Here's a mouthful - the Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 Basic are a cheaper version of the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 announced earlier this year. They lack support for LHDC high-def audio and that's the only difference between the regular and the Basic models.
The Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 Basic are the global version of the Mi AirDots 2 SE that launched in China in May. We are not sure why Xiaomi had to complicate their name so much, though we assume copyright laws and sounding similar to AirPods were at least partially to blame.
Case and design
The charging case of the Mi TWS2 Basic is a bit larger than usual and it comes with unusual shape and opening mechanism. The thing is fairly light though and still fits most pockets comfortably. However if you plan on using the coin pocket of your jeans as some TWS headphones owners do you should know they won't fit.
Opening the lid reveals the actual Mi TWS2 Basic headphones and they look exactly like their non-Basic counterparts. Their shape is reminiscent of Apple's AirPods, although the "stem" continues past the actual earphone in this case.
The long part is also thicker and a tiny bit heavier. WIf you have worn some of the competing products, it may take a couple of hours to get used to the larger looks and different feel. Let's not forget that we are talking about a €40 pair of wireless headphones, so some things won't be flagship-like and that's fine.
The good news is that the Mi TWS2 Basic fits perfectly in most ears and it is quite easy to get used to them. They also support wear detection - meaning taking out one or both will automatically pause whatever you were playing - music or video.
If you have the right Xiaomi phone with the right firmware version, the Mi TWS2 Basic are as easy to connect as Apple's AirPods. This means when you open the charging case near your Xiaomi phone, a pop-up message will appear on your phone asking you for a permission to connect. And that's it - there will be no hassling through the settings menu and manual Bluetooth pairing.
If you have a different phone you needn't worry though. Connecting them to an Android or iOS phone only requires you to open the case, then go to your Bluetooth settings and tap on them. That's it.
The one thing you will lose if not using them with a Xiaomi phone is the onscreen animation with battery info each time you open the case. You know, the same one that Apple has for its AirPods. Both Android and iOS show the remaining battery of your Mi TWS2 Basic, but only a Xiaomi phone will be able to tell the remaining battery in your charging case, too.
One cool thing we noticed is that not only the box, but also each earphone has a tiny white LED notification light, that will flash when pairing or when battery levels are low.
Battery and charging
The Mi TWS2 Basic charging case has 410mAh battery, which is enough to recharge the earphones about four times. The case recharges through USB-C port and there is a short cable bundled in the retail box. It takes about 90 mins to recharge the entire case - about what Xiaomi has promised.
Charging tops at 5W (5V/1A), so virtually any charger and even most USB ports will achieve that number. If you plug the case in one of the older 2.5W ports it will take longer to reach a full charge.
The earphones have two small pins near the end of their long parts. Their box is magnetic, and the two easily click inside and begin to charge. About 5-7 mins in the box will give you enough juice to listen music or talk for an hour. A full charge for an earphone requires about 30-40 mins.
The Mi TWS2 Basic support touch control on both earphones. Double tap on either of the pair works for play/pause music, answer/end call, and summon your default voice assistant be it Google, Bixby or Siri. Different parts of the earphones perform different actions as there are three different touch zones (up, middle, down).
We tried the gestures and they work as advertised, but it takes some time to get used to tap on the right place. But we are not talking weeks, more like a few days and you would get the gist of it.
Unfortunately you can't customize and rearrange the location of the gestures, so you'll have to memorize Xiaomi's layout.
Sound quality and reception
Of course one of the most important things about any headphones is the audio quality. It's not great news for the Mi TWS 2 Basic as their output can be best described with the last word of their name.
The earphones sound shallow and have very weak, while the high pitched sounds don't have the best definition either. The vocals are great though, which is the saving grace that makes the output okay for a €40 pair of headphones.
We compared them to some of the earphones we had lying around, and the Mi TWS2 Basic sounded the least impressive. Even though they have 14.2mm drivers, they are still inferior to Realme's Buds Air (12mm drivers).
The Mi TWS 2 Basic don't sound horrible, but a side by side comparison immediately shows you that they are lacking. Of course, if you are more about watching TV series or listening to podcasts than listening to music that may not matter as much.
Plus, many of the affordable competing offers won't give you something that's very important - environmental noise cancellation during calls (via two mics). It works okay on the Mi TWS2 Basic - not the best we've heard, but well enough to make sure the other party can easily make out what you are saying.
Finally, the promised work distance is 10m and we managed to verify it. It is about 10m in a wall-less area, even one with many gadgets and headphones working around. Add two walls with doors and you are looking at half the distance, which is still enough for their purpose. Just leave your phone in your living room and you'll probably have coverage around your entire flat or house.
Xiaomi promises 5 hours of music playback at 50% volume and the earphones can even exceed that depending on circumstance. We did a full charge and then we listened to music for 5 hours straight at 65% volume. After that TWS2 Basic had about 10% battery left in them.
Making calls eats the battery faster, but that's to be expected. If you use them one earphone at a time, which is our preferred scenario, you get about 7 hours total of noise-cancelled calls (3.5h per earphone).
The Mi TWS2 Basic cost €40 and they offer okay audio quality and rather good call quality and noise cancellation. The audiophile and fans of deep bass should stay away - the potential savings just aren't worth the sacrifices in terms of sonic experience.
The Mi TWS2 Basic are great for making calls on the go, listening to podcasts or watching sitcoms on your commute. Plus their comparatively low pricing makes them suitable for taking in the gym as you won't be losing as much if you soak or lose them.
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