TicPods 2 Pro review: Gimme more, Gimme more
One step forward, one step back
Should I buy the TicPods 2 Pro?
If you’re after the AirPods experience but don’t necessarily want to spend half your paycheck, the TicPods 2 Pro aren’t perfect but they’re a decent stop-gap in the meantime.
Though branded as Pro, they’re probably a little closer to what you’d expect from something with a Plus. They’re everything the original TicPods were and then some. The trade-off of four extra hours of battery life for a few extra thrills rarely feels worth it but the core foundations here are decent enough that it’s hard to complain too much about it.
The TicPods 2 Pro keeps things simple and excel where it counts most. They set a new floor for what value-driven true wireless earbuds look like but any kind of claim to being best-in-class is lost in the process.
Price when reviewed
In Australia, the TicPods 2 Pro are priced at US$139.
TicPods 2 Pro full review
Design & Build
The TicPods 2 Pro are billed as a leaner and meaner take on the original TicPods in both form and function. And when it comes to design, at least, they don’t disappoint. The overall size of the TicPods themselves hasn’t changed too much but the charger case is significantly smaller this time around. All told, it’s 42% smaller than its predecessor.
The build quality also comes across as just that little bit nicer. You’re left with earbuds that feel a lot closer to something you’d get from Samsung or Jabra. Still, a lot of the core look found in the original TicPods is retained here.
If you’re expecting the kind of leap forward in sound quality and comfort that Apple made with the recent AirPods Pro, you’re likely going to be a little disappointed with what’s in store. The TicPods 2 Pro are thinner, lighter and they do sound better than their predecessors did but they’re not radically different.
If anything, after spending so much time last year using Apple’s premium earbuds, the lack of ear-tips here really threw me off enjoying the TicPods Pro. They always felt a little restless in my ears. It never really felt like they properly isolated me from the outside world. They’re not Huawei FreeBuds 3-level bad but they’re a far step downwards from some of the other options playing in the same space.
Of course, where the earlier models focused on nailing the basics, the new TicPods 2 Pro are confident to throw in a few fresh thrills. The new headphones feature head-gesture controls (letting you nod your head to take and refuse calls), wake-word activation (for smart assistants like Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa), TicHear quick commands (which let you raise and lower the volume using your voice) and dual-mic noise-cancellation (which makes phone calls just that little bit better). None of these gimmicks are particularly incredible but it’s intriguing to see Mobvoi try to put their own stamp on things nevertheless.
There’s also a grab-bag of nice-to-haves to be noted here, including Bluetooth 5 connectivity, an IPX4 dust and water resistance, fast-charging and support for Qualcomm’s AptX Audio codec.
Features & Sound Quality
Annoyingly, while the TicPods 2 Pro does support Qualcomm HD aptX Audio, this feature is disabled out the gate.
Setup and used straight out of the box, the TicPods 2 Pro comes across as a little ordinary as a result. It was only once I had Installed the Mobvoi app and enabled HD audio, that they begin to sound worthy of their namesake. The difference in sound quality here that’s immediately-noticeable and a clear upgrade on the previous TicPods Free.
Though not without caveat, it’s still quite nice to have cheap true wireless earbuds that sound this good.
Listening to bouncing hip-hop like SonReal’s “Can I Get A Witness?”, zesty pop tracks like Dorian Electra “Guyliner” or downbeat melodies like Jack River’s “Dark Star”, I became quickly convinced of the advantages that Mobvoi’s latest budget buds offer over their earlier efforts. Again, compared to the TicPods Free, I found that these provided a much more authentic and rich sound experience.
That being said, I was less convinced that the TicPods can compete against some of the better true wireless headphones out there. These might sound better or just as good as what Plantronics, Klipsch Blue Ant can offer. However, there’s still a gulf between how these sound and what you’ll get from brands like Beats, Sony, Apple or Jabra.
It doesn't help that the TicPods 2 Pro felt more and more uncomfortable in my ears the more I used them. I quickly found myself nostalgic for the kind of extended ear-tips found in other, better, sets of the true wireless earbuds.
If their predecessors were concerned with nailing the fundamentals of what a good true wireless experience should be, the TicPods 2 Pro are a little ambitious. They don’t quite deliver on that promise but there’s still something to like about the fact that Mobvoi tried to do so at all. Mobvoi’s latest aren’t the best option on the table but, for the price, they sound more-or-less as good as they need to.
As opposed to the mainline TicPods 2, which offer up to 4 hours of continuous playback and up to 23 hours of battery life, The TicPods 2 Pro tout a slightly-lower overall usage of 20 hours. This remains a not-quite insignificant upgrade on the original TicPods, which featured 4 hours per charge and a total of 18 hours playback.
Like their predecessors, battery life isn’t really a standout characteristic for the TicPods 2 Pro. They aren’t really the kind of true wireless earbuds you buy specifically for the battery life but they’re closer adequate than the alternative.
The Bottom Line
Google can say and do what they like: Mobvoi’s TicPods are always going to feel like the real Pixel Buds to me. The original TicPods were a colorful and cheap alternative to what Apple are doing in the true wireless space and these build on that specific legacy in a compelling way.
The TicPods 2 Pro aren’t best in class true wireless earbuds. They’re not going to match what Sony or Apple are offering. However, to their credit, they always feel like a bargain. You don’t get every bell and whistle but it does feel like you’re getting a good deal.
They’re unlikely to sate audiophiles but, for everyday consumers, The TicPods 2 Pro are just good enough where it counts.
If you're unconvinced, check out our guide to the best true wireless earbuds here.
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