Today the category of devices of the class 'fully wireless headphones', or TWS (hereinafter referred to as the text), is experiencing an unprecedented heyday, and many companies are striving to present their vision of this product.
Some companies go their own way and develop original, unusual devices both in design and features, others blindly copy the trendsetter – the company Apple and release their variations on the AirPods theme.
But there are those who try to sit on two chairs at once, releasing both. Thus, their lineup includes both original headsets and variations on the theme of the Cupertin company.
The last category includes the manufacturer of the hero of today's review – the company Xiaomi.
Today we will talk about a product from the second category – another variation on the AirPods theme, this time from Xiaomi, called AirDots Pro (second name – Mi True Wireless Earphones). Whether the Chinese succeeded or not, we'll find out in the process.
A few words about packaging and delivery set.
Here without revelation. An ordinary medium-sized cardboard box with a picture of the headset and a listing of the main characteristics in great and mighty Chinese.
Inside, in addition to the headphones and the case, laid in a plastic bath, there is a set of interchangeable earpieces (ear pads), a brief accordion instruction describing the device's capabilities, and a USB Type-C cable for charging the case.
The complete set and main elements are listed in the instructions.
Nothing more remarkable.
Appearance and materials
The first thing that attracts attention is the size of the case. You take it in your hands, and the thought involuntarily appears – wow, how huge it is.
After the case of the same IconX 2018 from Samsung and even more so Apple AirPods, the size of the case Xiaomi AirDts Pro is unpleasantly surprising and puzzling.
In addition to being chubby enough, its shape is also far from ideal ergonomics – wide, with sharp lid edges and a sloping bottom, it lies uncomfortably in the hand and protrudes from any pocket.
It seems that when creating this product in Xiaomi they forgot that the first impression can be made only once, and that if the theater begins with a hanger, then the perception of the product begins with the appearance.
The case has a USB charging connector, and, which is good news, finally it is not micro-USB, but Type-C.
On the left side there is a button to enable and start synchronization.
At the bottom of the front surface there is a one-color, not very informative indicator of the device status, which blinks when pairing is in progress or the case is discharged, and lights up when there is enough charge.
The lid opens conveniently. Due to its size and geometry, it is actually convenient to open it. At the same time, it feels reliable and has a clear finishing mechanism and a moderately tight loop, thanks to which the lid does not strive to open accidentally when closed.
In order to pair with the phone, you need to put the headphones in the case, hold down the key on the case for 3-5 seconds and wait until the indicator starts blinking, then open the settings Bluetooth and in the list of available devices we see our headset.
In order to connect with two devices, you need to repeat the pairing procedure.
At the same time, the quality of the connection does not cause any complaints – the headphones confidently keep in touch when turning the head, and even when carrying the phone in the back pocket. In my case, despite Bluetooth not the newest version (4.2), the headphones remained connected to the phone at a distance of 12 meters in line of sight and through the wall in the room at a distance of about 5-6 meters.
And now, in fact, to the headphones themselves. Their design is an attempt to do something of their own, but with an eye on the devices of the Cupertin manufacturer, so as not to copy directly, but also to leave the user with a clear reference to Apple, thereby sharing the success and (how it seems to them) increasing their status in the eyes of a potential consumer (no).
Headphones are like hammers with a rather massive leg on which a classic cylindrical driver is fixed, which ultimately creates a rather strange image, I cannot call it beautiful with all my desire.
And it's not even about the massiveness of the resulting structure and not about controversial design delights, it's about the secondary design, which, with the changes made to the manufacturers, seems to me personally caricatured.
At the bottom of the leg there is a microphone hole, as well as two contacts for charging the headphones when they are in the case.
On the front, near the sound guide, there is a second microphone hole, which serves to cut off external noise during a call, as well as an infrared sensor, which detects when the headphones are in your ear and pauses or starts playback.
In addition, next to the IR sensor there is a compensatory hole, traditional for vacuum headphones, to release excess pressure on the membrane.
There is a light indicator on the upper end of the earphone, which can be seen only during its operation (pairing, command execution). The rest of the time it is disguised under plastic in the color of the case.
On the inside of the leg there is a hole for the active noise canceling microphone, and at the bottom of the leg with a barely visible gray paint, the sides are marked R / L.
This is not a problem, since due to the design of the headphones themselves, only a very persistent and persistent user can confuse them in places.
