When the realme Buds Air launched last year, it made quite a bit of buzz on social media and was a hit in terms of online sales. It packs some really cool tech like wireless charging and wear detection, all for the price of RM299. And then recently, realme announced and launched the realme Buds Air Neo, which seems to have departed with some of the more “techie” features that the Buds Air possesses in favour of a better price tag at RM199. Here’s our realme Buds Air Neo review, also be sure to read up on our previous reviews of realme’s latest AIoT products the realme Band and realme Watch.
So the question is: is the realme Buds Air Neo a good purchase when it lacks all those features? How does it fare as a recent successor to the Buds Air? Read on to find out.
PS: While we compare the Buds Air Neo against the Buds Air, it’s merely to convey our experience. Ultimately, this review is about understanding if the Buds Air Neo is a good buy for its price.
The realme Buds Air Neo looks no different than the Buds Air at first glance. When they are encased, you really can’t tell them apart at all save for the Micro USB charging port and a slightly thicker dimension in terms of depth. Yes, the Buds Air Neo has kept things seemingly more economically viable by opting for Micro USB charging rather than via USB-C.
Personally, I was slightly taken aback because 100% of all the smartphones I have with me currently, including the variety of review units from different manufacturers are all using USB-C. Having one extra gadget that uses Micro USB slightly increases the hassle of having a stray cable that charges only that one single gadget. Thankfully, I am not a minimalist so it doesn’t affect me that much.
I do wonder how much did realme actually cut down in terms of cost for not including a USB-C charging port? Well, if it keeps the cost more affordable, then it probably made sense.
Unlike the Buds Air, the Buds Air Neo won’t have wireless charging so the convenience of that is completely removed.
The pair of earphones are almost identical to the predecessor Buds Air except that it doesn’t have the chrome ring at their tips and the sensors for wear detection. I personally prefer the look of the Buds Air Neo earphones for its cleaner overall finish.
It fits comfortably and quite snugly too. The glossy exterior makes it smooth and comfortable to wear and remove, something that I experience and appreciate. They are also pretty lightweight.
The Buds Air Neo pairs effortlessly with both iOS and Android devices as per my test. Pairing is as simple as opening the case and holding the single button for about 3-4 seconds, in which then the smartphone will detect the unit via Bluetooth.
While the Buds Air Neo seemingly appears to have a slew of technical downgrades compared to its predecessor, I personally find the sound quality to be of an upgrade somewhat. It does have a larger bass driver at 13mm (Buds Air’s driver is 12mm), and I do find the bass a tad better on the Buds Air Neo comparatively against the Buds Air.
I find that my music is crispier and bass is represented more deeply. The improved sound quality over the Buds Air is quite a delight as it already has some shortcomings when being compared.
And because of that, the Buds Air Neo by itself is doing a pretty good job in the sound department for its price range.
The touch controls on the Buds Air Neo registers taps to control a few things. Out of the box, the configurations are: Double tap to play or pause music and answer calls. Triple tap to go to the next song. Press and hold on one side to end calls. And lastly, press and hold both sides to access Super Low Latency mode – for gaming needs, in which the activation is represented by a revving or a sports car.
While using, I had hoped for the ability to scroll back to the previous song but there is no such feature unless you download the realme Link app and configure that onto the touch settings. There are also no touch controls for volume riding and you can only perform this via the smartphone itself.
Having said that, the touch controls are still a pretty good addition and can be quite sensitive too. With a little getting used to, it serves its purpose, which is usually to play and pause your music or scroll through your playlist.
The Buds Air Neo lasted about 3-4 hours in my own use, having pause songs in between conversations. After that, you would need to place them back into case to be recharged. When the case requires charging, the indicator LED will blink to inform you of a required recharge.
I’ve also tested the Buds Air Neo with a one-sided use and it worked well. This is for those who don’t want to have both earphones on for their own reasons.
This is a positive point to note as a lot of true wireless earphones require you to have both worn simultaneously in order to be activated, and removing either one from your ear deactivates both earphones. I find that a little bit too restrictive personally as I do want to use only one of them in situations where I need to be more aware of my environment and surroundings – such as walking on the streets or riding a bicycle.
It’s a feature that I wish a lot of true wireless earphones manufacturers would take into account.
Is It Worth It?
Judging the realme Buds Air Neo by itself, I would say that it works as a basic pair of true wireless earphones for having all the features that you need. I for one am impressed with the bass quality, being able to use just one earphone and overall minimalism in both looks and feel.
At RM199, the Buds Air Neo performs very decently and the value it gives is just about right. It’s easily one of my recommended true wireless headphones for its price range, and for those who are looking for a basic pair that does its job well.
|Lightweight buds||No wireless charging when compared to Buds Air|
|Good quality sound||Uses Micro USB charging port|