Xiaomi FlipBuds Pro TWS review - The best True Wireless in-ears under 200 Euros?
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The FlipBuds Pro have been officially available for the Chinese market since the end of May. Unlike the predecessors, the Xiaomi in-ears will probably also make their way to Europe. This is indicated by the new name and the fact that the Xiaomi FlipBuds Pro have already passed the certification of the Bluetooth SIG - both of which point to a global version of the TWS, i.e. also for the German-speaking region.
With the energy-saving Qualcomm QCC515 chip including aptX support and new Active Noise Cancelling technology, which supports a maximum noise reduction depth of 40 dB(A) and is supposed to reduce background noise by up to 99 percent, the Chinese manufacturer wants to win the favor of buyers in the highly competitive TWS market.
Here's a brief summary of the FlipBuds Pro's technical specs:
|Speakers||11 mm driver, dynamic, 20 - 20,000 Hz|
|Audio codecs||SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive Dynamic|
|Weight (per earphone)||6.1 g|
|Weight (charging case)||57.5 g|
|Microphones||3 microphones per earpiece|
|Package contents||Headphones, charging case, silicone ear pads (S, M, L), documentation|
|Price (MSRP)||approx. 100 Euro (130 Euro import)|
Workmanship & ergonomics - FlipBuds Pro wear comfortably
The design, but also the charging case of the FlipBuds Pro show up in a new form factor, significantly rounder than the Mi Air 2 Pro. In contrast to the oval, cylindrical case shape of the predecessor, the case of the FlipBuds Pro has now become rounder and more compact - very similar to the OnePlus Buds. Thus, the comfort in the pocket and ergonomics have been improved significantly. However, the Chinese manufacturer has changed the matte surface to a glossy finish that is susceptible to fingerprints.
The plastic charging case of the Xiaomi TWS weighs 57.4 g (~2 oz) together with the headphones, which feels substantial in the hands. Although there is no longer a lightning symbol on the back, wireless charging is still supported. The charging case itself can also be powered via USB-C port.
The choice of FlipBuds Pro is limited to a gray and black color option. While Xiaomi has again implemented some design elements, the individual form factor of the Mi Air 2 Pro has been abandoned. As a result, this year's in-ears are more reminiscent of the Airpods Pro from Apple. The workmanship and quality of the plastic Xiaomi headphones are very good.
The headphones weigh 6.1 grams (~0.2 oz) each and are thus pleasantly light. The Xiaomi headphones are not noticed negatively in everyday life, even during longer use. Thanks to the ergonomic design, the in-ears also fit comfortably to the auricle and the external auditory canal in our opinion. We cannot conclusively clarify whether the casing construction of the FlipBuds Pro is waterproof, since the Chinese manufacturer does not provide any information on this on its website. Since the Mi Air Pro was already certified according to the IPX4 protection class, we assume that rain or sweat will not cause any problems for Xiaomi's current premium TWS.
Features & operation - FlipBuds Pro with new gestures
The FlipBuds Pro feature a low-power Bluetooth audio SoC from Qualcomm, developed for use in wireless earphones. The QCC5151 is a single-chip solution that supports the Qualcomm aptX adaptive audio codec, among other things. The latest Qualcomm chipset also promises low-power (Low Energy Audio) and delay-free (Low Latency Audio) operation, as well as Bluetooth 5.2 compatibility. This allows the FlipBuds Pro to pair with two Bluetooth devices at the same time and automatically switch to whichever player is playing the audio.
According to Xiaomi, the ANC feature, which is very important for many users, filters noise out of the sound image with up to 40 dB(A). In contrast to the Mi Air 2 Pro there are three noise reduction modes to choose from. A transparency mode is also on board again.
Basically, no app is needed to switch between the three modes; user-defined gestures can be used instead. Unlike the Mi Air 2 Pro, the FlipBuds Pro do not support tap gestures, but rather are pressed together on the two outer surfaces of the lower casing area, which works very well and is less prone to incorrect inputs. Switching via the headphones is also less tedious, and the in-ears' feedback is nowpunctuated by different tones instead of in Chinese.
However, it is even faster with the XiaoAi application, which however only masters the Chinese language, or the native software solution of Xiaomi smartphones. The latter is used in our Chinese version of the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is also supported in the English language, and this pairing method is also visually much more appealing via pop-up animation. Besides some settings, the in-ears are also supplied with the latest drivers via the Xiaomi application or software. However, an equalizer is still not available.
A wear detection feature that automatically stops music or movie playback when the FlipBuds Pro are removed from the ear is also featured by the Xiaomi TWS. Thanks to the built-in infrared sensor, the headphones quickly detect when they are removed in everyday use. Furthermore, interesting features are implemented, among others, lost in-ears can be tonally triggered so that they are easier to find again. Another helpful feature is the reminder message as soon as the unused earbuds are not put into the case within three minutes.
