I must confess that prior to this review, Phiaton was not a brand I was familiar with. When these headphones arrived in the mail, I was totally oblivious as to what to expect from them. Let me tell you: I was pleasantly surprised…at first.
What’s In The Box?
The packaging for the BT 100 NC’s was some of the nicest I’ve seen for any product; especially for a pair headphones. The box felt sturdy, strong, was visually appealing, and wasn’t overly difficult to open. I like the contrasting elements Phiaton used with an all-white outer packaging against a black and silver inner packaging. I was also very impressed at how well the headphones and accessories were packaged in the box.
In the box you get:
- Instruction manual
- Warranty info
- Additional ear pads of varying sizes
- Additional brackets for holding the wiring to the neckband
- 3.5mm to micro USB cord – this can be used if the BT 100’s battery has died or if you are using them with a device that does not have Bluetooth or NFC
- USB to micro USB cable
You basically get everything you need in the box. However, I would like to have seen Phiaton include an AC adapter of some sort, so that you could charge the BT 100s using a wall outlet.
The Phiaton BT 100s are drop dead sexy. The white with red accents looks phenomenal. The red accents that surround the Phone and Play/Pause function keys are a cherry apple color that complements the shiny white plastic, quite well. The plastic build feels sturdy and of premium quality. Nothing about these headphones feels cheap. They feel solid enough to survive mild to moderate abuse without needing to worry.
On the left side of the BT 100s you have your volume switch, Phone function key (which also doubles as the power button), and an NFC toggle switch. On the right side, you have a Play/Pause function key.
I liked the placement of the function keys and volume rocker. They were very convenient and easy to access. The function keys did feel a bit stiff and had very little play to them, so it was hard to know whether or not you were actually pressing them.
One thing about the BT 100’s that really bugged me was the absence of a retraction mechanism for the ear buds. Phiaton, instead of including a retraction mechanism, opted to include two silos (one on each side) to place the ear buds inside of (partially). The problem is that they don’t fit securely. Instead of the earbuds themselves being a bit over sized to get a secure fit in the silo, you instead have a small peg that is supposed to fit in the hole in the ear pad to secure them. This solution was a glaring design oversight on Phiaton’s part. The peg not only does not secure the earbuds properly, but it is also an utter pain trying to get it into the hole in the ear pads. Consequently, the earbuds frequently fell out of the silos with very little external influence.
Overall, the Phiaton BT 100s were easy to use. It was not straightforward, out of the box, how to pair them with a device or even turn them on, but once I read the instructions, the process was pretty simple. To turn them on, you hold down the Phone function key until you see the indicator light turn on. To pair them with a device, you hold down the Play/Pause function key until you feel the headphones vibrate and the indicator light begins to flash red and blue in an alternating pattern. The instructions tell you to hold down the Play/Pause button for 2.5 seconds to put the headphones in pairing mode. I had to hold the button down for 3-4 seconds.
The BT 100’s are rated for approximately 7.5 – 12 hours of use while listening to music. This rating is pretty accurate with my experience. I found the charge time to be roughly three hours from dead to fully charged.
Call quality with the BT 100s was okay, not spectacular. The calls themselves sounded good in the earbuds, but the BT 100’s microphone makes your voice sound a bit muffled to the person on the other end of the line. I did like that the BT 100s have a vibration feature that activates when you receive a phone call. I also liked that I could answer and end calls with the Phone function key.
I ran into some issues with the Bluetooth. Specifically, the BT 100’s had a problem with keeping a stable pairing with my devices. I used them on a BLU VIVO XL, and also on an iPhone 6 Plus. The sound from music and video would quite frequently cut in and out while connected to my VIVO XL. It was almost like listening to a skipping CD. This phenomenon occurred far less frequently with my iPhone, but it still occurred nonetheless. I tried to give the BT 100s the benefit of the doubt and blame my BLU phone, but when the issue occurrs on the iPhone as well, I have to draw the conclusion that the issue lies with the headphones themselves and not my devices.
The sound quality of the BT 100s is a mixed bag. The most accurate word I can use to describe it, is balanced. The mids and highs were right where they needed to be, and I really appreciate that there is no “tinniness” to the highs. The bass is nothing to write home about but it blends in well with the rest of the spectrum. The problem is this: when I compare these $100 Phiatons to a $30 pair of Syllable G600 headphones, the difference is night and day. The Syllables sound deep and immersive, while the Phiatons sound like a cheap pair of Walmart headphones, in comparison. For $100, the Phiatons need to create an experience that makes me feel like I am physically in the concert hall if I close my eyes while listening to music.
This is tough for me. I like the Phiaton BT 100s. If it were not for the Bluetooth issue that I ran into, as well as the price, I would give you a thumbs up and purchase recommendation without hesitation. They feel good, they sound good, and the features are great… but the Bluetooth is hit or miss and the sound quality is not immersive enough for something that costs $100. I would definitely approach these with caution.
The Phiaton BT 100 NC Bluetooth headphones are available at Amazon.com for $98.99