Mobvoi are fast making a name for themselves in their low price, but high quality products. Their smartwatches are featured packed but priced firmly at the budget end of the market so we were excited to be able to try out their Apple AirPods alternative, the Mobvoi TicPods Free.
Arriving in an attractive yet diminutive package that contains a charging cable and the TicPods Free dock capsule first impressions were good. The capsule is well made, solid and has a weight to it that makes it clear there is more inside than just some space to store your pods. Inside, the TicPods are nestled ready to be charged and there’s no room for movement that might stop them charging.
There are a variety of colours available – we had the white ones and they look lovely. They’re also comfortable to wear and once inserted into your ears they hold well – there’s little chance of them falling out by accident – something that has been an issue with cheaper buds in the past.
Initial setup was really straightforward – open the charging capsule and the buds will automatically turn on and switch to Bluetooth pairing mode. Just find them in your Bluetooth settings and you’re good to go. Unfortunately, once paired it’s surprisingly complicated to them pair to another device – you have to actually tell your currently paired device to forget the buds before they’ll become visible to another device – which is fine most of the time, but if you don’t have your currently paired device with you we found it really hard to make the buds visible to any other device.
In terms of sound quality it’s hard to find anything to fault – there is a surprising amount of bass and depth to the sound and while we found there was a slight harshness at higher frequencies and volumes generally the performance was very pleasing – easily on a par with Apple’s AirPods and better than the first generation Google Pixel Buds.
Battery life is advertised at around 4 hours from fully charged – our experience was that we achieved a little bit less than this – just under 3 hours of mixed use. The charging case has enough battery capacity for around four full charges and each charge takes around 40 minutes so you’ll have plenty of power to get you through a full day.
There is a built in microphone for calls – it was reasonably good, if a little quiet. The TicPods Free are also fully assistant compatible – working with Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri or whatever voice based assistant you might use. A long press on the right but will allow you to activate your assistant and then it works entirely as you’d usually expect.
In addition to the long touch assistant support there are also touch based gestures for controlling the volume and to skip tracks. Just slide your finder up or down the pod to adjust the volume or double tap to move onto the next track. The in ear detection means simply removing the right bud will pause what you’re currently listening to.
The price-performance factor makes the TicPods Free one of the best options for wireless buds on the market. The fact that they are compatible with everything from Android to Apple means that they’re a real alternative to Apple’s AirPods offering very similar performance. If you’re looking to pair the pods with just one device you’ll never even run into the one issue we’ve come up against!
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