In my review of Mi True Wireless Earphones 2, I wrote that this is the start of Xiaomi’s attempt to enter the true wireless earbuds market. “I still think this is just the first act. It will be followed by cheaper true wireless earbuds from Redmi, which could become the real disruptor,” I wrote. Now that I have used the Redmi Earbuds S for a few days, I’m convinced that Xiaomi knows it has an audience and is simply convincing them to invest. Also Read - OnePlus Buds true wireless earbuds may launch in July with Apple AirPods-like design
The Redmi Earbuds S is not a disruptor that Redmi smartphones have been in the industry. It is, in fact, a power grab by the brand from boAt, Noise and others in the segment. If you have a budget of Rs 2,000 for a truly wireless earbuds, Redmi will be the most familiar brand in this segment. Redmi Earbuds S wins in terms of familiarity and reach with millions of smartphone users. However, the question we ought to ask is whether it wins with the product as well? That’s precisely what I aim to find out in this review. Also Read - Poco Pop Buds name revealed, could actually be the Xiaomi Mi Air Dots 2 SE
Redmi Earbuds S: Sound Quality and Calling Experience
We will talk about design, comfort and battery life in a bit. Let’s start with the feature most of us care about the most: sound quality. While Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 were designed for balanced audio, the Redmi Earbuds S is tuned for bass performance. In other words, Redmi is offering true wireless earbuds that are tuned for the lower end of the octave. In many ways, this tuning comes out as impressive and will appeal to those who listen to pop, funk or even the Indian artists who are exceptional with bass.
I have been listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest album Dedicated Side B almost every day for the past week. If you follow Jepsen’s work then you know how she experiments with pop and always leads listeners towards a melancholy of saxophone. On Redmi Earbuds S, you understand this amalgamation of music really well. When you Window, the funk-pop creation or the second track, the Redmi Earbuds S brings out the full range without any issue. The same song sounded subdued to my ears on the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2.
This does not mean that Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 is bad but rather how Redmi Earbuds S beats it in small areas despite being cheaper. It is also considerably louder and I often found myself listening at 50-60 percent of volume, below the 80 percent volume used to measure the battery life. No gadget is perfect and Redmi Earbuds S is not perfect either. While it is tuned for bass, I observed distortion in sub and mid bass frequencies. It is probably something that Redmi might fix later and also something, not a lot of us will notice.
It is also not the most versatile piece of audio experience that you will find across genres. While listening to Carnatic and other classical music, I found Redmi Earbuds S to lack clarity and sounded coarse in certain areas. This is one aspect where the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 performs better. Overall, I don’t think you will be disappointed listening to your favorite music on the Redmi Earbuds S. Whether you listen to Fleet Foxes, Steely Dan, Lizzo, Taylor Swift or Dua Lipa. Closer to home, whether your favorite artist is Badshah or Arijit Singh, AR Rahman or Mithun or Anirudh, there is something in it for you. Just don’t keep the expectations too high.
The calling experience on the Redmi Earbuds S, for me, was flawless. Callers on the other end did not notice any difference. Some even said that I sounded better than it would from the mic of my phone. Redmi Earbuds S do not offer noise isolation but the environmental noise cancellation is good enough. It is definitely on par with almost every other true wireless earbuds that I have used for calls. If you are into pop, jazz or funk then Redmi Earbuds S won’t disappoint for its retail price of Rs 1,799.
Redmi Earbuds S: Design and Connection
The first thing you need to know is that Redmi Earbuds S is not inspired by Apple AirPods. Sigh. It is a welcome change in a segment where almost every other truly wireless earbud wants to be an AirPods look-alike. The shape of the Redmi Earbuds S’ case is similar to that of an egg. It is neither circular nor oval but falls somewhere in between. It is extremely light and seems to be made from plastic. You can easily slide this inside your coin pocket and not worry about losing them.
There is a Redmi branding on top while other regulatory information is at the bottom. At the back, there is a microUSB port for charging. It comes only in black color and the finish is closer to matte. In less than a week, I have managed to scratch the surface of the case. It also gets dirty easier than any other true wireless earbuds that I have reviewed so far. I wish Redmi had followed Realme‘s lead and launch case as well. At the front, there is a small space that allows you to open the case with one hand. As soon as you open the case, you will find the earbuds.
The earbuds have an in-ear design and they fit very well inside the ear. In fact, this design allows you to lock them with much more confidence. Since it does not pop out of your ear, there is no awkward feeling. Xiaomi includes three different types of ear tips, which helps find perfect comfort. Every time, you put them back into the case, they magnetically connect and start charging. The outer surface of the earbuds have buttons that help control music playback or digital assistant of your choice.
The design reminds me of the boAt Airdopes 201 but is better since it leans inwards and not outwards. I was able to wear them comfortably for around two hours without any issue. After that, I found little stress which forced me to remove them. There is a LED on each earbud, which acts as your visual clue to the status of these earbuds. It does not support quick pairing seen on Mi True Wireless Earphones 2. You will need to manually pair with devices and disconnect first to connect with second. While they are master slave devices, the slave still works fine on its own. Redmi Earbuds S has a no-nonsense design that works well for its price.
Redmi Earbuds S: Battery Life
This is an area where Redmi Earbuds S surprised me. Redmi claims up to 12 hours of battery life on a single charge. This rating comes with volume set to 80 percent. In my time with the device, I averaged between 10 and 13 hours of battery life between charges. They earbuds themselves last for around four hours and you can get another two rounds of juice easily from the case. For true wireless earbuds in this segment, the Redmi Earbuds S offers competitive battery life. It is not making a claim but instead, delivering on it.
The only downside is that Redmi is using a microUSB port for charging. I could not find a cable in the package, which put me on a quest to find a microUSB cable treasure hunt. I ended up finding one inside the box of an old over-the-ear headphone. It took the case more than an hour to charge and you need to monitor the LED at the front to know when it is fully charged. During lockdown, I found myself charging the device every two days. Once the lockdown is lifted, I think it will still not be a full week. You might have to charge it once every three or four days.
Redmi Earbuds S: Should you buy?
Redmi Earbuds S offers a lot of features including a dedicated gaming mode that lowers the latency. The earbuds are IPX4 rated, which makes them usable at the gym or during a run. Redmi has spoilt people like me by punching above its weight with almost every other product. In the case of Redmi Earbuds S, that surprise element is lacking. These are really good for the price but that is something we expected anyway. It, however, does not set any benchmark for this segment.
The performance of Redmi Earbuds S is identical to those offered by rivals like Noise, boAt, p-tron and others in this segment. By not offering quick pairing or USB Type-C port, Redmi is bound by the same market limitations like its rivals. If you are in the market for a true wireless earbuds under Rs 2,000 then Redmi Earbuds S is an excellent option. However, none of its competitors are bad either. With Realme Buds Q set to launch in a few weeks, this space is only likely to get more competitive.