While true wireless buds are easy to find in all shapes and prices these days, those that are made for exercising and built for stability aren’t that many. Plantronics already dabbled in this segment last year with the BackBeat Fit 3100, which were good until you stepped into the wide open outdoors. Connectivity dropped between the two buds, making them nearly unusable in the environment they were built for.
Plantronics came back this year with a fix to this problem. The new Fit 3150 and 3200 use Bluetooth 5.0, offer a more stable connection, and don’t have any issue outdoor. The 3150 use a non-sealing eartip, while the 3200 I’m reviewing here have in-ear noise-isolating silicone tips. Unfortunately, like the Pro 5100 and Fit 6100, they still use Micro-USB for charging.
Hardware, controls, what’s in the box
Keeping in line with the sports focus, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3200 are unlike many true wireless buds you’ve seen. They come with a zippered case that cradles each bud perfectly and offers a little pocket for the charging cable. Both case and buds have a soft rubbery touch that doesn’t feel cheap at all. The buds have large ear loops that help secure them around your ear plus a small stabilizer that further steadies them in your ear.
Thanks to that design and the rubber material used, they won’t fall off no matter what you do or how sweaty you get. Runs, squats, jumps, burpees, and any other demanding gym routine won’t manage to nudge them out. They’re that stable.
Plantronics’ entire Fit line-up so far has been focused on non-sealing ear tips for environmental awareness while exercising outdoor. Gym goers couldn’t use them if their facility pumps obnoxious loud music or if they want to avoid the background sound of dropped dumbbells, clinking weights, and powerful grunts. With the 3200, we finally have an in-ear BackBeat Fit design that isolates you from those sounds. The buds also offer an awareness feature that mixes outside noise with your music at the level your prefer, so you can still use them when exercising outdoors.
The reflective surface on each bud is both a clicky button and a touch-sensitive area. You can pick the primary bud in the app or use them separately in mono mode. In stereo, the main bud takes clicks: one for play/pause, two for fast-forward, three for rewind. Answering a call requires one click, while triggering Assistant (Android) or Siri (iOS) is done by clicking and holding for two seconds. The secondary bud responds to touch inputs: a tap raises the volume, a tap-and-hold lowers it. These controls are exhaustive and I was glad to use a pair of true wireless buds where I didn’t have to give up on access to volume or rewind or Assistant for some reason.
Plantronics has learned a lot when it comes to connectivity, controls, and form factor, but it keeps marching to the beat of its own drum when it comes to charging. You don’t have to fill up the 3200 frequently, but when you do, you better be OK with Micro-USB charging because that’s the only choice you have.
In the box, you get a few manuals, the case with the buds and a short USB-to-Micro-USB cable, and two extra eartip+stabilizer combo sizes.
Battery life, sound quality, app
Plantronics promises eight hours of battery life on the Fit 3200, but I was never able to use them that long. After about 4hrs of listening at medium volume, they say they’re down to 45% so the full longevity should be close to the claimed amount. With the case, you get three additional charges. At those rates, I was easily able to get through more than a week of 2-3 hours per day usage.
The BackBeat app isn’t essential to the experience, but you should have it installed to get firmware updates, enable/disable awareness for outdoor exercising, change the equalizer preset to Bright (highs) or Bass (lows), disable touch controls, and enable My Tap on the secondary bud. That’s Plantronics’ customizable feature for triggering a timer, stopwatch, Spotify playlist, or more. The only downside is you’ll have to give up on volume controls if you choose it.
The Fit 3200 are no exception to Plantronics’ fame for getting good audio out of its products. Proper bass, clear mids, crisp highs, excellent vocals for calls and podcasts, loud volume (though with a bit of distortion at 90-100%), you get it all. However, I’d stay away from the Bright equalizer option as it completely obliterates any thumping lows in your music. The Bass mode isn’t as ridiculously set, but it’s still too much for my liking, leaving the Balanced mode as the only viable option. That one is near perfect though, so I’m not complaining.
For voice calls, the Fit 3200 are serviceable. You won’t sound crystal clear to your contact, especially in a loud environment, but you’re not likely using these for anything beside urgent calls.
Should you buy it?
Maybe. If you’re looking for sports buds that stay put no matter how sweaty you get and how much you move, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Fit 3200. Add great battery life, good controls, a decent app, and near-excellent sound, and you have a gold-medal winner right there.
But the use of Micro-USB and lack of any extras like wireless charging or smart sensors to stop/start playback when you take them out of your ear or put them back in make the $150 more difficult to stomach or justify. On the whole, Micro-USB charging isn’t a proper deal-breaker for me: I always have a cable by my bedside and keep one with me. It’s just a frustrating choice from Plantronics and one that shouldn’t have been made by a company that built its name around bringing expensive features and great sound down to a palatable price range.
Buy it if
- You want the most stable true wireless buds to handle your intense gym routine.
- You don’t mind Micro-USB charging every week or two.
Don’t buy it if
- You only exercise outdoors — get the Fit 3150 for better environmental awareness.
- Micro-USB is a deal breaker — the Jaybird Vista might be a better option.