Mobvoi TicPods ANC review: Active noise cancellation, sweat resistance, and $90 price

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In early June Mobvoi announced the TicPods ANC wireless earbuds. For just $89.99 I did not think it was possible to do well with all of the announced functions and features. After a couple of weeks of use I have to say I was wrong and you should definitely consider them.

Most of the Bluetooth fully wireless earbuds I use are designed for exercise and are tested while running outside. Few of these types of earbuds incorporate active noise cancellation (ANC) and some that do fall out easily due to wrong fit (Apple AirPods Pro) or poor design for motion (Sony WF-SP800N). The TicPods ANC provides decent ANC, but headphones priced two to nearly three times as much do indeed have better noise cancellation performance.

Also: TicPods 2 Pro wireless earbuds review: Mobvoi's latest brings improved means of interaction and advanced audio

The Mobvoi TicPods ANC retail for $89.99 and come in white. In addition to ANC, Mobvoi promotes the ability to use the earbuds independently, the sweat/water resistance, and high quality sound with 13mm speaker.

Specifications

  • Microphones: High sensitivity MEMs mics on each earbud
  • Water resistance: IPX5 rating
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, in-ear detection
  • Battery life: Up to 4.5 hours of play with ANC on and 5 hours with ANC off. The charging case provides more than two full additional charges to the earbuds and charges via USB-C.
  • Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Earbud weight: 5 grams each

Hardware

The retail package includes the two wireless earbuds, a charging case with an integrated battery, a short USB-A to USB-C cable, and a pair of slightly larger silicone eartips. There is no support for wirelessly charging the battery/carrying case, but it is great to see the standard USB-C port.

The charging/carrying case is glossy white plastic with rounded corners and edges. It feels a bit light for the large size, but the compartments are designed for the large silicone tips to stay on the earbuds and fit perfectly in the case. The USB-C port is on the bottom with a small LED indicator light next to it showing charging status of the case.

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Each earbud rests in a compartment designed to perfectly hold each one. The lid stays securely closed with a magnet and snaps closed when you bring the top down. There is a small white LED between the two earbuds that shows charging status of the earbuds.

There is no pairing button on the case and Bluetooth 5.0 pairing is initiated simply by opening the top flap of the carrying case. The white/green LED will flash while the case is in pairing mode and then appear solid when the connection is made to your device.

Also: TicWatch Pro 2020 review: Google Wear OS smartwatch with layered display, ample RAM, and low $260 price

The earbuds look similar to the AirPods and TicPods 2 Pro with a long stem design that lines up well with the opening in your outer ear. The silicone eartip is larger than just the tips that fit onto the end of an earbud. The silicone fits around the end of the earbud and then extends out with a raised cup that fits into your ear canal. This silicone design helps create a secure fit into your ear while also acting to keep the earbuds from falling out when you run or workout.

There is a mic down at the bottom of the stem near the two gold charging connectors and another centered up on the stem about three quarters of the way up the stem. The upper one also has a LED indicator inside with blue, red, and green lights for different status. Above this second mic is the oblong touch sensitive area that is used to control the earbuds.

The touch controls on the TicPods ANC have fewer options than we have seen on some other recent earbuds, but they provide essential controls. A double tap on either side causes the music to play/pause while a triple tap on the right earbud skips ahead one track. A triple tap on the right earbud launches your selected voice assistant. When using a single left or right earbud, there is no control for skipping tracks as the triple tap defaults to your voice assistant.

To switch between ANC on, sound passthrough, and ANC off modes you press and hold on the touch bar area. One thing to note is that every time you remove the TicPods ANC from the case the earbuds default to ANC off mode. It would be great to see the TicPods ANC launch with your last selected mode.

There are no volume controls on the earbuds so you must control it from your device or use your preferred voice assistant to control the volume.

There is another opening on the large part of the earbud up where the silicone sleeve is found. This opening serves as a pressure relief valve so extended wear is comfortable.

Also: TicWatch S2 review: Google Wear OS is pretty terrible and Mobvoi doesn't help the cause with this $180 smartwatch

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

Overall, the TicPods ANC are solid earbuds and you would be hard pressed to find anything else available for $90 with active noise-cancellation, IPX5 sweat/water resistance, and single earbud use support. That said, there are a couple of compromises at this price point that you should be aware of.

You must be very purposeful with your double and triple taps on the touchpad area. It took me a few days to get the right rhythm with my finger taps to control the earbuds. Tap firmly at a rate of about once per second. Tapping too quicky will not register an action and just end up having you tap the earbuds further into your ears.

The active noise-cancellation is present, but the effect is not nearly what I have experienced with my Bose or Jabra noise-canceling headphones. I haven't traveled on an airplane to see if these muffle that noise, but there is an impact in reducing extra noise in my home office surroundings.

Thankfully, the audio performance from the TicPods ANC is very good with excellent volume support, solid bass, and great clarity. I've been quite impressed with the bass performance since this is often a weak area for the earbud form factor. There is also a pass-through mode so you can enjoy music and pick up sounds around you.

Fit while running is superb and the TicPods ANC never fell out or moved during my running and that is not an easy feat for a 250 pound running gliding across the pavement. The earbuds are also very light so that helps them stay securely in place.

Call quality was fine and like most earbuds callers said I sounded a bit distant. I don't make that many calls with earbuds and these performed as expected.

Battery life is decent with ANC on and off, but lately we have been seeing earbuds offering up to double what Mobvoi offers here with the TicPods ANC. Granted, such high battery life may come with other compromises or much higher prices.

The Mobvoi TicPods ANC surprised me with the excellent fit, solid audio performance, IPX5 sweat/water resistance, and affordable price. If you are looking for a headset with these features then you should seriously consider the TicPods ANC.

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