With the Buds Q, Realme launches its first truly wireless headphones. If the big names in the sector offer models over 100 dollars, Realme has done the opposite with headphones at 40 dollars. What is enough to convince the tightest budgets? This is what we will see in this complete test.
Definitely, in this year 2020, Realme is on all fronts. It must be said that the Chinese brand, cousin of Oppo and OnePlus, has not only launched into the smartphone market but has also attacked watches, bracelets, and connected headphones. With its Buds Q, the manufacturer seeks to offer true wireless headphones at a particularly low price against the big names of the genre which are AirPods or Galaxy Buds. Forget the triple-digit prices, here the Realme Buds Q is offered at 32 dollars on Amazon. But at this price, what do they have to offer? This is what we will see in this comprehensive test.
Realme Buds Q Technical Sheet :
Very Lightweight Earphones :
The first thing that surprises you when you discover Realme headphones, still stored in their charging case, is their weight. It’s an understatement to say that the Realme Buds Q are lightweight headphones. With 3.6 grams per earpiece and a case of only 28.2 grams, we are dealing here with featherweights. It must be said that the case, like the headphones, is made of matt plastic. A material that allows it to be particularly light, but whose finishes would have benefited from being a little more careful.
The case of the Realme Buds Q indeed offers a lot of play between the upper part and the lower part. Not that we can fear that the cover will break – the hinge is rather wide – but we are still far from the finish offered on high-end headphones. The Buds Q make up for it, however, with the design of the headphones, which is rather successful. We will find a fairly classic format with an in-ear design and a block on the outside with a touchpad. For the headphones, Realme has opted for a matte plastic texture on most of the outer area and a logo integrated discreetly into a shiny part. It’s not particularly original, but it works well.
Once in the ears, there to the featherweight format of the Realme Buds Q is felt. Headphones, particularly light, are very quickly forgotten in the ears. Note that Realme provides three pairs of earbuds with its headphones in three different sizes. As always, it is therefore best to try them out one after the other to find out which ones best match the shape of your ear canal. Not only will the passive isolation be better, but the sound reproduction will be reinforced with tips adapted to your ears.
Given the size of the headphones, their compactness, and their lightness, they pose no problem when moving. Realme Buds Q stays securely in the ear and won’t fall out, even when running with them. As such, it should be noted that the Realme Buds Q are IPX4 certified, which guarantees protection against splashing water, and therefore rain and sweat.
To come back to the charging case, of the Realme Buds Q is sober, as we saw above. Not only can plastic not really be premium, but even in terms of LED and connectors, we feel that Realme wanted to save some money. Only a micro-USB socket has been integrated for charging, not USB-C. For the indicator, there is a single LED on the outside which will indicate, by lighting up red or green during recharging, the battery level. Too bad the light cannot come on at other times – when opening the case, for example – and that it must necessarily be recharged to know the state of the battery.
Tactile Controls Sometimes Capricious :
To connect your Realme Buds Q to a smartphone for the first time, the procedure is relatively simple. As soon as you open the case of the headphones, they will automatically go into pairing mode. You just need to look for them in the list of nearby Bluetooth devices to connect to them.
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To take full advantage of Buds Q with the dedicated app – Realme Link – however, that’s another story. Once the application is installed, it will ask you to sign in to your Realme account. It is, therefore, necessary to create an account to take advantage of all the functions of Buds Q. If we appreciate the fact that this requires a simple phone number – with sending the password by SMS – a shame not be able to take advantage of all these features simply with the application. We are already sufficiently monitored on a daily basis and we wonder how this data can be used for the manufacturer.
By default, Realme Buds Q is controlled with three different interactions. The first, to pause the music, is to double-tap the earpiece. The second, to advance to the next title requires pressing it three times. Finally, the last allows you to turn off the headphones by keeping your finger pressed on them. Of course, these controls can be changed within the Realme Link application. This gives you five options to choose from for each interaction: play/pause, next track, previous track, voice assistant, and stop. Unfortunately, unable to configure an option to increase or decrease the volume of the headphones. Note that the touch surface of the headphones can be capricious. Often, I had to start over several times to pause the music or restart it, or even go through the smartphone because the frustration was great with these touch controls.
