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New AirPods Pro-style TicPods ditch previous model's most promising feature

ticpods anc
(Image credit: Mobvoi)

Mobvoi, the company best known for its TicWatch smartwatches, has announced its latest pair of true wireless earbuds, the TicPods ANC.

The new wireless earbuds come with active noise-cancellation like the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3, but don't share the same high prices as these models, coming in at just $89.99 / £79.99 / AU$138.99. 

A button on the back of each bud allows you to toggle between three different noise-cancellation models, including Quiet Mode, Sound-Passthrough Mode, and ANC-off Mode.

Like the AirPods Pro, these earbuds come with silicone eartips, which Mobvoi says "seal off your ears from ambient noise even if you are not using ANC function".

Each earbud can be used independently of one and other, and Mobvoi says that the TicPods ANC will "automatically connect to your device, if previously paired, by using Bluetooth 5.0, the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless communication standard".

Battery life isn't great, judging by the specs. Mobvoi says that you'll get four-and-a-half hours of continuous music playback with ANC on, and five hours with it switched off. That on-board life is about the same as the AirPods Pro, but the charging case only offers a further 10 hours of juice – Apple's charging case offers double this amount.

Strangely, Mobvoi hasn't offered much information on the kind of audio quality we can expect from the TicPods ANC. Hopefully the new wireless earbuds offer an improvement upon the TicPods 2 Pro, which despite having an exceptionally wide soundstage, really lacked in warmth and richness, particularly in the mid and bass frequencies.

Where are the TicPods ANC smart features?

Somewhat disappointingly though, the TicPods ANC don't some of the most promising features of its predecessors, the TicPods Pro, including Mobvoi's own artificial intelligence technologies TicHear and TicMotion. 

TicHear allows you to control your audio playback with your voice, without needing to use a wake word to summon your voice assistant of choice, whether that's Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri.

We found that this feature worked really well when we tested the TicPods 2 Pro – less successful however, was TicMotion.

This feature allows you to control voice calls by moving your head, thanks to built-in motion sensors – that means you can nod your head to accept a call, or shake to decline. 

But when trying to accept phone calls using these gestures, we found the tech frequently didn’t work – even so, we're disappointed that Mobvoi hasn't developed this feature further, as it could really differentiate its earbuds from the competition.