Smartphone maker Realme recently announced its second pair of “true wireless” earbuds, the Realme Buds Air Neo in India. The new product is the spiritual younger sibling to the Buds Air that landed in India back in December 2019. Air Neo pushes the pricing further down to attract a larger group of people looking for affordable truly wireless earbuds. Considering that it is somewhat similar to the Buds Air, the company has not changed a lot in terms of design or features. In fact, the new Air Neo is only slightly different than the Buds Air. Neo joins the rank of Realme audio products including Buds Air, Buds Wireless, Buds 2, and the original Buds. Also Read - Realme Buds Q confirmed to launch soon in India, will compete against Redmi Earbuds S
Talking about the Air Neo, the company has priced the true wireless earbuds at just Rs 2,999. For some context, the Buds Air is priced at Rs 3,999 with somewhat identical design. Interested buyers can head to Realme.com and Flipkart to get their hands on the latest product. Taking a look at the market, Realme will compete with the likes of Xiaomi, Redmi, Noise, Boat, and more. The company plans to beef up its lineup of truly wireless earbuds to grab a larger pie of this ever-increasing market. Before you make the purchase, it is likely that you have questions around the latest true wireless earbuds from Realme. Here is my review for the Realme Buds Air Neo. Also Read - Realme Buds Air Neo with 17 hours battery life goes on sale at 12PM today: Check price, features
Watch: Realme Narzo 10 Review
Specifications and features available on the Buds Air Neo
First up, let’s talk about the specifications and the features of the Realme Buds Air Neo. The wireless earbuds feature a 13mm large bass boost driver along with touch controls. Beyond this, the company has also added the custom R1 chip that we first saw in the Buds Air. We also get Bluetooth v5.0 for connectivity along with a super low latency mode for gaming. In addition, Realme has also added support for “Instant Auto Connection” with the help of “Google Fast Pair” technology. The earbuds also feature support for Google Assistant out of the box. Also Read - Realme Buds Air Neo wireless earphones launched in India: Price, features, sale date and more
Interested users can get the product in three different color options including “Pop White”, “Punk Green”, and “Rock Red”. The Air Neo feature IPX4 rating for water resistance. This makes them ideal for use during a workout or use during intense summers in India. It has also gone with a microUSB port at the bottom of the case to handle charging duties. Users can easily monitor the battery level of the earbuds and customize the touch controls with the Realme Link app. The app can also upgrade the firmware of the Air Neo. Unlike the Buds Air, the Neo does not feature a case with wireless charging or environmental noise canceling.
Design and comfort
Moving to the design for the Buds Air Neo, little has changed in terms of the appearance. Probably the one and only distinguishing feature is the absence of the “Sliver” ring at the bottom of the stem. Beyond this, the earbuds sports a similar Apple AirPod-like design making them popular among the buyers. We also get two charging pins at the bottom of each earbud. Shifting our focus at the case, it is a typical charging case for the earbuds along with a pairing button. The company has also a battery charging indicator LED on the front along with the pairing button. Beyond this, we also get a microUSB port at the bottom side of the case.
Considering the company has opted for an AirPod-like design, the Air Neo also comes with its drawbacks. These include the ease of losing one or both earbuds in crowded places and the lack of adjustable ear tips. Talking about crowded places, the national lockdown and looming pandemic are unlikely to make it a contributing factor. However, the rigid plastic body of the ear dome makes it difficult for everyone. The Buds Air Neo may or may not be comfortable for you depending on the shape of your ears. Unlike Silicon-based earbuds, there is no way to customize this and one just has to deal with it.
I faced identical issues regarding the fit and comfort that I mentioned in my Buds Air review. I was constantly checking and adjusting the earbuds for proper fit as they sometimes became loose and dropped out of my ears. Beyond this, they were also somewhat uncomfortable during extended periods of use. However, this observation is limited to my ears and things will vary for everyone.
Audio performance: Bass, Treble, and Clarity
With the Realme Buds Air Neo, the company has managed to reduce the price to Rs 2,999 without compromising the audio quality. During my review, I could only find very few changes in terms of audio quality while comparing with the Buds Air. Before I dig deeper, it is worth noting that the earbuds work as intended in a variety of scenarios. These include gaming, watching shows and movies on Netflix, Hotstar, and streaming songs on Spotify.
The earbuds produce impressive sound quality with good clarity and decent loudness. Beyond this, we also get a decent sound stage with good audio reproduction. However, like the Buds Air, the Neo fall short of perfection. During the testing, the pair demonstrated a good dynamic range in Das Spiegel by The Chemical Brothers. I was able to observe clear channel separation in the Wilderness by Explosions In The Sky. Rhapsody in Blue from George Gershwin, showcased a nice, warm audio reproduction with good instrument separation.
However, I could notice slight audio distortion in 15 Step from Radiohead and Star Wars theme from John Williams in the very high end. This also likely due to lack of any environment noise cancellation and reliance on passive noise cancellation. These limits were immediately evident in SICKO MODE by Travis Scott and This Is A Test by Armin van Buuren. The bass is not as profound and absolute but you can still feel sufficient thumps and bumps. These “good enough” sound prevent the Air Neo from being the best in the price segment. The IR-based touch controls work fine as any other earbuds with the same technology.
Battery Backup on the Realme Buds Air Neo
Beyond the audio performance, let’s talk about the battery life on the Realme Buds Air Neo. The company claims that the true wireless earbuds offer 17 hours of battery life with 3 hours on a single charge. This means that the case adds another 14 hours worth of battery backup. Users can further extend this number by using one earbud at a time. During my testing, both earbuds lasted somewhere between 2 hours and 40 minutes to 3 hours. Sometimes one side ran out of battery before the other side.
The charging case and Buds Air Neo in extension took about 2 hours to charge from 0 to 100 percent. It is worth noting that it is quite confusing to keep track of the battery with the help of the LED indicator. So, it is better that you keep a tab on the levels with the built-in Android Bluetooth section or the Realme Link app.
Verdict: Should you buy the Air Neo?
Realme has managed to retrace its success in creating good true wireless earbuds with the Buds Air Neo. The more impressive aspect of Air Neo is the cheaper price without any compromise on the audio quality and battery backup. If you are a Realme fan and want to step up your game with a pair of wireless earbuds without breaking a bank then go ahead. The device can improve in the audio quality and design aspect, however, considering the price, the package is quite good. If Realme is not your jam then you can look at Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 or Redmi Earbuds S.