Well, year after year you see every flagship quitting the headphone jack. Even the mid-range phones are joining the bandwagon now. So, the time has come for a truly wireless experience. After the Apple AirPods launch, we saw a couple of truly wireless earbuds launch. But, what got the market going was the Xiaomi Mi AirDots. I have tried a lot of them in the past and, the experience is not something to boast about.
Finally a couple of weeks ago, I got my hands on the Xiaomi Mi AirDots which was released in November last year. Priced at cost 199 Yuan (or around 3000 INR), it seemed a pretty cool deal. And now, that I have spent a couple of weeks with it, here’s my detailed review.
Also Read: Redmi Airdots Review – Revamped Mi Airdots?
Xiaomi Mi-AirDots Review
The wireless earbuds budget segment is sort of new. It would be unfair for me to expect it to ace all the criteria. But having said that comfort, ease of connectivity, and battery life are non-negotiable terms. If an earphone is good on these grounds, it is worth a shot. So, let’s just quickly see what’s in the box.
What’s in the Box
The packaging felt premium. There is minimal branding on the box as well as the charging case. A glance at the earbuds and it’s hard to tell which company built them. I have always loved the subtle and minimal branding approach of Xiaomi. I guess other companies should also take notes. Below is what you get in the box.
- Mi AirDots
- Charging case
- Charging cable
- A couple of extra ear tips
- User Manual & Warranty Card
1. Build Quality
For a change, the AirDots seem well built. They are entirely built out of plastic with a matte finish at the top and rubber coating at the bottom end. This makes them feel premium although it’s plastic inside. The AirDots have an extremely small form-factor and are light-weight which is appreciated. You can go along wearing it for long hours without inconvenience.
The good thing is that these snug fit in my ears and should do the same for most of you. However, at times it looks like you have earplugs on. I also used them for my morning run and the experience wasn’t that great. At times, I felt they might fall out of my ears and for an instance they did. So, if you do intensive exercises that involve a lot of movement, you might have a hard time sticking these into your ears. But, if you do a lot of walking or indoor exercise, these should hang on and bear your sweat. Yes, they are splash-proof as well. However, avoid too much contact with water.
The carrying case also has a minimal form-factor and it will easily slide into your pocket. It has a two-tone white matte finish that can resist scratches from lint, coins, and dirt in your pocket. However, you need to be careful with the lid of the case as the contact point can break easily.
The buds come with a touch-sensitive button on the back and here is where the problem starts. The buttons don’t give haptic feedback so you don’t know if you have accidentally pressed them or not. The touch-zone spreads entirely on the backside of both the AirDots which is the root cause of the chaos. Every single time I tried sliding these in my ears, I accidentally press the touchpad. The functioning of the touchpad is extremely inconsistent and I have to hit it a couple of times to pause the music. The touchpad is multi-functional and you can single tap to pause/play the music and double-tap to speak to the Google Assistant. Frankly, dealing with these buttons was a horrendous experience and I would have loved a physical button.
2. Sound Quality
In general, most Bluetooth earphones and headphones are not been pleasing to audiophiles. The truly wireless earbuds are no exception. These small buds have to incorporate the Bluetooth card, battery, antennas, button circuitry, and the driver. Due to the congested space, the drivers aren’t large and meh. So, this entire segment can’t be expected to sound exceptionally good.
Surprisingly enough, the Mi AirDots have a comparatively bigger 7.2 mm dynamic driver. Owing to that, it generates a good amount of sound. The bigger driver causes it to get loud and over the weeks of testing, I haven’t turned the volume beyond 80%.
Now, these aren’t bass-heavy and neither the lows are any good. I felt the vocals to be quite crisp and clear. I would say the Mi AirDots had better highs and mids than the lows. So, if you listen to a lot of bass-heavy songs then you wouldn’t be pleased. However, if you listen to a lot of vocals, podcasts, and electronic music then the Mi AirDots should do a good job.
