Colors: Black, white
Battery life (rated): 5 hours (earbuds only); 20 hours (with case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 (codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX support)
Water resistance: Yes (IPX2)
Size: Not specified
Weight: 0.17 ounces (per bud); 1.26 ounces (charging case)
At $49, Amazon's Echo Buds 2023 are the company’s most affordable model yet, and they take on a different form than their Echo Buds 2 predecessor. At the time of writing, the third-gen version is only available at Amazon.com and has yet to be released in other territories.
Much of what we’ve experienced from past releases is accounted for on the latest Echo Buds, including excellent Alexa voice activation, neutral sound, and strong connectivity. These buds also come with Bluetooth multipoint to pair to two devices simultaneously.
However, the low MSRP indicates that compromises have been made, which in this case means less upscale features, poor construction, and weak battery life. Are these factors enough to deter bargain shoppers from wanting Amazon’s newest earbuds release? That depends on your needs.
Read my full review below to find out whether the Echo Buds 2023 are the best budget buds to buy this summer.
Amazon Echo Buds (2023): Dynamic sound and ergonomic design
Amazon’s 12mm drivers produce bright sound that emphasizes bass, while keeping mids and certain highs transparent. You can also customize bass, mid-range, and treble via EQ in the Alexa app.
Records like Simple Minds’ “Solstice Kiss” caught me by surprise. The Echo Buds reproduced the pounding kicks and wailing guitar riffs with such accuracy. Increasing the mid-range EQ boosted vocal output on ballads. The live version of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” felt more intimate and raised the hair on my arms.
AAC and SBC codec with aptX support delivered smooth music streams from the likes of Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify, and the buds performed well when connected to my MacBook Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note S22 Ultra.
The Echo Buds do a better job of isolating ambient noise than most open wireless earbuds. Adding silicone covers to the design was Amazon’s smartest decision. Two pairs come bundled with the purchase. They helped improved fit and reduce slippage; the latter kept audio delivery consistent with less disruption entering the soundscape.
Amazon Echo Buds (2023): Alexa at its finest
Essentially, the Echo Buds are ideal for Amazon consumers who want affordable buds that can also operate all their Echo devices and other compatible machines. You have access to an endless list of Alexa commands and can create Shortcuts to automate triggers for smart devices and services.
These buds grant you phenomenal voice command execution and some of the category’s best speech recognition for nearly a fifth of what the Apple AirPods Pro 2 cost. Amazon’s two-mic array picks up vocals with precision.
As superbly as Alexa performs, the feature has bias tendencies. Alexa doesn’t make it easy to perform simple commands with third-party programs. I should not have to link my streaming service accounts to the Alexa app just so I can execute a verbal inquiry as basic as “Alexa, open Tidal.” Gimme a break.
Amazon Echo Buds (2023): Weak build quality and even weaker battery life
Some of the best cheap wireless earbuds offer impressive craftsmanship for the money. The Echo Buds are not among them. An all-plastic exterior with IPX2 certification provides very little protection from scratches, scuffs, and moisture damage. Replicating the AirPods’ long-stem design does little to elevate their appearance. Then there’s the compact charging case, which looks chic, but is poorly built with a flimsy lid that won’t keep the buds secured if dropped to the ground. The case also attracts dirt and scratches like crazy.
Even more embarrassing is battery life. The Echo Buds share the same playtime as the AirPods 2 (5 hours). Their charging case holds up to 25 hours, which is only 1 hour more than the original AirPods Pro case. Wireless charging isn’t available. Furthermore, Amazon’s quick charging is less powerful than Apple’s Fast-Fuel technology. It takes 15 minutes of USB-C charging for the Echo Buds to generate 2 hours of listening time, compared to AirPods models that give 1 hour playback from a 5-minute charge.
Amazon Echo Buds (2023): More features, please
Although I appreciate perks like control customization, EQ, and a Find My Device setting, this isn’t enough to compete with more-feature-filled buds. The Echo Buds lack popular features like active noise cancellation, ambient listening, an Ear Fit Tip Test, and multiple presets, as well as basic functionality like auto-pause/play.
One can argue that having full Alexa integration is more than sufficient. That’s fine for those committed to Amazon’s digital assistant, but what about Siri and Google Assistant users?
Amazon Echo Buds (2023): Dependable for the price
The third-gen Echo Buds deliver satisfying sound and some of the best voice activation at their price point. They won’t compete with most in-ear models on the audio front, but what’s audible is impressive. Alexa voice activation is top tier. The optimal fit and surprisingly good noise reduction deserve some recognition as well.
Still, it’s hard to overlook the Echo Buds’ lackluster battery life, craftsmanship, and feature set.
If you’re tied to the Amazon’s ecosystem of products, then the $49 Echo Buds will serve you well. Otherwise, you can get more bang for your buck from top-performing inexpensive models like the $59 OnePlus Nord Buds 2, or push the boat out on the $99 Sony WF-C500.