(Pocket-lint) - The Philips ActionFit ST702 is a pair of true wireless earbuds squarely aimed at sporty folk who don't want trailing cables when they're in the gym or out running. These buds are designed to stay put in your ears, built to fend off sweat, and promise decent sound quality too.
But there's one standout feature included you won't find on any competitors: the ActionFit ST702's charging case includes UV technology, so when you pop the 'buds in there after a workout, they'll clean off the bacteria ready for your next session.
Yup, Philips has designed self-cleaning earbuds. Is that special trick enough to make you want to buy the ActionFit ST702? Here's what we make of it all.
- IPX5 water-resistant rating
- Touch sensitive controls
- Built-in microphone
Before you pull these earbuds out of the case, it's fair to say the glossy black exterior doesn't give the impression that these are earbuds used for working out. It's when you discover the rubber wing tips attached that you know these are built for exercise.
Those wing tips come in three different sizes to ensure these buds fit most ear sizes and stay put. The fit is good: we ran slow and fast both indoors and outdoors, put ourselves through HIIT workouts, and even gave the "head shake test". We can report that these things did not budge.
It's always a good thing to see this type of wing tip design on sporty in-ears. Especially if you're using such buds for activities with a range of different motions. These are a good fit for running, but also a weights sessions - where the lack of wing tips on other buds can come unstuck.
The ST702 outer casing includes a ring-shaped LED light to indicate successful pairing and when the buds are fully charged. From a connectivity point of view, we didn't suffer any dropouts or have any problems pairing with an iPhone and Android phone.
While it might not be immediately obvious, each bud hosts touch-sensitive controls. These onboard controls allow you to use a small combination of different button taps that will let you skip and play/pause tracks, take calls, and summon your phone's voice assistant. Philips says you can also control volume - although we were unable to find a way to actually do this.
The true test of how well these controls work are when you're on the move. The most regular control we used was to skip tracks, which requires a tap-and-hold action for a couple of seconds - this worked reliably and didn't accidentally activate the wrong feature.
To make these a better fit for exercise, Philips has also slapped an IPX5 water-resistant rating onto the ST702, which it says makes them resistant to sustained soaking, hard sweat and for when you're training the rain. We've definitely put them to the hot and sweaty test and can confirm the buds didn't stop working and seem to hold up.
When you're done taking a call or listening to music you can drop these buds inside a case that doubles up as a charger. Nothing unusual about that. However, the barrel-style case really isn't the smallest of cases - especially if you compare it to the Jaybird Vista or Jabra Elite Active equivalents. So it's not one for discreetly slipping into a shorts pocket and definitely better suited for flinging into a gym bag.
UV cleaning skills
The headline feature is the case has built-in UV cleaning tech. UV stands for ultraviolet, which is a type of radiation that's commonly used in medical environments to kill bacteria.
So why is Phillips making use of it here? Well, because the ear tips on these earbuds are in direct contact with your skin, which means picking up dirt and sweat is inevitable. So the company has included a UV LED inside of the charging case, which sits in close proximity to the part of the ear tip that sits most inside of the ear.
When you drop the buds back and close the case entirely, it then goes through the UV cleaning process, which takes 20 seconds. A big white light situated alongside the battery indicator lights let you know the cleaning is in process.
As far as knowing whether it's done its job properly, well, that's a case of putting faith that the tech is working. We don't have swabs of bacterial testing kits, so can't categorically confirm its success. However, the idea of adding such a feature is undoubtedly a good thing - especially if you don't immediately put the buds back in the case after a workout.
Sound and battery life
- 6mm drivers
- Passive noise isolation
So these buds seem to pass the fit test and are clearly built for sweaty use, but what's the sound like? Well, we'd say Philips is solid on that front too. Although we wouldn't reach as far as saying spectacular.
There's 6mm drivers powering things, which is what you'll find packed in the Jaybird Vista and Jabra Elite Active 75t. We'd say the Philips' sound offers a decent amount of power, but nowhere near the bassy roar you get from the Jabra buds. Philips seems to hold back a little in the bass department.
If you listen to bassy, high tempo music for workouts, it overall does a decent job, though you can likely find better sounding non-sporty wireless buds around the same price.
If you care about drowning out the world when you're out on a run, you won't really get that here either. Like most in-ears, these offer passive noise isolation, though in our time we'd say the balance between hearing music and the world around you is slightly more weighted towards the latter.
For those who like taking calls, there is a microphone on board and you can deal with calls using the on-bud controls. As far as the kind of mic quality you can expect, it's similar to what we've said for listening to music. It's not exceptional, but it does a good enough job.
Battery life doesn't break the norm either. You're getting six hours from a single charge, which matches the Vista and the closest priced pair of Apple AirPods. When you factor in a fully charged case, that jumps to 18 hours. That's not class-leading, but in and around what you can get from similar price sporty wireless earbuds.
You do also have the handy quick charge technology here, with 15 minutes of charge giving you 90 minutes of playtime.
In the quest to be great truly wireless earbuds for sporty folk, the Philips ActionFit ST702 do a good job all round - thanks to a secure fit and solid connection - but it's the UV cleaning feature that's the real appeal that you won't find elsewhere.
That's important, because in the sound department - while offering enough in the way of bass for an exercise session - these buds aren't class-leading in terms of isolation or quality relative to price point.