While I’ve made it amply clear that Realme needs to go back to the drawing board to make more exciting phones, there’s one category where this young hardware brand is doing a fantastic job. Yup, I’m talking about wireless audio products. The latest in their lineup is an upgrade to their most affordable Truly Wireless Earbuds – the Realme Buds Q. And unsurprisingly, it’s called the Realme Buds Q2.
Now, the Buds Q2 is not as affordable as the original Buds Q. In fact, it fills the gap between the Buds Q and the Buds Air 2 that currently exists. So, the market positioning is slightly different. This is just to temper any expectations from the get go. Because we are not going to get into any elaborate discourse about pricing strategies.
What matters for us is if the product is any good.
Well, that is what we are going to find out in our full review of the Buds Q2, which is possibly the most affordable pair of TWS earbuds in India with active noise cancellation.
Design, Fit, and Comfort
Starting with the case, it continues to be shaped like a pebble. Making it very smooth, very slippery and very wobbly. I’d have preferred it if Realme had added a flat base instead. There’s a standard Type-C port on the rear for charging. By the way, you can get the Q2 in two colours – Active Black and Calm Grey. We got the Black one, as you can tell. It goes without saying the entire construction, from the buds to the case is made of plastic, but it doesn’t feel particularly flimsy, thankfully.
By design, this case cannot be flipped open with one finger. You need to hold the case in one hand and open the lid with the other. Also, the edges of the lid and the case, when opened, are not as smooth as the external part of the body. In fact, it feels kind of sharp. Anyway, one look at the Buds and you’ll know they are placed comfortably inside the cavity. And, taking them out is easy. Realme does offer ample space between the two buds.
And, you’ll also find the Bluetooth pair button on the case but you don’t really need it with an Android phone. Why? Because your Android phone will automatically detect the Buds Q2 the moment you open the box thanks to Google Fast Pair. I must say this, Realme’s consistent persistence to bring easy connectivity to its audio products is worth commending.
I like the design of the Buds themselves. They are curvy where they sit on your ear, and nice and flat on the outer surface. And, Realme adds a glossy laminated sheet on the flat outer portion that reflects different colours at different angles. I found these buds extremely comfortable to wear for long listening sessions as well. Comfort will really not be a concern, in my opinion.
Controls and App
Coming back to the flat exterior, it offers ample surface area for your taps, double taps, and triple taps. But yes, it lacks the ear detection chip for automatic play/pause controls. Anyway, controlling the Buds Q2 is super, duper easy and comfortable. And, with Realme’s wonderful Realme Link app, you can tune the controls to your liking. For example, I’ve used double tap to play Music on one bud and jump to the next track on the other. That’s not it, the app also lets you switch between a lot of other settings as well.
By the way, the Buds Q2 offers a lower latency of 88ms now and I didn’t notice any audio-video lag either.
Sound Signature and Noise Cancelling
The standout feature of the Buds Q2 is active noise cancelling. So, how is it? Well, it is fairly okay. But, it’s not any worse than the Buds Air 2. If you hear any differences between the two, trust me it’s just placebo. Both are capable of cutting out the same 25db of ambient noise. So yeah, I’d say, for the price, it is very good. As for the Transparency mode, I don’t care much about it, but it’s not too bad either.
Although, I am more interested in the sound signature. And, from the frequency chart that you see here, clearly Realme is going for a U-Shaped profile with an enhanced low end response in the Bass Boost+ equaliser setting. Now, Realme’s idea of a good bass is the wooly one that it generally recreates with its TWS buds but that just eats into the other frequencies especially the mids. I particularly found it annoying, when even the faintest tap of the bass drum in the background managed to mask Benjamin Clementin’s fantastic voice in Nemesis.
There’s a solution, though: switching to the Bright profile.
It tends to tame the Bass by a huge margin. This is the setting I used for the duration of my review.
Although, what the Buds Q2 does a very good job of is – imaging. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the Buds Q2 could place all the different instruments – cymbals, drums, guitars, and more – in Michael Fitzhenry by Andwella – all around my head like a proper concert. The soundstaging is good too. But, the instrument separation in Do I Wanna Know by The Arctic Monkeys during the penultimate part is extremely average sounding.
Also, what I noticed particularly about the sound signature is that the tonality is not great, something even much cheaper wired headphones just nail. Or, maybe I am just super impressed by the Moondrop Spaceship I’ve been spending hours and hours with. Anyway, I have no doubt that most people will not really have a problem with this sound signature.
As for the mics, they are just about serviceable for Zoom calls.
I tested the Buds Q2’s battery and got 5 hours and 12 mins of continuous playback with ANC on, which is more than Realme’s conservative estimate of 5 hours. I really appreciate how they undersell and over deliver when it comes to audio products. It is a far cry from what many brands do with their marketing. Oversell even the tiniest of features.
By the way, without ANC you can get up to 7 hours on a single charge. Plus, you get two or three extra charges on the case as well.
Should You Buy the Buds Q2?
The Buds Q2 is yet another no-brainer for almost everyone. Realme is just doing everything it can to bring active noise cancellation to the masses, however effective or ineffective it may be. Plus, these buds have a very enjoyable U-shaped sound signature that should cater to most people’s listening habits. And, there’s a plethora of useful features and a fantastic Realme Link app as well. Seriously, unless you are an audiophile – in which case, I’d suggest looking at wired or neckband options instead – these earbuds won’t disappoint at all.
And, to be honest, in the price category that it operates, it’s only serious competition is from its own sibling – the Buds Air 2, which can be had for a little more. So, you must be thinking. But, are these better than the OnePlus Buds Z? Oh, hell yeah! Just the active noise cancellation feature alone makes it a more attractive option. Not to mention, I preferred the sound signature on the Buds Q2 over the Buds Z. So, I hope that makes it easier for you to make a choice.
Let me know your thoughts on the Buds Q2.
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