realme yesterday launched its first true wirless earbuds — the Realme Buds Air at the realme X2 launch event. This has some unique features like super low-latency gaming mode and support for wireless charging that you rarely get in true wireless earbuds in the price range. So, are these the best true wireless earbuds for the price? Let us dive into the review to find out.
In the box you can find the earbuds with the wireless charging case, USB Type-C Cable and a user manual. We have the Black version, but there is also White and Yellow versions with a matching case.
Design and Build Quality
The thing you notice about the earbuds is the Half-in Ear design, which is inspired from Apple Airpods. The headset has a plastic design with a glossy finish, so it attracts fingerprints easily. However, these weigh just 4.2 grams each so that you won’t feel it is in your ears, and is also easy to lose. Next to the earpiece grill there is an Optical Sensor for Wear Detection so that it can automatically pause the audio when you remove it from your ears and play when you put it back. It has dual microphones, the primary microphone on the bottom of the headset and the other one of the back, which is used for ENC (Environment Noise Cancellation).
These fit perfectly in ears and do not fall off accidentally, even when you shake your head. I use it for my daily runs, and it did not fall off easily, unless you remove them. The company doesn’t say if this has any kind of water-resistant rating, but normal sweat during runs or gym shouldn’t be a problem.
The wireless charging case adopts a full-arc design, and each R Angle is made with more than 20 arcs, making it more rounded physically, and conveying a sense of ease, says the company. Since the case has a glossy plastic finish, it is attracts fingerprints easily, and is also prone to scratches even when you keep it in your pocket along with the keys, coins or any kind of sharp objects. The case measures 51.3 x 45.3 x 25.3 and weighs 42.3 grams.
It has a USB Type-C port on the bottom, in addition to wireless charging support.
Connectivity, Pairing, and Controls
The realme Buds Air supports Bluetooth 5.0 and as per the company, the connection range is around 10 meters, which is common in most headsets. The earbuds can only be connected to one device at a time, so if you connect to a new device, the other one will be disconnected.
The pairing process is very easy, simply press the button on the right side of the case for 3 seconds, after which the LED on the case should start blinking green, this means that realme Buds Air is now ready to be paired to a device. Open the case and search for a new Bluetooth device, it shows up as realme Buds Air, and you can connect to it. As soon as the connection is established, the blinking LED should go off. You can take the earbuds out of the case and start using. We tested it using Redmi K20 Pro and realme X2 and never faced any pairing related issue. Since the phone pairs with the case and not the headset, you will need the case if you want to reconnect it.
Both the earbuds have a touch-sensitive area on the outer surface, to control play/pause, open Google Assistant, attend or disconnect calls and also enter or exit gaming mode.
|Function||Left earphone (L)||Right earphone (R)|
|Play/Pause / Answer a call||Double tap||Double tap|
|Next Song||Triple tap||Triple tap|
|Launch Voice assistant||Press and hold||Press and hold|
|End/decline a call||Press and hold||Press and hold|
|Enter/exit Gaming Mode||Press and hold|
The touchpad implementation is good, but the touch area is a bit small, so you need some time to get used to it. The volume can’t be adjusted by the earbuds and you can only go to the next song and not the previous song. The headset doesn’t have a companion app, but you can launch Google Assistant when you press and hold any of the earbuds.
Audio Quality and Call Performance
The realme Buds Air pack LCP advanced multi-layer composite diaphragm and a big 12mm sound unit, so the bass, and the company calls it DBB (Dynamic Bass Boost) solution, saying that it has been optimized by its expert acoustics team after over thousands of rounds of testing. You can definitely feel the bass when listening to low frequency audio, but the audio can be heard outside in full volume. It has AAC Bluetooth codec, but doesn’t have aptX codec support. It also handles the treble quite well even on higher volume.
The low-latency gaming mode is useful when gaming since it reduces the latency by up to 50%, and we could feel the difference. The company says that it the normal 243.8ms latency was reduced to 119.3ms in the gaming mode during internal testing. This is achieved by real-time dual-channel transmission and the R1 chip. It is also easy to enter the gaming mode when you long press on both sides of earbuds. You get an engine revving noise, and when you exit there is a musical chime.
The earbuds offer decent amount of noise isolation, and dual microphones also helps when it comes to voice clarity during calls, which is good even when you are in a crowded, noisy environment, thanks to ENC (Environment Noise Cancellation) technology that identifies every word and filter out any background noise. Audio of the caller is also loud and clear during calls.
The company doesn’t reveal the battery capacity on the case or the earbuds, but promises about 3 hours of standalone battery life when listening at 50% volume. During my long run, I used the headset for about 2 and half hours to listen to podcast with about 70% volume, and the battery was down from 100% to 30%, which was decent. However, 3 hours of battery life for wireless earbuds is less, mainly when you travel. You can’t blame the less battery life since the headset is very small.
The wireless charging case promises another 14 hours of battery life, taking the total battery life to 17 hours. Charging the headset from 0 to 100% takes about 1 and half hours, and charging the case to 100% takes about 2 hours. The LED light on the case lights up in green, orange and red to indicate the charge left. Since it has wireless charging support, you can place the case on any Qi wireless charging pad up to 10W, and the light on the case blinks to indicate the headset is charging. The company also plans to sell a wireless charging pad separately.
Overall, the Realme Buds Air is a very good compact Bluetooth true wireless earbuds available in the market right now. It has a lightweight, compact design, offers good audio and calling experience, has low-latency mode for gaming and also comes with wireless charging support that rarely get in a headset in the price range, however the battery life is a compromise for the compact design.
The latest AirDots Pro 2 is a good alternative with similar features, bigger 14.2mm drivers, and a slightly better battery life at a price tag of about Rs. 5000 from ShareSave (Opens only on the app) since it is not available in India officially. There are lots more from Noise, JBL and others in India, but none of these offer features like noise cancellation, wireless charging and wear detection in the price range.
The Realme Buds Air will be available from Flipkart and realme.com starting from December 23rd at a price of Rs. 3999. The company said it sold over 11,000 units during the early sale on Flipkart yesterday.
- Compact, lightweight design
- Ease of pairing and connection
- Good audio quality and call quality with ENC
- Super Low-latency gaming mode
- Wireless charging
- Glossy body is prone to fingerprints and scratches
- Not splash or water resistant
- Standalone battery life of 3 hours is less