Adidas FWD-02 Sport review | TechRadar


30-second review

The Adidas FWD-02 Sport are true wireless earbuds that are firmly aimed at runners, promising a secure, sweat and weather-proof design, a big, powerful sound and the kind of battery life that should be good to get you through a solid week’s worth of run time.

The wireless earbuds tick all of those boxes for us, and while you can certainly find a sound profile that feels a little more versatile on buds from the likes of Bose, Jabra and JBL, the FWD-02 more than hold their own in terms of power – and Adidas offers room to customize that sound profile as well.

The FWD-02 Sport offer good features for the price, however they lack active noise cancellation, which you can find on competing running headphones right now. Saying that, if you’re looking for a distinctive set of earbuds that stay put and sound good overall, then that’s what the FWD-02 deliver.

a closeup of the adidas fwd-02 sport earbuds

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Adidas FWD-02 Sport price and release date

Available now$170 / £139.99 / AU$270

The Adidas FWD-02 Sport launched in February 2022 priced at $170 / £139.99 / AU$270.

That puts them in the price range of other truly wireless sports earbuds, such as the Bose Sports Earbuds, Jabra Elite 4 Active and the JBL Reflect Flow Pro.

the adidas fwd-02 sport running earbuds with accessories

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design and features

Silicone wingtipsIPX5 water resistanceTouch controls

To make sure the FWD-02 Sport are primed to stay in your ears, Adidas has opted for a wingtip-style design here. Those silicone wingtips are removable, with four sets of additional tips in the box that should ensure they sit comfortably inside of your ears. We tried a few pairs out and crucially, the tips didn’t feel irritating to wear or slip out of place during longer workouts (even when things got a bit sweaty).

Adidas also uses silicone eartips to get a good seal for sound, and again, there are four sets in total to make sure you can get an optimal fit.

The buds themselves feel relatively light in the ears. They’re not the lightest buds you can get at this price, but they certainly didn’t weigh heavy either. There’s a nice grippy finish on the outer surface of the earbuds and they look pretty discreet.

a closeup of the adidas fwd-02 sport earbuds

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Adidas has slapped them with an IPX5 water-resistance rating, which makes them technically fit to sustain low jet water spray. In reality, that makes them able to handle some sweat and light rain, but there are sports buds on the market with higher IP ratings that offer greater protection against water and sweat.

Touch controls on the outside of the earbuds can be used to handle calls and play/pause audio, with a double tap skipping tracks and a triple tap skipping back a track.

In the companion Adidas headphones app, you can disable those touch controls and also adjust what they control; for instance, you can set them to activate the awareness mode, or launch the Adidas Running app to let you hear your progress during runs. There’s also a Spotify control mode, and the ability to control your default voice assistant as well.

Using those controls can be a bit of a mixed bag. They’re far better suited to workouts when you have the scope to stop to single, double or triple tap them. However, if you’re on a quick run, reliably using the controls can be tricky – we had to keep stopping because we didn’t nail it on the first or second attempt.

the adidas fwd-02 sport earbuds

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Adidas headphones app, which is available for Android and iOS, offers a few additional features beyond adjusting touch control settings. You can use the equalizer to adjust the sound of your buds, see the music currently playing on your device, check the battery status for each bud, and adjust the awareness mode feature, too. It’s a simple app, but it’s one that’s been reliable to use and it allows you to tailor the FWD-02 Sport to your specific needs.

When the earbuds aren’t in use, you can drop them in the charging case, which has the same grippy textured feel as the buds, as well as a softer material on the lid. The lid is held in place magnetically – and this means it can fling off when you open up the case.

Inside, the buds clip in securely and there’s a single button with a couple of LED lights to let you know when they’re in pairing mode. On the outside, there’s a battery status indicator just above the USB-C charging port. The case also comes with an IPX4 rating, which means it’s weatherproof; it’s nice to see that both buds and case offer some protection against the elements.

the adidas fwd-02 sport earbuds with their charging case

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Audio performance

6mm driversPowerful audio performanceMids can sound recessed

Sporty true wireless earbuds at this price point can offer excellent audio performances; the Jabra Elite 4 Active and JBL Reflect Flow Pro are just a couple of similarly priced options that can give you that. The Adidas FWD-02 Sport can certainly compete with these rivals on that front.

6mm drivers power the audio performance and deliver a pretty typical 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response range – that’s within the range of human hearing, though some earbuds do extend lower for a chest-thumping bass sound.

The FWD-02 Sport pump out a strong, loud, and powerful sound that definitely veers more on the bassy side – though it never felt overbearing in our tests. The sound is nice and punchy, though the mids felt a little recessed and treble a tad harsh when we turned up the volume. That doesn’t ruin the overall sound of these buds, but if you’re hoping for flawless, detailed sound, you might want to look elsewhere.

a closeup of one adidas fwd-02 sport earbud

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Adidas’ new in-ear headphones fall firmly into the category of earbuds that prioritize power and bass over a balanced sound profile, but they still offer a solid sound on the whole that lends itself well to more uptempo, bass-heavy music. They work well for listening to podcasts too.

Adidas does let you adjust the equalizer settings too, offering you editable preset profiles such as rock, pop, hip hop, electronic and vocal boost. There’s also a custom mode that’s fully adjustable, and they’re all pretty effective in getting a sound that’s better suited to the genre of music you’re listening to.

There’s no active noise cancellation here, but Adidas does offer an awareness mode to bring more of the outside world back in. From the companion app, you can adjust how much of that sound is let in, though we found if you’re listening at high volumes, the awareness mode isn’t as effective in letting you hear your surroundings.

The FWD-02 Sport contain two microphones in each bud and a remote to help you handle phone calls. We’d say call quality is good overall, though the buds struggle in windy, blustery conditions. If you’re using them inside for things like video calls, then they are more than up to the task.

the adidas fwd-02 sports wireless earbuds

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Battery life

Six hours from the earbuds19 hours from the charging caseListening at high volumes can reduce the battery life

 The FWD-02 deliver six hours of listening time from a single charge and with a fully-charged case, you’ll get an additional 19 hours. So that’s 25 hours in total.

In our tests an hour’s worth of running with the FWD-02 at pretty loud volume, saw the battery drop by 20%. That would suggest the onboard battery life is closer to the five-hour mark. 

If you compare that to Adidas’ own (albeit pricier) Z.N.E 01 ANC buds, those offer 4.5 hours on a single charge. The non-ANC version of the Z.N.E 01 buds see that figure jump to five hours. So, in Adidas’ own range of buds, the FWD-02 Sport offer the longest battery life.

Compared to similarly priced sporty buds, the Jabra Elite 4 Active offer up to seven hours off a single charge and the JBL Reflect Flow Pro muster up anywhere from eight-10 hours.

That’s not the best battery life you can find at this price, but it’s not bad. We’d say it’s good for a week’s worth of listening, particularly when you factor in the quick charge support, which gives you a one hour of battery from a 15-minute charge.

Should I buy the Adidas FWD-02 Sport?

the adidas fwd-02 sport wireless earbuds

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy them if…

Don’t buy them if…

Source