Tushar BurmanJul 20, 2020 19:19:00 IST
I’d like to say that I liked these buds the first time I put them on, but I didn’t. I didn’t like them for a while, much like many of the other true wireless earbuds that seem to have conceived a cottage industry around them. The Xiaomi did not impress immediately, nor did they fall into my impulse-buy range for me to not care. That is reserved for their sister product, the Redmi buds (review coming eventually).
Why get these?
The Xiaomi earphones fall into the AirPods-style category of true wireless buds. That is, they look quite similar, with those funny stems hanging down from your ears, and the fact that they just sort of sit there. The case is tall rather than wide, with sharp edges but a nice feel. At Rs 3,900, these creep into the mid-range of the TWSS market, considering you can buy this sort of gear for as low as Rs 999. But you do get a bit more for your money, and it might be worth paying for in the long run. Physically, they’re derivative, but with a nice twist. They give one the sense of being designed well, as opposed to squeezed out of a tube like some of the other competition.
To begin with, the Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 are very comfortable. This is partly down to the fact that they don’t seal in your ear like proper buds. You can pop them in and just forget about them. The stalks are thick and flatter than AirPods in cross-section, but quite easy to grab or tap on. Isolation is negligible, which is nice when you’re doing other stuff. In terms of convenience, these can’t be beaten. Or perhaps that can be said about this format in general. They also stay surprisingly secure in my ears, and I was unable to shake them off. You get 4 hours of battery life on the buds, with an additional 14 supplied by the case. It’s easy to go a couple of days with reasonable use without having to charge the case. Thankfully, even when you do, the case supports fast charge via USB-C.
If you’re trying these for the first time, it’s best to do it in a quiet room for the best sound quality. Since they don’t seal within your ear canal, any sort of external noise will muddy the experience. On their own, the Xiaomi buds sound very agreeable, with a surprising authority in the bass, considering they have to make do with no seal. I did not to any ‘critical’ listening with these, because that’s not what they’re for, and going back and forth with any high-end gear will just end in disappointment. Suffice to say that nothing awful sprung up. Curiously, the Xiaomi buds do support the LHDC high-quality codec for music playback, which has little support in smartphone brands, so we were unable to take advantage of it.
Pairing is a no-nonsense affair. You just press and hold the one button on the case, and the buds go into pairing mode, and readily show up in your device’s Bluetooth menu. There’s an indicator LED that flashes white when in pairing mode, so you know the button worked. The same LED is orange when charging, or when charge is low. Simple, effective. If you have a MIUI-based device, pairing is even quicker – you open the case nearby as with Apple’s Airpods, and the phone detects them. Connectivity was not an issue with Bluetooth 5.0, with the buds easily receiving signal through a couple of walls.
Controls are another highlight with the Xiaomi earphones. They’re touch-based, and you tap on the stalks to activate. Twice on the right to play/pause/take a call, twice on the left to activate your device’s voice assistant. The buds sense when you put them on or take them off, and will play/pause music when you do. There’s no way to adjust volume on the buds themselves, but in my experience, the additional touches/taps/button press chords you have to remember when buds do too much, is just not worth it. Touch controls also mean that you can wear these in bed and sleep on them without buttons getting pressed. I found this quite useful for watching video on my phone before falling asleep.
Call quality, at least for the wearer, is quite good. When network quality is good (a very rare incidence), phone calls are clear and without complaint for both ends. Xiaomi uses two microphones for ‘environmental noise cancellation’, which should make the wearer’s voice clearer to the other end, but we didn’t get any applause for our calls. We’ll take their word for it.
And finally, while they don’t advertise a low-latency mode like their sister model. The Redmi earbuds, they’re quick enough for me not to notice in PUBG. But I’m awful at PUBG, so you might want to disregard this part of the review.
Why you shouldn’t buy these
Funnily enough, for one of the same reasons you should: they don’t seal. While this means you’re more aware of your surroundings, it also means you’re never quite going to get the thump of an in-ear bud. That said, the 14.2mm drivers that Xiaomi uses compensate admirably. Bassheads, please move along.
And really, that’s about all I can find wrong with them. I’d have preferred a more practical codec than LHDC that is supported by more devices, and perhaps an app like the new Realme Buds Neo to customise EQ, but these are by no means deal breakers.
The Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 used to go for quite a bit more than the Rs 3,000 they’re listed for currently. At the previous prices, I had trouble blindly recommending them to people. But with prolonged use, I’ve found them to be as essential in my pocket as my keys. Sure, I’d like to wear my giant Jabra over-ears to get groceries (and I often have), but you can just get more done with the convenience of these earphones. They’re built well, sound good, have a feature set that doesn’t scream ‘cheap’ and they’re priced right. Recommended.
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