Continuing its successful outing in the true wireless audio segment, Realme announced the Realme Buds Air 2 in India recently. Having already launched four wireless earbuds in the sub Rs 5,000 segment, this is the fifth member of the Realme TWS family and the successor to the Realme Buds Air from 2019.
In 2020, we saw the TWS segment growing at a rapid pace and Realme was one of the top manufacturers contributing to the whopping 723% growth in Q3, 2020. The Realme Buds Q and Buds Air Neo were amongst the top 5 TWS and with the Realme Buds Air 2, the company is trying to replicate the same success with incredible pricing and amazing value for money proposition.
The star of the show here is the active noise cancellation making its way to a budget TWS, that was unheard of before. The ANC is fairly good for the price which Realme is offering it. The Buds Air 2 also brings a newer audio chipset with support for Bluetooth 5.2, again a feature that’s unheard of in the segment. You get better overall audio performance, high power efficiency and stable connectivity.
It packs in a 10mm diamond class Hi-Fi driver which produces excellent audio output. Realme has also teamed up with The Chainsmokers to develop and tune the audio. The overall sound quality was surprisingly better than the Realme Buds Air Pro. As for the bass, it is punchy and enjoyable. The Realme Buds won’t disappoint you in terms of audio.
As for the battery life, it has an improved battery life offering up to 5 hours of battery on a single charge. The Realme Link application and complete gesture control are the bonus you get in here as no one comes close to what Realme offers at this price point. However, it misses out on volume control gestures. Also, the wireless charging function from the Realme Buds Air is now gone.
Overall, the Realme Buds Air 2 is a solid pair of wireless earbuds that we’d recommend to anyone who’s looking to get a budget TWS with a bunch of features and a good sound signature. The ANC is an added bonus here.
Realme Buds Air Pro price in India and availability
Launched alongside the Realme Narzo 30 series on February 24, the Realme Buds Air 2 is priced at Rs 3,299. It will go on sale in India starting March 2 on Flipkart. The Realme Buds Air 2 is available in two colour options - Close White and Closer Black.
The pricing is less than what the original Realme Buds cost which was Rs 3,999
Design and fit
Design on the true wireless earbuds is something that the brand hasn't been able to set itself apart from the crowd. You either get a TWS with stem design or without a stem design - the Realme Buds Air 2 opts for the former. It inherits the curvy aesthetics of the previous generation and brings a new two-tone colour finish. The Buds Air 2 is available in two colour options - Closer White and Closer Black. We are using the Closer Black variant in this review, but we think that the white ones look more interesting.
The Black variant is a combination of Black & Blue while the White variant is a mix of Silver & White - I prefer the Closer White variant as it looks classy, especially the stem. The Realme Buds Air 2 comes with a matte finish on the body with an electroplating process on the stem. These are also in-ear style earbuds which is an upgrade from the half in-ear style on the Realme Buds Air from 2019. Although the company claims the buds can withstand fingerprints and smudges, we managed to get fingerprints easily - maybe the White variant will be better in that case.
The carry case that doubles up as a battery pack is pretty much similar to the case of the Realme Buds Air Pro - a cobble shaped design. But there are a couple of changes. Firstly, the metal hinge is gone and you get a plastic one on the Buds Air 2. Secondly, the LED indicator which turns either Green or Red depending on the battery level is now located slightly below and so is the Realme moniker. The rest of the components are placed as they are.
You get a Type-C port on the bottom and a solo button to the right of the case to pairing/reset the earbuds. One-handed opening is also possible and the lid doesn’t feel fragile as we had said in our Realme Buds Air Pro review. The case again attracts fingerprints and smudges which is one thing we’d like to see get better in the next iteration.
In terms of the fit, the in-ear style design makes it extremely comfortable to wear. They’re also a gram less than the Realme Buds Air at just 4 grams. Removing them from the buds are now a bit easier thanks to the subtle change in the stem design which helps to pull out the buds from the case. The magnets inside the case are strong enough to keep the buds in place.
There is no chunky design here the top part is much slimmer which is why you get a comfortable fit. I tested the buds while walking, running, during workouts, and while on the bike - every time the buds were secured well in the ear. This is my second favourite pick in terms of fit under Rs 5,000 after the OnePlus Buds Z. The box also comes with three additional pairs(S/M/L) of ear tips with which you'll be able to get the perfect fit. The buds are IPX4 rated for water resistance and can be used in the gym or even in slight rain. The case however doesn’t have any protection rating.
In a nutshell, the Realme Buds Air 2 offers the best fit in the segment with an in-ear style design you can switch between the tips to get the best possible fit.
Sound quality and noise cancellation
The Realme Buds Air 2 comes with an all-new Realme R2 audio chipset which also brings the latest Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity. It is said to bring better audio performance as well as battery life as compared to the last-gen. It also brings latency by up to 35%. As for the noise cancellation, the Realme Buds Air 2 are capable of cancelling up to 25dB. There is a 10mm diamond-class Hi-Fi driver and the Realme had teamed up with The Chainsmokers to develop and tune the audio.
Whatever Realme and The Chainsmokers have done behind the scenes with regards to the tuning has worked and worked well. The audio quality is surprisingly better than the Realme Buds Air Pro and the bass is also more punchy and thumping. It supports the AAC and SBC codec.
