Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3200 earbuds review

Posted: 18 October 2019 11:35 am
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Image: Instagram user plantronics

If you're looking for immersive sound and no distractions during your workout, the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3200 earbuds are the pick for you.

Quick verdict: A new update to the Plantronics BackBeat FIT line, the 3200s are wireless sports earbuds designed for those who train hard. You get protection from sweat and water, a comfortable secure fit and a fabulous noise-cancelling feature to easily take you from the gym to an outdoor hike.

Price: $249

Where to buy them: Plantronics

The good

  • Non-slip earloops feel secure
  • Great sound quality
  • Noise-isolating
  • Impressive battery life
  • Sweatproof and waterproof

The bad

  • Recurring app issues (before the updated firmware was released)
  • Zippered charging case is bulky
  • Not comfortable if you wear glasses


Design

  • Non-slip earloops feel secure
  • Sweatproof and waterproof
  • Bulky charging case
  • Not comfortable if you wear glasses

The 3200s arrive in either a black or teal option, with green reflective earbuds. When you receive the product, you get the black zippered charging case, a tiny USB charging table and three different sizes of ear tips. It also comes with simple instructions to activate the headphones and connect them to your phone. The process was simple and easy to understand, but I had recurring issues connecting to the app (which will be discussed later on).

The 3200s are lightweight and the earloops are soft and flexible. I love the way they grip the ear. It doesn't feel too tight, the fit is comfortable. There's no way the earbuds will fall off during any kind of activity. I used them during my strength workouts at the gym and my runs outside and I never had a problem. However, if you wear glasses like I do, there is a downside. While the loop fit snug around my ear, it pushes the frame of my glasses, making them feel very loose. It wasn't a big deal during my commute but it did matter while I was training and moving around. Most times, I found it easier to just wear contacts to enjoy the use of the 3200s.

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Image: Finder

The 3200s are IP57-rated sweatproof and waterproof. This means they work up to 1 metre for 30 minutes, but don't start swimming with them. The Bluetooth connection doesn't work underwater, but the feature is helpful if you get caught in the rain or have a really sweaty workout.

While you can customise controls within the app, there are some standard pre-set controls. They include:

  • To power the earbuds on and off, you simply hold down the left-hand side for around five seconds.
  • Pressing the right side down allows you to play and pause music.
  • Double-click the right earbud to skip tracks or triple-click to go to the previous one.
  • Answer and end calls by clicking the right-hand side.
  • Call for Siri by holding down the right earbuds for two seconds.

The charging case provides you charge on the go, but I found it incredibly bulky and too big for everyday use. The size was perfect to just throw into my gym bag, but I didn't like using the 3200s on my commute. The case is not small enough to fit nicely into a regular sized handbag, so it's definitely something to keep in mind.

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Performance

  • Great sound quality
  • Noise-isolating
  • Recurring app issues

Updated: Plantronics have acknowledge the reoccurring app issues, and have actually released updated firmware. I was able to try out the new firmware and no longer experienced any technical issues. I found that it enabled more seamless connectivity through the app.

I was really impressed with the sound quality of the 3200s. I'm definitely not a headphone connoisseur, but I have tried the iconic AirPods and the wireless Beats by Dre. These seriously outperform the others in all aspects. Music sounded better and phone calls were so much easier. There were no muffled noises and the sound was crystal clear. I always tend to have problems hearing people and others hearing me during phone calls, but I experienced no issues using the 3200s.

The noise-isolating feature was an absolute gem. It's designed to isolate your ear from extra ambient noise, which is why there are three differently sized ear tips. Select your best fit, and it works to seal off all different sized ear canals. I had no issues and it was especially helpful in the gym. It effectively blocks out the gym's music, people talking and the sound of weights hitting the floor.

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Image: Instagram user plantronics

As I said earlier, connecting the 3200s to my phone via Bluetooth was simple. However, I had recurring issues connecting to the app. I tried the recommended BackBeat app, but also tried the BackBeat FIT app and had no luck with either. I updated my iPhone's software, updated the apps, deleted them and re-downloaded them. After countless attempts, which involved other people trying as well, the BackBeat app finally recognised my 3200s and they connected.

My Tap is a section within the app that allows you to customise the earbud controls. You have a choice between "Volume" and "Taps", but you can't enable both at the same time. When set to "Volume", you tap the left-hand side to increase volume and touch and hold to turn it down. Within "Taps", you can assign different actions for either one tap or two taps. These actions include Siri, headset status, timer, tell time, stopwatch, Spotify playlist, Apple Music playlist, Deezer playlist, Awareness and Scroll EQ.

You also have the option of turning Awareness mode on and off. Decide between pausing your music when it's turned on or continue to play sound. When Awareness mode is turned on and you choose to play music, the volume lowers and the speakers in the earbuds open up. It's really easy to hear yourself and others, while enjoying the music.

Other minor features include Find MyHeadset, the ability to switch the primary earbud, turning on HD Voice for phone calls and changing the EQ. Take your pick between the PLT Signature Balanced, Bass or Bright. All options sounded great but because I listen to a variety of music genres, I found it easier to just stick with the balanced style.

Unfortunately, every time you power the earbuds on and off, you have to re-connect to the app. And you guessed it, every time I had problems. It was never a smooth process and I believe this is a bug that needs fixing. I checked if the earbuds themselves needed an update and it said it was all clear. Overall, the features within the app are great but the connecting issues don't help.

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Battery

  • Impressive battery performance

The 3200s arrive fully charged in DeepSleep mode, which is designed to conserve battery life. Taking the earbuds out of the case automatically powers them on, while putting them back in will do the opposite. Every time you open the app, you're shown the current battery status in either a percentage or listen time.

The listen time on a single charge clocks up to 8 hours, while the charging case battery lasts up to 16. This is seriously impressive and one of the best on the market. I love the option of quick charge, especially if you're forgetful like me. A 15-minute charge gives you around 1.5 hours of power, which is the perfect amount of time for a gym session.

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Verdict (comparing the BackBeat FIT 3200 with the 3150)

Plantronics' new BackBeat FIT 3200 is a great noise-isolating headphone. The long battery life and quick charge time is especially helpful for those always on the go. While I had issues connecting to the app, it's not actually required to simply listen to music. I can still happily use the 3200s, but of course, it would have been nice to have a problem-free app to accompany it. If you're on the market for comfortable wireless headphones that don't fall off, this is a great pick for you.

Along with this update, Plantronics came out with another model to join the FIT line-up. The BackBeat FIT 3200 and 3150 are very similar. Both models are designed for working out, at the same price of $249 RRP. However, the difference between the two is the ear tips and their ability to cancel out noise.

The 3200s are designed for immersive listening, providing better sound quality. However, they fit a little more snug than the 3150s. They feature Always Aware ear tips which let in outside noise, which is perfect for the safety-conscious user. In saying that, the 3200s have an "Awareness" mode option within the app, but it can drain the battery more quickly. So if you're trying to decide between the two models, your decision should depend on your personal preference and what you're looking for in headphones.

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Pricing and availability

Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3200 earbuds are available now at Plantronics for $249. We're sure the product will also reach stockists like rebel and JB Hi-Fi.


Specifications

Product name
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3200
Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.0 with 30 metres wireless range
Listen time on a single charge
Up to 8 hours
Charging case battery
Up to 16 hours
Quick charge
Up to 1.5 hours of listening with a 15-minute quick charge
Price
$249 RRP
Moisture protection
Waterproof in fresh water up to 1 metre (3.28ft) for 30 minutes. Bluetooth does not transmit underwater.
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