The flagship Backbeat Go 3 is Plantronic's latest wireless earbuds for sports and everyday life. So how is it different from the previous model, and the competition?
The Plantronics Backbeat GO 3 is constructed of mostly plastics and rubber. It feels very lightweight, making it less likely to drop out if you use it for sports. Similar to the previous version, the GO 3 is sweat resistant, using P2i nano-coating for moisture protection. (But it isn’t waterproof so don’t go surfing with it!) Overall the Backbeat GO 3’s build quality is good and appropriate to its price point.
Wireless connection was reliable, and I did not experience any interference within 10 meters of the GO 3. (Line of sight) You will also get voice prompts (a welcome addition) which will prompt you on the battery status, when you skip tracks and when someone is calling in. It supports Siri and Google Now when connected to Apple or Android devices, respectively.
The GO 3 also has the stabiliser loops built-in this time, making it non-removable. It looks less conspicuous when I’m wearing it outside now that it doesn’t jut out as much. A cap on the right earbud opens to reveal an internal Micro-B USB port for charging. It has a 3-button control scheme built into its microphone unit, to control your music and take calls. I found that the control buttons are intuitive enough that I had no problems pressing the right buttons when I need to.
The Backbeat GO 3 also works with its own dedicated App (Backbeat GO 3 App - iOS/Android) which includes a digital manual and the function to select previously connected devices.
Image taken by Aaron T.GO 3 is also compatible with the classic PLT Hub App, which has got a feature called ‘Find MyHeadset’.
If you've misplaced your earbuds, use the App to play a tone and the earbuds will sound the alarm, and voila! You’ve found it! But this will only work if you’re within 10 meters and the GO 3 is still connected to your smartphone. If connection was lost, the App can display a map showing you where and when you were still connected to it, so that you can backtrack. I'm not sure why these features were not simply integrated into the new GO 3 App. It makes more sense to have just one App, instead of two!
Image taken by Aaron T.Battery LifeThe Plantronics Backbeat GO 3 improved in some way over the previous model. Now it comes with an improved battery life of 6.5 hours (as opposed to the GO 2’s 4.5 hours). I found that to be largely accurate, squeezing out a maximum of around 6 hours battery, playing at 60% volume. It also comes with a more spacious canvas case that (on paper) adds another 2 extra charges. But in actual testing I got 3 more extra charges, not two! The case has very clear battery indicators now, and also light up when you dock the GO 3 into its Micro-USB cable to charge.
Image taken by Aaron T.Sound QualityWhile playing ‘Fever’ by Chantal Chamberlain, vocals and winds were bright and smooth without grain. There was a noticeable air and natural diffuse quality. However, double-bass felt weak and recessed. For percussions, listening to ‘Stressed Out’ by Twenty One Pilots, vocals sounded a little heavier and Hi-Hats sounded bright, but Kick Bass and Drums had little thump, and sounded shallow. There was some bass when I played ’Hands to Myself’ by Selena Gomez but it didn’t have enough bounce nor bass extension that I heard in other earbuds.
I used it everyday and have tried a wide variety of music on it, so this is my overall take on the GO 3’s sound. It is a pretty clean sounding pair that handles upper-mids and highs pretty well. But where it falls flat is the bass response. Plantronics says in the manual that finding the right tip fit will ensure great bass, but despite finding the best fit, the GO 3 still underperforms in its bass extension.
If you like vocals and rock music, the GO 3 will sound clean and smooth, and it will handle track separation pretty well. But if you’re a bass-head, the GO 3 isn't likely to satisfy.
The GO 3 is great for watching videos on my phone and tablet, and I didn't get any audio-sync issues at all.
What Could Be Better
Somehow, the stability tips didn’t really stay that well in my ears, and at times, I tend not to notice when the tips has come out, which happens often. And without a shirt clip, I get a bit paranoid. Though the tips are designed to conform to unique ear shapes, I would really prefer stability tips that are stiffer and comes in different sizes. Especially for someone like me who have big ears!
Without multi-pairing, you can’t pair up with 2 devices at once. Instead, you will need to use the GO 3 App to switch between different devices which I find less convenient. I also noticed that when skipping tracks, the GO 3 starts my music one second into the song. Some may not mind one second of lost audio, but it's still worth mentioning because there isn't an option to switch voice prompts off.
If you want something lightweight, has great battery life and with bright, clear sound, the Plantronics Backbeat Go 3 is decent choice. At S$169, it’s selling at a pretty reasonable price. But if you’re looking for something that stays in your ear better, with better bass, and with Multi-pairing, you’ll have to fork out slightly more money for the Jaybird Freedoms (S$259) and the Bose SoundSport Wireless (S$239). Both costs between S$70 to S$90 more.
The Plantronics Backbeat GO 3 is sold In Copper Grey and Cobalt Black.
In the box: