Mobvoi’s latest earbuds bring a lot to the table in the budget wireless earbud category — even if not all the features pan out.
Mobvoi is a brand mostly known for making some of the best Android smartwatches like the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, but it also makes a few accessories. One such accessory is earbuds and headphones, and the latest in that product lineup is the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC.
Instead of aiming to take over the lead in best wireless earbuds category with higher price tags, the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC are attacking the midrange tier. However, this doesn’t mean that Mobvoi slacked on including useful features to reach the lower price point. These earbuds offer active noise canceling, a transparency mode, and a standard mode without any assistance from the onboard microphones.
I’ve used a few earbuds from Mobvoi in the past and some mid-tier earbuds from other brands and found that just because the price is low doesn’t mean the earbuds will be bad. Here are my thoughts on how the new Earbuds ANC stack up against Mobvoi’s previous offerings and the competition.
Mobvoi Earbuds ANC
Bottom line: Mobvoi has done a great job offering a great set of features and keeping the price down. The Mobvoi Earbuds ANC brings well-tuned sound quality and useful modes with Sound Passthrough and ANC with a press of the earbud. Though there are nifty voice commands available, consistency keeps the feature from being dependable.
- Clear, balanced audio
- Decent battery life
- Easy to change between sound modes
- No touch controls for volume
- Quick commands are finicky
- Missing automatic pause feature
- No adjustable EQ
$60 at Amazon
$60 at Mobvoi
Mobvoi Earbuds ANC: Price and availability
The Mobvoi Earbuds ANC launched on January 25, 2022. The earbuds ship with replacement tips and a short USB-C charging cable. Available in a single color, black, the Earbuds ANC are currently selling for the launch price of $59.99 through both Amazon and the Mobvoi store.
Mobvoi Earbuds ANC: What’s good
Mobvoi, though mostly known for making smartwatches, has made great cheap wireless earbuds that have been some of my favorite to use. However, those who managed that honor, like the TicPods Free, lacked ANC, which later arrived in the TicPods ANC during Summer 2020. The new Mobvoi Earbuds ANC brings some refinements along with a new color.
The color of the charging case is a really dark grey with a matte finish and retains the rounded square-ish shape from the TicPods ANC. Although, Mobvoi did manage to make it slightly thinner, making it comfortable to slip into a pocket. The case recharges the 400mAh battery via USB-C and has an LED light at the bottom to let you know when it’s finished charging up.
The earbuds themselves sport a stem design with an unfortunate glossy black finish. A preferable matte finish would better hide fingerprints and other smudges. While I’m not generally a fan of the AirPod-esque stem design, it does reduce the chance for an allergic reaction from metals used in the charging contacts as I had from the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
The Mobvoi Earbuds ANC packs a 13mm driver and a dual-mic setup. I found that the shape of the earbud, along with the interchangeable silicone tip, was comfortable for even long-term usage. Getting the correct size tip goes a long way to ensure comfort and provide the best passive noise isolation and audio quality.
|Mobvoi Earbuds ANC
|26.1 × 60 × 62.2mm
|19.6 × 24.6 × 43.1mm
|up to 6 hours of continuous listening
up to 21 hours with the case
|Water and Dust resistance
The dual microphones on the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC do an adequate job of monitoring external noises whether in Quiet Mode — Mobvoi’s ANC mode, Sound Passthrough Mode, or helping to improve the audio quality when on a phone call.
The ANC won’t completely eliminate outside noise, but it makes it more tolerable.
Active noise cancelation is good but not great. Mobvoi says to expect up to 25dB reduction in environmental noise, resulting in up to 35dB in noise-canceling effect. The real-world usage was comfortable in that I didn’t get much of a hissing sound like some other low-cost earbuds. Nor did I feel like I had a pair of earplugs in my ears. The Mobvoi Earbuds ANC has a good balance of blocking out the ambient noise but not to the point of total isolation.
When using the Sound Passthrough Mode, the earbuds use their microphones to enhance environmental noise rather than filter it out. Similarly, with Quiet Mode, I felt like the Earbuds ANC stuck a good balance of bringing the outside noise in without completely bombarding my ears with what was going on around me.
The final mode for the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC disables Quiet and Sound Passthrough Mode. This option is great for utilizing the passive noise cancelation offered by physically having the earbuds in your ear. But more importantly, it removes any wind noise that the microphones can pick up when in the other two modes.
Changing between the three available modes is easy to do directly on the earbuds themselves. At the top of the stem, a textured area houses the capacitive sensors. Pressing and holding for a moment will cycle through the modes with the earbuds telling you which mode is active. I was happy to find out that if I put the earbuds into Sound Passthrough Mode and place them into the charging case, they will retain that mode the next time I use them.
Aside from changing the sound mode, the touch-sensitive area on the earbuds also executes other functions. You can change tracks, pause and play a song, answer your calls, and more. Accomplishing these tasks requires knowing how many taps or presses each one needs. While it can have a bit of a learning curve to remember what combo executes which desired task, the companion Smart Life app from Mobvoi can help refresh your memory when connected.
Looking at the screenshots above, you might notice two toggles — Invoke Headset and Quick password. These are voice actions that are available when using the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC. The Invoke Headset is there to utilize your connected device’s voice assistant — Google Assistant or Siri. Instead of setting off surrounding devices by saying “OK, Google,” you rather say “Hey, Tico.” Doing this does the same as asking for your voice assistant directly but won’t trigger other devices.
The other option, Quick password, is a way to control what is happening with your Mobvoi Earbuds ANC without any previous hot word activation. With this feature activated, you can go to the next song by saying “next song.” Want to increase the volume? Say “volume up.” In total, there are six quick command options that you can use.
