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Nod twice, please: Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro reviewed

Mobvoi, a Chinese company known in the market for wearables such as the "Ticwatch" smartwatch series or the wireless TicPods earbuds, heralded the second generation of TicPods with the "TicPods 2" and "TicPods 2 Pro" at the beginning of January. We received a review unit of the TicPods 2 Pro for testing and will describe our impressions here.
Daniel Puschina (translated by Stephanie Chamberlain),

Small and light as a feather

The TicPods 2 Pro come with a charging case, two earbuds, a short USB Type-C cable and a quick-start guide. Compared to its predecessor, the size of the charging case has shrunk by 42%, making it much more compact at 24 x 32 x 71 millimeters. Three colors are available: blue, white and pink. The surface of the charging station is texturized, and there are two small status LEDs on the front. There is a button on the inside with which you can perform a hardware reset or disconnect Bluetooth.

Items included in the box
Items included in the box

The magnetic charging station itself has a 390 mAh polymer lithium-ion battery, while 30 mAh was used in the earbuds. Mobvoi specifies the pure battery life of the earbuds alone at 4 hours; the charging case then supplies energy for another 20 hours. If you still run out of battery, you'll be pleased with the TicPods' support of fast charging. After only 5 minutes of charging, the earbuds are ready for another hour of playback. These values are also largely in line with practical experience.

The earbuds themselves are very light at 4.4 grams per earbud. Furthermore, they can also be used in bad weather thanks to their IPX4 certification.

The Pros support TicMotion and TicHear

There are differences between the normal TicPods 2 and the TicPods 2 Pro, both in terms of functionality and technical data. The Pro version has a Qualcomm QCC5121 chipset and a double microphone, as well as an accelerometer and gyroscope for the control of gesture commands executed via nodding and shaking your head. The Pros also feature integrated Digital Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and have two Digital Signal Processors (DSP) instead of just one. The entry line of TicPods 2, on the other hand, is powered by a Qualcomm QCC3026 and it only supports a single microphone with noise cancellation. In return, the battery in the charging station gives the normal TicPods a three-hour longer use time.

A lot of technology in a very tight space
A lot of technology in a very tight space
Updating the firmware is very easy using the app
Updating the firmware is very easy using the app

We review the TicPods 2 Pro

After the unboxing, establishing a Bluetooth 5.0 connection with an Android smartphone worked smoothly. The manufacturer provides a Mobvoi app in the Play Store, in which further settings can be adjusted for the earbuds but at the same time also for other Mobvoi devices such as our TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE. iOS users can also find the Mobvoi app in the Apple Store.

This app can be used to initiate an OTA firmware update for the TicPods 2 Pro, and the process only takes a few minutes. In our case, the v1131 firmware version was installed, which brings the following new features:

  • Live translation via the earbuds
  • Better music quality by optimizing bass, alto and treble
  • Improvement of the call quality

Unfortunately, the interesting sounding "Session Translation" did not work in our tests. We repeatedly received the error message that our Wi-Fi reception was poor, even though we were connected both via a stable 4G network and directly to the router.

As for comfort, the TicPods 2 Pro feel extremely light, but at the same time, there's no worry of losing them. They sit well in the ear, and even longer conversations over a period of hours are possible without them becoming uncomfortable. Shaking your head alone is not enough to make them fall out of your ear.

Let's now turn to another important criterion for earbuds, namely the sound quality when listening to music. Due to the lack of silicone plugs, the ear canal isn't completely sealed. On one hand, the earplugs are loud enough that it was hardly necessary to go over 60% of the volume when using the Tidal music streaming service, for example, but we noticed the rather flat sound curve especially when the volume increases. On the other hand, the nine predefined equalizers in the Mobvoi app, which range from Classic to Hip-Hop and Jazz to Mega-Bass, don't help either. Here, however, it has to be said that in our opinion, this is not due to the excellent 13 mm drivers but due to the design and the lack of tightness. The TicPods 2 Pro are therefore suitable for occasionally listening to music on the go, but they're not the first choice for high-resolution music within your own four walls.

The voice quality when making a phone call is perfect, both for ourselves and for the person on the other end. They always sounded loud and clear throughout many situations, be it in the car or on the street. The conversation partner couldn't find much of a difference between us using the TicPods and using a mobile phone at the ear to talk.

As with other wireless models, the touch control takes some getting used to. An adaptation phase is needed, but after that, the touch control with the finger on the earbuds works quite well. For example, volume can be controlled very precisely by sliding your finger up and down directly on the earbud. We have already reviewed less cooperative earbuds in this regard. Accepting or rejecting calls by nodding your head, a gesture which Mobvoi has provided under the name "TicMotion", also works - but not always. However, the detection of whether the TicPods are in the ear works perfectly. For instance, if an earbud is removed while music is playing, playback stops and continues automatically as soon as the earbud is back in the ear. This setting can be changed in the app.

In addition to touch control, it's also possible to use voice commands, the so-called "TicHear", to play music ("play music"), go to the next song ("next track") or stop playback ("pause music") without using an activation word.

With the magic word "Hey Tico", the TicPods 2 Pro reliably accept voice commands for Google Assistant at all times, but only English is supported. 

Verdict

Mobvoi's TicPods 2 Pro are packed with intelligent gesture and speech features, as well as with a host of useful, thoughtful ideas. Some people will like the version without the silicon plugs more, because they also stay in place very well in the ear and are loud enough to hold up in noisy streets too. Comfort is just right, as is the specified battery life, which is, by the way, only just below the Apple AirPods Pro. In terms of price, the TicPods 2 Pro can be found for 140 Euros (~$152) on Amazon.de. The normal TicPods 2, which have to manage without the AI functions and necessary sensors for TicHear, TicMotion and the Dual-Mic, can also be found on Amazon for 99 Euros (~$108).

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Nod twice, please: Mobvoi TicPods 2 Pro reviewed
Daniel Puschina, 2020-04- 9 (Update: 2020-04- 9)
Daniel Puschina
Editor of the original article: Daniel Puschina - Editor
I am the generation who made the first computer experiences in the 90s on a 386 with the 20MHz turbo key. It was a tightrope walk between the performance limit of my computer and the scarce pocket money, but the motivation to get the last bit of performance out of it was all the greater. With 2MB of RAM, squeezing a single kilobyte out of the config.sys file was absolutely decisive for "Game starts" or "Game does not start". From this point on I also started to get more and more involved with benchmark tests, performance comparisons and tuning of components on the hardware side, which made me a permanent visitor to the Notebookcheck site in the last years. So it's a great pleasure for me to be able to write and test actively for this site myself.