For a smartphone brand that has only been around for a little over a year, Realme has made quite an impact on the Indian market. It has quickly risen to a position in the top five when it comes to smartphone shipments in India, and continues to aggressively take on the competition. Its first audio product, the Realme Buds, were priced competitively, but we were less than impressed with the sound quality.
The latest in the company's range is the Realme Buds 2, which were launched alongside the Realme 5 (Review) and Realme 5 Pro (Review). This new pair of earphones is priced at Rs. 599, and promises better design as well as improved sound quality. We review the Realme Buds 2 to find out if they indeed live up to expectations.
The Realme Buds 2 are very similar in functionality to the Realme Buds — the new earphones are a traditional wired pair, using the 3.5mm plug to connect to compatible devices. There is a three-button in-line remote with a microphone for hands-free use on the right cable. Other similarities include the fabric-wrapped cable below the Y-splitter, and the yellow-and-black colour scheme that we quite liked.
We did notice some improvements to the design and build quality — the rubber cables above the Y-splitter feel a lot more durable on the Realme Buds 2, and there is also now a rubber clip that can be used to keep the cables in place. The earphone casings look a bit different but feel the same as before, thanks to the thick plastic material used.
There are magnets at the back of each of the casings, letting the two stick together when you aren't using them. Since these are analogue (passive) earphones, the magnets don't actually control any function such as music playback, and are simply there to make it easier to store the headphones when they aren't in use.
The Realme Buds 2 has 11.2mm drivers, each with an impedance rating of 32 ohms, a sensitivity rating of 108dB, and a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz. The sales package includes a total of three pairs of ear tips. We found the earphones to be comfortable, with a secure fit and adequate passive noise isolation. There was a fair amount of cable noise to be heard above the Y-splitter, but this is expected in this price range.
For our review, we used the Realme Buds 2 with a OnePlus 7 Pro (Review) (using its official passive USB Type-C to 3.5mm dongle) and an Apple iPad mini (2019). We spent much of the review period listening to music, but also tested sound quality with movies and TV shows, as well as on voice calls.
Starting with Not The News by Thom Yorke, we were immediately impressed with the sound quality of the Realme Buds 2, which we found to be much improved over the first Realme Buds. While we had found the sound to be a bit rough on the older model, the Realme Buds 2 are much more refined and detailed.
The bass response was definitely elevated compared to the mid-range, and the bass was even a bit more aggressive than the highs. However, the sound was clean for the most part, comfortable to listen to, and could get very loud.
The punchy bass might cause a bit of fatigue at high volumes over time, but listeners who prefer it strong will appreciate the attack and aggression that the Realme Buds 2 bring. We also quite liked the openness and soundstage of the earphones, which are considerably better and cleaner than on any other earphones priced below Rs. 1,000 that we've listened to.
Moving on to Brass Against The Machine's incredible cover of Killing In The Name, we were impressed with the quality of sound in the mid-range frequencies. Vocals were strong and sharp, but we also noticed that the strong low-end of the headphones made a bass-heavy track such as this sound a bit too warm and fuzzy at times. Apart from a bit more listener fatigue, this didn't bother us too much.
We watched the first episode of Sacred Games season 2 to get an idea of sound with video content. The strong bass was audible even here, and at times slightly overpowered dialogue, but for the most part these earphones did a decent job thanks to their clean sound and relatively wide soundstage. We were also happy with sound quality on voice calls, considering the price of this headset.
Realme is best known for its smartphones, but is well on its way to establishing itself as an ecosystem player with the Realme Buds 2. These earphones are built well and sound great for just Rs. 599; bass lovers in particular will enjoy the aggression and drive, while all listeners will like the clean and refined nature of the sound. There were moments when we found the sound to be too bass-heavy, but it never got too uncomfortable for us.
The Realme Buds 2 are a big step up over the original Realme Buds when it comes to sound quality, and the marginal increase in price of Rs. 100 is entirely justified, in our opinion. If you prefer your sound a bit more balanced, the 1More Piston Fit would be a better option. However, if you're happy with punchy bass and want a pair of well-built earphones, the Realme Buds 2 is our pick at under Rs. 1,000.
Price: Rs. 599
Ratings (out of 5)