Realme Buds Air 2 review
If you're looking for affordable true wireless stereo earbuds, take a good look at the Realme Buds Air 2. There's hardly anything wrong with these earbuds and a long list of things that are right.
At €49.99/INR3,299 (regularly less), you get a comprehensive list of pros - active noise cancellation, 25 hours of playtime, Bluetooth 5.2, low-latency gaming mode, wear detection, a compact form factor and most of all - excellent sound.
Unboxing and features
The Realme Buds Air 2 come with a single USB-A to USB-C cable, 2 additional pairs of rubber tips (S/M/L) and the case.
The buds themselves are in-ear and do a better job of isolating outside noise than, say, an open-ear design like the Huawei Freebuds 4 or the Apple AirPods 2nd generation.
As TWS earbuds go, these are among the more compact and unobtrusive. They're also among the few that fit women ears just as well as men's.
Each bud has smart detection sensors, which pause whatever is on when you take the buds out of your ears. The sound will restart once the buds are put back in.
Workout fans will appreciate the buds' IPX5 rating, which means they're sweat-proof and will handle a bit of rain no problem. Just remember to keep the case dry.
Speaking of the case, it has a reset button and a USB-C port for charging. There's no wireless charging, but you shouldn't expect it at this price.
The case is all black and glossy. It's very fingerprint-prone and gets greasy and oily every few days. Another slight complaint we have is how hard it is to get the buds out of the case - the magnets holding the buds in the case are strong and there's hardly any place to grab them and pull them out.
The Realme Link app is the place to control the Realme Buds Air 2. But have a care to choose a location that sells the Buds Air 2 when configuring the app, otherwise they won't show up in the list of supported devices.
The Buds Air 2 support Google's Fast Pair with Android phones. When you connect them, the Realme Link app would show a widget with the battery of the case and each bud.
This is where you can toggle between Normal mode, the self-explanatory Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode, which amplifies the sound of your surroundings so you can interact with them or people without taking the buds off.
You can choose what sound profile to use with options being Bass Boost+, which turns music into a mushy mess; Bright, which tones down the lows and turns up the mids and highs, resulting in no rumble and a squeaky sound; and Dynamic, which you should use by default.
Realme Link allows you to customize the tap controls for each bud. By default you can double tap for play/pause, triple tap for next track and long press both buds to change between ANC and Transparency mode. But the app lets you set custom controls per bud, so you can have a double press on the left bud to go back to the previous track and double press the right one for next track.
Now we come to the Realme Buds Air 2's super power - Volume enhancer. When you turn it on, you're met with a warning of possible hearing damage and should you accept it, the Realme Buds Air 2 become the loudest earbuds you've ever heard.
Sure, distortion becomes obvious in most songs, but the sheer amount of volume these buds have in this mode is insane. Think of it as a super power you shouldn't use every day, but have in case you need it.
The Realme Buds Air 2 come with Bluetooth 5.2, which is slightly better than Realme's other TWS earbuds. There's also Game Mode, which enables low-latency 88ms transmission during gaming sessions. You'll need to enable it in the app.
Sound quality, active noise cancellation and battery life
The Realme Buds Air 2 have a 10mm 'Bass Boost' sound driver that enables quality sound. I tested the Buds at their Dynamic mode, which yielded the best balance.
You can expect the fan-pleasing bass-and-mid-heavy sound that's typical for this type of product and that's no bad thing. There's plenty of volume and plenty of character to the sound coming from the Buds Air 2.
Mids and highs are most dominant and can become a bit overbearing in specific songs at max volume. Bass is well-controlled and unobtrusive. You shouldn't enable Bass Boost+ mode under no circumstances as it ruins the balance and results in a mushy, rumbling sound.
When it comes to prolonged periods of wear, the Realme Buds Air 2 are the best in-ears this reviewer's ever tested. They're very light and they sit securely without leading to pain from extended use.
Coupled with the excellent microphone quality, the ease and comfort of use make the Realme Buds Air 2 great for phone calls.
I had a small issue with the Realme Buds Air 2 where a strong wind would create unpleasant deflecting noises in my ears due to the shape of buds. But how often do you encounter a very strong wind?
Active noise cancellation is rated at up to 25dB - this is the only place where the Realme Buds Pro beat the Air 2's, as they're rated at up to 35dB.
The Buds Air 2 rely on their R2 custom chip to quiet down low frequency noises like an engine rumble on a train, plane or bus, or a fan. The result isn't very impressive. Changing between ANC and normal mode results in a palpable reduction in sound initially, but it's nowhere near as effective as some other ANC buds we've tested.
Even constant noise like the vacuum on a Saturday remained mostly audible. I have this test where I rub my fingers gently close to my ears - if I hear the sound well-enough, then the noise cancellation isn't very effective. I don't hear it with something like the AirPods Pro or Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro, nor the Sony WF-1000XM4's. But those all cost four times as much as the Realme Buds Air 2, so it's not a fair comparison.
Let's leave it at this - ANC is effective at reducing sound, just not to a point where it's impressive.
Battery life is excellent. With ANC off, I got little over 5 hours of constant music playback at 100% volume. Realme claims up to 5 hours with ANC off and AAC quality on at 50% volume, which I surpassed at 100% volume - impressive.
The case charges the buds about twice from nothing to full and itself charges up in about 1 and a half hours.
Should you buy the Realme Buds Air 2?
There's no reason why you shouldn't. These are by far the best buds Realme's released. They sound great, they're very loud as is and come with an extreme loud mode. They're also among the most comfortable pair of in-ear TWS' around and they can go for hours.
But most importantly the Realme Buds Air 2 hit way above their pay grade. They're cheaper than the Realme Buds Pro and for the most part deliver as good if not better sound quality and features.
They're also comparable to much more expensive pairs of TWS earbuds around. For the general user, the one that enjoys good sound quality and a list of useful features - the Realme Buds Air 2 don't disappoint in any regard.
A solid choice for a great price.
I'm not sure what "host of problems" means. To switch devices, pair the buds, then turn off bluetooth on device you don't want, turn on on device you do. Voila. Simple. No problems at all.
- 10 Jul 2021
Switch from one device to the next and you will encounter a host of problems. Switching devices if not convenient is also very tedious. Sound is good only on mobile, when you switch to using for your laptop the sound quality is not as great. Battery ...
- 06 Jul 2021
When ANC is enabled, under 3.5 hours on a single charge. Over the top bass and treble emphasis. No wireless charging.
- 06 Jul 2021