Redmi Buds 5A review: gets the essentials right

The Redmi Buds 5A launched alongside the Redmi Pad SE a few days ago. At a starting price of Rs 1,499, these affordable earbuds boast quite a few robust features and come with a dedicated Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) mode, which is a rare find at this price point. This makes the device quite appealing, at least on paper. Let’s find out in this Redmi Buds 5A review if the earbuds deliver on what they promise. 

Design, fit & connectivity

The Redmi Buds 5A come packed in a sleek, oval-shaped case with a matte finish that does a commendable job of evading fingerprints and smudges. The texture is also quite nice to the touch. You can easily pop open the lid with a single thumb, so it gets extra points for that as well. The Buds 5A features IPX4 dust and water resistance to protect against occasional splashes.

Redmi Buds 5A review

The earbuds sport a minimalist design. The case is quite light at roughly 40g and easily slips into the pocket. The earbuds fit snugly inside the ears, and are likely to stay in place event if you actively try to move your head to dislodge them. The device comes with two extra pairs of silicone tips in different sizes; one small and one large, and the standard silicone cups were a good fit for my ears. 

The touch controls are easy to use and work well. Tap twice to play/pause your songs or answer calls, tap thrice to switch to the next track or end calls, and hold the touch area of the buds for roughly 2 seconds to switch between ANC modes. You can also touch and hold both earbuds simultaneously to enable low-latency mode. 

Redmi Buds 5A review

The Redmi Buds 5A feature Bluetooth 5.4 and Google Fast Pair support for connectivity. Thanks to the latter, the device quickly connects to your Android devices, and Bluetooth 5.4 also lends quick connectivity with Windows devices such as laptops.  

Sound quality & app

The earbuds come with 12mm dynamic drivers, which slightly favour bass and output decent enough audio for their price. It only supports SBC audio codec, which limits the sound quality of the device, but is par for the course at this price point.

The Buds 5A get pleasantly loud, but some distortion creeps in when you exceed 70 percent volume levels. The mids are also balanced well, while the instruments sound slightly muffled in a few songs. The difference is especially noticeable when compared with the OPPO Enco Buds 2, which I have been using for quite some time. The Enco Buds 2 output a richer sound with more pronounced instruments, vocals and bass. 

The Buds 5A come with Xiaomi Earbuds app support, which flaunts a minimalist interface that I quite like. There are three sound modes available, which include transparency, ANC (active noise cancellation), and ANC Off. There’s an option to enable low latency (60ms) mode in additional settings, which comes in handy during gaming sessions. I tested it while playing BGMI, and there was a noticeable improvement, so I’m pleased to say the feature works as intended. You can rename your earbuds too if you wish so; the option available to you is just below the low latency mode.

Now, let’s talk about ANC. It works, sort of. You can definitely feel the ANC mode kick in, with the ambient noises getting slightly damped, but it could be better; the difference between ANC mode and no ANC is quite minimal.  

Call quality & battery 

When it comes to calls, you’re basically at the mercy of your surroundings. If there’s a hawker near you loudly announcing his wares, the person you’re talking to will hear it clearly. Therefore, it’s best to keep your expectations in check.

The noise cancellation works to an extent, but it’s not powerful enough to drown out the sheer amount of noise a regular market or a busy road produces. The cancellation works well in quiet neighbourhoods and places where the ambient noise levels are on the lower end, ensuring your voice remains clear during calls. On the receiver’s end, the voice comes out a bit muffled but is mostly clear enough to understand.

Redmi claims that the Buds 5A can last up to 5 hours with ANC disabled and 3.5 hours with ANC enabled at a 50 percent volume level. In my experience, the times are just about right, with the earbuds lasting slightly over 3 hours with ANC enabled and a higher volume level. The 440mAh case can recharge the buds roughly 3 times and takes around 2 hours to recharge completely. There’s no Type-C charging cord that ships with the product, but any standard cable will do the job.

Verdict

The Redmi Buds 5A is a compelling option for users on a budget. However, if you can extend your budget by a bit, the OPPO Enco Buds 2, despite being slightly old, offer great audio quality under Rs 2,000. The Realme Buds T300, on the other hand, offer good call quality, good audio output and are priced just slightly north of Rs 2,000.

While the Buds 5A do offer ANC, the feature offers basic functionality at best, and the call quality might not appeal to some users. All said and done, the Redmi Buds 5A seem ideal for users on a tight budget, and looking for earbuds that deliver a solid battery, a balanced sound output and  some nifty features like Google Fast Pair, Bluetooth 5.4, etc. 

Editor’s Rating: 7.5 / 10

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Good battery life
  • Satisfactory audio quality

Cons

  • Only SBC audio codec
  • Call quality could be better