Apart from a couple of hours of daily music listening during commuting, I mostly stream videos over YouTube and Netflix. Unlike the last earbuds I reviewed, these don’t have the soundstage issue. The audio seems well distributed. In this case, the audio travels from your phone to the right earbud and then to the left. There is an initial lag for a couple of seconds when you start the video. But as you proceed, it’s barely noticeable.
The Mi AirDots earbuds are capable of handling calls and you get an inbuilt mic on both the earbuds. You get the call voice on both of them with minimal to zero lag. You can speak through either of the earbuds. The sound from the closest mic is transmitted. The sound through the microphone is quite tiny owing to the small design. I could somehow manage calls indoors but outdoors I had to switch to the mobile. There was a lot of background noise.
The truly wireless earphones were invented around the entire comfort experience. So, they are bound to be comfortable. In terms of comfort, the Xiaomi AirDots are just awesome. I could go along wearing them for straight 3-4 hours without any inconvenience. The buds are soft and don’t push on your ear walls. But, I have to say they do look weird initially when you put them on. It looks no short of an earplug.
Out of the box, they come with a medium-sized ear tip. In case you feel they don’t fit well, you can try the extra ones in the box for the perfect seal. Since the design of the earbuds is in-ear, the passive noise cancellation is pretty good. It cuts out the surrounding sound well during the music playback. At louder volumes, I was barely able to hear the ambient noises.
4. Battery Life & Connectivity
The battery life of the Xiaomi Mi AirDots is just mediocre. Xiaomi claims the AirDots to have a music playback time of 4 hours and a standby time of 12 hours inside the case. Whereas, the industry standard is around 24 hours. Anyways, the charging case can charge the buds 2.5 times which meant a total playback time of 14-15 hours. Now, I have to say I have used the AirDots at 70% volume and I have got continuous music playback of 4 hours. The earbuds take around 1.5 hours to charge from 0 to 100 via the charging case which is a good charging time considering the playback.
The charging case has LED indicators that notify you about the case charging as well as the earbud charging level. While the earbuds are charging, the red LEDs on the buds light up. Once fully charged, the red LEDs go off. The case charging is denoted by a red LED on the outside which fades out once the case is fully charged. The case can be charged with a regular micro USB charger. It takes around 3 hours to charge from 0 to 100.
Now, here comes the deal breaker part. Since the device was never launched outside China, the voice assists in the buds speak only in Chinese. Now being a non-Chinese speaker, it’s extremely hard to understand the instructions. So, when you remove the AirDots from the case they go to pairing mode and you can connect it to your Phone or Laptop by selecting “Mi AirDots Basic_R”. Once you have it connected to a device, auto-pairing is turned on. So, every time you remove the buds from the case it will automatically connect to the previous device. This is a good addition but it gets tricky when you have to connect the AirDots to multiple devices. I have to manually switch off the Bluetooth on my laptop to connect the buds to the phone.
On some occasions, the buds would randomly disconnect from the device. It then gets really hard to figure out the issue and the only option is to put the device back in the case and then reconnect. I had an extremely weird incident the other day wherein the right earbud was unable to connect to the left one. So, the audio would only play on the right side. It took me around 3 hours to figure out how to reset the AirDots. Just in case if the same happens to you. You have to long-press both the AirDots for 20 secs until you see blue-red LEDs flashing twice. Once done, put them back in the case and now you are good to go.
Since the launch of the much cheaper Redmi Airdots, it’s really hard to recommend the Xiaomi AirDots. Firstly, the Redmi Airdots are priced much cheaper at around 1000 INR or $17 whereas the Xiaomi Mi AirDots are priced at 3000 INR or 50$. Next, the Redmi Airdots neither has a Chinese voice assist nor any connectivity issues. Plus, a couple of other welcome changes.
I would recommend getting the Redmi Airdots over these. That said, seeing so many earbuds pop up at this price range, the future timeframe looks good. In case you have any queries regarding the Xiaomi Mi AirDots, let me know in the comments below. I usually hang out on Instagram so you can hit me up there as well.