LG Tone Platinum SE headphones with Google Assistant review

LG’s Tone Platinum SE Bluetooth headphones deliver new features in a familiar package

LG Tone headphones review
Bottom Line

The iconic over-the-neck LG Tone headphones have received a make-over and now feature a dedicated Google Assistant button. They're on the pricey side, but could be worth it if you dig the features and design.

Neat design with retractable earbuds
Dedicated Google Assistant button
Double mics
Solid 13 hour battery life
Not water/sweat resistant
Distortion at higher volumes

LG’s Tone headphones are an icon in the wireless headphone market, known for their over-the-neck design. The latest Tone headset to hit the market is the Tone Platinum SE, HBS1120. Outside of the premium sound quality, the major feature is Google Assistant integration, with support for both iOS and Android. There’s even support for real-time language translation.

The Platinum SE Bluetooth Headphones might be the nicest design yet for LG’s Tones to date. They have the iconic over-the-neck design with sleek arms that rest on your collarbone. The neckband is made of a tough rubber, so it has some durable flex to it. The nicest aspect of these Tone Platinum SE’s is that the earbuds and cable are retractable. Just give the earbuds a tug and they suck right into the headphones. No magnets or cord clips required. The earbuds themselves are pill-shaped and only the silicon ear tips can be seen when recessed.

We’re big fans of the buttons and layout on these Platinums. Everything is really easy and intuitive. There’s a hard on/off switch on the inside, so no pressing and holding required. There is a play/pause/multi-function button, a volume rocker, a track control rocker, and a dedicated Google Assistant button all conveniently located on the outside of the right and left arms.

For Bluetooth headphones, the battery is better than average getting around 13 hours. They charge with an included micro-USB charger, and there is a covered port on the outside of the headphones.

Admittedly, these aren’t the most minimalistic looking headphones, hanging over your collarbone — your personal preference and taste for the aesthetics should be factored in. We found them to be really comfortable and natural feeling. You barely feel anything hanging around your neck. Usually, with any headphones, wired or wireless, you’ll feel the weight of the cord pulling down on the earbuds, costing you a good fit — this won’t happen with these Tones. The cord that tethers the buds is surprisingly thin and light and there’s virtually no weight to it. Hopefully, this ultra-thin cord will last the test of time.

These aren’t technically gym headphones, and there is no mention of sweat or water resistance. They do fare well at the gym with a couple exceptions. You’ll feel the band moving and flopping when you’re running. And, if you’re doing situps or exercises where you lay back, the neckband can slip right off behind you.

These headphones pack in Harman Kardon Platinum Sound. We found the audio quality to be clear, neutral, and pretty balanced. The bass gets nice and low, but not overwhelming or artificial sounding. Some might find the bass a bit light, but we found it to be appropriate. The mids are detailed, but fall a little flat; voices don’t quite pop. The highs were good and crisp. The overall audio quality and experience was really pleasant, and for such small earbuds there is a lot of detail. Since they’re pretty well balanced, they do a nice job complementing all genres. We did find at higher volumes you can hear some distortion.

The Google Assistant integration was surprisingly nice, even on an iPhone. On iOS there was next to no setup, we just had to open our Google Assistant app and follow some prompts. We found it a little conflicting deciding when to use Siri versus Google Assistant, since both are accessible by the headphones. There’s a lot of overlap between the two assistants. Siri, of course, has a better integration with iPhone’s native features like texting, managing apps, and controlling your phone, while Google Assistant is arguably a little smarter when it comes to figuring stuff out on the web.

The more Google products you use, the better Assistant is. On iOS they do a good job of compensating for the features they don’t have control over. Out of the box, Google Assistant will automatically read your notifications through the headphones so you don’t have to glance at your phone. We even found Google Assistant to be faster than Siri in taking requests, which was a surprise. Pressing and holding the dedicated Google Assistant button allows you to immediately start talking. A tap on the Google Assistant button will read you the time and whether you have any notifications.

Android phones, of course, have less limitations and get even more value out of this button. Ask Google Assistant to ‘help interpret Spanish’ and it will translate for you in real-time. This feature hasn’t been rolled out for iOS yet, but Google Assistant opens Google Translate and basically achieves the same thing — automatic translation of two languages at the same time with no button pressing.

Bottom Line

If you like the over-the-neck LG Tone design, you’ll probably love the new Platinum LE’s. LG did a great job at making the design sleek and usable, and the retractable cord is a really nice touch. With that said, these aren’t pocketable headphones, and they’re also not ideal for more intense workouts. We found them to be comfortable, easy and convenient to use, and enjoyed the overall audio experience. That said, priced in at $199.99, they’re pretty expensive for what they are. The Google Assistant button is great, but it doesn’t really give you that much more than you already get with a multi-function button and your phone’s default assistant. They also don’t quite sound like $200 headphones, but they still sound good. However, if you like the design, and you like the features, they’re a good buy.

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