Bluetooth headphones are a great boon to the seasoned traveller. Being able to listen to music while on the move without the hassle of wires snagging on bags, handles, and small children makes getting around the cramped city that much easier. The thing is, for the longest time, Bluetooth headphones have themselves been tethered to each other by the same cables they sought to escape.
Things have changed. Motorola has for us one of the world’s first truly wireless headphones in the Verve Ones. These are the kind of headphones I had wanted since Bluetooth started to become a thing, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so. Let’s see if they live up to their promises.
The Verve Ones are simple earbuds that you pop into your ear. They’re just about the size of professional in-ear monitors, and come with a set of different-sized silicone tips for the right fit and isolation. There aren’t any controls on either ear bud except for a button on each ear, and no indicators, save for a light that switches on when you put the earbuds back in their case. The case, in turn, is a cylindrical affair, which twists open to reveal the storage bays for the earbuds inside, and is the only means for the user to charge the two earbuds— don’t lose it. The case itself is on the large side, and is just about the right size to grasp fully in your hand. It will fit in a pocket with no problem, but it’s not the most comfortable way to carry it around.
The Verve Ones are proper Bluetooth headphones that actually come with a little more hardware than one might expect from wireless earbuds. Apart from Bluetooth connectivity to pair with your device, the earphones pair with each other on their own once they are put on, so there’s no extra step to take care of there. They know just when you pop them into your ears thanks to IR sensors on each bud that detect when they’re in-place, to initiate the connection. Each earbud also has its own microphone for use on calls, and pass-through mode that lets you hear your surroundings when you’re out and on the move. The earbuds themselves have three hours of playback on them, and the charging/storage case carries enough juice to recharge them for a total of 12 hours of playback.
User Experience: 3.5/5
First off, the Verve Ones deliver what Bluetooth audio accessories have promised from the very start of Bluetooth audio accessories, which is truly wireless audio. Apart from the cable to charge the case, you don’t have a single wire to deal with on the Verve Ones. The earbuds simply pop into your ears, and you’re ready to go. Comfort is right up there with some of the most comfortable in-ear headphones I have used, and even though it looks like they might fall out, as long as you have the correct-sized tips, you should be just fine, even while moving around.
Sound quality is heavy on the bass. It’s not quite enough to drown out the mids and highs, but there’s more of it than I personally prefer. This seems to be how the device is tuned, as even with changes to the equalizer in the accompanying app. It’s adequate for listening to music on the go, and the convenience more than makes up for the pronounced bass. Something to bear in mind when using these is that it’s the left earbud that pairs with your device. This means the closer your phone is to your left ear, the better the connection is. The manual actually goes so far as have an illustration outlining the ideal location for your phone, which is basically anywhere along the left side of your person. I would suggest you take this to heart as holding your phone and swinging your arms as you walk causes the sound to skip frequently. Keeping your device still, and with a more or less clear line to the left earbud solves this problem instantly.
Controls on the headphones consist of a button on each of the earbuds. Unfortunately, all they can do is skip a track, or play/pause the track you’re currently listening to. It’s quite basic as far as controls go, but I did find that it’s generally sufficient for general listening.
The partner app allows a few extra features, such as enabling pass-through mode, which lets you hear your surroundings through the music, thanks to internal microphones; a basic equalizer that does change the sound, though doesn’t completely fix the overly enthusiastic bass response; and a feature that lets you see the last location you used the earphones in a map, in case you happen to misplace them. The app, however will only work when the buds are in the case, and the case opened, so performing tasks such as switching pass-through mode on and off, can only be done when the earphones are resting in their case.
The Verve Ones will also happily take phone calls from a mobile device, and even with the microphone so far away from your mouth, the other party should be able to hear you as long as the environment isn’t overpoweringly loud. On the street, you might have to cup your hand over your mouth every so often, so the other party can hear you better. Calls are also only routed to the left earbud, but that’s more than adequate for a conversation.
The Verve Ones cost about PHP 10,000, which is a significant chunk of change, but more than worth it for the freedom they allow the user. For exercise, commuting, and true wireless freedom, as well as comfort that lasts for hours, I think the good outweighs the bad. Sound quality might not be ideal if you’re the kind who wants more than bass in their tracks, but if your first priority is convenience, this is just the ticket.
The convenience outweighs the negatives, so if you have some money to burn, you won’t likely regret these.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE October 2016 Issue.
Words by Ren Alcantara