Nearly every audio brand is dabbling with true wireless buds, so the Philips ST702 sports earphones are trying to stand out from the crowd with UV cleaning technology to keep them germ free.
They form part of a new Philips Sports line-up that includes a bargain pair of bass-heavy SH402 on-ears (€69) featuring cooling gel ear pads, and the SN503 wireless in-ears (€129) with the world’s smallest heart rate sensor benchmarked against chest strap trackers for accuracy.
Each pair is splash, sweat or waterproof, but it’s the true wireless ST702 that have really pricked our perspirating ears.
Design: In the can
The ST702 have a distinct Amazon Echo Buds look about them, only they're slightly smaller, much lighter and more premium. Soft rubberised wing tips are there to keep each one in place, plus you get three interchangeable ear-tip covers so you can find a cosy fit for your canals.
Once wearing them they feel featherweight and a few aggressive star jumps later the wing tips seem to be doing their job. Passive noise isolation is perfectly reasonable too.
On the bud itself an LED ring surrounds the Philips logo and turns solid blue when Bluetooth is paired. Pairing feels fairly instantaneous once they’re removed from the charging case too. We say case, it’s more of a can.
In fact it reminds us of the amber-housing cryo-can from Jurassic Park. There’s no dry ice effect when opening it, but the sliding mechanism still makes it feel like something of an event.
On the side of the case you’ll find an LED battery indicator, another LED to signify when UV cleaning is taking place, and a Micro USB port (collective groan).
Features: I l-uv u
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic, constant commuter or simply have questionable personal hygiene, it’s hard not to get excited about the UV clean feature.
Slide the buds into the charging case and 20 seconds later a sunbed session of ultraviolet rays has disinfected each one, clearing them of bacterial nasties.
The case also offers two full charges, bringing total play time to 18 hours if you include the buds’ battery capacity of six hours. There’s also a 15 minute fast charge option for 1.5 hours of play time.
The ST702 come with tap controls and voice assistant support – both of which appeared to work well – Bluetooth 5.0 for a stable connection, and an IPX5 waterproof and sweat-proof rating.
Performance: Space jam
Slipping the Bluetooth 5.0 buds in for a listening session is a fairly seamless affair. On an iPhone 11 Pro they appeared immediately on the devices list and connected in seconds. Sound quality seemed clean, crisp and most notably, spacious.
The 6mm neodymium acoustic drivers aren’t the biggest in the business, but for a delicate balance between the frequencies, on first impressions, they were up to the task – although we only managed to rattle through some hip hop from Foreign Beggars, some inimitable Etta James, and a splash of 6 Music through the BBC Sounds app.
Philips is entering a true wireless arena where competition is fierce. Even if you’re not creating sports specific earphones, most come with some degree of sweat or waterproofing deemed acceptable for gym sessions.
The ST702 have a clear advantage over many rivals thanks to its rapid UV clean feature. They’re lightweight and come with a secure fit too – key factors when choosing a pair for energetic workouts.
Whether sound quality can mix it with the best is still up for debate, but we hope to bring you a full review soon. Meanwhile the Philips Sports range will be out here later in Q1.