When Apple introduced the Airpods in 2016, it set a new trend of wireless earphones designed such that there is no trace of a cable or wire. Xiaomi, with its Mi True Wireless Earphones 2, has joined a long list of smartphone and audio accessory makers that have followed in Apple’s footsteps to bring their own iterations of true wireless earphones since.
Besides other generic features like an easy pairing, in-ear detection, touch control and quick charge, the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 boasts low latency and high-definition audio codec (LHDC), which seems to give it a clear edge over other affordable TWS earphones. On paper, the Mi True Wireless earphones 2 appears to be an all-rounder in its segment. But is it? Let’s find out:
There is nothing extraordinary in the design of the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2. It looks like any other Apple Airpods-inspired TWS earphones. However, it has some novelty to it – its earpiece has a glossy cover and the hanging tubular-shaped stem has matte finish; these stand out. The earphones have a snug fit but they tend to come out of the ear cavity even on a slight bump. The earphones’ fit, though, is totally subjective — for some they might fit better than others.
Like other TWS earphones, the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 comes with a charging-cum-storage case that is compact, light-weight and portable. It is easy to carry along, as it slides easily even in most cramped spaces like coin pocket in your denim. The charging case has an LED indictor on the front, device-pairing button on the right, flip cover on the top and a USB type-C charging port at the bottom. The case has magnets to keep earphones in place, and the magnetic force, while good enough for its purpose, is not so strong that you would find it difficult to separate the earphones.
The Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 is a performer when it comes to audio output, on-battery time and noise cancellation. The earphones boast 14.2mm audio drivers, tuned to deliver crisp lows and mids. The highs are decent, but not exceptional. The output is balanced — it does not shriek when the volume is high, or get muted when it is low. However, you might need to find a proper in-ear fit for optimal experience.
Noise cancellation is another impressive aspect of these earphones. Though there is no active noise cancellation, the device manages to isolate ambient noise when the earphones are active. In the passive mode, the earphones barely keeps the distractions away; but that is okay if you consider the earphones’ affordable pricing.
Complementing the audio output is the earphones’ on-battery and recharging time. On one full charge, these earphones go on for around four hours, and there is an extra 10-hour battery in the case. Charging time is also quick — from completely drained out to full in around an hour. The only thing missing here is wireless charging, which would have come handy with a compatible wireless charger or a smartphone that supports reverse wireless charging.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
The Mi True Wireless earphones 2 is a no-frills product that delivers on most counts. However, it lacks a few things that could have made it a supreme product in its segment. These include audio codec support, dedicated app support, and Apple Mac compatibility.
The earphones support LHDC, which enables an enhanced data transmission rate of around 900 kbps, which is as good as Sony’s proprietary LDAC. The higher the transmission rate, the better is the sound quality, and the lower is the latency. However, not many phones support this codec by default, except some Xiaomi and Huawei smartphones. Therefore, the earphones mostly utilise the advanced audio codec (AAC) or sub-band codec (SBC), which are usually the default codecs supported by most phones for Bluetooth audio transmission. Even as the list of supported phones gets longer with time, there are not many audio services that stream in hi-res format. Therefore, the LHDC seems more of a market gimmick than a utility in real life.
For a company like Xiaomi, which prefers to be called an internet company, it is disappointing that it does not have a single app to manage all its internet-of-things (IoT) and lifestyle products. In case of the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2, the app would have enabled options to fine-tune earphones’ audio output or to customise touch controls. Suppose the earphones’ audio output is tuned for music and I do not find it suitable for listening to podcasts. An app with an option to customise audio output could have been a saviour. Similarly, these earphones have a fairly easy pairing process — literally a one-step process if you have a Xiaomi smartphone. However, the pairing is possible only when the earphones are stationed inside the case. Therefore, you need to pull out the earphones from ears and put them back in the case every time you need to pair it with another device. An app here with an option to customise touch controls might have enabled remote pairing without the need to put the earphones back in the case.
Besides many other things, the app could have enabled firmware upgrade facility to add new features and make the earphones better with time. Due to lack of an app to manage the earphones, there seems to be no guidance on the future of the Mi True Wireless earphones 2.
Talking of the earphones’ compatibility issues, the Apple Mac, strangely, is the only device that has been kept out of the list of supported devices. Though you can pair the earphones with Mac, the in-ear detection feature does not work and the default earphone volume remains low with no provision to increase it, as the earphones do not have a touch control for volume.
Priced at Rs 4,499, the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 is a good pick if you are in the market for a pair of no-nonsense TWS earphones. It has a minimal design and a touch of novelty, besides its decent performance and good on-battery time. At this price point, some of the earphones’ trade-offs might be ignored. However, one thing to keep in mind before taking a final purchase decision is that the earphones might not get a future update, unless Xiaomi decides to bring an app or a way to upgrade its firmware.