How Amazon Echo Buds Stack Up One Year Later
Amazon unveiled the Echo Buds wireless earbuds a year ago, putting the Alexa-enabled hearables into an increasingly competitive marketplace. Since then, Echo Buds have accumulated 10,394 ratings on Amazon, with an average of 3.7 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately for fans of Amazon’s earbuds, the Echo Buds don’t come off well in comparison to some of its rivals. Apple AirPods Pro came out right around when the Echo Buds did, but has picked up 51,844 ratings and averages 4.4 stars, The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ earbuds meanwhile have garnered a 4.4 average from 10,115 ratings since February. Customer ratings on Amazon are not the most scientific measurement of success, but they can give a rough sense of how a product is being received and Echo Buds don’t appear to attract the same level of positive responses as those rivals.
The 4,807 reviews left by people who have bought Echo Buds cover the usual range of consumer product reviews. Some described a permanently broken, painful intrusion into their body, while others claimed profound improvements into their whole lives as a result of using the Echo Buds. A single star complaint that Amazon had “shipped a beta, not a product” and a five-star declaration that the ear test is “awesome possum dudes and dudettes” share a common belief in what they want from the Echo Buds, just a stark divide in their conclusion on if the device achieves that goal.
On the plus side for Amazon, the positive reviews and ratings outnumber the negative ones, with five-star ratings accounting for 45% of the total. If performing as promised, $130 earbuds with high-quality sound, active noise reduction, and native access to Alexa should add up to a winner for Amazon. The positive reviews all picked different elements as their favorite part of owning Echo Buds, along with any flaws they spotted, though they didn’t lower the final score at all. A cursory scan of the 953 one-star reviews is much more repetitive. They all tell a story of Echo Buds breaking, or never working, or hurting to wear. Amazon is continually pushing out updates to the devices, but as recently as July Amazon had to push out an Echo Buds update out after some owners reported their device overheating while charging. Nobody wants to wear earbuds if the sound quality is terrible after overheating in the charging case. And, even if they do technically work, no one will wear them if it feels like “someone shoved a tiny wire brush” into their ear as described in the review below.
Amazon rolled out its first hearables product last year in tandem with the Echo Frames smart glasses and Echo Loop smart ring. But, hearables are the most established facet of the wearable tech industry, making the Echo Buds a more significant release, and one that might set a standard for how people think of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled mobile technology. The competition for ears has since grown to encompass a new version of the Google Pixel Buds, which aren’t sold on Amazon, and the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live, which Samsung revealed in July, just a few months after the Galaxy+. Add in the robust demand for the non-pro version of Apple AirPods and it’s clear why Amazon may have some news for the devices at its event on Thursday. Whether that means a pro version of the current Echo Buds or an entirely new iteration isn’t clear, though a steep if brief, $50 discount on Echo Buds last week could be indicative of a new version. Whatever the news, Amazon just has to hope it will up the average number of stars its hearables get on the company’s own website.