Mobvoi Ticpods Free review

These AirPod look-alikes are better in every way but one

Mobvoi’s TicPods Free have an AirPods body with a sportier soul.
Mobvoi’s TicPods Free have an AirPods body with a sportier soul.
Mobvoi’s TicPods Free have an AirPods body with a sportier soul.


  • Comfortable silicone eartips
  • Balanced sound
  • IPX5 water and dust resistant
  • Easy to use touch controls


  • Battery life doesn’t match top rivals
  • Tired golf tee looks

It’s no secret that there are numerous ways Apple could improve upon its industry-leading true wireless AirPods. With a number of great options that now offer a more comfortable fit, water and dust resistance, and better sound, the company’s wireless in-ears have fallen enough behind the cutting edge models that we now recommend most people consider more contemporary alternatives.

On paper, Mobvoi’s doppelganger TicPods Free check most of the AirPods’ missing boxes. With comfortable silicone eartips and the ability to withstand even the toughest workouts — plus a cheaper $130 price tag – they’re almost a no-brainer. We say almost because, while they have a lot of great features, they fall just short of AirPod-level battery life.

Features and Design

If you’ve ever seen the golf tee-style AirPods (and who hasn’t these days?), the TicPods Free will be instantly familiar. As far as we can tell, these headphones have been explicitly designed to fool everyone you pass on the street into thinking you’re an AirPods owner. The only real aesthetic difference between the Apple and Mobvoi headphone models is that the TicPods Free have a flatter stem, which actually makes accessing the onboard touch controls even easier.

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Controlling the headphones is fantastically simple. Swiping up or down on the left earphone’s stem adjusts volume, long-pressing the right bud brings up your voice assistant, and double tapping skips songs. Like the AirPods, the TicPods free even sense when they’re removed from your ears and auto-pause music — functionality that comes in handy more often than you might think.

Fool everyone you pass on the street into thinking you’re an iPhone owner.

The TicPods Free do offer two key design differences from the AirPods that are very significant: Silicone eartips, and an IPX5 water and dust-resistance rating. This equates to a more secure (and comfortable) seal in your ears — along with better passive noise isolation — and the ability to withstand rainstorms and sweaty workouts.

They come in a pill-shaped white charging case, offering a total of 18 hours of listening time on the go with both the case and headphones fully juiced up. That brings us to our only real gripe about these headphones: Battery life.

At four hours maximum play time, the TicPods Free have an hour less than the AirPods. And that’s a shame, because four hours is just not quite long enough to get heavy users or commuters through their day.

Audio Quality

The silicone eartips alone make a huge difference in terms of listening experience when compared with the hard plastic of the AirPods. Mobvoi’s headphones have more exacting bass and a more dynamic sound signature than the AirPods, even though they may not actually have better drivers — having a good seal in your eardrums is just that important when it comes to getting great sound.

mobvoi ticpods free review xxl
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Whether jamming out to our favorite new hip-hop or shimmering Bob Dylan classics, all of our tunes were faithfully reproduced by the plucky true wireless in-ears. In fact, these earbuds offer among the best sound we’ve heard in the genre for the money. There’s a healthy amount of volume too; we often find that true wireless in-ears can’t quite keep up with the loud atmosphere of a jog down a busy street, but the TicPods Free had no issues at all. That said, cranking the volume does take a toll on battery life.

Warranty information

Mobvoi offers a one year warranty on defects in materials and workmanship.

Our Take

The TicPods Free are a solid AirPod alternative with better sound and a number of better features at a more affordable price.

Is there a better alternative?

Not without bumping up your budget a bit. For $130, the TicPods offer the best blend of sound quality, life-proof design, and ease of use we’ve seen below $150. Apple’s AirPods will land you better battery life for $159, but you’ll be ditching the TicPods’ more comfortable eartips and water resistance. The Jabra Elite 65T and Elite Active 65T, beat both for $170 and $180 respectively.

How long will it last?

Mobvoi isn’t exactly a time-tested company in the world of headphones, but we can say that we feel that these had a solid build quality, and we didn’t feel they would fall apart during extended use. We spent a few weeks using them in everything from the office to long rainy runs, and they held up just fine.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you want identical looks and find yourself using earbuds frequently during workouts, we recommend them. The TicPods Free served us well during sweaty gym sessions and lengthy outdoor runs, with the silicone eartips keeping them securely in our ears, and the IPX5 rating meaning we weren’t afraid of damaging them on the go.

If you’re an all-day listener who wants a lightweight musical companion, we still recommend you opt for a pair of true wireless in-ears with longer battery life. As it stands, the 5-hour battery life offered by the AirPods and Jabra’s Elite Active 65t — still our favorite true wireless earbuds on the market — is well worth the extra money, as far as we’re concerned.

Home Theater

Puro’s kids headphones don’t just sound great, they help prevent hearing damage

Puro Sound Labs' PuroQuiet headphones are a pair of noise-canceling over-ears that are designed for young listeners, allowing them to jam out to their favorite tunes, but limiting volume to avoid long-term hearing damage.

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Home Theater

Run to the beat of your favorite music with the best running headphones

Running is a great source of exercise but isn't always the most thrilling, especially when you're fiddling to keep your headphones in place. Check out our picks for the best headphones for running, so you never have to miss a beat again.

Jabra wireless earbuds now cost $9 less than AirPods with this Amazon sale

You can now get a pair of our favorite workout earbuds, the Jabra Elite Active 65t, for $9 less than Apple's AirPods, making them a fantastic deal for those who are looking to cut the cord on their listening life.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video and what’s leaving in May 2019

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in April and May, from new original series to classic films.
Home Theater

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent HD antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be tricky. To aid in your cord-cutting quest, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.
Product Review

JBL’s Live 650BTNC are a wonderful everyday listening companion

A long-lasting battery, solid active noise cancelation, and vibrant sound make the JBL Live 650BTNC a great pair of headphones for everyday listening. Looking for feature-packed wireless headphones at a low price? These are just the ticket.
Home Theater

Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Battle of the on-demand streaming giants

Trying to figure out which subscription streaming service to use while sticking to a frugal entertainment budget? Check out our updated comparison of the big three: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.

Spruce up your Lenovo smartphone with the best Moto Mods for the Moto Z-series

Moto Mods, the snap-on accessories compatible with Lenovo's Moto Z-series smartphones add a lot of value without adding a lot of bulk. Looking to try one out? Here are a few of our favorite Moto Mods.
Home Theater

What’s new on Hulu in May 2019, and what’s leaving soon

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for May 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Movies & TV

The best Black Mirror episodes are disturbing, mesmerizing, and provocative

After watching all 19 episodes across four seasons and one movie, we selected and ranked the best Black Mirror episodes released so far. Read on to find out if your favorite episode from the award-winning Netflix series made the list.
Movies & TV

From comedies to biopics, these are the best movies about music and musicians

The best movies about music range from hilarious comedies to powerful and informative biopics that illuminate the world of sonic expression from all possible angles. Here are our current favorites.
Home Theater

Here's how to turn off subtitles on Netflix, no matter the device

Subtitles are great if you want or need them, but they can be a major headache if you’ve somehow turned them on by accident and can’t figure out how to get rid of them. Don't worry, it's not as complicated as it seems.