We’re slowly and steadily moving into a wireless audio world, and if you don’t jump on board, your pool of smartphone choices over the next few years is bound to slip through no fault of your own. I understand, you may not want to move into the murky waters of Bluetooth audio but I have an affordable $30 entry-level solution — the Xiaomi Redmi AirDots.
Now the Xiaomi Redmi AirDots are very cheap, they even take design cues from a number of other products on the market but despite all of that, they are pretty darn good for the (low) price.
I picked up a pair having read about these ‘cheap Chinese AirPod clones’ and, to be honest, I’m genuinely glad I did. Let me preface this review by saying that the Xiaomi Redmi AirDots are what I would consider a great option for those that just want to dip their toes into the Bluetooth earbuds waters or alternatively if you want a cheap pair when you’re on a budget.
So here is our review of the Xiaomi Redmi AirDots.
Design & Hardware
Taking influences from everywhere
One thing I really have to applaud Xiaomi for in general is the sleek aesthetic they seem to apply to each and every device they make. It’s not immediately clear who makes the AirDots right away until you look closer at the neat little plastic carry case-come-coffin. There is the only indication that Xiaomi makes these buds from the ‘Redmi’ logo, which is very tastefully embossed on the lid.
Open up that little carry case and you’re greeted by the smaller-than-you’d-expect AirDot buds themselves. The shape is very generic, with pill-like rounded edges and a pretty simple overall aesthetic that I would genuinely call pretty minimal.
Each AirDot bud is actually a lot smaller and lighter than you expect. One negative is how ‘hollow’ they feel compared to other wireless in-ear headphones that I’ve tried in the past. That no doubt helps with comfort but doesn’t give you a massive amount of confidence in the audio quality — although I’ll talk more about that later on.
You only get two different sized ear tips inside the AirDots packaging. I found the stock option to be comfortable enough for my daily wear. They pop into your ear nice and snug and I found the isolation to actually be as good as I’ve experienced from these style of wireless buds. You don’t get anything close to the levels of headphones with full noise cancellation but you can manage to block out a decent amount of background noise.
Being made of plastic they are lightweight enough to be mostly unnoticeable in use but the shape of the main body might cause comfort issues depending on your ear size and shape. As for daily comfort, I can manage a good two or three hours before I have to remove them.
If you’re an active person, the fact that the AirDots are splashproof is a massive bonus. I will not lie to you and say I’ve worn them daily in the gym, as I’ve only managed two trips while using them. I can attest to the sweatproof claims but I would try to avoid running in the rain with them just in case.
At the side of each bud you’ll find a small LED that flashes to let you know the battery status. The buds will flash a blue-white color when pairing or connecting to your devices, then when placed into their carry case will flash red to indicate they are charging. It seems odd to use red to show a pair of headphones are charging but it’s not a dealbreaker.
Basic but effective
The initial pairing process is pretty painless but I wouldn’t call it particularly intuitive. There is no dedicated app — that I’m aware of at least — just head to your device Bluetooth settings and then pair that way.
One little quirk you will most definitely notice is that your phone might pick up the left and right buds separately. Do not worry, just connect to one and the other will be connected automatically. It will show on your connected devices list as the first bud you paired with. So if you pair with the left bud they will show as ‘L’, the same applies to the right bud.
Once you’ve got past that little weirdness, taking them in and out of the carry case will automatically connect to your phone or tablet within a few seconds. I will say it isn’t quite as fast as some other options at reconnecting but it does reconnect without any hiccups.
Sound Quality & Controls
Nice sound, poor controls
Let’s get the controls out of the way first, as they are one of the weakest portions of the AirDots full stop. You get a clicky button on either side of each bud that is really infuriating when you’re immersed in music or a video. A single click pauses anything that is currently playing, a double click activates the Google Assistant on Android phones and Siri on iPhones.
The controls on the Xiaomi Redmi AirDots are just so basic and they are downright terrible. You won’t have fun using them at all. Clicking the side of your ear pushes each Air Dot around and causes discomfort. Just avoid them unless you want to pause quickly.
Sound though, now this is one area where you can be forgiven for expecting the worst — I know I did. It’s amazing how misconceived my view was prior to listening to music via the AirDots. The sound isn’t exceptional by any stretch, it’s good at best. It’s the pricing that nets these wireless buds a pass because there are very few that can manage ‘good’ audio in such an affordable package. Heck, even some buds that cost four to five times more don’t sound as good.
The Redmi AirDots have 7.2mm drivers and can really generate a decent level of sound considering the compact form factor. I found the bass to be pretty pleasing, although not as rich in the bassy tracks that I tend to listen to on a daily basis. For me, the overall soundstage is a little thin but I’m willing to forgive that considering that entry price.
Highs are crisp and clear while the mids are well preserved even at the max volume. These buds get very, very loud, to the point where I haven’t had the volume above the 70% mark since a painful mistake testing at that maximum.
When watching videos, I will say that I personally noticed a very minor lag in the audio when watching videos on YouTube. Oddly, I wasn’t able to see this with Netflix or Amazon Instant Video on my Pixel 3a XL. I’m not sure if this is a problem with YouTube or the device though.
As for voice calls, I wouldn’t recommend it. Given the small size and shape, they are terrible at picking up your voice. In a quiet area, you can have a clear phone call but I would just suggest not bothering unless you can only go hands-free with your call.
Unexpected is the one word that sums up my entire experience with the Xiaomi Redmi AirDots. The battery life is no different as they are as good as any other Bluetooth buds I’ve had the pleasure of testing in 2019. Each bud has a playback lifespan of around four hours. That gets extended by the small battery case which is able to charge the buds just short of three times.
That gives you a theoretical 14 to 15 hours of potential playback, which is on par with some of the best battery buds out there. My experience is very much on that mark. After receiving them in the mail I proceeded to fully charge the case and buds, I then have charged only twice in two weeks having used the buds multiple times per day. I’d estimate I’ve managed around 14 hours each week before the buds were dead.
I do hate the fact that the carrying case is charged via microUSB rather than USB-C. It was to be expected at the price these headphones go for though. So, like in almost all portions of this review, I can forgive it much more easily. The 300mAh battery that it holds doesn’t take long to charge though at around 20 minutes to full with a fast charge brick.
Surprisingly good across the board
I bought the Xiaomi Redmi AirDots on a whim after hearing about them online. I am genuinely glad I did, as for under $35 they are a great little pair of wireless earbuds that hit the mark for the cost-conscious. Yes, the sound isn’t groundbreaking, it’s definitely more middling than most but often Bluetooth buds at the same price are genuinely terrible.
Xiaomi just seems to be really good at making solid cheap tech, like the exceptional Xiaomi Mi Band before them, the AirDots prove to be no exception to that rule. They might not be a “must have” but they manage to be a “worth a try” piece of tech that even gives some more expensive options a run for their money.
AirDots are certainly a piece of tech that catches you off guard with how good it happens to be for the price. Lowering your expectations and then being surprised at how those expectations get blown away is not something that happens in tech all too often. Kudos to Xiaomi for achieving it again with a pair of Bluetooth earbuds.
Where to buy the Xiaomi Redmi AirDots wireless earbuds?
The sheer lack of availability of many Xiaomi products in North America makes it hard to get hold of them without scouring the web. Luckily there are US-based sellers on Amazon that offer Redmi AirDots earphones from as low as $30.
Naturally, sites like eBay offer them a lower entry price of around $25 but you’ll have an extended wait with pretty slow shipping from mainland China. Alternatively, you can go cheaper and opt for something like the Mpow Flame Bluetooth earbuds — although they are tethered sport-style buds.