Review: Motorola VerveOnes+ Bluetooth Headphones
Motorola's VerveOne+ headphones are an attractive set of fully wireless earbuds for people who like to rock out while out and about. The concept may be a good one, and the VerveOnes+ show flashes of brilliance, but the execution isn't quite up to par. Here is PhoneScoop's full review.
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The Motorola VerveOnes+ Bluetooth headphones are fully separated ear buds with no wires in between. If you're looking for a completely wireless experience, this set from Motorola is sweat proof, includes dual mics for phone calls, and works with Siri and Google Now.
Motorola is no stranger to Bluetooth headphones. The company has long made fitness-focused accessories and has a particular fondness for Bluetooth headsets. (Anyone remember the Moto S9?) Launched earlier this year, VerveLife is the new consumer-facing brand for Motorola's audio products. Other VerveLife products include more traditional headphones and even an action camera.
The idea behind the VerveOnes+ is to offer what Motorola hopes is a hassle- and wire-free experience. The earbuds are small, fit directly into each ear, and are ideal for people seeking an unencumbered music experience while out and about, whether walking busy sideways or jogging through a quiet park.
I've always liked how Motorola packages its headsets, and the VerveOnes+ are no exception. The pair of buds find their home in a small cylinder that doubles as a charging cradle and protective case. The buds charge in the case, with a microUSB port on the bottom of the cylinder. Rotate the orange base of the cylinder to expose the earbuds, which are hidden within. The case is rugged and easy to carry around or toss in a bag. It could be a bit smaller.
The case includes its own battery, which is central to Motorola's claims of providing up to 12 hours of music playback. Because the buds are completely wireless, both must be charged in order to work. The buds lock into separate charging sockets in the case with contact pins hidden underneath. The case has a blinking light that lets you know it's charging when plugged in, but unfortunately there's no light to make it clear if the earbuds are properly seated and charging.
It's no trouble to remove the buds, which are marked left and right. Each bud is perhaps one square inch in volume. I like the orange and black accents, though I'm sure some people would prefer different color combinations.
The buds ship with several different-size rubber tips to help you find the best in-ear fit. As with many modern headphones, a tight fit is essential for the best experience. This is doubly important with the VerveOnes+ because the rubber tip is the only thing keeping the headsets in your ears; there is no over-the-ear loop to keep them in place.
Each bud has one button, used to pause/resume music or answer/end calls. The buttons feel a bit on the cheap side, but they are really easy to find and activate.
Putting the VerveOnes+ in your ear activates the pairing sequence thanks to an in-ear sensor. With your smartphone or tablet nearby, pairing and connecting is a straight-forward process. The buds tell you (literally) what the charge level is and how much playing time is available each time you put them in. The separate ear pieces use Bluetooth to talk to the phone and to one another. The buds won't connect to each other unless you first connect to a phone or tablet.
How well do the VerveOnes+ really work? My experience varied and there's one killer problem.
First, the fit isn't perfect, no matter how many eartips you try. In general, the tighter they are, the better, in order to keep them in place. I sacrificed some comfort to ensure they remained jammed in my ears. I was able to wear the headphones throughout an hour-long walk without them falling out, but they didn't want to stay in place while I jogged on the treadmill. That's kind of a bummer. Sweat compounds this issue.
Speaking of sweat, the VerveOnes+ are rated IP57 for protection against sweat, rain, and even a really short dunk in water. I can attest that the earbuds are fully sweat proof as claimed.
Battery life is acceptable, but requires jumping through hoops. With a full charge, the buds last for about three hours. That's really not bad, considering their small size and the fact that most workouts top out at the one hour mark. Drop the buds back in the carrying case to charge them back up. The case can recharge the buds in about an hour, and the case contains enough juice for about three full charges. The charge-deplete-recharge cycle gets annoying after a while. I would not recommend the VerveOnes+ for a cross-country flight or any other activity where you want to be plugged into your tunes for hours and hours at a time. If you work at it, you can get 12 hours of playback — in spurts — from the buds and their charger.
Then there's the sound. Motorola says the VerveOnes+ deliver "HD Sound." I beg to differ. When I first popped them into my ears, the sound was muddled and bass-heavy. I was stunned at how non-HD they sounded. A companion app helps. Using the (free) Huddle Connect app, you can adjust the VerveOnes+ to suit your tastes. The buds must be in their charger in order for any changes made in the app to take hold.
I found only one of the six equalizer presets to be acceptable for music. The others were either too bass-heavy or too trebly. I also found that adjusting the EQ on my phone helped. In the end, I was able to dial in a sound that I consider to be acceptable, but it took far more effort than necessary. Music still never sounded what I'd call “great” or even very good.
Sound quality is somewhat better for phone calls. The buds have mics built in, and calls were loud and relatively free of distortion. I had no trouble understanding conversations via the VerveOnes+. Those I spoke to through the VerveOnes+ had trouble hearing me, which suggests the mics aren't quite up to the task.
Press-and-hold either button if you want to talk to Siri or Google Now. This tool worked as advertised and I found it to be helpful. The VerveOnes+ easily and quickly put my phone in assistant mode.
I think it's fair to say all of these performance issues are to be expected, given the extreme form factor we're talking about here. In other words, the Motorola VerveOnes+ fall into what I'd say is the proper range for fit, battery life, and sound.
About that killer problem? It's how the earbuds talk to one another. About one-quarter of the time I used the VerveOnes+, the right earbud dropped the connection with the left bud. That means the music would stop streaming to my right ear. It never lasted long — perhaps not more than two seconds — but was absolutely annoying as hell. I like my music in stereo and reaching both ears at the same time. I could overlook all of the other issues to some degree, but this one is a deal-breaker for me.
I tested the buds with iOS and Android devices. I found the connection between the phone and earbuds was always consistent. The VerveOnes+ did disconnect right at the edge of the 30-foot range, (which is expected for any Bluetooth device.)
In the future, more headphones will look and act like the VerveOnes+ from Motorola. That means they'll be separate, fully wireless earbuds with a minimal profile that are easy to use. Motorola has accomplished this much with the VerveOnes+, but failed at some basics for Bluetooth headphones.
Fit could be better, and the sound is rather miserable unless you spend time tweaking it. The battery life is reasonable, but getting the full 12-hours of playback requires multiple recharges with the carrying case. The app and buds are a cinch to master and I was up and running with them in mere minutes, but the dropped connection between the two buds makes for a frustrating overall experience.
Then there's the price. At $250, the VerveOnes+ are incredibly expensive. (The VerveOnes drop the IP57 rating and cost $50 less.) As much as I like the idea of fully wireless headsets, you can get better performance for half as much from vendors such as Plantronics, Jaybird, and even Motorola, as long as you don't mind a wire connecting the two buds.
The Motorola VerveOnes+ are an interesting but flawed product that I'd hesitate to recommend to anyone but those who have cash to spare and like living on the bleeding edge.
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