On paper, the Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus seems like a promising investment: sporty wireless earbuds equipped with intelligible controls, water resistance, and powerful hardware to deliver high-quality sound for $139. Not too pricey, but not cheap either. Having already surprised us with the TicPods Free, which made our best wireless earbuds list when launched, expectations were high for this all-new AirPods clone.
Colors: Navy, Ice
Battery life (rated): 4 hours; 20 hours (with charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Processor: Qualcomm QCC5121
Size: 0.6 x 0.6 x 1.5 inches (per bud); 0.9 x 1.2 x 2.7 inches (charging case)
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud); 1 ounce (charging case)
And boy, did those expectations come crashing down upon testing. The TicPods 2 Pro Plus offers very little in design, features, and battery life. In addition, it fails to achieve the one key hallmark of any great pair of wireless earbuds: a reliable fit. Fans of the brand may consider purchasing it, but keep reading our Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review and you'll see why they probably shouldn't.
Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review: Price and availability
This is relatively affordable compared to many of the best workout headphones or best running headphones out there, though there are several competitors that can be had for a lower price and offer more functionality. Three models that come to mind are the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC ($99), Amazfit Powerbuds ($79), and a Tom’s Guide favorite, the Jabra Elite Active 65t ($99).
Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review: Design and comfort
Aesthetically, there isn’t anything special about the TicPods 2 Pro Plus. It shares the same silhouette as the AirPods, only with a longer unflattering stem design that makes the buds far less discrete; the Jabra Elite Active 75t and Jaybird Vista are sleeker, more low-key options.
The plastic feels stronger than what Apple uses to assemble its wireless danglers, but I wouldn’t trust it to survive high drops. One positive is that these buds come IPX4-certified, the same protection used on the AirPods Pro for sweat and water resistance.
How these buds earned a Red Dot Award for design is shocking, but one can only assume that the tiny charging case played a pivotal role. It’s slim, super-compact, and can slide into some of the tightest denim pockets for convenient portability. The pill-shaped design is also more attractive than any of the AirPods cases. However, build quality isn’t anything to brag about. The flimsy lid has a high probability of breaking if ever you drop the case on concrete.
Like the standard AirPods, TicPods 2 Pro Plus design is supposed to provide a universal fit for all ear shapes, but the lack of ear tips presents two issues. One, slippage occurs with the slightest movement, meaning you’ll have to readjust the buds several times to get them sitting properly on your ear. Two, the sound port pierces the front of the ear (the tragus), making the TicPods 2 Pro Plus a painful wear.
Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review: Touch controls and digital assistant
Mobvoi integrated the touch panel on the entire stem, something you don’t see on many models. Unfortunately, it’s infuriating to operate and doesn’t work well, with the exception of volume, which you can raise/lower by swiping up/down. On top of that, the touch controls are limited to double-tap (previous/next track or answer call) and hold (voice assistant) gestures. You can customize the double-taps individually for each bud, but even then, there are only a short number of commands at your disposal. Also, the instructions say you can skip to the previous track by performing a double tap, but all it does is skip to the next track.
The touch controls are buggy, too. Double-tap functions would often execute several minutes after I performed the gesture. Another bug I encountered involved the digital assistant: the buds would skip a track whenever I activated Google Assistant.
On-ear detection is available, but doesn’t work well. Removing the buds from my ears was supposed to automatically pause music, but barely did, and the head-gesture controls to answer (nod head twice) or reject (shake head twice) calls never worked.
As mentioned, Google Assistant can be used on these buds, along with Siri. Smart functions in general are hit or miss, though. Siri gave me less of a hassle whenever I asked to create calendar invite or open Apple Music, though there was serious lag every time I activated her on macOS. Google Assistant didn’t fare any better, misinterpreting basic requests like “What is my next event” for “One of my next event?”
The one set of controls that actually worked were the voice activation commands. “Hey Tico” fired up my native digital assistant and executed all of the quick commands (“Previous/Next Song,” “Play/Pause Music,” “Pick/Hang Up Call”) with ease.
Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review: Audio quality
The TicPods 2 Pro Plus’ greatest strength is how it sounds. The buds have a warm sound profile that emphasizes bass and low-midrange, which is effective for upbeat workout playlists, as well as some contemporary music selections.
