On a budget and looking for a decent pair of wireless in-ear headphones? What if we told you that you can get a whole lot more than a decent pair for a price so reasonable, it’s mind-blowingly amazing. Philips has a few wireless in-ear headphones on offer, but we decided to take the company’s poorly named SHB5850 for a test drive, which promise to deliver clear and powerful sound with rich bass using fairly large 8.6mm dynamic drivers, an ultra-lightweight design with an ergonomic oval-shaped fit, and a 7-hour battery life. What more can you possibly ask for? Well, not much. But to find out if the SHB5850 from Philips are truly worth buying, check out the full review down below!
Not much is included with the SHB5850 apart from a short micro-USB charging cable and two additional sizes for silicone ear tips, bringing the total of available ear tips to three. Suffice it to say that not everyone is going to find the right fit with such a limited selection of accessories.
At just 12g, the SHB5850 are even lighter than Jaybird's latest lightest and smallest wireless in-ear headphones, the $200 Freedom. While these mundane wireless earbuds aren’t fancy on features nor do they have a premium and rugged build quality, they are indeed extremely lightweight, small and best of all – sound so good you’ll tell your buddies to throw away their beets. Philips doesn't specify whether or not the SHB5850 are in any way sweat and water-resistant like most other, pricier wireless earbuds. And while we're not entirely confident that these will last you very long if you profusely sweat when working out, they have been working just fine during our extensive testing – which did involve quite a bit of moisture contact.
While these mundane wireless earbuds aren’t fancy on features nor do they have a premium and rugged build quality, they are indeed extremely lightweight, small and best of all – sound so good you’ll tell your buddies to throw away their beets. Priced in at $50, the Philips SHB5850 are amongst the cheapest Bluetooth 4.1 wireless in-ear headphones and are currently available in three colors ranging from black, white and blue.
The heaviest part of the SHB5850, which isn’t very heavy at all actually, has been smartly designed to rest around the back of your neck where it is perfectly balanced and does not put unnecessary strain and pull on the earbuds themselves. This means that you can have a very comfortable experience wearing these wireless in-ear headphones without having to worry about imbalance, weighty battery remotes pulling down on one side of your ear when you’re working out or simply trying to enjoy your music, movie, or podcast.
Philips is the only company we know of that has designed such compact wireless earbuds with a small battery module that is positioned at the center of the cable rather than on one side, or inside each of the earbuds. Not only does this allow the SHB5850 to have a normal size like any other pair of wired in-ear headphones, but it also gives the user that feeling of wearing lightweight in-ear headphones that stay firmly inside the ear canals without any additional support such as ear hooks or wonky ear fins that never seem to stay in place. Support or not support, the SHB5850 managed to stay in my ears just fine for as long as an hour during a workout session. I do miss having the optional foam tips that Jaybird offers. And due to the oval-shaped sound tubes of the SHB5850, you won't be able to effectively use third party Comply foam tips.
And the battery life of the SHB5850 has been phenomenal. When Philips says that the battery life is rated at 7 hours, you’re getting 7 hours. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Amazingly, I was able to get around a staggering 9 hours at my normal listening volume, which is around 60%. If that isn't impressive, you're most likely new to the wireless in-ear headphone game.
While these earbuds have an arbitrary way of displaying the battery status using what looks like Morse code, there is a way that you can precisely monitor the battery percentage of the Philips SHB5850 on iOS devices by pulling down Notification Center and looking for the devices listed under the "Batteries" widget.
Disappointingly, Philips does not include any type of cable clip with the SHB5850 to give users the option to secure the cable to clothing. One could have been very useful to attach the battery behind the neck to a shirt collar. Although you can get a clip for close to nothing on eBay, or even use one that you might possibly already have laying around, the battery module is already so light that it doesn’t require having it clipped onto a piece of clothing. That said, the fact that there is no method for securing the battery is the biggest drawback of the SHB5850. I found that although the battery pack is centered towards the back of the earbuds, it does tend to want to slide off to one side of your neck when you move around, which can get a bit annoying. The only way to prevent this from happening is to either tuck the battery underneath your shirt, or use a clip to attach it to it.
When using cheaper wireless headphones you'd expect to have some Bluetooth issues, but we've found absolutely none here. The SHB5850 have an amazing wireless connection using the latest Bluetooth 4.1 version. You can put your phone in a bag, cover it with your body and virtually nothing will block the signal between the earbuds and your audio.
Although they are one of the least expensive wireless in-ears, the SHB5850 still offer essential features such as this 3-button remote with a built-in microphone. While the microphone audio quality is indeed poor, the remote does work really well in allowing you to adjust volume, play/pause audio, skip tracks and control all sorts of call-related things.
Sonically, the Philips SHB5850 are as impressive sounding as some of the most expensive wireless earbuds on the market. They produce an unbelievably clear sound with huge, deep bass that never overpowers or drowns-out the rest of the frequencies. As long as you can get a good seal with the supplied rubber ear tips, you'll be able to enjoy great sounding audio that's full and rich no matter what type of music you like to listen to.
The Philips SHB5850 sound just as good as the more expensive Jaybird X2 and X3, only they've got a deeper bass reproduction along with clearer mids and highs, which puts the SHB5850 a step above for only $50.
We went into this review not expecting much if anything, but to our surprise, Philips has really impressed us with its reasonably priced SHB5850 wireless in-ear headphones. They might not have the best build quality, but what they lack in svelte materials, they certainly deliver on pretty much every other part. The sound is just amazingly good, the Bluetooth reception is one of the most reliable out of any wireless pair of headgear, battery life is the best we've seen in wireless earbuds, and the ultra-lightweight in-ear design of the Philips SHB5850 provides extended comfort and a stay-in-your-ear fit. Albeit we could have used a simple cable clip now and then for that added layer of security when doing some really intensive muscle building/fat burning exercises. At $50, the SHB5850 are one of the most cost effective wireless earbuds you can get that will vanquish some of the biggest and most expensive competitors on the market today.