The Realme Buds Air 2 offers mostly bass-heavy sound which most of us prefer and it serves well. The sound staging is excellent and the separation of the instruments are on point. The mids and lows are well balanced as well. The vocals were very clean as well, I enjoyed listening to music on this one for an extended period. The treble onboard is not the best but does a good job. Overall, the sound quality is quite satisfying and we’d rate this second-best right after the Oppo Enco W51.
In terms of the ANC, as said earlier, it cancels out noise up to 25dB which is mostly the lower frequency noise. The noise cancellation here is achieved with a feed-forward mic which cancels out the external low-frequency noise. It does work and I could feel the difference when it was turned On and turned Off. This is a welcome addition to the sub Rs 3,500 price point. You can eliminate more external noise by turning on the volume enhancer which does block out more noise from the outside world. The transparency mode allows you to listen to the outside as well as the media on the bud without having to remove it from the ears.
As for the modes are concerned, you get Bass Boost+, which takes the bass to the next level and it is very effective. Lively gives the balance between overall music while the Clear mode offers clean vocal output. And lastly, there is a gaming mode that brings down the latency to 88ms which is one of the best for a TWS. This is useful while you play games or watching movies. I had no issues with audio/video sync which watch video on the phone.
These buds can get really loud which some earbuds lack, the Volume enhancer takes it to a next level. I enjoyed listening to all the albums from The Chainsmokers, Bollywood beats, and some DJ mix.
The Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity is stable and has a range of 10 meters. It connects to your phone as soon as you take it out of the case once you’ve paired it.
Realme Link app and features
Realme is one of the few audio makers that has a dedicated application for its AIoT products and the Buds Air 2 takes advantage of the same. As far as the features on the earbuds, they come with in-ear detection which works as intended - it pauses the media playback when you take it off and resumes it when you put it back on. Inside the companion Realme Link app, you can disable the in-ear detection if needed.
Further, the application shows how much battery if left on each bud as well as the case. It displays in which mode you are using the earbuds - Noise cancellation, General, or Transparent. It allows you to select 2 of the 3 modes to switch between when you perform a touch operation. There is also an option to toggle game mode as well as a volume enhancer. You can also switch between three sound modes - Bass Boost+, Lively, and Clear. Other smart features include auto-connect and Google Fast Pairing protocol.
As for the touch controls, each bud on the Realme Buds Air 2 can be customized to perform an action for a double-tap, triple tap, and touch and hold. You can choose among “play/pause, next track, previous track, voice assistant, switch noise control modes, gaming mode” options. There is an option to turn off controls completely as well. Additionally, there is also an action that can be triggered by long-pressing (touch and hold) both buds at the same time.
You can customize the actions as per your preference with the Realme Link app. The touch controls are pretty intuitive and responsive to your touch. You need to touch the top part of the stem to get the desired output. Lastly, the auto call toggle enables you to pick the call automatically as you take out the buds from the case while you are getting a call.
The Realme Buds Air 2 offers two microphones on the stems. In addition to the dual-mic system, you also get Environmental noise cancellation(ENC) which helps you pick better audio from the other end. In my testing, the microphone quality turned out to be surprisingly good, especially considering it a budget TWS. The person on the other end could hear me pretty well and vice versa in the indoor conditions. During the outdoor situations, the sound quality dropped by a bit by nothing dramatic as the person could still hear me but with a bit of distortion.
The one area where the Realme Buds Air struggled was in the battery life 一 they barely lasted 3 hours. With the Realme Buds Air 2, the company claims up to 5 hours of battery life Realme Buds Air 2 and overall up to 25 hours including the charging case.
In my testing, I got 5 hours of playback with ANC turned on and about 4 hours and 15 minutes with the ANC turned on. In both cases, the left earbud drained out 10 minutes earlier than the right one. The case offers me almost four additional charge cycles before dying out completely. Overall, I got about 21 to 22 hours of playback on a single charge which is quite good considering my volume was always about 80 to 100%.
The charging can be done with the included Type-C cable. A full charge will take about an hour to charge from 0 to 100. A quick 10 minutes offers 2 hours of playback as per Realme, but we got 90 minutes of playback, which is still a handy feature.
Realme Buds Air 2 vs Realme Buds Air Pro
|Spec||Buds Air 2||Buds Air Pro|
|Weight||4.1 grams||5 grams|
|ANC||Up to 25 dB||Up to 35 dB|
|Connection||Bluetooth 5.2||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Drivers||10mm Diamond-class||10mm Bass Boost|
|Processor||Realme R2||Realme S1|
|Battery life||5 hours||3 hours|
|Fast charging||10 min = 2 hours||10 min = 3 hours|
Buy it if…
You want the best budget TWS in India
The Realme Buds Air 2 is our #1 pick for the budget TWS in India under Rs 5,000. You get a bunch of features that no other brand offers and the presence of ANC is just the cherry on top.
You want ANC
There are currently only three TWS under Rs 5,000 that offer ANC and with the price gap of over Rs 1,500, there is no competition to the Realme Buds Air 2 in terms of ANC.
You want gesture controls
Realme Buds Air 2 brings a bunch of gesture controls and they are also customizable as per your requirement thanks to the companion Realme Link app.
Don't buy if...
You need wireless charging
While the first-gen Realme Buds Air had the wireless charging feature, the Realme Buds Air 2 traded it for ANC. If you care about wireless charging, you can take a look at the Oppo Enco W51.
You need more refined audio
The sound quality on the Realme Buds Air 2 is not necessarily bad, but if you want the best audio quality in the segment, the Oppo Enco W51 and the Lypertek Tevi are your choice.