Voice quality - Xiaomi FlipBuds Pro convince
Besides playing music or video content, we used the True Wireless headphones as a headset and made calls with the FlipBuds Pro. In our test calls, the three microphones of each earpiece provide very good voice output, and our call partners attest to the Xiaomi TWS' clear reproduction. Besides voice transmission, the microphones also reduce ambient noise. In combination with an ANC chip set, which reverses sound waves, and a speaker in the ear cup, monotonous noise is well reduced by neutralizing sound waves.
Overall, the Xiaomi TWS convince with an appealing and neutral voice reproduction. We also find the maximum volume to be sufficient.
Sound quality - Xiaomi FlipBuds Pro with aptX Adaptive
The LHDC Bluetooth codec of the Xiaomi Mi Air 2 Pro is replaced by aptX (Adaptive) in the current TWS generation, which should also enable low latency and high sound quality. Xiaomi specifies on its website, among others, the Mi 11 Ultra as a cell phone with a very low latency. Contrary to other reports about the FlipBuds Pro, we cannot determine any serious differences in latency between a Xiaomi smartphone and another phone when using the latest firmware 220.127.116.11. As another playback device, we use a OnePlus 9 Pro, which also has a very low offset between sound and picture. The audio playback with aptX Adaptive always lags behind the visual output a bit, but the asynchrony of sound and picture is also very low with the AAC codec.
Besides playing video content, we naturally used the True Wireless In-Ears for listening to music. Thanks to the 11 mm dynamic drivers, the TWS from Xiaomi offer present and clearly perceptible bass without being bass-heavy. Compared to the predecessors, the sound seems a bit fuller and the trebles are better brought out. We perceive the sound output as clear and well differentiated. The maximum volume is also sufficient, although the Mi Air 2 Pro a bit more powerful.
We use the AAC standard in the test. Music from streaming services is accompanied by a clearly perceptible crackling when using aptX Adaptive - at least with our FlipBuds Pro - which is quite annoying. However, these problems do not occur with aptX or AAC.
Thanks to the noise-canceling technology, monotone noise that is not too loud is well shielded - Xiaomi itself states a volume of up to 40 decibels. Thus, the FlipBuds Pro are supposed to filter out a bit more than the Mi Air 2 Pro, however, we cannot determine any significant differences. Especially foreign voices in the supermarket or train are reduced well with the current Xiaomi TWS. However, the FlipBuds Pro also exhibit the typical ANC noise during quiet playback.
We like the transparency mode that amplifies background noise, such as traffic while biking. This is very appealing.
Battery life - FlipBuds Pro last a long time
Similar to the Mi Air 2 Pro the technical requirements of the FlipBuds Pro are not disclosed by the Chinese manufacturer. However, Xiaomi claims a music playback time of up to 7 hours without active noise cancellation for its premium TWS. However, we only get a runtime of approximately 6 to 6.5 hours at medium volume using the aptX adaptive codec protocol. The power consumption increases a bit when ANC is enabled, so the FlipBuds Pro completely discharged after just 4.5 hours.
In everyday use, one charge of the in-ears requires about 30 percent of the case's energy storage, so we come to about three charge cycles. Thus, we achieve a very satisfactory maximum runtime of about 18 to 25 hours with the fully charged charging box - depending on the modes. A charging process takes about 45 minutes.
Conclusion about the Xiaomi FlipBuds Pro
The FlipBuds Pro are a very good further development of the Mi Air 2 Pro. Xiaomi moves away from the quite angular, but independent design language with the current TWS generation to a rounded design - both for the case and the in-ears themselves. Unfortunately, the Flipbuds Pro are only available in black and with a glossy, highly reflective surface that emphasizes fingerprints over the entire case.
Due to the tonal feedback when changing the different modes, the FlipBuds Pro are now much more "European" and user-friendly for local use. However, the settings app for non-Xiaomi phones is still only available in Chinese, and the XiaoAI app is also only supported by Android and thus not available for Apple devices.
Xiaomi's AirPods Pro killers offer a very good package for comparatively little money.
Overall, the FlipBuds Pro are very good sounding TWS with good runtimes, decent ANC paired with a good build quality and ergonomic design. Also, the case's multi-colored status LED and the new gesture controls in the style of the Apple iPods Pro are very appealing to us.
Prices & availability of the Xiaomi FlipBuds Pro
The Warranty of the Xiaomi TWS is 12 months. In addition to the manufacturer's warranty, our loaner TradingShenzhen offers the option to send the FlipBuds Pro to a German shipping address in case of a warranty claim. A time-consuming shipping to China would not be necessary. The prices at TradingShenzhen start at around 166 Dollars at the time of testing.