With Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 7 not having a headphone jack (and Phil Schiller’s plea for “courage” in delving into this new paradigm), I can imagine the wireless earbuds industry is going to become very lucrative. The Chinese company Axgio has been marketing Bluetooth wireless headphones for quite some time, and I was happy to check out their waterproof model, the Zest.
Until now, I’d only had the opportunity to review one other set of Bluetooth wireless earbuds, the Jaybird Freedom, back in 2012. Those particular headphones have lasted over four years (I only had to replace a lost over-the-ear piece last year), and they have been my favorite running headphones all this time.
Axgio Zest headphones are not only a fraction of the cost of Jaybirds, but the Zests advertise as being “IPX-6 Waterproof.” I’ll get to that momentarily.
What Comes in the Box
- Axgio Zest headphones
- Small soft-sided carrying case
- 18″ MicroUSB charging cable
- Silicone ear fittings—earbud covers and in-ear grips: three sizes of each
- Two types of clips to help control the 24″ cord that connects the two ear buds
- Instruction sheet
Adjusting for a Perfect Fit
My Zest headphones came with the medium earbud covers and medium in-ear grips already installed. Those were too big for my ears so I had to switch them out with the smaller sized ones. All you have to do is pull off the in-ear grips you don’t want and stretch the new ones on, similar to stretching a rubber band over something very small. It took me a few minutes to succeed, because of the small size, but I’m confident it’s a good grip and the smaller sized parts helped the headphones stay in my ears well.
As for the cord, I choose to wear the cord in front of my neck rather than behind it. I’d grown used to do it this way over the years because my ponytail would tangle with the cord when it’s behind my neck, sometimes yanking the earbuds out of my ears. The smaller cord clip helps me tie the cord together right under my chin; the headphones stayed in my ears rock solid during a recent run.
I did not have a use for the included clothing clip.
There’s a control panel on the cord connecting the two earbuds. There are three buttons: volume up/down buttons that double forward/reverse buttons, and the power button in the center, which the instruction sheet refers to as a “Multi Function Button” or MFB. Like other Bluetooth headphones, hold down the MFB until there’s an indicator that the headphones are on, both with a voice and a tiny LED light on the control panel. In the cast of the Zests, you’ll hear a British-accented voice tell you “Power On.” From the off-status, if you hold down the MFB past the “Power On” status, you can take it into “Pairing” (and the voice will tell you so, along with an alternating blue/red LED). Follow the instructions on your device to continue the pairing process.
I had no problems pairing the Zests with my iPhone 6S, my Apple MacBook Pro, and my work computer (Fujitsu Lifebook tablet/laptop). Subsequent powering-on of the headphones resulted in an automatic connection.
To power off, hold down the MFB until the voice tells you “Power off.”
I will admit that I don’t care for the beeping that accompanies the volume buttons. You can’t hold down the buttons for a large-scale volume change; you will need to deliberately press the button for each iteration… and listen to an electronic “beep” to tell you when you’ve succeeded. That being said, there are many who appreciate this feature, particular when listening to podcasts or audiobooks where the sound is less continuous.
There is a capability to use these headphones for telephone calls and other apps which require a microphone. Short-press the MFB to answer the phone, use talk-to-text, or talk to Siri/Alexa/Cortana. Double click the MFB to redial your last call.
The earbuds themselves are magnetic; when not in use, simply touch them together and the relatively strong magnets will help things stay a bit more organized. This is especially useful when you want to store them around your neck when not in use.
Let me make one thing clear: Beats Electronics, these are not. For $30, you aren’t investing in a super-robust sound system. However, I’ve reviewed headphones with much worse sound quality; the Axgio Zests will have no problem handling a variety of tunes at a variety of volumes. I was playing Pandora’s Primus Radio on my run and noticed that the Zests have a more treble-ey sound than other headphones I’ve reviewed.
Since I’m not a sound quality expert, let’s suffice it to say that I am happy enough with the sound quality, and if you want something better, be prepared to pay for it. For the money, this isn’t bad at all.
These headphones arrived fully charged and I’ve probably listened to music and video for about 4 hours so far, testing the assorted Bluetooth connections, taking a run, and trying them out in the hot tub. The company advertises 8 hours of play out of one battery charge.
One of the features I like about these headphones is the tiny little battery indicator to the right of the Bluetooth logo in the upper right of my iPhone screen. None of my other Bluetooth headphones do this and I usually don’t know when the batteries are low until they issue a high-pitched tone every 30 seconds. See the iPhone screen capture above to see an example of the teensy ittle battery life icon.
*Is that a word?
The Axgio Zest headphones advertise as being “waterproof,” but before I was willing to dive into my local YMCA pool with them, I figured I’d do a little sleuthing about just how waterproof they are. Luckily, the company includes an “IPX6” rating on their Amazon product page.
I wasn’t familiar with the “IPX” rating system, so I did a little research and found this information about IPX ratings:
- IPX-0 – No protection.
- IPX-1 – Protected against condensation or dripping water falling vertically.
- IPX-2 – Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 15 degrees vertically.
- IPX-3 – Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 60 degrees vertically.
- IPX-4 – Protected against splashing water from any angle.
- IPX-5 – Protected against low pressure water stream from any angle.
- IPX-6 – Protected against high pressure water stream from any angle.
- IPX-7 – Protected against water immersion. Immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter.
- IPX-8 – Protected against continual water submersion in under water conditions.
Further research revealed a little bit more information about what IPX-6 is, specifically: “Heavy splashing and rain – This test sends water at all angles through a 12.5mm nozzle at a rate of 100 liters/min at a pressure of 100kN/m2 for 3 minutes from a distance of 3 meters. Must not fail or show water seepage.”
Sounds pretty scientific, doesn’t it? My takeaway?
Don’t immerse the Axgio Zest headphones.
But anything up to totally immersing them is probably fair game. I wore them into our hot tub. I didn’t dunk my head underwater, but some water definitely splashed onto the headphones and they continued to play just fine.
While I find wearing earbuds into the hot tub kind of silly, the feature that I’m sure Axgio wants you to know is that you can sweat like mad with the Zests, or wear them for a run in the rain, and they will be fine.
If you are anxious about your headphones solution when you pick up that new iPhone 7, look no further than the Axgio line of Bluetooth 4.1 wireless headphones. They’re inexpensive, costing only slightly more than Apple earbuds, and the waterproof feature will make these ideal for working out in any kind of weather. Buy Axgios through Amazon for $29.99.
GeekDad received a complimentary sample of the Axgio Zest headphones in exchange for an unbiased review. As always, all opinions of the product are my own.