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Realme Buds Air Pro Review: Inefficient Design Overshadows Good ANC And Decent Audio
Realme is aggressively expanding its accessories portfolio in the Indian market. The company recently introduced a new range of IoT products including TWS earbuds, wireless neckband, soundbar, and Smart TV among some other reasonably priced smart products for Indian households. After testing the Realme Buds Wireless Pro- the most affordable ANC-equipped neckband, we are taking a closer look at the Realme Buds Air Pro.
- Active Noise cancellation On budget
- Decent Audio
- Satisfactory Battery Life
- Nifty Touch Controls
- Realme Link App Support
- Build Quality Feels Cheap
- In-Ear Fit Isn’t Secure
- Sub-Par Microphone Performance
- Poorly Implemented Audio Modes
- Lacks Wireless Charging Support
Priced at Rs. 4,999, the Buds Air Pro is the brand's first pair of ANC-backed true wireless buds. The new buds feature 10mm drivers and come equipped with a range of premium features such as dual-mic noise cancellation for voice calling with ENC noise cancelling algorithm, instant auto-connect and Google fast pair.
Interestingly, the Realme Buds Air Pro is a direct rival of the Oppo Enco W51 TWS earbuds which is also priced at Rs. 4,999 and offers ANC and even wireless charging support. Which pair serves well as true wireless earbuds under Rs. 5,000? Let's find out.
Design- Looks Good, Feels Cheap And Has No Wireless Charging Support
The Buds Air Pro ships inside a ‘Cobble' inspired lightweight case that reminds me of the OnePlus Buds' cradle. The charging case has a glossy finish and comes in two color options- Rock Black and Soul White. We are testing the white color variant and the glossy case has already gathered scratches all over the front and the rear side. The sleek case is very pocket friendly and you won't find any difficulty carrying it around in jeans pockets.
The front has an LED indicator which blinks green when you open the lid and also informs you about the battery level. The case isn't Qi-certified which means you cannot charge the buds + case wirelessly. Also, the build quality of the case and buds feels very cheap. The lid just feels rather flimsy and fails to inspire confidence. In comparison, Oppo has managed to offer marginally better build quality for the case and buds at the same price-point and has also ensured wireless charging support. You can charge the Realme Buds Air using a Type-C charging port placed at the bottom. The pairing button is positioned on the right side and is pretty easy to miss due to the same color and finish.
Overall, we are not satisfied with the cases' build quality. The lack of wireless charging is also a deal-breaker. The Oppo W51 beats the Realme's buds in both the departments.
Similar to the case, the buds also come in a glossy finish and are constructed using the same plastic material that feels cheap. They are light on ears (5g each) but the fit is not quite secure and they fell off quite often while cycling and jogging, something you don't want to experience from TWS earbuds. I think it is mostly because the top head of the buds is a bit too bulky (Big 10mm drivers inside) and feels disproportionate.
Realme offers three silicone tips in the box to help you find the perfect fit but none gave us the desired confidence to wear these buds during an intense workout session. Once again, the Oppo Enco W51's buds win the design and comfort game. The Enco W51 buds have a considerably better fit and finish and offer a secure and comfortable fit than the Realme Buds Air Pro.
As far as durability is concerned, the Realme Buds Air Pro supports IPX4 water resistance rating to prevent splash, rain, and sweat in everyday use scenarios. Realme also claims that the buds can face the complex daily use and wear and tear as they have passed strict tests during the production process. I can also vouch for the claim as the buds fell quite often from my ears and survived the fall without any issues. I wish they offered a more secure fit but it seems Realme wants you to test their durability multiple times in a day.
Setup And Controls
The setup process is fairly straightforward. You open the lid and your device recognizes the buds and establishes the connection in a jiffy, provided that you have enabled the Bluetooth on your phone/tablet. Realme has also equipped the new buds with Google's Fast Pair technology which is very convenient if you have an Android device. As soon as you open the lid, the Android device shows a pop-up to connect the buds and link it with your Gmail id. The pop-up on the phone even shows the battery percentage of individual buds and the charging case.