The sound guides are covered with plastic mesh, traditional for headphones Xiaomi, more like a membrane.
The ends of the drivers are covered with touch-sensitive aluminum discs. These contact areas are used to control the headphones.
Although the control is unusual – instead of the standard single tap on many headphones of this type, a double tap on the right earphone is used to start / stop playback in Xiaomi AirDots Pro. The same double tap on the left earphone launches the voice assistant.
Such an unaccustomed implementation is misleading and at first, from being unaccustomed, leads to a large number of errors when trying to control music.
At the same time, only reception / release of an incoming call is tied to a single tap. The rest of the time, a single tap does nothing.
In addition, one more command – you need to hold down the active area on any earpiece for five seconds and wait for the girl to say some kind of abracadabra in a melodic voice in Chinese. This will mean active noise canceling is on.
However, do not flatter yourself on this score – in order to feel the noise canceling, you need to listen very carefully, since, apparently, this function in the headphones is just for show.
In a noisy place (on the street, in public transport), noise cancellation does not manifest itself in any way. I had to listen specifically to understand that in reality the ambient noise is reduced by about 5-10%.
Headset and microphone
Thanks to the remote microphones, the headset allows you to communicate comfortably without having to switch to your phone. However, there is no outstanding quality. An ordinary headset with a slightly dull speech transmission. I expected more.
In stand-alone mode, the headset can work for about 3 hours. The case can provide two more full charges, for a total of about 10 hours of battery life. Sparsely, but not a little. Rather, these are standard values for this class of devices.
The charging time for the headphones in the case and the case itself is about an hour from a standard USB 2.0 connector.
The manufacturer declared support for the AAC codec, however, when the headset is connected to the phone in the developer menu in the settings of this phone, the codec stubbornly falls into the SBC, although this was not noticed with other headsets.
Tested on Galaxy S8 (Android 9 with dedicated Cirrus Logic CS43130 DAC activated) and Spotify streaming service with premium account and extreme streaming activated as the source.
The sound itself is difficult to describe as anything other than the epithet 'normal, ordinary'.
Nothing outstanding that would draw attention to itself. Medium transparency, medium depth, medium dynamic range. But there is a large volume reserve, which cannot be used to the full due to an unimportant attack, which is why on complex compositions and high volume the sound falls into a mess and begins to rattle, 'cycling' and 'sand' appear.
If we compare it with solutions available on the market from other manufacturers, it turns out that it plays worse than, for example, Samsung Galaxy Buds, and than IconX 2018, and better than Apple AirPods.
The headset is suitable for listening to simple genres such as popular music and uncomplicated classics, and not suitable for listening to rock, heavy instrumental music.
Impressions instead of conclusions
During the use of the headset, a number of design and ergonomic mistakes have appeared, which I cannot but tell about.
Firstly, the open case with the headphones removed from it does not stand on a flat surface due to the heavy cover and falls back. Nonsense and trifle, but unpleasant trifle.
Secondly, the magnets in the case and in the headphones are located so that when you try to insert the headphones into the case, the leg is attracted by the magnet and rests on the rib. You have to spend time and nerves aiming at the case.
Thirdly, due to the massive leg and the 'vacuum' design, the headphones have a noticeable microphone effect (when turning the head, the leg rubs against the cheek and 'mics' in the ear).
Fourthly, because of the strong magnets, the sloping body and the deep landing in the case, it is not always convenient to take the headphones out of the case – this will be especially important for people with big hands – there is nothing to catch your fingers on.
Well, the main disadvantage for me is the secondary design and at the same time a very bulky design. When using headphones, I did not leave the feeling that from the outside I look like a person using a fake Apple AirPods.
However, you shouldn't think that the headset has only disadvantages, it's just that negative emotions are better remembered.
In fact, if you are not such a finicky user as I am, and you do not have such complexes as mine (in terms of using devices with a secondary design), the headset can be very useful and give positive emotions from use, as it is very confident keeps the connection and works where, for example, my Samsung IconX 2018 or Erato Apollo 7S start to lose connection and stutter.
And the sound can be called quite good both when playing music and during a conversation.
In Russian retail, the headset can be found at prices ranging from 4,000 to 7,000 rubles. And if the price tag of 7,000 seems too high, then for 4,000 – 5,000 rubles, the purchase looks justified, even despite the large number of competitors among less famous Chinese companies.
The author thanks the X | Store branch in the city of Ulyanovsk for the device provided for review.