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Jaybird X3 review: The much-improved Jaybird X3 is a top wireless sports headphone

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The Good The Jaybird X3 wireless sports headphone is smaller than the X2, has improved battery life, costs less and sounds excellent for an in-ear Bluetooth headphone. It's sweat resistant and comes with a compact protective carrying pouch.

The Bad Don't lose the charging accessory or you'll have no way to charge the headphone; not as comfortable as the Bose SoundSport Wireless; noise-isolating design may be a safety issue for runners.

The Bottom Line The Jaybird X3 is a significant improvement over the X2 and one of the top Bluetooth sports headphone currently available.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 9
  • Value 8

The Jaybird X3, the third iteration of the company's popular sweat-resistant wireless sports headphone, is probably the best headphone the company has produced.

What's new about it? Well, for starters it's smaller than the X2. Also, its inline remote has been redesigned, and its battery has been upgraded from NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) to lithium ion to deliver up to eight hours battery life playing music at moderate volume levels. That's the same battery life as the X2 but lithium ion is more reliable than NiMH and can be charged and discharged more rapidly.

On top of that, Jaybird, now owned by Logitech, says it's tweaked the 6mm drivers inside the earbuds. I will say these are among the best sounding wireless sports headphones out there right now. And at $130, they cost $50 less than the initial price of the X2. (The headphones will launch in the UK and Australia in "the next few months" for £109 and AU$179, respectively.)

The X3 comes in four colors: Military green (shown here), black, white, and red.

David Carnoy/CNET

As for other improvements, the fins that help secure the buds in your ears have also been redesigned for the better, and Jaybird now includes a clip to attach the headphone to the back of your shirt that's similar to the one found on the Bose SoundSport Wireless.

I've never liked Jaybird's cord-shortening accessories, but for those who do like them, they're back. A set of are included along with plenty of eartips -- silicone and foam -- and chances are one of the tips will allow you to get a tight, comfortable seal to maximize sound quality. The only downside to this design is that this is a noise-isolating earphone, which means it seals out a lot of ambient noise, preventing you from hearing traffic while you're running. Headphones such as the Plantronics BackBeat Fit and Bose SoundSport Wireless have open designs and allow some ambient noise to filter in.

It's also worth mentioning that Jaybird includes a little charging accessory that connects to a Micro-USB cable, which you then clip onto the inline remote. It's one of those items that's easy to lose (the accessory has a little lanyard built into it), but Jaybird reps told me it went to this charging method because sweat and grime from people's hands sometimes ended up in USB charging port on the X2 and caused the headphone to fail. The only problem is that if you misplace the accessory, you can't charge the headphone and you'll have to call Jaybird customer support to send you another one (Jaybird says that till the end of 2016 you'll be able to get a replacement for free, but after that you'll have to order the accessory through the company's website for a small fee).

What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Jaybird's more expensive Freedom headphone has a similar charging scheme, but the Freedom's charging accessory incorporates a built-in battery to extend battery life, and the Freedom's inline remote is too beefy (there's a battery inside it). The X3's earbuds house the batteries and the inline remote is smaller and lighter, making it less noticeable when you're running.

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