The Mi True Wireless Earphones is Xiaomi's attempt at the truly wireless earbuds segment. Employing a very AirPods like design, the Mi True Wireless Earphones bring you that wireless freedom along with features like touch gestures, splash and sweat resistance and active noise cancellation at a very attractive 80 price tag.
The design of the Mi True Wireless Earphones bears more than a passing resemblance to the AirPods. It comes in a similar dental floss like casing with a top that opens up to reveal the earbuds inside. However, the case isn't as compact as the AirPods and while it's the same width and height it's nearly twice the thickness.
On the front of the case is a white LED that blinks in various patterns to denote different states such as pairing or battery status. On the right side of the case is a button that can be pressed and held for pairing. On the bottom is a standard USB-C port for charging.
The lid is attached to a spring-loaded hinge and snaps shut magnetically. The hinge feels a bit too loose and doesn't have the nice weighted feel of the lid of the AirPods case. It also doesn't open wide enough always threatens to fall back down when in open position. Still, when closed, it will stay shut and won't open even if shaken vigorously.
Inside the case are two large cavities for the individual earbuds. The contacts for charging at the base of the cavities, similar to the AirPods case.
Now, moving on to the earbuds, which have a tall wind mill like design. Just like the case, these earbuds are significantly larger than the AirPods in every dimension.
The earbuds have thick, tall stalks that house the electronics and radio modules for Bluetooth. Inside the main speaker units are additional electronics along with the battery and the driver.
Unlike the AirPods, the Mi True Wireless Earphones have an in-ear style design with silicone ear tips. The ear tips also come in three sizes for your ears. However, calling these in-ear feels like a bit dishonest. While the AirPods literally just sit in the cavity of ears, these only go in a small way. This means while the seal is better than the AirPods, which have basically no seal at all, the Mi True Wireless Earphones only achieve a small of seal of their own.
We tried all three sizes of ear tips that came with the earbuds and none of them allowed us to achieve a proper seal, with only the largest one coming close to a proper in-ear design. To be clear, it doesn't feel like they will fall out of your ears but the imperfect seal does affect audio quality.
Like the AirPods, the Mi True Wireless Earphones can detect when you have placed them in your ears and will play a small tone once you do. They will automatically pause the music when you remove even one from your ears but won't resume when you put it back, something that the AirPods do.
The side surface of the earbuds is also a touch pad, which you can tap for various functions. You can double tap to play/pause music or activate your voice assistant. You can also press and hold to activate or deactivate the active noise canceling.
Lastly, the Mi True Wireless Earphones also have an IPX4 certification, which makes them sweat and splash resistant, something the AirPods sorely lack.
In terms of comfort, the Mi True Wireless Earphones perform well. They are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and after a while you even forget you're wearing them, which is perhaps the highest compliment you can pay a pair of earphones or headphones when it comes to comfort.
They are larger than AirPods or some of the other truly wireless earbuds, which means if you're wearing them in bed and turn to your side, you do feel them against your head but other than that there's not much to complain about here.
Controls and Software
As mentioned before, the Mi True Wireless Earphones can be controlled through the touch pad on the side of each earbud. The controls don't always quite work well because you're hitting a small target at the side of your head, which you can't see and it's quite easy to miss it just slightly and the earbuds not respond at all.
But the main problem with them is the same as with every other set of earbuds that have these type of gestures; tapping against something that rests in your ears is just not a pleasant experience. Even if you tap lightly it feels like hammering your ears as the shock transfers directly to the eardrum, which makes you want to use them less often.
The Mi True Wireless Earphones have no companion app, so you don't have any additional features to customize with these. There's also no way to upgrade the software on these and what you get out of the box is what you'll have forever.
The Mi True Wireless Earphones have an active noise canceling feature, which can be activated or deactivated by press and holding on either earbud touch panel.
Unfortunately, the noise canceling feature on these earbuds isn't very good. It works with some sounds, particularly in the low frequency range, such as the hum of an air conditioner but outside of that range it's largely ineffective. Moreover, it also adds a sort of whooshing noise, similar to what you hear when you place a conch against your ear, which often sounds more unpleasant than the background noise.
Most of the time it's genuinely difficult to tell when the feature is on or off. The earbuds make a sound when you toggle between the two modes but it's just a small tone so there were times we were flipping back and forth because we truly couldn't tell whether it was on or not.
The Mi True Wireless Earphones are a decent sounding pair of earphones. In some ways they are an improvement over the sound of the AirPods and in some ways they are a regression.
The bass is a definite improvement over the AirPods. The AirPods don't quite have a deep bass extension due to the somewhat open air design so you lose out on some of the low-end. The Mi True Wireless Earphones, in comparison, have a much more full-bodied bass with heft and slam. You can definitely feel it a lot more in your ears than with the AirPods. However, the Mi True Wireless Earphones also don't extend all that well in the low-end department and that has to do with the weak seal from the silicone ear tips. The bass is also a bit elevated in the mid-bass area, which makes it sound boomy and muddy on some tracks.
The mid-range is good but also a bit elevated, which makes it sound quite forward at times. It does help project vocals more clearly, which some may prefer, especially for use cases like listening to podcasts or audiobooks, but for music they can get a bit aggressive at times and along with the mid-bass dominate the sound signature.
The highs are comparatively weaker as they roll off quite early. This does make the sound a bit dark and muddy, especially compared to the AirPods, which have quite a lively high-end response. It's not too bad but those who prefer a bit more sparkle and air at the high-end will be disappointed.
The imaging performance is quite good with these earbuds and the sound stage is decent but cannot compete with larger, open back headphones. Even the AirPods, because of their slightly more open-air design have a wider soundstage.
One major area of concern for the Mi True Wireless Earphones is latency, which is quite poor. Of course, it isn't noticeable while listening to music at all, video content is largely unwatchable due to the significant discrepancy in the video and audio synchronization. This was tested across multiple devices and platforms and was consistently poor across all of them, ruling out any one source to be the culprit.
The battery life of the Mi True Wireless Earphones is unimpressive. Despite the larger case and larger body of the earbuds themselves, the Mi True Wireless Earphones can only manage 3 hours of continuous playback and 10 hours with the battery in the case compared to the 5/24 hours of the AirPods. When empty, they take about an hour to charge back completely.
The Mi True Wireless Earphones are priced at 79.99. For that price, it's easy to ignore some of the shortcomings of these earbuds, including the less than stellar audio quality, the short battery life and the high audio latency.
For the price you are getting a fully wireless pair of earbuds that also happen to be sweat and water resistant. If you are only going to be using these while working out in the gym then you should be satisfied with the audio quality as well as the battery life.
We also didn't have any issues with connection quality or reliability with these earbuds, so it's not like they are poorly made. Considering they are quite literally half the price of the AirPods and still manage to be quite a decent product makes them worth considering if you're in the market for this style of earphones.