Realme has come a long way with its audio products in a very short span of time. The range, which is now a six product strong, includes wired earphones, wireless neckband earphones and true wireless earbuds. All these have been launched in just 18 months. Talking specifically about the true wireless earphones, Realme has now launched its third such headset, the Realme Buds Q. In Rs. 1,999, this is the most affordable pair of true wireless earphones from Realme yet, and also the first from the company to come with an in-canal fit.
Set to take on the Redmi Earbuds S and even the neckband-style OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z, the Realme Buds Q are the smallest and lightest yet from the company. With modern specifications and design, and the promise of capable performance for the price, is the Realme Buds Q the most impressive product yet in Realme’s true wireless range? Find out in our review.
The Realme Buds Q earphones weigh only 3.6g
I thought the 4.1g weight of each Redmi Earbuds S earpiece was impressive, but incredibly enough, Realme has managed to make the Buds Q even lighter. At only 3.6g each, the Realme Buds Q could barely be felt in my ears, and were very comfortable as a result. The in-canal fit and small size of the earphones helped give them acceptable passive noise isolation and a generally non-irritating fit.
The earphones have been designed in collaboration with renowned designer Jose Levy. The earphones and charging case both resemble the Pebble, and are available in three color options – black, white and yellow. I quite liked the understated elegance of the black version I sent in for review, and I was also pleased with the hint of Realme’s trademark shade of yellow that is visible on the inside of the included ear tips. The case has a magnetic lid and on the back is a micro-USB port for charging. It is quite compact, and fits easily in my pocket.
Unlike other budget options, the Realme Buds Q have touch-sensitive controls on each of the earphones. However, it didn’t bode well for me at all. The touch areas are very small, and it wasn’t easy to detect when I was wearing the earphones. Even when I tapped any area forcefully, it didn’t always respond. It often gets to the point where I lift my smartphone to control playback or receive calls, and that’s a major drawback for the Realme Buds Q.
Controls are customizable via realme link app, and you can even invoke the voice assistant on your smartphone or use these gestures to turn on low-latency gaming mode—when they work, of course. The app lets you view a rough battery level for each of the earphones (in 10-percent increments).
While we usually see some form of status and battery level indicator on the earphones or charging case with most budget true wireless options, the Realme Buds Q has none. The only way to turn on the earbuds is through the audio prompt, and you’ll have to rely on your smartphone to tell you how much power you have left. You will only find that the case runs out of power when the earphones are not fully charged. It’s not terribly inconvenient, but it’s a drawback that comes with a price.
The Realme Buds Q support SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, which is impressive for the price and form factor. The headset has 10mm dynamic drivers, and uses Bluetooth 5 for connectivity. The earphones are rated IPX4 for water resistance. There is also a low-latency gaming mode, which is said to reduce latency to around 119ms.
I was able to get around 3.5 hours of use out of the earphones with volume and mixed usage. The case added another four charges for about 14 hours of total use per charge cycle. It’s not particularly good, but it’s perfectly acceptable considering the Rs. 1,999 price of Realme Buds Q.
Realme Buds Q. but better sound quality
The Realme Buds Air and Realme Buds Air Neo are feature-packed true wireless earphones that are very true to the price, but sound quality hasn’t been a strong point for the company so far. With the Realme Buds Q, things are different. The sound quality is a bit better in my opinion, and the earphones finally sound like they should for the price, helped by AAC codec support and in-canal design.
Starting from my street with the Gully Boy soundtrack, the volume went up, the sound was clear and what we experienced with the Buds Air and Buds Air Neo was great on the senses. Some improvements are visible in the sound signature and tuning, and the sound is much more balanced and uniform as a result. There’s still a noticeable bass bump and a definite drop-off in the mid-range, but the sound came across as tighter than more calculated and aggressive.
In particular, some of the more unique Indian folk instruments used at the beginning of this hip-hop track can also be heard in great detail. When the bass hook kicked in, it captured the track as expected, but a decent level of detail could always be heard in the track’s softer elements. The rap segments by Ranveer Singh certainly seemed a bit bland, as they are important parts of the track, but the drop-off was not enough to take anything away from the character of the track.
Although the earphones sound good for the price, the Realme Buds Q is not a stand-out performer in the category. The sound isn’t quite as powered and to-the-point as the similarly priced OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z, so buyers looking for sound quality should consider neckband-style earphones for their superior sound capabilities.
The Realme Buds Q sound the best at around 90 percent volume level. Going to full volume makes the sound a little louder, while lowering the volume takes away everything except low. Listening to All the Lights by Brasstracks, the saxophone riff sounded sharp and unpleasant at maximum volume, and was very dull at anything below the 80 percent level.
This harshness in terms of selecting the right volume can be troubling for many, especially if you are used to listening at low volumes or need some ability to hear your surroundings. That said, even at 90 percent volume level, the Realme Buds Q wasn’t as loud as it would have been on most other affordable true wireless earphones.
The Realme Buds Q was pretty good as a hands-free headset, except for a problem with the touch sensor, which meant I usually had to answer calls using my smartphone. I could hear and hear clearly, and was able to hold long conversations without any trouble using the Buds Q. The low-latency mode for gaming worked just as it did on the Realme Buds Air Neo; There was a slight decrease in sound quality, with a similar improvement in latency. However, it still left an audible delay. If you’re a mobile gamer, don’t throw away your wired earphones just yet.
Interestingly, even the most affordable true wireless headset from Realme delivers great sound, and I don’t mean ‘for the price’. 1,999, the Realme Buds Q is a better option than the Realme Buds Air and Buds Air Neo when it comes to sound quality. The low weight and no-nonsense design also works well for this pair of earphones. Good performance on calls is an added bonus.
There are definitely some issues with the gesture controls, and the sound quality isn’t quite as impressive as that of the similarly priced OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z. However, you will still have to pay a slight premium for the true wireless earphones and the Realme Buds Q. Considering that he offers as much as he can. It’s a close call between the Realme Buds Q and the Redmi Earbuds S, but the Buds Q only edges out in terms of sound quality. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking to buy a pair of true wireless earphones right now but want to spend as little as possible.
worth: Rupee. 1,999
- very light, looks great
- aac codec support
- App for function optimization, battery level
- soft, calculated sound
- good call quality
- gesture controls don’t work properly
- doesn’t sound great in low volume
- no indicator lights on earphones
- average battery life
Rating (out of 5)
- Design / Comfort: 4
- Audio Quality: 3
- Battery life: 3
- Value for money: 4.5
- Overall: 3.5
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