Indian wearable and audio brand Noise has been taking large strides in the market. The company’s exploits in the TWS (truly wireless earbuds) segment have not gone unnoticed and the brand is second only to Boat in that regard. I have with me the Noise Intellibuds which have a few unique features that set them apart in the crowded sub-Rs 5,000 TWS market. Let’s try and find out in this review how the earbuds fare up against competing products and if they can be your default choice.
Let’s start first with the size of the case, which is pretty large in its dimensions. I could barely fit it in my jeans pocket and when it did, the edges slightly jut into my thighs owing to the case’s rectangular design. In terms of its overall build quality, the lid seems slightly flimsy although its matte finish plastic helps give it a premium touch. On the bottom, the case has a USB-C port for charging, while on the front a single LED that indicates the battery level or if the TWS are in pairing mode or not.
The earbuds housed inside stay in place firmly via magnets and are easy to remove from the case. In terms of the earbuds’ design, the Intellibuds have an AirPods-like stem extending from the bud which also has capacitive touch input. The buds have an in-ear design with replaceable silicone tips that are provided with the box.
Talking about the features, the Noise Intellibuds are unique in that they are the only TWS in the segment with gesture controls. You do have to install the NoiseFit Smart app which is only available on Android. Once inside, the app automatically detects if the TWS buds are paired to your smartphone. For gesture control, there is a small setup process, and one can customise different head motions for various tasks. For example, a head nod can be set to accept an incoming call or a shake of the head can switch to the next track. During my testing process, the feature worked quite well, although at times it found it too sensitive. I felt this more when going on a run wherein a slight shake of my head switched to the next track.
The Intellibuds also have a dedicated voice control feature that works natively on the earbuds. It does, however, require you to train the voice module in the NoiseFit app. Once done, you can say things like “Hey headphones, play / pause / volume up”. Also, the feature can be used to accept/reject calls. During my time with the device, I felt this feature worked effectively only in quiet environments. In situations where there’s substantial noise, the voice control is quite spotty. Then there’s also a feature for a remote selfie with the paired phone and fast mute while in a conversation.
Unfortunately, the Intellibuds do not have ANC (active noise cancelling) which almost all TWS are offering in this price bracket. You do, however, get a decent transparency mode which opens up the ambient noise around you. Apart from that, the capacitive touch response on the buds is excellent and it is aided by a relatively large surface area. There is also the option inside the NoiseFit app to customise the touch input to accomplish different tasks. For audio, you only have the option of adjusting the EQ through the app. There are some other nifty features like Music sharing which lets you stream the same music to another pair of Intellibuds.
Although Noise has partnered with German audio company Bragi to tune the Intellibuds’ sound quality, there remains scope for improvement. The buds lack a tight bass output which slightly robs the music of its depth. With less-than-ideal mids, vocals are a bit muted and lyrical music doesn’t sound too appealing. The soundstage could also be wider as instrument separation is hard to catch. When comparing to the Realme Air Buds 3 (review), I found the latter to be a bit better in most aspects. Also, there’s no ANC on the Intellibuds which allows outside noise to seep into the music I was listening to. The microphone quality, however, seemed good as per my testing.
I was also quite impressed with the battery life on the device. Noise, in fact, has rated it at 36 hours. The case can take up to two hours to completely charge up, but it can keep juicing up the earbuds for several days. I regularly used the buds for about two-three hours every day and only started looking for the charger after about a week.
The Intellibuds have a set of useful features that compensates for their sub-par sound quality. Noise has focused more on the utility of the earbuds with regard to hands-free usage with features like gesture and voice control. While the lack of ANC is a big miss on the device, the transparency mode does actually work quite well. I also feel that the case’s size could do with a bit of shaving off. If the overall sound quality is not too important for you and the offered utility features seem useful, then the Intellibuds appear to be an intelligent choice.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Gesture control works well
- Decent battery life
- Good transparency mode
- Sound quality could be better
- Lacks ANC