Mobvoi’s latest true wireless headphones come with voice control that doesn’t need a wake word
Mobvoi’s latest headphones – the TicPods 2 Pro – have just been announced and, on the surface, they look to have taken a major sidestep.
Instead of looking to make improvements on the eminently improvable TicPods Free, the firm has ripped up the rule book and completely repurposed the design, positioning them as Apple AirPods 2 rivals with no silicone tips and the tiniest charge case we’ve seen aside from the Samsung Galaxy Buds.
They launch alongside the TicPods 2, which have the same physical design and acoustic properties as the Pro headphones but sacrifice some of the smart features.
TicPods 2 Pro hands-on review: Key specifications
True wireless headphones
13mm moving coil driver
Qualcomm QCC5121 (TicPods 2 have Qualcomm QCC3026)
4 hours continuous playback; up to 20 hours with charging case (23 hours with TicPods 2
AptX, AAC, SBC codec support
Dual, noise-cancelling microphones (single on TicPods 2)
IPX4 water resistance
Price: £120 (£86 for TicPods 2)
Release date: 15th January 2020 from www.mobvoi.com (pre-orders until then at a 10% discount)
TicPods 2 Pro hands-on review: Design and key features
Like the archetypal true wireless AirPods, the TicPods Pro 2 are not designed to be inserted into your ear canal but instead to sit more loosely in the outer part of the ear. A short “tail” helps anchor them in place and the effect is that they should feel a lot lighter and less bulky in your ears than most silicone-tipped wireless earbuds. They’ll be available in three colours: white, navy blue and a new pale “blossom” pink.
The downside, at least for music lovers, is that the TicPods Pro 2 do not create a seal against the outside world, so you’ll be able to hear a lot of what’s going on around you – that’s not great for travelling on noisy planes and trains where you want to block out as much external noise as possible.
For those after a more generalist pair of headphones that are as good for calls and listening to radio and podcasts as they are the odd Spotify playlist, these could be the perfect fit. They’re nicely designed, super lightweight and the charging case is absolutely tiny – small enough to fit in the change pocket of your jeans – while delivering up to 20 hours of listening. The headphones themselves have a quoted capacity of four hours.
The removal of the silicone tips isn’t the only change Mobvoi has made to its second-generation TicPods, however. It has also squeezed in a number of new “smart” features. The first of these Mobvoi’s own “TicHear” voice control, which allows for direct control over audio playback without the need to utter a wake word first: say “next song”, “previous song”, “pause music” or “play music” and the headphones will do your bidding instantly, without the accompanying pause you normally get when activating Google Assistant or Siri.
You can activate your regular phone-based digital assistant if you want, however – both Siri and Google Assistant are supported and can be activated by saying “Hey Tico”. Plus, rather cleverly, the TicPods 2 Pro also get simple gesture control, allowing phone calls to be answered or rejected with a quick nod or shake of the head.
As with the TicPods Free, however, you’ll mostly be controlling these headphones via the touch surfaces on the outside of each earphone; swiping up or down changes the volume; a double-tap skips forwards and a long press launches your phone’s voice assistant. The headphones will also detect when you remove either earpiece and pause the music, resuming when it’s re-inserted. Other new features include support for the aptX Bluetooth audio codec, along with AAC and SBC.
Alas, the non-pro version of the headphones – the cheaper TicPods 2 – don’t support aptX and neither do they have support for voice and gesture control. We’re also surprised, given the design, that there’s no active noise cancellation (ANC) on either headset as with the Huawei Freebuds 3.
TicPods 2 Pro hands-on review: Early verdict
The TicPods 2 Pro headphones are certainly an interesting product. They’re tiny, lightweight and should be super comfy – the perfect antidote for anyone who wants a more general-purpose headphone for calls and the like – and the instant voice control, if it works well, is a really interesting feature.