It does not happen too often but once in a while, a device turns up delivering a number of functions at a price tag that simply justifies…well, almost every shortcoming it has (and EVERY product has shortcomings, never mind what the influencers say).
Well, the rather elaborately named Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro fall into this rather rare category.
For, these Bluetooth earphones are priced at R 1,799. And they come with 10 mm drivers, an IPX5 rating (making them splash resistant), decently loud and clear sound (with slightly accented bass), and active noise cancellation that is not exceptional but does make a difference.
For Rs 1,799.
You know, we could end the review here, because that really is it. You cannot get what these earphones deliver at that price.
They look largely routine
No, they are not perfect. Some will call their design a little on the plain side, and well, it is not exactly designed to stand out in a crowd. You get the slightly thicker “collar” which is made of a blend of rubber-like material on the bendy portion and has solid glossy plastic ends, which house the controls and charging port on the right. The buds extend on thinner wires from this band and have shiny backs, perhaps the most noticeable design element on the earphones. You have three choices of eartip sizes. We got the black edition (there is a blue one too) and it was all rather predictable. Smart enough, but predictable nevertheless. They fit well in our ears, and if you are comfortable with the band lying on the back of your neck, can be used during a workout, thanks to the splash resistance.
The buds incidentally connect to each other magnetically but do not pause the music while doing so, unlike what we have seen in some other models. So do remember to switch them off – some might not like this system but we prefer it to the “switch off when buds are attached to each other” one as in that scenario, many times, the buds come apart accidentally while in a bag, and suddenly the audio moves from your phone to them. There is also rather surprisingly, no multi-point connectivity, so you cannot connect to two devices at the same time and switch among them. This feature’s absence is surprising because we had seen it in the Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones last year.
Of course, there will be those who will point out that these charge over micro USB instead of USB Type C. Now we would have preferred a USB Type C port but considering that the earphones come with close to twenty hours of battery life (you might need to recharge them once or twice a week), we do not think its absence is a deal-breaker, considering what we are getting at this price. Which of course, takes us to the real part of this review.
But perform very well
And that is what these earphones bring to the table. In five words: a LOT for that price. The sound quality you get on them is decent enough for a casual music listening experience – there is slight stress on the bass, but the earphones are clear enough to not let it muddy the overall listening experience. Those who love peppy dance tracks and a touch of trance and underground will find these pleasant enough. There is no aptX support but these are good enough also for watching shows. We would not recommend using them for gaming, as there are some latency issues. Call quality is also generally good, as long as one is in a relatively less noisy place. We have been told these come with environmental noise cancellation, but we often had the people we were talking to saying they could not hear us too clearly above the sounds surrounding us. So we would not recommend using them to take or make calls in very noisy conditions, although they are more than handy for use in general circumstances.
The earphones connect easily over Bluetooth. You just need to keep the multi-function button pressed for them to go into pairing mode. Connections are steady, and we found we could roam around for a distance of fifteen to twenty feet even with walls in between us and the connected device, without losing the connection. There is no additional app, so you get no special equalizer modes or bass boost, or the like. We did not miss it really (we find pairing apps to be more a pain than a blessing), but some might.
Yes, ANC works
Then there is ANC. The Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro are perhaps among the most affordable earphones to offer ANC. Activating and deactivating is as simple as hitting a button on the inside of the right part of the “band.” And well, it works, as long as you keep your expectations realistic. ANC on these buds does not totally kill external sound but it does reduce it. We do not see it being very effective at removing the sounds of in-flight engines or traffic sound, but it does make things quieter at noisy cafes, reducing background chatter to a tolerable murmur. It is not spectacular but definitely very usable.
All of this for Rs 1799 – is there anyone else? (Hint: No!)
We actually do not know if there’s any competition for these earphones at their price of Rs 1,799. There is no real minus point anywhere – the geeks will complain about the micro USB port but that apart, these tick all the boxes. The sound is clear enough and slightly bass-heavy, which should be fine with most people except the audiophiles (many of whom would anyway turn their noses up at a Bluetooth earphone), the ANC is not perfect but noticeable, the fit is comfortable and the battery life is good.
You do get better sound on the Oppo Enco M31, but those lose out on battery life and call quality. Realme also has the Realme Buds Wireless at Rs 1,799 but those have no ANC and have relatively lesser battery life. The OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z come with a Rs 1,999 price tag and very impressive battery life and call handling, but we felt the Mii Neckband Pro had better sound and well, there’s ANC!
All of which make the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro easily the best option for anyone looking at a feature-rich pair of Bluetooth earphones for under Rs 2,000. You get a whole lot for not too much. Bluetooth audio on a tight budget does not get better than this.
- Decent sound quality
- Reasonable ANC (for the price)
- Good battery life
- Routine design
- Micro USB charging (for some)
|Build & design||
At Rs 1,799 the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro are perhaps the most affordable Bluetooth earphones to come with ANC. They face competition from the likes of the Oppo Enco M31 and the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z, but considering their price and feature set, these are perhaps the best Bluetooth earphones anything less than Rs 2,000 can buy.