True wireless earbuds are starting to come in all shapes and sizes as they are becoming more popular. Our TicPods Free review takes a look at Mobvoi’s offering which has a familiar look but offers up pretty fantastic sound and decent functionality. Read on to see what we thought!
The TicPods Free true wireless earbuds have the following features and specifications:
- In-ear detection
- Noise Isolation
- Intuitive Touch Controls
- Voice Assistant Support
- Ergonomic Fit
- IPX5 Water Resistant
- Gesture control: Double tap; Slide; Long Press
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
- Voice trigger: 2-second long press
- Voice assistant support: Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa
- Instant setup: Yes
- Speaker: 92dB +/- 3dB SPL
- Noise cancellation: Yes
- Battery life with case: 18 hours
- Single charge: 4 hours
What’s in the box
- TicPods Free true wireless earbuds
- Charging/carry case
- USB-A to Micro-USB/USB-C charging cable
- Silicon lanyard
- Instruction pamphlet
At a glance, you’d be forgiven if you think these look very similar to Apple’s AirPods. While they do, they do offer minor variations but the main design with the gesture bar hanging down from the earbud. The main earbud is circular in shape on the back, angling down and towards your ear canal. With the right sized ear tip — of which two sizes are included — the TicPods Free are very comfortable and stay in your ears rather securely.
Centered on the middle of the back of the earbud and extending down about an inch-and-a-half is the gesture control arm. The outside is ridged, more for looks than anything but it does reduce the glossy look of the earbuds. The inside, that is the part that goes towards your head, has an L or an R depending on which earbud it is, as well as a pair of contact points for charging from the case. Just above this is a small LED which flashes blue when ready to pair or red when
The charging case has a pillbox style shape. The case itself is just over three inches long, one-and-a-half inches wide, and about one-and-a-quarter inches high, The top of the lid has the same ridged design as the TicPods Free. On one end of the charging case is the Micro-USB charging port. On the other end are a pair of small holes for the included silicone lanyard. The front of the case has the TicPods wordmark centered in grey with an LED indicator light on either side. When plugged in, the lights flash green or stay solid green to indicate the current charging case battery levels. When the lid is opened, the lights indicate the charge of the TicPods when the earbuds are in the case, otherwise, it displays the battery status of the case (solid green is more than 10% remaining, solid red is less than 10%).
Upon opening the lid, you’ll see the TicPods Free laying face down. The underside of the lid is rubberized to provide extra protection for the earbuds while in the case. When removed from the case, you can see the hollow wells the TicPods fit in with two contact pins which line up with the gesture arms to charge the earbuds.
Our sample came in Ice (white) but you can also get them in Navy (blue) or Lava (red).
Overall, the TicPods free have a pretty simple design but it works well and the case does feel pretty solid as well. Unlike some other true wireless earbuds, the TicPods Free are a bit more noticeable when wearing due to the gesture arm.
Ease of Use
When the case lid is opened, the TicPods Free turn on and try to connect to a device via Bluetooth. If you haven’t paired them before, open the Bluetooth settings on your device and select TicPods XXXX” (XXXX being replaced with a number) to pair them. The next time you remove them from the case, they will connect to the last connected device. When placing them inside the case, they will automatically power off and disconnect from the paired device.
When used, the TicPods Free will automatically detect when they are in your ear. Once inserted, both earbuds will make an audible sound so you know they’ve been paired. When removed, your music will automatically pause. When re-inserted, your music will automatically resume. While this feature is nice, at first I was disappointed because you can’t just listen to just one earbud. However, it turns out if you leave the left earbud in the charging case, you can use just the right earbud for one ear listening — problem solved! Unfortunately, this isn’t indicated in the user guide but it is in the FAQ on the website.
As far as gesture controls are concerned, swiping up or down on either earbud adjusts the volume accordingly. Double tapping on either earbud will skip to the next song, while long pressing the left earbud for two seconds will toggle playback. Long pressing the right earbud for two seconds will activate whatever voice assistant is attached to your phone. Finally, double tapping either will answer or end a call while long pressing either for two seconds will reject the call.
For the most part, the gestures and taps worked great although there were a couple times where I had to tap again in order for it to skip to the next track. On that note, it would have been nice for Mobvoi to assign double tapping on the left earbud to skip to the previous track for added functionality.
The TicPods do use Mobvoi’s mobile app. However, all the app does it updates the earbuds if there is a firmware update. While I’m not usually a fan of needing software for headphones or earbuds, it does make sense this would be the easiest way to update the firmware. However, Mobvoi could have done better and perhaps added the ability to customize the gesture controls or even add in an equalizer option.
Speaking of equalizers, the TicPods Free sound pretty fantastic without needing any adjustments. For the most part, they are fairly well balanced and offer rich, clear, crisp, and loud sound. If anything, they might be a bit bass heavy — warm bass thankfully — but I didn’t find that to be an issue as I’m one of those who digs a bit more bass. On that note, I still enjoyed any genre of music I listened to with the earbuds, whether it be classic Hip Hop, rock, EDM, or even classical. As we’re finding out here at Techaeris, true wireless earbuds are most certainly surprising us with their sound quality as of late.
At full volume, the audio remains clear and crisp but I found that 80% or so was a suitable listening volume. In addition, these do come with noise cancellation and when worn I couldn’t hear much — if anything — from the outside world.
As far as reception is concerned, I was able to get between 30 and 50 feet depending on the line of sight or walls between my phone and the earbuds. Even around the house, I could usually get a signal and clear audio on a floor above or below my source device.
While I’m not one to really take calls while wearing headphones, the TicPods Free were pretty clear when on a call. As expected, hearing the other party was no issue and when speaking I didn’t find that I had to speak too much louder than usual in order for them to hear me clearly.
Battery life, of course, is the boon of true wireless earbuds. In the case of the TicPods Free, I was able to easily get 4 hours on a single charge. Once depleted, they take about an hour-and-a-half to fully recharge. I was able to get about 4 and a bit charges out of the case, coming close to the advertised 18 hours of battery life before needing to recharge the case.
At US$129.99, the TicPods Free are about $30 cheaper than Apple’s Airpods but are more or less in the upper middle range of prices compared to other true wireless earbuds. We’ve seen the gamut here from $20 up through a few hundred for a pair of wireless earbuds depending on manufacturer or features. On that note, these are fairly reasonably priced given the sound quality, comfort, easy of use, and battery life. I’d bet if Mobvoi dropped the price by $10 or $20, these would definitely be a no-brainer.
If you’re looking for a solid, comfortable, decent sounding set of true wireless earbuds, the Mobvoi TicPods Free should definitely be on your list of considerations.
*We were sent a sample of the TicPods Free for the purposes of this review.
Last Updated on February 3, 2021.
Ease of Use9.0/10
- Decent build quality
- Great sound
- Comfortable fit
- Decent battery life
- Easy to use gesture controls
- Voice assistant support
- Various colour options
- Can't use gesture controls for previous track
- Can't customize gesture controls
- Gestures sometimes required a second tap
- Some may find them a bit bass heavy