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Xiaomi Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro review: These ain’t it

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones review lead image

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Bluetooth headphones have been long democratized. In fact, you can even get true wireless earbuds for cheap. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that high-end features like active noise-cancelling (ANC) are the next frontier. With the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro, Xiaomi is trying to make ANC more accessible.

Typically, a product that’s as affordable as these Mi earphones sacrifices build quality. Can Xiaomi — the king of affordability — deliver a compelling pair of Bluetooth earphones that sound good, and offer noise-cancelling for the low low price of $25? Find out in the Android Authority Xiaomi Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro review.

About this Xiaomi Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro review: I wrote this review after spending ten days with the product. Xiaomi India supplied the device.

How’s the design of the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro?

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones around neck with earphones in ears

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro are budget earbuds, and the design reflects the price. The construction is a mix of rubber and glossy plastics. Nobody will mistake it for a premium product — these things were clearly built to a cost. That said, the soft-touch neckband is comfortable to wear over long durations. I had no issues leaving it around my neck even when switched off.

Xiaomi buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know

The earphone cables protrude from a hard plastic end that is glossy on the inside. A micro-USB (ugh) port lies over on the right along with all the other buttons. You’ll find a power button and volume rocker within easy reach. On the inside lies an additional key to toggle active noise-cancelling.

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones review volume and power controls

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Unfortunately, the noise-cancelling button is too small and there’s not much tactile feedback from the volume buttons either. I often fumbled when I tried to activate the keys.

Following suit, the earphone cables aren’t the epitome of quality either but they suffice for the price. The earbuds, meanwhile, are made of polycarbonate and magnetically attach to each other. The magnetic attachment is for cable management only; it doesn’t power off the headset.

Do these neckband earbuds stay connected?

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones showing cables

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones support Bluetooth 5.0 and stay connected in any environment, so long as the headset is within 10 meters of the source device. Bluetooth codec support is limited to just SBC and AAC.

Read more: Bluetooth codecs 101: Everything you need to know

If you own an iPhone, you’ll listen to consistent high-quality audio over the AAC codec, but Android users take a bit of a gamble when streaming over AAC. Android OS doesn’t uniformly encode the AAC codec, which is hardware-dependent. That said, the earphones defaulted to AAC when connected to my OnePlus smartphone and stability was reliable even at a distance. I faced no issues at all walking around my apartment streaming music over Spotify.

How do the Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro sound?

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones focus on earbuds

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Xiaomi is playing to the crowd with the Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro. The earbuds amplify bass, which will please most listeners who intend to use these casually during a commute or at home. I played a range of music tracks across a number of genres to see how they fared.

Learn more: Headphone buying guide: Everything you need to know

My go-to track to gauge treble response is You’ve Got to Have Freedom by Pharaoh Sanders, and the Mi Neckband Earphones don’t do it justice. The loud bass is emphasized to the point of masking vocals and treble sections. A lack of detail and clarity come at the expense of extra “oomph” in the low end.

On acoustic tracks like Featherweight by Fleet Foxes, vocals are yet again masked out by the bass-heavy sound. Switching over to rap music, like I Stand On That by E-40, the rumbling bass track made itself more than evident. These are not neutral sounding earphones, and you’d better have a preference of bass — oodles of it — to appreciate the sound here.

Is the active noise-cancelling effective?

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones noise cancellation controls

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Noise-cancelling on the Mi Bluetooth Neckband Earphones comes in one flavor: on or off.

Unlike some of the new-fangled budget alternatives, you cannot adjust the level of noise cancellation, nor is there a passthrough mode. On its own, the noise-cancelling is reasonably effective. Xiaomi claims noise attenuation of about 25dB. In practice, it cuts down the ambient noise levels by a few notches, but you won’t be getting complete isolation if that’s what you are looking for.

The Mi Bluetooth Neckband Earphones give you a taste of ANC, but are far from best-in-business.

This is understandable considering the price point of the earphones. What isn’t, however, is the raised noise floor and constant hiss when you are not listening to music.

How’s the battery life on the Mi Bluetooth Neckband earphones?

Battery life on the Mi Bluetooth Neckband Earphones Pro is competitive. Xiaomi claims 20 hours of use on a single charge, but that depends on a number of factors. With active noise-cancelling turned on, and volume set to 60%, I managed around 14 hours of total use. That’s not too bad, but a far cry from the advertised figure.

Meanwhile, charging the earphones over micro-USB takes around two hours.

Is they good for calls?

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro review in hand

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Mi Neckband Earphones don’t sport a great microphone system. It’s tuned to combat the proximity effect but takes its preventative measures a bit too far. Voice transmission leaves those with low voices sounding a bit “distant” or “muffled.” It’s serviceable, but I wouldn’t buy these solely for making phone calls.

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro microphone demo:

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro review: The verdict

Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphone Pro

The Mi Neckband Bluetooth Earphones Pro deliver active noise-cancelling on a budget.

It’s great that Xiaomi has tried to democratize audio technologies like active noise-cancelling, but there’s a limit to how low you can go before quality suffers. This is certainly the case if our Mi Bluetooth Neckband Earphones Pro review is anything to go by. Sure, it’s priced affordably at just Rs. 1,799 (~$25), but you can get a lot better sound quality for that money.

The Oppo Enco M31, in particular, sound significantly better for just a little more money. You can also get the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z for Rs. 2,000 (~$27).

The earphones don’t sound particularly great, nor are they exceptional at noise-cancelling. Battery life too could be better. Unless you really need ANC, I’d give these ones a pass. Xiaomi’s own Redmi Earbuds S sound better with the added convenience of being true wireless earphones.

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