(Pocket-lint) - The BeoPlay E8 was among our favourite pair of completely wireless earphones launched in 2018. For 2019 B&O is back for version 2.0, including with some welcome updates. Most of these revolve around the included case, which now offers more battery recharges, a USB Type-C port and wireless charging as standard.
Even more style
- Touch-sensitive buttons
- Black, Navy, Natural & Limestone finishes
- Leather-coated case with aluminium panel inside
Very little - if anything - has changed on the design side from the first-generation E8 earbuds. These in-ears still have the same predominantly plastic build with gentle curves and contours from the tip, swooping down into the main earbud casing.
Just like the first-gen, we like the matte-finish plastic and the subtle, round metal ring that sits around the touch-sensitive panel on both earbuds. It adds a touch of subtle class. What's more, the shaping makes these in-ears comfortable to wear - they'll stick securely in the ears without being too loose. That said, the fit isn't super snug/secure fit - but not to the point that they'll fall out.
Just like before, the E8 come with a selection of different tips, including our favourite foam-based ones that comfortably expand to fill the ear canal, fitting perfectly. Different sizes are included to cater for all ear types.
Moving on from the earbuds to the one thing that's been redesigned for version 2.0: the charging case. It retains a lot of what we liked about the original charging case - it's still easy to pocket, and comes covered in the same luxurious textured leather - but improves on the elements that needed it.
The case is slightly taller this time around in order to make room for the more capacious battery inside it. It's also a more square shape, but still retains those ergonomic rounded corners and lid. Other refinements include the metal panel that caps the charging cradle, and forms the line separating the lid and the charging dock. The simple single dot LED has also been switched for a more appealing LED strip under the lid.
More importantly, though, there's now a USB Type-C port on the back, which means you can use the cable from your up-to-date existing products to charge it up. It also has built-in wireless charging for those earbuds.
- 4 hours playtime per charge
- Three full extra charges in the case
- Wireless Qi and USB Type-C charging
One element of noticeable improvement comes in battery life. The earbuds themselves still hold the same amount of charge - delivering near to four hours of playback as a result - but the case they ship with has more capacity, offering three extra charges, instead of just the two from the first-generation.
In testing the earbuds managed pretty much the same amount of playtime as the first-generation. B&O states between three and a half to four hours depending on volume, but in real life you're unlikely to make it to the full four hours. We could comfortably keep them in for a full three hour train journey and still have between 10-20 per cent left over.
For more typical daily use that means you should easily get through a five day working week's worth of commutes. Let's say your commute is an hour, the earbuds and case combined should realistically get you 14 hours of playback between them; that should leave you a couple of hours of flexibility before needing to be plugged in.
It's convenient enough, but it doesn't quite match some of the better, more battery efficient models out there. You'll get an extra hour from Apple's AirPods. The Powerbeats Pro promise more than double the play time.
What we love about the case is that you don't have to use a physical cable. Put a wireless charging pad on your side table and you can just pop the earphones (in the case) down and it'll charge them wirelessly. We found ourselves leaving these buds on the charging pad near our front door, making them easy to plonk down when we got in and then pick up on the way out. Simple.
Bluetooth connectivity was solid enough during testing. We never experienced any drop out between the iPhone XS Max and our E8 2.0, nor between the left and right earbuds. Even in busy areas like Euston Station these wireless buds coped just fine.
The E8 2.0 also have the ability to auto-pause and play music when you pull the right one out of your ear. Sadly, however, this is only based on motion sensing - it doesn't have an ambient light sensor to detect when it's actually in your ear. That means it can be easily fooled by just moving it slightly, without having to put the earbud physically in your ear, so it's not a perfect system.
- 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
- 5.7mm electro-dynamic drivers
- Bluetooth 4.2
One thing we like about B&O's approach to sound is that it's so versatile and easy to manage. Using the downloadable app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store you can easily select your ideal sound using a simple-to-use ToneTouch EQ panel.
Rather than have the usual 9 or 10 fader system where you're minutely controlling each frequency, you choose your sound based on emotion. Our preference was halfway up in the "Excited" quadrant, with some added brightness. Moving away from the centre and away from the warm quadrant still delivers plenty of bass - but without it being overly boomy.
There's plenty of punch and clarity too. If we're being critical, when placing the Master & Dynamic MW07 in our ears during a song, we did find the M&W pair controlled bass more tightly. For listening experience we therefore prefer the MW07, but there's not much in it at all.
Still, the fact you can change up the BeoPlay sound makes these in-ears arguably more versatile than the M&W, and you can even change the audio transparency to quieten the sound at times when you need to hear what's going on around you.
In short, whether you're listening to a podcast or rocking out to Tom Morello's guitar riffs, you'll find a sound that works - and can quickly switch between sound presets by creating your own dedicated ToneTouch settings.
All in all the BeoPlay E8 2.0 is a great pair of completely wireless earphones. The subtle approach to design, stylish improvements and the enhanced battery performance push these in-ears beyond what was already a great pair in the first generation.
But now there's more competition, which is where the BeoPlay comes under more scrutiny - especially at this price point. Knowing that the Powerbeats Pro release is just around the corner, for example, means there will be longer-lasting alternatives to consider.
In short: the BeoPlay E8 2.0 will suit all listeners and reward them with great sound quality. But there are longer-lasting and more affordable quality competitors to mull over too.
Master and Dynamic MW07
There's so much to love about Master and Dynamic's first pair of wire-free in-ears. The striking chrome case looks fantastic, as does the patterned acetate exterior. Add one of the most comfortable pairs of untethered earphones that also happen to sound great and you have a pair that any music lover will swoon over.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
If the M&W07 or E8 2.0 design is a bit too trendy for you, the more sensibly designed Sennheiser might just fit the bill. These in-ears sound great, have an easily customisable sound profile using the native app for Android or iPhone, and cost a bit less too.