True wireless earbuds have become ubiquitous. With brands ditching audio jack from their premium phones and TWS getting more affordable, more people are buying wireless earphones as was evident in a recent report by the International Data Corporation (IDC). The Truly Wireless Stereo (TWS) category saw a ten-fold increase in shipments in 2020 in India. The report stated that around 11.3 million TWS units being shipped last year. The growth of the TWS category can also be attributed to the convenience they offer.
In 2020, Realme was one of the top brands that contributed to the growth of the TWS segment. The company has already launched four wireless earbuds in the Rs 5,000 segment and now, it is back with another TWS product. The new Realme Buds Air 2 is priced at Rs 3,299 in India and are currently the cheapest wireless earphones to offer support for Active Noise Cancellation (ANC).
But how do these wireless earbuds perform in the real world? Are they good enough for the price? Read our Realme Buds Air 2 review to find out.
The design of Realme’s new TWS earbuds is quite similar to the Realme Buds Air Pro with a slightly contoured bud design. The buds have more of an oval design with the stem. The Realme Buds Air 2 doesn’t have a differentiating design, but its two-toned black colour with matt finish looks very premium. The earbuds have a silicone tip at the end that makes it more comfortable to wear it all day and even isolates the outside noise well.
The case of the earbuds is very lightweight and compact. You can just shove it in your pocket and carry it anywhere. However, it is also sleek and can slip easily, after which you might notice scratches or dent. The back of the hinge doesn’t have the silver metal plating that we saw on the previous version for better durability. The case has a button on the right side, which you might not even notice as it is very tiny. The button can be used to put the Realme Buds Air 2 in the pairing mode.
The Realme Buds Air 2 did stay put when I went for a run, which is nice. The earbuds offered a secure fit even during workouts and I was not scared of losing one of them. The buds are also IPX4 rated, which means they are water-resistant. You can wear the earbuds in the gym and the earbuds can also survive a few water splashes.
I liked the fact that lying sideways didn’t automatically turn off the earbuds, unlike most of the budget wireless earbuds. For this, Realme has given an option in the app to configure the touch and hold gesture, which you can keep off whenever you want. You can also use the option to instantly turn on ANC or transparency mode. There is a general mode as well if you want to hear everything that is happening around you.
I tried the Realme Buds across multiple devices and the connectivity experience was seamless. At first, you need to long-press the pairing button and connect the earbuds. The second time the earphones get connected in less than a second once you enable Bluetooth on your phone, which is nice.
In the Bluetooth settings section, you also get to check the case and earbuds’ battery details upon connection. You can check these details in the Realme Link app too. Here, you can change the actions of the touch gestures, as per your preference. Each earbud supports three actions, which you can configure.
There is also an Auto Answer feature for calls, which didn’t work and I had a hard time rejecting or answering calls using the earbuds. The in-ear detection feature did work. So, in case you want to talk to someone, the music will get stopped once you remove the earbuds. The app also offers two sound effects, including Bass Boost+, and Lively. While the latter didn’t work, the former did make a bit of a difference in bass-heavy tracks.
The Realme Buds Air 2 provides a better bass response in comparison to the original OnePlus Buds. The default frequency response is bass-heavy and songs like ‘Lean On’ did sound good. We noticed that the bass was more emphasised on the midrange notes. Listening to Animals by Martin Garrix was not as enjoyable and the beats were not as hard-hitting. You will enjoy most of the EDM or pop songs, but some of them may sound a bit flat. The mids sound crisp and clean in acoustic music.
If you don’t like the way the Realme Buds Air 2 sound, you can use any free Equalizer app for a better experience. There is an app called “Equalizer – Bass Booste4r & Volume EQ & Virtualizer,” which offers a bunch of different EQ presets. The Realme Buds Air 2 offers support for AAC and SBC Bluetooth codec. But, there is no support for Qualcomm’s AptX audio codec for high-quality streaming. This is fine as the company wanted to balance the price. The overall sound quality is decent enough and enjoyable for general consumers.
The Realme Buds Air 2 earbuds also support Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which is a nice feature to have in the Rs 5,000 price segment. The device has a dual-mic array with noise cancellation to reduce background noise interference. The ANC mode did help in blocking most of the background noise (including dryer’s hum) when listening to music. However, it is not able to completely cancel out the high-pitched sound (like a doorbell) and a bit of ambient noise seeps through when out on the streets.
One of the biggest advantages of having true wireless earbuds is hands-free calling and the Realme Buds Air 2 is good for that. The microphone quality seems to be good enough as the person on the end of the call was able to hear me very clearly when indoors. When you are out shopping, the voice was mostly clean in our experience.
The Realme Buds Air 2 is said to deliver up to 25 hours of battery life. The wireless earbuds offered us around 9-10 hours of playback time (without ANC) with the charging case.
The Realme Buds Air 2 is currently selling for Rs 3,299 in India. Those who are on a strict budget and want to buy a pair of true wireless earbuds with support for ANC, touch controls, good battery life and decent sound experience, can consider buying the new Realme TWS earbuds. Alternatively, you can buy the OnePlus Buds Z, which is available in the same price range.