Since Apple released the AirPods Pro, almost every brand has decided to follow-up with its own wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation. Xiaomi also released one earlier this month, the Air 2 Pro. As a brand popular for bringing high-end features to the affordable market, can the Xiaomi Air 2 Pro replicate the success of its other products?
Let’s find out.
Xiaomi Air 2 Pro Review: Design
For design, the case of the Air 2 Pro has inherited a typical Xiaomi style as what we have seen on the previous Xiaomi earbuds products. It’s still shaped as a cuboid with rounded squares and can stay upright on a table. But the size is slightly bigger and it weighs a bit more, making it even larger than the Huawei FreeBuds Pro.
With this in your pocket, there wouldn’t be much space left as you still need to carry your phone. At the back, there is a lightning icon to remind you that it supports wireless charging. And considering the price tag, no doubt supporting wireless charging is a must. And the opening and closing experience of the case is much better than others as it also uses a magnetic design.
When we open the case, the build quality and matte finish of the earbuds are pretty impressive. And the fine ceramic touch panel on the surface of the earbuds really caught our eyes at first glance.
Since this ceramic panel is used for touch-interaction, it may start collecting a lot of fingerprints. But we have to give credit where it’s due – the design of the Air 2 Pro is pretty special, as it does not follow AirPods-style design like many rival brands.
Xiaomi Air 2 Pro Review: ANC Performance
Now let’s check out its performance of noise cancellation. In this round, we are gonna take the Huawei Freebuds Pro as a reference. Well, sorry to tell you that you get what you pay for. After we tested the earbuds under different environments including light noise areas like office and heavy-noise like roadside and school streets, our testers reached an agreement that the noise-canceling performance of the Air 2 Pro is a bit weaker than the Huawei Freebuds Pro, and they estimated that it could reach only 80% of the Freebuds Pro’s performance. The Air 2 Pro also didn’t handle wind noise well. When you are walking on a windy day with the Air 2 Pro in your ears, the wind noise can come in between your listening experience. Even though you try to keep the earbuds firm in your ears, it only reaches around 60% of the Freebuds Pro’s anti-wind-noise effect.
But on the other hand, we have noticed that the Air 2 Pro is around 50 bucks cheaper than the Freebuds Pro, so actually, it still lived up to our expectations. And about wearing experience, the testers felt that the Air 2 Pro handled ear pressure better than the Freebuds Pro when the noise canceling was turned on.
The default ear tips of the Air 2 Pro do not really fit most ears well. Because most testers feel the fit to be a bit loose, it may also result in an insufficient noise canceling effect. But inside the box, Xiaomi provided 4 more pairs of silicone tips for replacement. So, we suggest using the largest one if you have a similar experience.
Xiaomi Air 2 Pro Review: Battery Life
And if you are a heavy earbuds user, battery life should be another important buying factor. The Air 2 Pro has excellent battery performance. In the noise-canceling mode, my colleague used it for 5 hours and the power dropped by only 50%, which is the best battery performance for an ANC earbud that we’ve tested so far. You should get around 7-8 hours of playback on a single charge.
Xiaomi Air 2 Pro Review: Operation
When connected to a Xiaomi device, you can change additional settings for Air 2 Pro in the official voice assistant App, XiaoAi. Or without the phone, you can have some default interaction with the earbuds.
For example, double-click the left earbud to wake the voice assistant; double click the right one to play and pause music or video, and long-press either one for 5 seconds to switch between noise-canceling mode and transparency mode. But switching modes over the earbuds is really annoying. For example, in order to turn on the Noise canceling mode from the transparent mode, I have to put my finger on the touch panel for at least 10 seconds. Because I need to press for 5 seconds to switch to the ‘Transparency Off’ first and then another 5 seconds for the noise-canceling to turn ON. It’s really not a smart design to let users wait over 10 seconds for a simple operation.
Even if you are not using a Xiaomi phone, all the functions that we just mentioned are also accessible. All you need to do is to download the XiaoAi App. And then probably the only difference is that there is no pop-up window on non-Xiaomi devices. You have to manually connect it to the Bluetooth list. But note that, XiaoAi only supports the Chinese language. If you are not good at Chinese, the app will be a bit useless, although there were some interesting features and setups for the earbuds.
Otherwise, all the basic interaction and features can still work well without the app, including the same noise-canceling strength.
Xiaomi Air 2 Pro Review: Audio & Latency
In the last part, let’s go check out the sound quality and latency of the Air 2 Pro. Well, it should be noted that the firmware we are using is 3.0.12. And the officials have promised that the lower-latency mode and new Bluetooth codec LHDC would come in the next few firmware updates. It means that under low-latency mode the earbuds will be better for gaming and video play, while with the new efficient LHDC codec, its sound quality will be improved.
Right now, the Air 2 Pro has a 0.6-second delay when playing games on Xiaomi phones, while on the other brands’ devices, the sound output is delayed for 0.8-second.
The Air 2 Pro’s mid and low frequencies sound excellent, with crisp output, which is even more impressive than what we have with the Huawei Freebuds Pro. But its high frequencies were not as outstanding as the lows, and it sounds pretty close to what we had on the Freebuds Pro.
Xiaomi Air 2 Pro Review: Verdict
In short, we can say that the Air 2 Pro’s active noise cancelation is still good enough to handle most conditions. However, if I’m not going to pay over 200 US dollars for earbuds, there are only a handful of options that provide excellent value for money. And the Air 2Pro is one of them. Although it can’t successfully challenge some more expensive earbuds in departments like noise-canceling and wearing comfort, the Air 2 Pro still has a unique appearance design, impressive battery life, and a really affordable price tag. And we’re really looking forward to its firmware update. If there are any new developments after the update, we’ll let you know.
The Air 2 Pro earbuds is currently available for international shipping via Giztop for $129. Also, if you want to check out more pictures of the new Xiaomi earbuds, check out our earlier Air 2 Pro hands-on here.