Last year Nokia signed a deal with Monster for future accessories and this is the first fruit of that deal. They are in-the-ear buds with an in-line microphone and remote, and have been designed for use with Nokia’s Lumia Windows Phone products. At CES I was told they are expected to retail for $99 here in the US (though I can’t find them for sale on-line right now, at a US based website, to confirm this).
Design and features
In the box there are the headphones (Nokia WH-920), an collection of ear-buds of various size, a small carry case, and lastly a short adapter cable so they can be used with Symbian and MeeGo devices as well. As usually I do have a problem with trying to find an ear-bud size that feels comfortable in the ear, but there are enough options that most people will find something that is wearable.
They come in a variety of colors, to match the colors the Lumia phones come in. I have the white ones and they look pretty nice. They have a tangle resistant cable which does still tangle but less so than most headset’s I have used. There is an in-line remote at the point where the left and right splits, and a small slider to adjust the length of the divided part. The left wire also has a small microphone on it for voice calls. All in all, it’s supposed to be fashionable and stylish and (not that I’m any sort of fashion expert) it succeeds pretty well.
The remote is slim with 3 buttons, which do different things depending on what sort of device you have attached. This is partly down to the differences in wiring for different Nokia devices, but I’m not convinced the remote is as useful as it could be for either Windows Phone, MeeGo or Symbian devices. However, it is just heavy enough to add a bit of weight to the wire and pull a bit, leading to the need to adjust the ear-buds regularly when doing anything active. Unfortunately there is no way to clip it to anything so you just have to let it hang.
In Windows Phone, + and – increase and decrease volume, and the middle button is a call and hang up, and when not in a call, a long press will launch the voice command app. However, when music is playing, a short press on the middle button (usually) pauses and resumes playback (for some reason this wasn’t happening the other day). A double tap skips forward and triple skips back to the previous.
If you have a N9, it all changes when listening to music, but not necessarily in a way that makes sense. Short pressing any button to play / pause music. Long pressing any button skips to the next track. In a call, all buttons will end it. So there is some music player management there, but loose any control of volume.
For Symbian, the middle and plus buttons can be long pressed to launch voice commands. Short pressing doesn’t have any effect I can see. Similarly, when in a call, the middle button or + will hang up, but – doesn’t appear to do anything.
Just in-case, I did try to use the Nokia WH-701 (in box with N8) headset with the Lumia 710 using the Purity adapter, and got good audio quality, but none of the in-line remote control features worked. Wasn’t sure I expected them to, but thought it was worth a go.
As for sound quality (you should bear in mind my usual headphones have ear-buds supplied in the box with other phones, or my Sony MDR-XD100 headphones) they sound pretty decent, and they do a reasonable job of noise cancellation too. The sound is rich, without being overly heavy on the bass, although this does vary depending on their position in the ear. In general, I really enjoyed the sound from them.
In calls, they work really well, but, there is a definite hiss during a call when the person on the other end is talking. As soon as they are silent, it stops. I didn’t notice the same hiss when using the phone’s speaker or ear-piece. It’s not enough to stop you being able to hear the other person or make them sound less clear, but it’s definitely there and you will notice it.
So what’s the verdict here. Honestly, they are nice, and an improvement over the headset you will find boxed with your phone, but then they should be. Are they a big enough improvement to justify a $100 price tag. Probably not, though for me that’s in part because the remote functionality is not all it could and perhaps should be, especially if you don’t have a Windows Phone. Unfortunately, if you don’t plan to use them witha Windows Phone, I have to say simply, don’t buy them.