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i.am Buttons earphones review – unique design with an eye for style

There are plenty earphones on the market but not many were created and endorsed by show business celebrities like the i.am+ Buttons Bluetooth earphones.

They have been designed to look good and sound good and are the brainchild of musician and entrepreneur will.i.am.

Also along for the ride are fellow stakeholders Kendall Jenner and Naomi Campbell who feature heavily in the product’s marketing.

The packaging features images of Campbell and will.i.am with the description “Bluetooth Earphones For The Dope”.

Who are you calling a dope?

We have enough street cred to know that “dope” means “good” in cool circles but there’s a chance it will be misinterpreted by the Australian customer.

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The other main difference for the i.am+ Buttons is the look and feel of the product.

DESIGN

Each earpiece has a distinct disc shape crafted from machined metal which were inspired by the shape of a vinyl record.

These Bluetooth earpieces are connected by a woven fabric cord that would also look at home as part of an outfit.

And that’s exactly what the company was going for. Founder will.i.am wants these earphones to be as much a fashion accessory as they are an audio device.

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If you’re after a discrete pair of earphones these are definitely not for you.

The larger disc design make them a lot more noticeable – if that’s what you’re after.

When you’re not listening to music, the i.am+Buttons earpieces connect magnetically so you can continue to wear it like a necklace.

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Controls to navigate your music as well is make and receive calls can be found in the in-line controls located near the left ear piece.

This is also where the battery is located and where you will connect a microUSB cable to charge it.

They are available in black, gold, grey and rose gold.

COMFORT AND FIT

With the larger disc design hanging outside your ear it does affect the comfort and fit of the i.am+ Buttons.

At first, we couldn’t make them sit properly in our ears. They kept dropping away and just wouldn’t stay put.

Thankfully there are a huge number of silicon tips, inserts and wings so you can experiment to find the right fit.

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This wasn’t the best introduction to the product but eventually we found the right tips to keep them in place.

But even then, sometimes turning our head or the cord being caught on our clothing risked the earpieces dropping out – and they often did.

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If you’re thinking about taking these to the gym or on a run – forget it.

They were okay will we were sitting at home or on a bus or train. But they’re not meant for exercise.

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Lots of tips and wings are included to ensure you get the right fit

If that’s how you will primarily use your earphones, we recommend looking elsewhere for a pair designed to handle a workout – sweat and all.

AUDIO QUALITY

Looks and design and accessories are one thing but audio quality is something else entirely.

The i.am+ Buttons have impressive sound quality but we felt it suffered slightly because of a lack of a tight, passive noise cancelling fit in our ears.

When we forced the earpieces further into our ears with our hands it did sound a little better.

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There was a nice touch of base and a respectable level of clarity when we listened to music and other content like audiobooks and podcasts.

When played at high volume they held their own with minimal distortion.

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But at this price ($290) we expected a little bit more from the i.am+ Button to be in the same league as other similarly priced earphones from reputable brands.

They are available from JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Apple Stores and iamplus.com.

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Who are you calling a dope!?

VERDICT

The i.am+ Buttons have a unique look, if that’s what you’re interested in, and decent audio quality to create an interesting package.

But the celebrities on the packaging and the style it is trying to create can’t take the product from good to great.

There are plenty earphones on the market but not many were created and endorsed by show business celebrities like the i.am+ Buttons Bluetooth earphones. They have been designed to look good and sound good and are the brainchild of musician and entrepreneur will.i.am. Also along for the ride are fellow stakeholders Kendall Jenner and Naomi Campbell who feature heavily in the product’s marketing. The packaging features images of Campbell and will.i.am with the description “Bluetooth Earphones For The Dope”. Who are you calling a dope? We have enough street cred to know that “dope” means “good” in cool circles but…

i.am+ Buttons

Rating - 70%

70%

PROS: Unique design, stylish, good build quality, impressive audio quality.

CONS: : Couldn't get a secure fit in our ears, audio quality could have been better at this price.

VERDICT: The i.am+ Buttons have a unique look, if that's what you're interested in, and decent audio quality to create an interesting package. But the celebrities on the packaging and the style it is trying to create can't take the product from good to great.

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About Stephen Fenech

Stephen is the Tech Guide editor and one of Australia's most respected tech journalists. He is a regular on radio and TV talking about the latest tech news, products and trends.

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