The only other option offered within Realme Link is to activate the game mode. This model is supposed to significantly decrease the latency of the Bluetooth headphones when you activate them. According to Realme, there is only 119 ms of the time lag between video and audio for “perfect sync.” It must be said that Bluetooth headsets and earphones still have a big problem with latency and, while video applications manage to get around the problem with a lag in playback, games are not. To test this mode, I launched a game of Call of Duty Mobile, a game where latency usually kicks in. With the game mode activated on the Realme Buds Q, the latency decreases significantly but does not necessarily get forgotten. You can easily see the difference between when you pull the trigger and when the sound is transmitted to the ears. The same goes on PUBG Mobile where footsteps are particularly audible, including on our avatar. The game mode doesn’t really help to suppress the impression that an opposing player is approaching you when it is simply the delay in the sound of your footsteps. This is still much better than the 300ms latency of the default SBC codec.
Note also that the Realme Buds Q does not have noise reduction. Nonetheless, the passive insulation offered by the pads is effective enough to filter out most ambient noise, even when you’re on the subway or train. Finally, the headphones can be used individually. So you can only use the left earbud or the right earbud if you want. Unfortunately, the Buds Q are not multi-point Bluetooth compatible. It is therefore impossible to connect them simultaneously to your smartphone and your laptop.
A Sound Too Carried Towards The Bass :
Realme Buds Q are equipped with speakers – or transducers – 10mm in diameter. In addition, the headphones are compatible with frequencies from 20 to 20,000 Hz and benefit from Bluetooth 5.0 for audio transmission, supported by the SBC and AAC codecs. Unfortunately, neither aptX, aptX HD nor LDAC is compatible, although that’s no real surprise given the low cost of the headphones.
Overall, the sound offered by Realme Buds Q is quite surprising. It must be said that with headphones this light, we expected to be sorely lacking in bass. This is not the case and it is indeed the bass sounds that are favored by the Realme Buds Q, which one could easily qualify as bass. However, the bass sounds do not sound completely muffled as one might fear. On Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy, Realme Buds Q behaves very well, with powerful bass, maybe a little too much. They come to crush the mediums and the voice of the artist.
Indeed, this is the main criticism that can be made against Realme Buds Q when it comes to audio: the lack of balance. The bass is so pervasive that it drowns out the other frequencies. On a track where the bass is not as punchy, like David Bowie’s Space Oddity, the bass also overlaps the rest. This is all the more unfortunate as, as we have seen, the Realme Link application is quite limited in functionality and does not offer an equalizer. Overall, we are still entitled to a rather ample and well-detailed sound provided that the instruments are not too numerous. As soon as you listen to titles that are a little denser in instruments, such as Beethoven’s Symphony number 5 – on Spotify in “very high” quality equivalent to 320 kbps – it becomes much more complicated to detect the instruments one by one. other.
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Regarding voice capture for voice calls, Realme does not do wonders, far from it. Buds Q has a hard time transmitting good voice quality, and the other person may sometimes feel like they are hearing you in a very muffled “like through a jar,” I have been described. Headphones also struggle to reduce ambient noise. They are therefore clearly not the best optimized for calling someone in the middle of the street and it would be better to use your smartphone directly.
Correct Autonomy :
To ensure the autonomy of its Buds Q, Realme has built into each earpiece a 40 mAh battery. The charging box takes advantage of a 400 mAh battery. Enough to allow, according to the Chinese manufacturer, a total of 20 hours of battery life using the case, and 4.5 hours of listening time per charge of the headphones.
In fact, at 75% volume, I was able to use Realme Buds Q for over five consecutive hours. It was not until 5:10 am that the headphones ran out of battery completely. Suffice to say that considering the price and their lightness, this is a surprising result.
Once the headphones ran out of battery, it took about 1 hour and 37 minutes for them to be fully charged in their case. In 30 minutes, however, the two headphones were able to recover 40% of the battery or just over two hours of battery life.
Note also that the battery level of the headphones is indicated in the Realme application. Y is displayed the battery level of each earphone individually. Unfortunately, the case does not have a Bluetooth chip, it is impossible to know its charge level. As we have seen previously, the only way to know this level is to recharge the case with an indicator that lights up in red when it is charging and in green when it is charged. Too bad, we would have liked to know where the autonomy is in a more precise way, for example with several LEDs indicating the overall battery level.
For charging, as we have seen, the Realme Buds Q case only offers a micro-USB socket. You will therefore have to take out your old cable or use the very short one supplied with the headphones. Realme also does not offer wireless charging and does not provide a charging pad with the headphones.