Back in 2019, when rumours started swirling about Realme developing true wireless earbuds, there was a huge chance that they would draw inspiration from Apple. While that was a known fact, what many didn’t think is that they would outright just rip-off that design. And now that these Buds Air have dropped for a very humble price of Rs 3,999, the question isn’t about whether they are a copy cat product — it is more about how good a true wireless experience they end up providing. The answer is complicated. 

What’s warped 

  • They do look like AirPods which will be a great thing for many people who are looking for the aspirational value of the iconic Apple earphones. The added advantage here is that they are offered in two additional colours — yellow and black, apart from white. 
  • They get paired quickly and they hold a very stable Bluetooth connection. All of this happens because of Realme’s custom R1 chip which helps with the stability of the connection. 
  • The fit is very similar to the AirPods which means if your ear snugs them in tightly you will enjoy the Buds Air, otherwise, it will be a weird fit because of their shape. That being said, they do fit most people quite tightly. 
  • The Realme Buds Air support not only USB Type C charging which happens rapidly but also the charging case supports wireless charging with Qi-standard at up to 10 watts. There is also an LED indicator which shifts between green, yellow and red on the basis of the charge levels which is handy. 
  • If you are going to listen to music, then these earphones are not going to blow you away, however, they will do a decent job. The highs and bass are quite scooped which makes these good for hearing all kinds of pop music. 
  • These earphones do a surprisingly good job of handling calls. They make for great earphones if you do a lot of conference calls. Call quality is pretty close to the AirPods. 
  • They also sound quite uniform across device types. Be it an Android smartphone, an iPhone, a Windows PC or a MacBook, they sound the same which is a good thing as everyone gets the same experience. That’s not true for most Qualcomm APTX enabled earphones as they sound inferior on Apple products while AirPods perform inferior on Android and Windows-based products. 
  • There is a dedicated mode for gamers which is very cool. So if you are playing PUBG or Call of Duty Mobile, then you can enable it, for more immersive audio. 
  • The price is perfect at Rs 3,999 as this becomes an impulse purchase for many people who want to experience what it is like to have AirPods but probably can’t afford them or don’t want to invest in them because they don’t use Apple gadgets.  

What’s not

  • The mids are crunched a little which means if you listen to a lot of rock then they may sound muddy. If you listen to more nuanced genres like drum and bass or hard techno, you will realise the low-end isn’t powerful enough. Suffice to say, it doesn’t sound anything like AirPods. 
  • The natural noise cancellation of these earphones is quite average as you will hear a lot of outdoor noise seep in.  There are also sound leakages, especially if the volume is bumped up. So, if you are planning on pumping up the music on your next flight, the passenger next doors may have issues. 
  • The control scheme on the Buds Air is complicated and can take getting used to. There is also no app or interface built-in which kind of tells you what the Buds Air are doing. 
  • Of course, there is the elephant in the room — they look literally identical to AirPods which while a good thing, is also a pretty horrible thing for someone who appreciates originality. 
  • The fit and finish of these earbuds is inferior to AirPods. In fact, it is inferior to a lot of earphones that you can get for the price as they feel cheap and plasticky. 
  • While these Buds Air do get charged pretty quickly, their battery life is average at best. With heavy usage, it doesn’t last more than 2 hours on a single charge while the charger is just about good enough for 8 hours during the day. 

At the end of the day, Buds Air are a gateway drug for folks who want AirPods. They look identical but also come in newer colours. They are utterly cheap while providing about 80% of the AirPods magic with some bells and whistles of its own without the guilt of spending a small fortune. They are a great purchase of people who either have wanted to get AirPods but own Android phones or someone just looking for a decent pair of affordable True Wireless earphones. These aren’t certainly for people who want to have the best in sound quality or the best in the wireless audio experience.


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