Plantronics BackBeat GO stereo Bluetooth headphones review

Back at PAX East I met up with the guys at Plantronics, and they gave me a set of light and sporty Backbeat GO stereo Bluetooth headphones to try out. They adopt the ultra-light look that seems to be all the rage in stereo Bluetooth accessories. As if the form factor wasn't enough to entice music-loving busybodies, the Plantronics Bluetooth guy told me that there's a light oleophobic coating on the headphones to fend off sweat.

Plantronics Backbeat GO

In terms of sheer looks, the Backbeat GO headphones are very classy. They're available in black and white, the thin tangle-free wire connecting each bud has a nice matte finish, and the two-tone look is very catching. Both buds have swappable gels (small, medium, and large are included) and clear rubber stabilizing braces, but most of the functional stuff is on the right side. There you'll find the in-line mic with power and media controls and the micro USB charging plug tucked behind a flap in the earbud. The front of the earbud also has an LED indicator, so folks know you aren't just a crazy person talking to yourself when taking a call. On the software side, battery life shows up as a separate indicator on iOS devices when paired.

Plantronics Backbeat GO

Operation is pretty standard and what you'd expect. Holding up and down on the volume keys skips tracks, holding down the raised play button initiates Siri. Pairing mode is initiated by holding down the power button extra long when turning it on. Call control includes taking calls, hanging up, putting calls on hold, and redialing - provided you can remember which one is a two-second press which is a double-press of the play button.You get audio notifications when the Backbeat GO is turned on, makes a connection, and is running low on batteries. Listed battery life is around 4 hours, which lines up with my experience.

Plantronics Backbeat GO

Now, I tend to be really picky about my in-ear headphones. The Bose in-ear headphones I (and Android Central's Phil Nickinson) use regularly are insanely comfortable, and I've yet to find anything better. You can seriously wear those things day-in and day-out without a problem, and they sound fantastic, buuuuuut you've gotta deal with a wire. That said, even with the smallest earbuds, I found it hard to wear the Backbeat GO headset for longer stretches. Though the old Backbeat 903 headphones didn't sit as closely in the ear canal as the Backbeat GO headset and the earpieces were a fair bit bigger, I found them generally more comfortable. On top of comfort, you've got to deal with the usual issue of in-ear headsets: earwax occasionally gunking up the gel. Insofar as portability and ease of use, the Backbeat GO headphones earn high marks. The cable has been specifically designed to be tangle-free, and I've yet to have any issues on that front.

Plantronics Backbeat GO

As for sound quality, the Backbeat GO is on the tinny side. For phone calls and podcasts, that's okay, but I've found busy, bass-heavy music doesn't come through particularly well. On the upside, the earbuds are snug enough that there's ample noise cancellation.

The good

  • Stylish design
  • Lightweight and portable

The bad

  • Uncomfortable earbuds
  • Tinny audio

The bottom line

The Plantronics Backbeat GO headphones are perfect for anyone looking for music that won't get in the way of their workout. There's enough battery life to get you through a lengthy run or bike ride, and it's very easy to store. Your m,ileage may vary for comfort, and the audio quality is distinctly tinny, which may grate on audiophiles looking for deep, true sound.

  • $119.99 (now on sale for $99.99) - Buy now

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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There are 8 comments. Add yours.

asuperstarr says:

I really like these headphones. Only issues appear to be uncomfortable and they don't stay in the ear. Great review!

RoboWarrior says:

I use the Jaybird Freedom 3. They have better battery life (rated at 7 hours, my usage shows that this is accurate) and the sound is a lot better (definitely more bass). Only downside is the fact that the design isn't as good as the Backbeat but I chose sound quality and battery life over design.

Charlie_Parker says:

I agree with you . I have both Backbeat and Jaybird Freedom and Jaybird in my opinion is much better from the sound quality standpoint.

xcsdm says:

I use the Jaybird Bluebuds, and they have excellent sound quality. Very comfortable, and stay in my ears much better than the Backbeat Go. Are they more expensive, yes. However, the Jaybirds are the best bluetooth headphones I've ever used.

emjayess says:

What I'd like to see is, instead of a Bluetooth company trying to do great sound, an audiophile company like Westone making a Bluetooth model. (I'll never settle for anything less than my Westones--with great sound, the cable is tolerable.)

I'm hoping the Elroy Kickstarter project answers my prayers for making my Westone's have Bluetooth freedom.

missakins says:

Amazon has these for $65 black/$70 white.

m_thoroughbred says:

I have been looking for a set of Bluetooth headphones for a while. Currently I use the Bose SIE2i and love them. I hope that you will do a review on the Jaybirds bluebud x. I really like the design on those.

saenfinger says:

My wife to be has the Bluebud X's I got her for Christmas. She loves them. I have the Jaybird Freedoms and love them too. Jaybird is for sure the way to go.