” iteration, all the issues were resolved and they’d be a dream.  Excited, and finding a corporate deal through our company, I ordered my pair!

They did not arrive until February.  beats blue 1

But when they came?  Guys.  I was in heaven.

They fit like a damn dream.  The sound was great.  There was no noise breaking through.  Not only could I listen comfortably while in the office or the gym – but I could use them on the airplanes and it was perfect for blocking out the engine roar.

Running was a bit awkward, trying to get the cord situated such that it didn’t pull one or the other ear bud out.  And then, to run with one out-of-ear so I could pay attention to my surroundings (Like you should while running the roads) that took some work as well.

In all – I was very happy with these!

March

It was out of the blue, while trying to knock out some miles before work that I started realizing that I wasn’t listening to music.  The volume had jumped to “0” while I was running.  Confused, I manually upped the volume on the phone and kept running…. but it kept happening.  Constantly.  My miles were broken up by me constantly pushing the volume back up to a level I could hear it at.

I mean, it was odd…but then it went away…  Until it didn’t.  Eventually, it was very common, that I would have to hold my phone in my hand while running outside in order to battle the volume changes that were happening.  But that was just a few times…nothing constant.  It wasn’t happening every time I used them…so I just figured it was me.

By mid-March, the headphones wouldn’t even change from a blinking red “needs charge” light to “charged’ white light.  It just blinked red all the time.

In all, it was about a full week for the headphones to go from volume madness to complete dud.

I hit the forums and found complaints….hundreds and hundreds of complaints.  Apparently I wasn’t the only person running into these issues.

Following the forum suggestions: I tried a hard reset – but that wouldn’t do anything for the headphones that wouldn’t even recognize electricity.  I plugged them into my computer and logged into the Beats by Dre web.  I updated them.  I named them.  They showed 0% charge for the three days that they sat on my computer.

I ordered a new pair, this time at full price ($220), through Best Buy and picked them up the same day.

shock yellow

Pair #2 were hott.  I liked the “shock yellow” version.  They looked bright and cool, and…. they worked!

The Best Buy staff working in the sound department commented that they wouldn’t buy this brand.  They specifically pointed out a different brand and noted that they were cheaper, more reliable, and none had been returned like these beats were.

Well.  They worked for about two weeks.  Then the volume started jumping low and high.  Ear-drum destroying high.  I think I preferred the drop to low volume.  But then something new happened too…it stopped the music and skipped songs.  I tried to turn them off to disconnect them from my phone, but they wouldn’t turn off.  I had to plug them into the charger in order to get them to …just… stop.  Hard resets and turning off for a bit did nothing to settle these down.

We tested paring them to different versions of the iPhone to see if it was just because I didn’t have the iPhone 7.  That made no difference.  We watched the volume pop high and low constantly on the IT guy’s phone before it skipped songs and stopped…. but would not turn off.

Those were returned, I got the black pair.

black

One of my coworkers, someone who ordered his the same time as the IT guy and  I did, suffered no issues.
“Not even working out?”
“None.  Mine are perfect.  You should get the black pair.  That’s clearly the problem.”
The IT guy had no problems.
Even the girl behind me that just got hers (The blue and gray ones, like what I started with) had no problems.

The issues started four days in.

I was starting to wonder what I was doing wrong.  I was careful with them.  I avoided running outside because I didn’t want to expose them to weather that would cause them to crap out.  I carried them with a gentleness I couldn’t possibly possess.  I took care of these things.  We thought maybe it was the sweat….but aren’t these supposed to be sweat proof? I even started thinking that it was just because I used them on Sundays….because that had been the day things really went wrong for the last two pairs.

That’s dumb.  I know.  There is literally no rhyme or reason, and Apple (the actual owners of this product) and Beats by Dre both are mum on what’s going on or how to fix it.  Or how to prevent it.

April

Pair three was returned for a 4th chance.

beats blue 1

I was back in the blues.  By the end of the first week, I was feeling confident.  Clearly, despite my coworkers confirming that they worked out in theirs and used theirs all day long at the office, there was something going on.  But this pair?  I was able to go 20 miles one day without any issues.  Wear them each morning for walking the dog, all day at the office, and then for the workout in the hot evenings.  This was it.  I was certain.  I was in a good pair.  And then, 17 days in, they not only started jumping the volume like all the other pairs, but skipping and stopping music.  A hard reset fixed it the first day.  But then?  Then it was like the battle was fully on from there.

Some research shows that these headphones are “embodied with the W1 chip”….whatever that junk is.  But it shows that activating iCloud is needed for this to work to the best advantage on these headphones….  But I’m gonna say that’s a no.  Because if it were the turning point of making these things work or having them act like they’re possessed?  Then it should be in the start up instructions somewhere.  Right?  So no.   That’s not whats happening either.  Still.  I turned on iCloud, despite wanting nothing to do with it…. and suddenly the headphones worked!  …For two days.  I was at a complete loss, and more than a little pissed about this whole experience.

I did send a request to customer service after the first pair.  I never got a response.  I sat on a conversation with customer service from Apple’s website.  After a full run-down about the status and the crappiness of this product, I was told that I likely exposed it to liquids.
“Of course I did!  I sweat on them.  That’s what they’re meant for right?  Or was I not supposed to work out in them?”  I sassed at the poor guy.  He relented, and the only answer I have is that I have to ship them to Apple for repair.  Or for them to take apart and arbitrarily decide if they’re going to repair it or blame me and tell me I’m out the money.  Who knows?  The guy was very clear that he wanted to make sure that there was no damage to them.  I told him that these were not put through anything more rugged than what I put anything else through for running.  In fact, I pointed out, I avoided inclement weather specifically because I didn’t want to ruin them, since they were so dodgey to begin with.

So?  The customer service aspects – about average.  Though, Best Buy has been a real sport for working on this.  But I”m not reviewing Best Buy or Apple’s customer service.  It’s the headphones.  And, really, a product should never give you a chance to get to know customer service desks with as much familiarity as these have.

I’m taking these back and returning for the pair of headphone recommended by the staff at Best Buy, as well as all the google search results for “best bluetooth headphones for running”:  The Jaybird x3.  Sure, Powerbeats3 made those lists, but I think if you’re lucky enough to get one that works, you’ll be so happy with the things!  If you’re like me, and a quite a few people, who draw the short straw and get the pairs that aren’t working?  You’re not going to like that gut feeling that you’re out $200-$220 for a pair of headphones that are non-fixable, annoyingly unreliable, and otherwise…would have been perfect.

For me, this product has Failed.

Apple?  Beats by Dre?  You should be ashamed.

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2 thoughts on “Honest Review: The Beats by Dre Powerbeats3

    1. So far I’ve had the jaybirds x3 for two days and the worst part is getting them to turn off rather than activate siri. Battery isnt as impressive as powerbeats was, but whats the use of awesome battery life, if they never work? Let me know what you think of the jaybirds!

      Like

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