Affordable true wireless earbuds don’t necessarily have to be a compromise. Unfortunately, that is how it has always been. Build quality, sound, battery life, the quality of the charging case, companion apps and so on, you would have to make do with rough edges across the board. After all, the assumption was that you are paying significantly lesser than what the more expensive wireless earbuds cost. Pretty much reminds us of the way affordable Android phones used to be many years ago, before Xiaomi walked in with their head held high and completely changed the game. It seems they want to do the same with wireless earbuds as well, with the Redmi Earbuds S.
The Redmi Earbuds S start off on the right note with a super affordable price tag of Rs 1,799 if you order one of these now. A cursory glance at its competition includes Boat Airdopes 201 (around Rs 1,999), Portronics Harmonics Twins Mini (around Rs 1,699), Ptron Bassbuds Pro (around Rs 1,599) and the Mivi DuoPods M40 (around Rs 2,499), among thousands of others who we have never heard of before. Honestly, I really wouldn’t recommend any of these. Not just because you are getting something that has much better brand recall, with due respect to all other brands, but also something that is better spec-ed.
The mighty presence of a featherweight
The way the Redmi Earbuds S has been sculpted deserves to be admired. The charging case looks good and the matte black finish is easy to maintain. No loud branding on this, just the very subtle Redmi branding engraved on the lid. Open this up to take out the two wireless earbuds, and you’ll probably immediately notice the smaller than usual footprint. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you either. Each earbud weighs 4.1 grams, which is featherweight when these it in your ears for a considerable amount of time. And nothing sticks out of your ears, which means these are one of the more discreet earbuds you can spend your money on. A reason for that compact bud size is the size of the battery that sits inside—43mAh per earbud. It is simple physics. Compare this with the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ for instance, where each earbud weighs around 6.3 grams and has an 85mAh battery pack in each bud.
Fit shouldn’t be a problem for most users. First, Xiaomi is bundling three ear tip sizes with the Redmi Earbuds S—small, medium and large. Secondly, the way you wear it means you slightly twist each earbud once it is secure in your ear, for a snug fit. In a way, these are able to block out considerable amount of ambient noise as well. The other advantage, and this is priceless, is that these don’t fall out.
Clinging to the past?
The only possible shortcoming, and this is strictly relevant for my ecosystem, is that the Redmi Earbuds S charging case has a micro-USB port. Usually, there is a USB-C cable within reach, but I needed to specifically use the micro-USB cable to charge these up every time. The case itself has a 300mAh battery.
It doesn’t mind enjoying the first drops of a monsoon shower
The compact footprint and the weight reduction in no way means the Redmi Earbuds S must compromise on robustness. This has the IPX4 rating which makes it resistant to splash and sweat. This wouldn’t be averse to a drench in a sudden shower or you sweat out in the gym to your favorite soundtrack. Not many of its rivals can boast of this combination of design and attention to detail.
Pairing is simple too. This uses Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. In fact, unlike a lot of affordable wireless earbuds, the Redmi Earbuds S behave like the more expensive earbuds out there and pair both buds with your phone in one go—many budget earbuds require you to individually pair the left and the right buds before you can get started with the playlists. You’ll probably get a slightly different experience if you are pairing these with a Xiaomi phone, with the quick pairing functionality available by default.
Simplicity makes you fall in love again
There is one physical button each on bud, and Xiaomi have done their best to simplify the multifunction inputs. You can press for one second to eject a call, click to accept a call, tap once when listening to music to pause and play, double click to access the voice assistant in your paired smartphone and click the button three times to enable or disable the gaming mode. You can do this on either of the buds, and the functionality remains the same. It gives me immense pleasure to say that this actually works, because quite frankly, it is an unnecessary learning curve to learn complex click and press and gesture controls on a lot of earphones and earbuds.
Substance much beyond the spec sheet
Now on to the business end of the Redmi Earbuds S—the sound. The audio driver in each earbud is 7.2mm large, which incidentally is larger than the 6mm audio drivers in the fantastic Jabra Elite 75t (these cost around Rs 15,999). Whichever way you look at it, this is a solid foundation as far as the hardware is concerned. The sound, Xiaomi insists, has been tuned for the Indian listening preferences. Which when simply put, means the Redmi Earbuds S will lean more towards lower frequencies and bass. That is great if your playlists are geared up for the up-tempo music, Bollywood remixes and dance numbers as well as pop music in general. I am quite impressed by the clarity of vocals, despite the very clear soundstage leanings, which makes the Redmi Earbuds S quite capable of playing their part as you binge watch on some web series late at night when the much-wanted sleep is continuing to ignore you.
The Redmi Earbuds S can go quite loud too without any sort of distortion getting in the way. I’m not much of a gamer, but I’m sure PUBG and Fortnite fans would appreciate the Gaming Mode which reduces the latency to 122ms and reduces the lag between what you see on the screen and when you hear it.
Battery life is robust. I like my music at soft volumes, and the Redmi Earbuds S last me a bit more than 4 hours on a single charge. The charging case can fully juice up these buds three times over, which makes it a good 12 hours before you reach for the charger again.
If you want to use these for calls, clarity is most certainly a strong point, with the ambient noise nicely blocked out at both ends. However, the slightly bass-heavy sound signature can be a bit disconcerting if the call clarity because of network issues is already compromised. You can use either the left or right earbud for calls as well. And the compact size of each earbud means you can be on long voice or video calls without feeling discomfort in the ears.
The Last Word: The Redmi Earbuds S Has a Price Tag You Cannot Argue With
It is hard to argue with the wireless earbuds experience and the audio performance the Redmi Earbuds S brings, particularly with a truly affordable price tag—Rs 1,799 to be precise, and that gets you a proper Xiaomi ecosystem experience. There really are no compromises that can be classified as deal-breakers. Instead, this is tuned to the music preferences of a large demographic of its potential user base, offers good battery life and the compact size just adds to the feeling that you’ve truly purchased something worth much more than its actual price tag.