Most importantly, you can locate the buds from ‘Find Device' section by simply ringing left or the right buds from the connected device. When used, the buds produce a high pitch sound to help you locate them. The feature comes handy if you drop an earbud or can't find while using them in daily routine. You also get ‘Smart Wear Detection' which works wonderfully. The feature automatically pauses the music when either of the buds is taken out.
As far as controls are concerned, you can single tap on the stem to answer the phone and double tap to play or pause music. A triple-tap by default plays the next track. Long tapping either of the buds to switch between various supported modes- ANC, Transparency and Normal mode. You can also enable ‘Game Mode' by long-tapping both the earbuds at the same time.
You can customize the touch controls (Double-tap or triple tap to summon the voice assistant) via the Realme link app. These buds don't support volume controls. You have to rely on the connected device to increase/decrease the volume.
The bigger size of the buds allowed Realme to put 10mm drivers for powerful sound delivery. Resultant, the sound produced is loud and clear as long as you are not blasting audio at 100% volume. Similar to any sub-5K wireless audio device, the Buds Air Pro's sound signature is focused on bass and treble delivery making them a decent pair of TWS earbuds for most common music genres. The buds also work well for vocal-heavy tracks and podcasts as they perform a good job with higher frequency sounds.
Realme's companion app offers some level of customization but they are very poorly implemented. For instance, the ‘Volume Enhancer' has no impact on sound produced irrespective of the volume levels and sound modes you have applied. And the ‘Bass Boost+' ever so slightly increases the bass delivery.
Also, I compared the sound quality of the Realme Buds Air Pro to the Oppo Enco W51 and found the latter to be delivering a better overall listening experience. The Enco W51 is tuned better and their 7mm drivers somehow produce richer and immersive audio than the Realme's 10mm backed TWS earbuds.
Active Noise Cancellation And Voice Calls Experience
As for the ANC, Realme has done a decent job with the noise cancellation. The buds manage to cut down a decent amount of ambient noise to improve the audio experience to some extent. You would still hear the fan and the sound of your fingers tapping on the keyboard but only when the audio isn't streamed. Play some tracks with ANC enabled and you would start appreciating these budget TWS earbuds for the noise cancellation they bring to the table. The voice calling experience is a mixed bag and is at par with most of the budged TWS earbuds. Some callers constantly complained about the background noise (not the disturbance via Airtel's poor network reception) while making calls on the Buds Air Pro.
Battery Life And Connectivity
The Realme Buds Air Pro lasted for about three and half hours with ANC on and volume levels fluctuating between 60-80%. If you disable the ANC, the buds can easily deliver 4 hours of audio playback on one full charge. The charging case added three additional cycles which means one full-charge (Buds + Case) will last you 10 to 12 hours with mixed use of ANC, which is a decent battery backup for these ANC-equipped TWS earbuds.
The Buds Air Pro offered a reliable connection throughout our testing period. We tested these TWS earbuds with various devices- iOS, Android and Windows and did not experience any drops or connectivity issues. The Bluetooth v5.0 maintains a pretty stable wireless connection within the 10m connectivity range even. Many times the latched device was in a different room and radio waves had to pass concrete walls but I did not experience any connection drops.
The Realme Buds Air Pro isn't the best pair of true wireless buds in the sub-5K price-point. You should only consider buying them if they are available at a lower price-point from their launch price, i.e. Rs. 4,999. If there are no sale offers, I would recommend you to go with the Oppo Enco W51.
The Oppo's buds have better build quality, offers more secure in-ear fit and deliver comparatively immersive audio than the Realme Buds Air Pro despite having smaller 7mm drivers. What works in favor of the Relalme Buds Air Pro is the support from the companion app which offers some nifty features. Overall, Realme's Buds Air Pro isn't our favorite TWS earbuds in the sub-5K price-segment.