Xiaomi has been one of the leading names in the budget audio department for some time now. The company has built up a large portfolio of audio products in the country, which includes wired earphones, TWS earbuds, soundbars, speakers, wireless headphones, and more. Just now, the electronics giant has announced new wireless neckband earphones in the form of the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro. Priced at Rs 1,799, a key highlight of the device is that it comes with ANC (active noise cancellation) capabilities… which is a feature that is not too common in this segment. Xiaomi is quite proficient at delivering quality products for the price and in this review, I shall see if the trend continues.
In terms of design and comfort, the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro are no different from the recently-released Redmi SonicBass Wireless Earphones. The neckband is made from a flexible rubberised material that has a textured finish on the top and a plain finish on the bottom. I have the black variant which appears to be the only option available for purchase. The curved neckband is comfortable to wear for extended periods. The extensions on either side are made from plastic with the right side housing the controls. The power and volume buttons are placed on the outside, while on the inside you have the dedicated ANC button. Apart from that, there is a micro-USB port covered with a flap for charging purposes, though a USB C port would have been preferable. The earbuds sit quite well inside by ear canal and there are three pairs of silicone tips provided by Xiaomi. The ones that come pre-installed form a very nice seal with my ear and I didn’t feel any discomfort even after wearing them for about two to three hours.
Looking at features, you get ANC which works surprisingly well considering the price. A single tap on the dedicated button will drown out quite a lot of the outside noise. You can still hear a TV or a speaker blasting at full volume but the noise of a fan or the hum of a car engine will be blocked off reasonably well. The ANC isn’t the best, but it’s still a great feature to have at this price point. Apart from that, the other attributes of the earphones include an IPX5 rating which should protect the earphones during sweaty workouts, but I wouldn’t recommend taking them out in the rain. The pairing process is also pretty straightforward with just a three-second press required on the power button. On the flip side, you don’t get multi-device support as you get on the Redmi SonicBass. Xiaomi is also claiming an anti-cerumen design on the earphones to keep ear wax away from the silicon tips, but I didn’t find it to be particularly effective. As usual, you get your choice of AI voice assistant that is present on your smartphone. The earphones lock magnetically around your neck but apart from preventing them from flapping around, no additional purpose (such as power on/off) is served from this feature.
Talking about sound quality, the Mi Neckband Earphones Pro pack in 10mm drivers which are specially enhanced for bass. It is important to adjust expectations on a pair of Rs 1,799 earphones. They won’t appeal to audio purists, but for just about everyone else, the Mi Neckband Earphones Pro are very good. The focus on bass becomes quite apparent when listening to some hip-hop tracks but the mids on acoustic instrumentals are also good. The vocals are not thrown into the forefront and strike a balance with the beat in the background. EDM and electronic music also sound decent enough and the volume can go significantly loud. For its price, it would be very hard to find a pair of better-sounding earphones although the Redmi’s SonicBass do come close. Xiaomi also mentions low-latency transmission, which I found to be mostly on point, but if you are an avid mobile gamer it would still be preferable to use a pair of wired earphones for the best experience.
As far as battery life goes, the claim by Xiaomi is that the earphones will last up to 20 hours on a single charge. That has mostly held true in my usage, and it translates into about 4-5 days without having the need to juice up. The only problem I had was the micro-USB port and the extremely short cable that comes in the box. It would be a stretch though to expect USB C at this price, but if any company can do it, Xiaomi is definitely one of them. That would justify the use of ‘Pro’ in the earphones’ moniker.
Xiaomi is known for its great value-for-money propositions, whether it is in the smartphone world or the audio segment. In the case of the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro, you get a very respectable battery life combined with a pleasant listening experience. The ear tips are not a cause of discomfort even when worn for a long time and most importantly, you get ANC which is quite good for the price. There is really nothing to hate on the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro other than the fact that they still make use of a micro-USB port and there is no support for pairing with multiple devices simultaneously. For real bass-heads on a budget, the Redmi SonicBass earphones would appear to be a good choice, but they can’t boast ANC. For everyone else, the Neckband Earphones Pro from Mi should be a top choice.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- ANC works well
- Amazing price
- The neckband is quite comfortable
- Nice sound signature
- Magnetic locking serves no additional functionality
- Micro-USB charging
- No multi-device support