One of the things that surprised me the most when using the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC was the sound quality. Most low-cost wireless earbuds fall to one of two fatal flaws — the sound is either thin and tinny or muddled in an attempt to be bassy. Mobvoi did a great job tuning the earbuds to produce an overall balanced sound.
When listening to songs, the bass was present but not overbearing the mid-tones or the vocals. Now, if you prefer deep, rumbling bass from your earbuds, you won’t find that here. But lower frequencies aren’t abandoned and aren’t muddy. Vocal-focused audio, like podcasts, was clear and easy to understand.
Battery life on the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC isn’t going to win any awards, but it isn’t the worst. Mobvoi says that you can expect up to 6 hours of playback with ANC off and around 4.5 hours with ANC on. When figuring in the chagrin case, Mobvoi claims you up to 21 hours of playback. I found that these numbers were relatively accurate. I tested the earbuds in various playback modes for music and meetings — and never had them die on me.
Mobvoi Earbuds ANC: What’s not good
At $60, there is quite a lot to like about the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC. But even at this price point, there are a few things that I would like to have seen or at least perform better to lessen the sting of missing features.
I appreciate that Mobvoi is thinking of touch-free ways to control the earbuds, but it has to work better.
The most significant issue for me was the lack of volume controls via touch. With earbuds that have a touch-sensitive stem, I really want the ability to swipe up or down to change the volume. Mobvoi’s TicPods Free offered this feature, and it was great. I don’t like that I need to use voice commands to adjust the volume. I’m also not a fan of using voice commands to do much of anything when out in public.
If I go to the hassle of using a voice command to accomplish a task, it better work well — unfortunately, that wasn’t my experience with the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC. When the earbuds did pick up on what I was saying, the results were terrific, but those times were few and far between. Whether I was quietly sitting at my desk or around other people, trying to use the quick commands or “Hey, Tico” was very hit or miss.
Something else that I really feel needs to be a standard feature on all earbuds is an automatic pause. If I pull an earbud out of my ear, the audio should pause. I don’t want to remember to stop the music on my phone just because I have taken the earbud out of my ear. There are some downsides to this feature, like accidental pauses. But if the earbud is correctly seated in the ear, that can generally remedy that issue.
Another missed opportunity for the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC is the lack of a customizable equalizer. Since the earbuds connect with a companion app on the phone, they should have this feature. The app does little aside from being a place to reference touch controls and turn off the voice command features. While wireless charging is missing, too, it is understandable from a pricing standpoint. The lack of an EQ option in the app is just a complete miss regardless of price.
Mobvoi Earbuds ANC: Competition
There are a lot of options out there for great affordable wireless earbuds, but many times you’ll have to make some concessions as to what features you want. This is because it’s rare to find earbuds that can combine essential modern features into a solid package and keep the price down. But somehow, the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC manages this. Another option that does a pretty solid job of this is the 1MORE ColorBuds 2.
These earbuds provide both ANC and a passthrough mode and bring the ability to customize your sound profile. The out-of-box sound quality of the ColorBuds 2 is very flat, but you can adjust it by using the SoundID feature. While the SoundID listening test does help the audio output, you can’t manually adjust the levels of the EQ. You will get wireless charging for the case, but you won’t have voice commands to control the earbuds.
Another consideration would be the Creative Outlier Air V3. These are another pair of budget earbuds that provide many features for the cost. The Outlier Air V3 brings long-lasting battery life along with excellent sound quality. While there is an ambient mode for letting outside noises in, there isn’t proper ANC.
Creative instead has what they call active noise reduction to help filter out some of the environmental sounds around you. There is also no audio tuning available, but there is Super X-Fi that attempts to offer a 360-degree sound stage — however, it is very limited in availability. At $55, you are getting a solid pair of earbuds and a case that greatly extends the already fantastic battery life and offers wireless charging.
Mobvoi Earbuds ANC: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if …
- You want great sound quality right out of the box.
- You want to change the ANC modes directly from the earbuds easily.
- You want comfortable earbuds
- You want access to your voice assistant and voice commands with your earbuds.
You shouldn’t buy this if…
- You want to control the volume with touch controls.
- You want consistent voice control activation.
- You want the earbuds to pause when you remove them from your ears.
- You want to customize the audio for your earbuds.
The Mobvoi Earbuds ANC has a lot to like for wireless earbuds priced at $60. The audio quality is solid right from the jump, as are the surprisingly good ANC and passthrough modes. Being able to cycle through modes quickly with a press of the earbud is a nice touch — no pun intended. Access to your voice assistant via a custom command and quick commands on top of that is wonderful — when they work. It’s up to you to decide if the lack of EQ, autopause, and wireless charging are deal-breakers.
Thanks to the excellent price and better-than-expected sound quality, the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC is a win in my book. I really didn’t have high hopes for the audio quality because that is usually one of the areas that will suffer when brands aim for a budget-friendly price and try including extra features like ANC and voice control. In the case of these earbuds, Mobvoi managed to get good sound quality and ANC simultaneously.
Sure, I’d love the charging case to include wireless charging and the earbuds to have customizable EQ and better voice commands. But none of those feel necessary when the core functions of good active noise canceling and high-quality audio are present at such an affordable price. If you’re in the market for earbuds that check those boxes — the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC should be on your list of considerations.
Mobvoi Earbuds ANC
Bottom line: If you want earbuds with ANC, sound passthrough, and a standard mode quickly available — the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC is for you. Not to mention you also will get great audio quality from them. However, you won’t be able to customize the EQ though.
$60 at Amazon
$60 at Mobvoi