The drums on Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” bounced like a Chevy Impala with hydraulics and landed impactfully, stimulating an energy boost when my stamina was running low. Even the soaring synths and striking whistles were properly balanced, maintaining a vibrant sonic presence that competitors like the Epic Air Sport ANC and Amazfit Powerbuds couldn’t match, though I still prefer the bass-heavy resonance of the Elite Active 65t.
As much as I enjoyed the low end on the buds, it was the reproduction they delivered that intrigued me most. Mobvoi’s soundstage showed out on Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up” in multiple ways. The singer’s harmonizing falsetto was airy and crisp, while the funky bassline had a nice kick to it and notable elements like the tambourine and background laughter were pronounced.
However, in order to get full sound out of wireless earbuds, you need a pair that can isolate ambient noise well. The TicPods 2 Pro Plus is not that pair. Again, the lack of ear tips doesn’t allow these buds to seal properly on the ear and block external sounds from entering the soundstage. You could raise volume to max level, but that’s never an ideal solution, as it increases the risk of hearing damage. Also, it doesn’t do much to minimize environmental fracas.
Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review: Special features and app
The Mobvoi app supports the TicPods 2 Pro Plus, not that Mobvoi does the greatest job of advertising it. It does host a handful of features to personalize the user experience.
Besides a few toggles to enable all of the motion-sensor controls, you can enable the aptX HD Bluetooth codec to get better audio when streaming music from compatible Android devices. You can also choose from nine EQ presets that are programmed into the buds. These include Standard (the default preset), Classic, Rock, Heavy Metal, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Pop, Bass, and Mega Bass. The majority of these aren’t well engineered, with the exceptions of Classic and Bass, but stick with Standard and you’ll be fine.
Sadly, those are the only two major features. Also, the app is buggy and either crashes randomly or gives you error messages like “Headset failed in channels, reconnect to the headset” when the buds are already paired to a device.
Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review: Battery life and charging case
The TicPods 2 Pro Plus' 4 hours on a single charge is pretty bad, especially when the AirPods gives you 5 hours, and that’s relative weak to begin with. Factor in high volume, heavy streaming, and voice activation, and playtime decreases by about 20 to 30 minutes. That’s probably enough for about 3 days of workouts for novice exercisers, but pros will likely find themselves recharging every 2 days. At least there is fast charging to power the buds for 1 hour on a 5-minute charge, which is the same as all AirPods models.
The charging case holds 20 hours in total. There are more powerful cases out there, but the fact that this tiny piece of plastic carries 5 extra charges is impressive. At least you’ll have enough portable power during long flights or on commutes. Wireless charging would have been cool, but also seems a bit far-fetched when considering the super-small design.
You should also beware of overheating, as the sound ports get hot during charges.
Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review: Call quality and connectivity
I wouldn’t recommend jumping on calls or video chats with the TicPods 2 Pro Plus. The mics aren’t strong enough to minimize external noises, as my wife pointed out multiple times when hearing keyboard clatter during in-house calls and heavy wind on outdoor runs. She mentioned my voice was muffled, but could still make out what I was saying, and I could hear her loud and clear. The caveat is that it required me being in a completely silent setting.
Connectivity was decent. Range teetered around 30 feet, which was adequate for jumping from room to room, but also disappointing, as audio stuttered badly when stepping a few feet past that mark.
Pairing to devices wasn’t a smooth process either, and required lots of troubleshooting. I lucked out getting my Pixel 3 XL to recognize the buds once opening the case, but I had difficulty pairing to my other devices. My Pixel 2 XL and MacBook Pro wouldn’t recognize the model until I went the manual route and hit the button on the charging case to connect to them; you need to press it twice to enable pairing mode.
Multipoint functionality is also missing. In other words, you won’t be able to connect the buds to two devices simultaneously.
Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus review: Verdict
The Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro Plus does very little to distinguish itself from the sporty wireless earbuds pack. You have to admire any company willing to make a fitness-focused AirPods clone, but the design just isn’t practical for exercising, especially when it doesn’t include ear tips. Furthermore, these buds are plagued with technical issues that hinder performance, from buggy controls to finicky connectivity. Then comes the below-standard battery life, as well as the incredibly limited feature set.
The charging case is eye-catching and easy to carry around, and sound quality is good for the money. Voice activation controls are a nice touch, though the touch controls are a mess.
Since the cons outweigh the pros in this scenario by a notable margin, the TicPods 2 Pro Plus isn’t worthy of recommendation. We suggest seeking out the Epic Air Sport ANC, Amazfit Powerbuds or Elite Active 65t to get way more performance for a lower price.
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