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Review: TicPods Free wireless earbuds

By ASHISH NARSALE
Last updated on: February 07, 2020 10:59 IST

Are they worth Rs 8,499? Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com finds out.

IMAGE: The TicPods Free are a good pair of true wireless earbuds. Photograph: Kind courtesy Mobvoi.com
 

Chinese smartwatch maker Mobvoi has expanded its presence in India with TicPods Free, its true wireless earbuds.

TicPods Free are already available outside India, as are the higher end TicPods 2 Pro and TicPods 2.

Here's what the TicPods Free offers.

 

Lava
Ice
Navy
IMAGE: The TicPods Free are available in three colours -- Lava, Ice and Navy. Photograph: Kind courtesy Mobvoi.com

Build and Design

The TicPods Free are basically designed for daily commuters and fitness enthusiasts who like music on the go.

My review pair came in Lava Red, which looked rather funky, but you can also opt for the more sober Ice or Navy.

The earbuds come in a trendy plastic case, which is small enough to slide into your pocket.

As with most true wireless earbuds, the case doubles up as a charging point. The earbuds fit into the moulded casing and rest on the charging points with the help of the magnets inside.

The case is elegant. The lid is thoughtfully provided with a magnetic lock, so that it doesn't open accidentally. 

The buds, which are ergonomically designed, look strong, sturdy and are lightweight.

They are protected against water and dust and have an IPX5 rating, which means a splash of water or sweat won't be a problem.

IMAGE: The buds are light and can be comfortably worn for long hours. Photograph: Kind courtesy Mobvoi.com

Fit and Comfort

The TicPods come with pair of standard silicon tips and an additional pair of bigger tips. If these are not comfortable, your only option is to try third party tips.

The silicon tip fit well in my ear, creating passive noise cancellation to avoid ambient sounds.

The buds are light and can be comfortably worn for long hours.

Their ergonomic design helps them maintain their grasp during any normal shake of the head and even in the gym.

IMAGE: The TicPods Free offers a neutral sound. Photograph: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

Sound

If you are looking for bass-heavy earbuds, then the TicPods Free -- which offer a neutral sound -- is not for you.

When I listened to Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack, the bass was evident but lacked punch.

To test depth (the distance of spacing between the instruments played in the orchestra) and transparency (the clarity and crispness in the music), I listened to a live orchestra version of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly theme song, the Axel F -- Beverly Hills Cop (1984) soundtrack by Harold Faltermeyer and the live Eagles' version of Hotel California.

The output had good depth and transparency.

The instruments and vocals were well separated, creating a 3D virtual depth in the music.

My only complaint is that the earbuds are not loud enough. I had to keep the volume at 60 per cent or above in my reasonably noisy office environment.

IMAGE: Side-by-side -- The Apple Airpods Pro and the TicPods Free. Photograph: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

Range and Connectivity

The range of the buds is well over 10 metres without any drop in connectivity.

They use Bluetooth 4.2; I would have preferred if they used Bluetooth 5.0 instead.

While watching videos, I noticed a delay in the audio-video synchronisation.

Call quality

The call quality is fairly good; I could hear my wife clearly, but she said my voice was louder on a regular call.

The noise cancellation during calls is quite good.

Battery

The casing takes 180 minutes to charge from 0 to 100 per cent.

The earbuds can last upto 3-4 hours on continuous use, depending on the volume you choose.

In the case, the buds take an hour to charge; a fully-charged case will allow you to charge them three to four times.

You can charge it using the microUSB port. The TicPods don't come with a charger but you can use any available microUSB mobile charger.

IMAGE: The TicPods Free come in a trendy plastic case. Photograph: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

Usage

Once the earbuds are removed from their casing, they automatically connect to the phone provided they have already been paired.

They have an auto off system when not in use. But, since they don't have buttons, you have to insert then in the casing, close and open the lid and remove them in order to activate the buds again. The process can be annoying, as is the fact that you have to keep the case handy. 

The earbuds have touch-sensitive controls. Please note they work only when worn.

I loved that you could manipulate the volume by sliding your finger up or down either of the buds.

To skip a song on your playlist, you can tap twice on either earbud. However, there is no gesture to return to the previous track or replay a song.

A 2 second long press on the right earbud activates Google Assistant for Android and Siri for Apple phones.

The 2 second long press on the left earbud is used to pause/play a song.

The earbuds have an in-ear detection feature; this means that they automatically pause when you remove them.

IMAGE: Here's what you get when you order a TicPods Free. Photograph: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

Companion app

The Mobvoi provides a companion app for Android and iOS devices, which can be downloaded from their respective app stores.

The app does not provide any function to interact with the earbuds, other than firmware update and the user manual.

Verdict

The TicPods Free are a good pair of true wireless earbuds for music listeners those who want to avoid those dangling wires.

One cannot expect the same sound as wired earbuds, but they have good sound, are comfortable to wear and have good battery life.

While they is priced at Rs 8,499, they can be bought for Rs 5099.40 for now through the maker's website.

 

The Unboxing Video:

 

 

ASHISH NARSALE / Rediff.com
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