Jaybird X3 hands-on: A fabulous 8-hour wireless headset perfect for phones without jacks


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Image: Jaybird

Back at CES 2016 in January, Jaybird revealed that its new X3 headset would be available later this year. The Jaybird X3 is available now at a lower price and with longer battery life than promised back in January.

Music motivates me to run faster and I’ve been a fan of Jaybird’s products for years. The recently launched 5th generation Jaybird Freedom is perfect for those who want a small earbud with amazing sound and decent battery life. However, after using the Jaybird X3 for the last couple of weeks, it is my preferred headset thanks to nearly eight hours of battery life, excellent comfort, and a strong Bluetooth signal.

In the past I always looked for Bluetooth sweatproof headphones for running and biking, but now with smartphones foregoing the headphone jack it is important to find a high quality wireless headset to do more than work for exercise. The Jaybird X3 excels at fitness, but also works well with phones thanks to its inline mic and controller.

A couple of weeks ago I had a video chat with Rene Oehlerking, chief marketing officer, and discussed the three pillars that JayBird established as it designed and built the latest version of X series earbuds. These three pillars and some of the results include:

  1. Secure fit and comfort: JayBird was able to reduce the size of the earbud by a whopping 34 percent over the X2. The internals are new with batteries contained in both earbuds, while the X2 had a battery in one earbud and the electronics in the other.
  2. Lifeproof: I run in the rain and sweat more than most people. The Jaybird X3 is designed to be used where you need a headset to perform thanks to its sweatproof design. This includes in the rain, in the gym, on the slopes, and more. Jaybird creators often ski with helmets and are proud of the fact that even the longer lasting X3 now fits comfortably under a helmet.
  3. Quality music experience: JayBird designed the Jaybird X3 to offer up an amazing music experience with loud volume and crisp sound. In the past, I usually grabbed a wired headset if I needed more volume and clarity. Today, these new Jaybird products provide all the volume and quality playback I need. You can use the MySound app on iOS and Android to customize your experience too. In addition, the signal strength is top notch and there was only one phone that had issues, but that was due to the phone’s Bluetooth antenna performance.

Rory Dooley, general manager for audio wearables, Jaybird, stated, “While the world has recently been talking about the disappearing headphone jack, Jaybird has been focused on designing superior wireless experiences for more than a decade. The new X3 headphones deliver supreme audio quality and secure sport fit, so you have the ultimate wireless accessory to your active life.”

Jaybird X3 Wireless Sport Headphones will be available at jaybirdsport.com today and in Best Buy stores and bestbuy.com in the U.S. and Canada in November 2016, for a suggested retail price of $129.99. At CES, Jaybird advertised the price would be $149.95, so it’s great to see this high quality headset launching at a lower initial price.

The Jaybird X3 will be available in four colors with metal accents: Blackout (Black and Silver), Sparta (White and Gold), Alpha (Military Green and Dark Chrome) and Road Rash (Red and Dark Chrome). I was sent along a Blackout pair to evaluate.

Hands-on with the JayBird X3

In the past, every JayBird headset I tested came with a rather bulky carrying case. Like the new Jaybird Freedom headset, the X3 comes with a very nice slim profile case so you can easily carry the small microUSB cable and charging base, along with the Jaybird X3, in the pocket of your gear bag, shirt, or even your skinny jeans. The top of the case closes securely via strong magnets and can be opened by pressing the two edges together.

The JayBird X3 earbuds have Bluetooth 4.1 so you can pair the headset to two devices simultaneously, pair and connect two Freedom or Jaybird X3 headsets to enjoy media content from a single device, and pair with up to eight devices. So far I tested using the JayBird X3 with an Apple iPhone 7 Plus, Moto Z, LG V20, and Apple Watch Series 2. I ran with music streaming from the Apple Watch and playback was flawless. There was some skipping with the Moto Z, but I attribute that to Lenovo’s weak Bluetooth antennas as was also seen in the terrible Moto 360 smartwatch.

There are three buttons on the inline controller, along with a mic opening and small LED. The upper and lower buttons serve as volume buttons and if you press either while music is not playing then you will hear the battery level announced. A longer press of one second on the volume buttons will skip music forward and backward. The center play/pause button can also be pressed for one second to launch Siri or Google Now.

The controller can also be used to manage phone calls. The buttons are used to switch calls, accept calls, decline calls, redial, and mute.

While I enjoyed using the JayBird X2 headset, I could never get it to stay secure in my ears while running in all environmental conditions. This is no longer the case with the Jaybird X3 and I am pleased to move to the X3 from the Freedom for the longer battery life. The Jaybird X3 has a 20 percent reduction in ear diameter so that might be helping with a better fit. I actually now route the Jaybird X3 over the top of my ear and secure it close to my head with the included clips for the best wireless headset experience ever.

You get three pairs of silicone eartips, three pairs of Comply memory foam eartips, and three pairs of ear fins so there are a number of ways to wear the X3. You can combine the ear fins with either the Comply or silicone tips while also choosing to route the cable over or under your ears. I’ve never been satisfied using JayBird earbuds by routing the cable over my ear, but that has changed with the X3.

I prefer to use the Comply tips with routing over the ear and no fins. With the clips in place, the headset stays tight against the back of my head and never budges even a millimeter no matter how much I move my head.

The default sound profile was excellent and my music always sounded great, but the new MySound application (iTunes link) lets you optimize and customize your listening experience.

The buttons on the inline controller are well spaced and raised enough to make it very easy to reach up without looking to control your music and phone calls. To charge up the X3, you connect the included dock adapter and microUSB cable.

One my the questions I asked is how would a person choose between the new Jaybird Freedom or the X3. The Jaybird Freedom is a much smaller earbud so those with smaller ear canals will probably prefer this model. The Jaybird X3 provides twice the battery life with no dock while the Jaybird Freedom relies on portable charging to keep the battery full.

Overall, both are excellent headsets and I can recommend them both. The sound is loud and clear, the battery life is great, the wireless signal strength is fabulous and works across my body, and if you are looking for a headset that lasts and performs well then you will like these Jaybird options.

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