Verdict: People looking for an affordable-yet-feature-packed pair of TWS earbuds should definitely consider the realme Buds Air Pro. It’s one of the very few sub-Php 5k offerings that has active noise cancellation-something noticeably missing from similarly priced options. Beyond noise cancellation, its drivers have one of the most detailed soundstage for its price.
The realme Buds Air Pro is one of the best TWS offerings from the brand and only costs Php 4,990.
- Very detailed soundstage especially with the mids
- ANC and wear detection sensors for under Php 5k
- No aptX support
- No wireless charging
realme’s expansion to the AIoT space includes a complete line of TWS earbuds, with the Buds Air Pro being its top-tier offering. Unlike the Buds Air and the Buds Air Neo, the Buds Air Pro goes for a silicone tip design and sacrifices the Buds Air’s wireless charging for active noise cancellation and improved noise-canceling algorithms.
Design and Build
Taking cues from the entry-level Buds Q, the Buds Air Pro has a case that is inspired by cobblestone. This time around, you get a slender case with a semi-circle shape. Our unit comes in white and sports a small realme branding right below the LED light.
Unlike with the Buds Air and realme’s other TWS offerings, the Buds Air Pro uses metal for the case hinge, giving it a more premium build. The pairing button is found on the right side, while a USB-C port is found on the bottom.
As for the buds themselves, the Buds Air Pro looks far from the AirPods-inspired design of the Buds Air and Buds Air Neo, going for a more ergonomic design with silicone tips. Medium-sized tips are installed by default, though you get an extra set of ear tips to let you explore which one best suits your ears.
Both the buds and the case come with a glossy finish, making them a magnet for both smudges and scratches. I’m not sure if there’s a silicone case being sold for the Buds Air Pro as of this writing, but I definitely recommend that you get one for them.
Interface and Fit
Like most of realme’s AIoT products, the Buds Air Pro can be configured through the realme Link App, though you can simply pair them with any device via Bluetooth once you press the pairing button on the right side.
With the realme Link app, you can configure how the touch controls work, select which noise-canceling modes will be enabled, along with other features like Game Mode, Bass Boost+, and Volume Enhancer. There’s also an option for firmware upgrade, opening the possibilities of new features to the Buds Air Pro in the future.
Unlike the Buds Air and Buds Air Neo, the Buds Air Pro opt for a closed in-ear design with silicone tips to give a good seal. The buds have a slimmer design and are more ergonomic compared to similarly-priced rivals. Pair that with their 5g weight, and the Buds Air Pro feel light and comfortable enough for prolonged use. It also helps that the stalks are angled when you wear them, so you won’t worry about the buds not fitting properly while you use them for workouts.
The Buds Air Pro also has wear detection sensors that pause music when you take off the buds from your ear and instantly resume music once you put them back on. They are not as fast as those found on more expensive TWS earbuds, but the fact that you get this feature at under Php 5k—not to mention that they work with any device—is already impressive by itself.
Audio Quality and Battery Life
Making the Buds Air Pro impressive is that they have one of the best soundstages for its price point. Being a premium offering, realme emphasized not only the lows (which is the case for most budget TWS earbuds) but providing rich detail for the mids and highs as well. In fact, the audio quality of the Buds Air Pro is already good that I didn’t need to enable other features like Bass Boost+ and Volume Enhancer.
I’ve listened to some tracks from Twice and Dua Lipa, and I’ve noticed the extra depth of audio detail in them compared to other TWS earbuds I have reviewed in the past. Bass Boost+ works best to give that extra punch for EDM tracks, though I prefer sticking to the Buds Air Pro’s default soundstage.
The biggest selling point of the Buds Air Pro is its built-in ANC. realme claims that the Buds Air Pro’s ANC can reduce ambient noise by 35dB, and they deliver quite close to that promise. I’ve used the Buds Air Pro while walking for casual errands, and activating ANC filtered a good amount of ambient noise as I walk through busy and noisy streets.
Unlike other TWS earbuds, the Buds Air Pro has Transparency mode, which tweaks its mics to let you be aware of your surroundings while listening to music. That particular feature is very useful when crossing the street to avoid any possible accidents.
As with overall sound quality, what makes the Buds Air Pro impressive for its price is that it manages to maintain a near-consistent sound quality regardless of what noise cancellation mode you are using. While the best audio fidelity is with noise-canceling enabled, the audio quality in normal and transparency modes are just as good—as long as you don’t mind ambient noise compromising overall audio fidelity.
As for audio codecs, the Buds Air Pro supports AAC and Bluetooth 5.0 for fast pairing, but it does not have aptX. While that feels underwhelming considering other more affordable TWS earbuds have aptX, I did not miss the feature thanks to the great soundstage and stable wireless connection the Buds Air Pro has to offer.
For topping up the battery, you only have USB-C and no wireless charging. I honestly did not miss the latter, as the Buds Air Pro did top up quite fast with USB-C. A 10-minute top-up gave me a little over two hours of listening time, and fully charging the case takes around a little under an hour.
Wrap up and Conclusions
The sub-Php 5k TWS earbuds segment is saturated and more competitive than ever, and realme definitely owns the segment with the Buds Air Pro. By offering ANC that actually delivers and better than average sound quality, the Buds Air Pro sets the benchmark for value-packed TWS earbuds in the sub-Php 5k price category.
While it may not be perfect—it does not have aptX or wireless charging—the Buds Air Pro easily compensates for those shortcomings with added features through the realme Link app.
The Buds Air Pro will be priced below SRP at Php 3,990 on Lazada & Shopee on December 3, 7pm and during the 12.12 Super Brand Day Sale. It will be available in select concept stores and realme Kiosks nationwide starting December 4.