Mobvoi has launched its wireless headphones with a crowdfunding campaign that has obtained more than 2.8 million dollars. The TicPods Free are available in the Mobvoi online store and on Amazon at a price of 135.79 dollars from October 24, 2018.
The available colors are white, blue and red, everything depends on how much you want to draw attention. For our analysis we have chosen the red model, which tends slightly too orange.
Apple style design
The TicPods Free are reminiscent of the AirPods, it is quite clear, but is the similarity good or bad? It depends on the tastes: if you like the design adopted by Apple, it is likely that you also like the design of Mobvoi. Personally, I find it a bit strange to see the sticks coming out of the ears, but it’s just a matter of taste. Made of plastic, the headphones look solid when held in your hand.
But the important thing is: are they comfortable to wear? After two or three attempts, I have managed to adapt the headphones to my ears, especially after replacing the gummies with the smaller ones that come in the box. TicPods Free offer IPX5 certification, which allows them to be used during indoor and outdoor physical activities: they resist rain and sweat, but they cannot be used in the pool.
To store or charge the TicPods Free, you must use the small case that has the same color and style as the headphones. The upper part of the case is grooved, like the ear swabs. A rubber rope allows you to hang the case of some support or put it on the wrist. The compact dimensions of the case also make it possible to have it in your jacket pocket or purse without problems.
The magnets inside the case hold the headphones and allow them to be charged. Once the headphones are removed from the box, the LEDs light up blue and the headphones are automatically activated to connect to the previously synchronized smartphone. Both in each of the headphones and in its housing of the case, it is indicated if it is the right one or the left one.
In the box that comes with the purchase, you will find the case with the headphones inside, an instruction manual, a micro USB cable for charging, two replacement gummies and the rubber cord.
A (improvable) system based on gestures
You can control music and calls using simple gestures …
- By sliding one finger along the right or left swab, the volume can be adjusted.
- A double tap goes to the next song, and also allows you to answer and end calls.
- If the right earpiece is held down for two seconds, the virtual assistant that is connected to your device, either Siri or Assistant, is activated. This gesture also allows you to reject calls (here the gesture can be done with both headphones).
- If the left earpiece is held down for two seconds, the song is paused. The same gesture serves to repeat a song.
If you remove one of the headphones, the playback will stop automatically. When you put the headset back in your ear, the theme or video will play again from the point where it was interrupted, just like with the AirPods. As with smartphones, you just have to get used to the gestures, but I think Mobvoi could improve the interaction with the TicPods Free.
It would be more natural to put the pause or re-start a topic with a single touch instead of having to hold for two seconds, a gesture that has taken me longer to get used to. I have not always managed to get the command to work right away, sometimes the pause did not go and sometimes the playback did not return when I put the headphones on. It could be a problem of the sensors, or a problem to solve with a simple update.
On the other hand, the volume management seemed very comfortable to me. I have not used Google Assistant very much, but it is there when it is needed and has always responded to my commands. I need a gesture to go back in a song, but hey, it is not a function that is used too much.
An application for updates
The synchronization of the TicPods with the smartphone is simple and fast. It has taken literally a minute to connect my Huawei P20 Pro. You only have to activate Bluetooth (the TicPods support it in version 4.2) of the device and select them from the list. The LEDs on the headphones glow blue during synchronization.
To associate them with another device, you must deactivate the Bluetooth of the first device and repeat the procedure with the new device. The TicPods work with Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa.
The Mobvoi application is available for free in the Play Store, and allows you to verify the existence of software updates. In addition, it offers an overview of the operation of the headphones, but does not start very quickly.
Difficult to lose sight of
The bass is not the strong point of these headphones, but in general the audio experience is good. If you like styles like Drum and Bass, they may not be the best helmets. You will have the same with other headphones of this type. The maximum volume could be higher. Thanks to the reduction of environmental noise, you can enjoy music with greater comfort. The design of the headphones and the rubber part is very well done.
During the calls, the TicPods have not given me any problems, they have always remained connected and the communication has always been clear.
Thanks to the integrated technology, the headphones always understand when you take them out and put them on your ears, and put the playback of the song that is playing automatically, although that function has not always worked so fast during my test. When watching videos on YouTube I detected a small latency between playback and listening with headphones, but we must admit that this problem is common in this type of headphones.
I used the TicPods on the bike, or in the gym on the treadmill or doing yoga exercises, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that they did not move from my ears.
A good autonomy
The headphones house an 85 mAh battery, while the case, which also serves as a charging base, has a 700 mAh battery. Which means that you can charge the helmets up to four times for each load of the case. The autonomy would be about 18 hours in total if the helmets are stored in the case.
During use, the TicPods comply with the expectations, guaranteeing a range of just under 4 hours. The charge is completed in a short time: shit the headphones completely takes about 45 minutes, but in 15 minutes you can enjoy 85 minutes of playback.
If the LED on the headphones lights red, it means that you have less than 10% charge available. The same goes for the case, when the external LEDs glow red for three seconds, it means that the charge is less than 10%. Once you have connected the case to the charging cable, the LEDs will glow again in green once the process has been completed.
Mobvoi’s TicPods hit the market two years after the launch of Apple’s AirPods, and are an alternative to use not only with iOS but also with Android. The TicPods are ready to listen to music during physical activities or while traveling around the city, in addition to the calls, which sound good … But do not expect a high quality audio experience.
The headphones do the job for which they were designed, but Mobvoi should optimize the gesture system. For this price, the TicPodes should be up to Huawei’s FreeBuds, available in the market for the same price, but with the advantages of a name like Huawei.