Realme Buds Q2s Review: Condemned to the shadows from day one

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Pros:
– Pleasant design, comfortable in-ear fit
– Companion app provides customisation of sound and controls
– Good battery life (24+ hours), supports fast charging
– Bluetooth 5.2 compliant, low latency
– IPX4 sweat resistant
– Sounds good in Bright sound profile

Cons:
– Overly bass-heavy in other profiles
– No volume control on the buds
– Below par call quality
– Pricing needs to be more aggressive

Rating: 3.5/5

Price: Rs 1,999

We have often stated that the Realme Buds Q2 has a stranglehold in the segment of true wireless (TWS) earphones under Rs 2,500 thanks to its lively sound output and a long list of features that also includes active noise cancellation (ANC) at that price point. The company has now launched a new pair titled Buds Q2s that seems pretty much like the Buds Q2 but without ANC and with a fancy case. And of course, Rs 500 cheaper. 

Realme Buds Q2s Review Lead image

Image Credit: Tech2 | Ameya Dalvi

Rest of the features like customisable controls and multiple sound profiles through the Realme Link app are available here too. Is there more to it than meets the eye? Does it sound better than the Buds Q2? Does it even need to exist? Read on to know the answers and everything else you need to about the Realme Buds Q2s earbuds.

Realme Buds Q2s: Design and Comfort (8/10)

The earbuds’ design is the same as that of the Buds Q2, just that you get more colour options in the Q2s. We got the Paper Green variant for review which looks quite pleasant. Despite the similarity in nomenclature, it doesn’t feel like the back of the Realme GT 2 Pro to touch but does have a smooth matte finish. There are circular glossy touch zones at the back of the buds with a different texture underneath. Aesthetically, the combination works well and the build quality is more than satisfactory.

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Another change in the design elements is the lid of the charging case. While the shape of the case is similar, the lid is transparent with a greenish tinge. It may be prone to scratches and smudge marks in the long run, but it does look cool and catches your eye. The case has a charge indicator LED at the front and a USB-C charging port at the back. The case is compact but a bit on the thicker side, so expect a bulge in the pocket if you slip it in. 

Realme Buds Q2s Review Buds Q2s

The earbuds are lightweight and the in-ear fit is quite snug. They do not cause any discomfort in the ear even after a few hours of usage at a stretch and offer fair passive noise isolation with the right sized silicone tips from the three that are bundled in the package. The earbuds have an IPX4 rating for sweat resistance, a small demotion from the IPX5 protection for the Buds Q2. But IPX4 is good enough to keep them safe from sweat or a light drizzle if you happen to wear them to the gym or for a jog.  

Realme Buds Q2s: Features and Specifications (7/10)

As I mentioned at the start, the Realme Buds Q2s has a similar feature set as the Buds Q2 barring ANC. These buds too host a 10 mm dynamic driver each. Like most Realme earphones you can configure touch gestures and choose between three sound profiles using the Realme Link app. It is available on Android and iOS both. Once paired, you can assign play/pause, previous/next tracks or voice assistant functions to double-tap, triple-tap or touch and hold gestures. There is no option to assign volume control yet.

Touching and holding both buds simultaneously lets you toggle between low latency gaming mode. Similar to their more expensive products, the latency can go as low as 88 ms here too as per the company, which is good news for the gamers. The Realme Buds Q2s are Bluetooth 5.2 compliant and support AAC and SBC codecs. The wireless range is perfectly fine with the buds retaining a stable connection up to 10 metres with no obstruction between the earbuds and the source device. 

Realme Buds Q2s: Performance (6.5/10)

These earbuds are quite loud out of the box even without enabling Volume Enhancer from the app. For most purposes they are perfectly audible at 50% volume. You get three sound profiles in the Realme Link app – Bass Boost+, Dynamic and Bright. With most of the previous audio products from the company, the Bright profile was barely utilised, but with the Buds Q2s, that is the only usable profile, unless you enjoy boomy and excess bass. 

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Realme Buds Q2s Review Buds in case

Image Credit: Tech2 | Ameya Dalvi

The default sound is overly bass-heavy in the Dynamic profile itself, even more than in Bass Boost+ mode in most of their previous products. So switching to Bright mode is the most sensible thing to do for a more balanced sound. Some may find the bass slightly on the lower side initially, but it is adequate. More importantly, the bass does not overpower the midrange frequencies or make them sound muffled in this mode as it does in the other two. The mids have a more than decent presence with good vocal clarity. 

The instrument separation is relatively more distinct with noticeably better detail in audio. Given that this is the Bright mode, the highs sound sharp and are generally well tempered, but tend to sound a touch harsh at times, especially at higher volumes. The soundstage isn’t too broad but par for the course in this budget. The latency is fairly low even without switching to Game mode. There was no noticeable lag between video and audio when streaming content from OTT platforms. 

Realme Buds Q2s: Call quality (6/10)

The call quality here is just about average. Not many complaints when indoors with people on either end of the call audible to each other with fair clarity. When outdoors, the microphones do pick up a considerable amount of ambient noise to impact the conversation. The company does mention AI noise cancellation for calls, but I guess it needs more work. But again, the sound quality on the Buds Q2 wasn’t stellar, and I wasn’t really expecting greatness here.

Realme Buds Q2s Review Realme Buds Q2s

Image Credit: Tech2 | Ameya Dalvi

Realme Buds Q2s: Battery life (7.5/10)

The Realme Buds Q2s perform well in this department. The company states that the buds alone can go on for 7 hours and a total of 30 hours with the charging case. These claims aren’t way off the mark. I managed to get close to 6 hours out of the buds at 50% loudness, and the charging case could juice them up thrice more with a tiny bit left in the tank. That takes the overall battery backup upwards of 24 hours for the buds and case combined. Not bad at all for budget TWS earbuds.

Realme Buds Q2s Review USB-C port

Image Credit: Tech2 | Ameya Dalvi

The case has a USB-C port and it takes about two hours to charge the case and buds fully using a standard Type-C charger. These buds also support fast charging, wherein 10 minutes of charge can give you close to 3 hours of play time. Again, perfectly fine figures.

Realme Buds Q2s: Price and verdict

Time for the most important question – should you buy it? The Realme Buds Q2s can be purchased for Rs 1,999 with a one year warranty, which is not a bad price for what it offers in comparison to the non-Realme competition. But it pales in comparison to the Realme Buds Q2 which sells for just Rs 500 more without discounts. And it is not just about ANC that the Q2 offers, but its sound quality is noticeably better than the Q2s too with a tighter bass and more detail.

To make matters worse, the Buds Q2 often sells for Rs 1,999 on Flipkart and Amazon India making the Q2s redundant at its current price. There was no real need for Realme to squeeze in another product at this price point; it would have made more sense around Rs 1,500. At its current price, until the Buds Q2 goes extinct (I hope it doesn’t for a long time), we have no reason to recommend the Realme Buds Q2s unless you are smitten by the new colour shades or the transparent lid, and assign it a higher priority over sound quality or ANC. 

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