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AudioHeadphonesvivo TWS Neo earbuds review: beautiful, interesting, imperfect

vivo TWS Neo earbuds review: beautiful, interesting, imperfect

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The second generation of vivo TWS Neo wireless earbuds was presented along with the flagship line of X50 smartphones in the summer of 2020. The buds’ main feature was  Bluetooth 5.2 and support aptX Adaptive, as well as IP54. Sounds good, but let’s try to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the vivo TWS Neo and understand what the earbuds actually offer.

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vivo TWS Neo full specifications

  • Type: TWS, in-ear
  • Drivers: 14.2mm Moving Coil
  • Connection: bluetooth 5.2
  • Bluetooth codecs: aptX Adaptive/AAC/SBC
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Battery capacity: 400 mAh (case) + 2 × 25 mAh (buds)
  • Battery life: earphones – up to 4.5 hours (at a volume level of 50%), case – up to 22.5 hours
  • Charging time: buds – up to 45 minutes, case – 1.5 hours
  • Weight: buds – 4.7 g, case – 45.7 g
  • Protection class: IP54 (buds only)
  • Microphones: 2
  • Controls: touch
  • Optional: automatic pause

Positioning and price

vivo TWS Neo

vivo Neo, the company’s second wireless earbuds, belong to the mid-range segment. As of right now the buds cost about $108. For this money you can find models with a very different set of functions, for example, with ANC or even with support for wireless charging.

What’s in the box

The set of vivo TWS Neo is quite standard. In a neat box made of thick white cardboard we have a case with earbuds, a short charging cable and a neat stack of accompanying literature, including a user manual and a warranty card.

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Design and materials of vivo TWS Neo

vivo TWS Neo

There is something futuristic about the design of vivo TWS Neo. I don’t know how the earphones look like in white, but in dark blue, which I got for review, they are quite impressive thank to a gradient color, in which a gray-blue hue smoothly turns into black and glossy, almost mirror-like surface.

However, this means it gets dirty very easily. Another nuance is that the case is perfectly smooth and rounded on all sides. It’s easy to drop it since it’s so slippery.

vivo TWS Neo

The earphones look quite cool (they also have a gradient color to match the case), but the glossy streamlined body makes them too slippery. In addition, it is also problematic to take them out from the case. The top of the earbud, which sticks out of the case when you open the lid, is too small, and the sliding cover does not allow you to grip it with your fingers.

vivo TWS Neo

The charging case has a single button that is needed to connect the earphones to the smartphone and reset to factory settings. Under it you can see the brand name, and just above the button there is an indicator that shows the charge level. As long as it is green, you don’t have to worry about anything, while red indicates that the charge level is less than 50% and you will need to charge soon. The charging port is USB Type-C and is located at the bottom of the case. Putting the case open on a horizontal surface will not work, since the lid instantly slams shut.

vivo TWS Neo

The earbuds themselves look a lot like the Air Pods. There are no physical buttons can be found here, only touch controls. At the end of the elongated “leg” there are charging terminals and a hole for the main microphone. The auxiliary microphone is located in the touch control area on the front side of the buds.

vivo TWS Neo

The speaker grill is directed to the side, towards the ear canal, and there are also a pair of holes on the top and on the inside of the earphone, which are also covered with a neat grille. vivo TWS Neo is IP54 rated for dust and water resistance.

Ergonomics and comfort of use

vivo TWS Neo

People who like the format of the earbuds will like the vivo TWS Neo. I liked them a lot. The earbuds are lightweight (only 4.7 g each), with a well-thought-out shape that ensures a confident fit, and perfect smoothness.

Conveniently, we have touch control, which allows you not only pause the track or answer a call, but also adjust the volume. By swiping up the touch control panel, you can increase the volume, and when you reach the maximum value, the buds will notify you with a sound signal. To decrease the volume, respectively, you need to slide your finger down along the “leg”. Simple and convenient; many earbuds lack this feature. When you remove the earphone, music playback stops and automatically resumes when the earphone is returned to its place.

And yet… it’s not easy removing the earbuds from the case and from time to time they simply slip out of your hands.  I would sacrifice the beautiful texture of the headphones in favor of a matte finish, which, in my opinion, would to some extent neutralize this issue.

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Connecting the vivo TWS Neo to smartphone

The vivo TWS Neo connects to an Android smartphone in two ways – simply as a Bluetooth device or using the vivo Earphones app. At the moment, the app is available only for Android. If you use the latest models of vivo smartphones, then the connection will be even easier and more convenient. For smartphones from other manufacturers, there are fewer bonuses both in connection and in the settings.

vivo Earphones
vivo Earphones
Developer: vivo Co.,Ltd
Price: Free

If we are talking about connecting not to a vivo smartphone, then I recommend installing the vivo Earphones app. And it’s not just that the app will open access to additional earphone settings. Apparently, the app also works as a driver, which noticeably affects the sound quality. But I will share my thoughts on this matter below in the corresponding section of the review.

When connecting vivo TWS Neo using the app, not all settings and additional functions declared by the manufacturer are available. So, for example, you can only customize the touch controls, see the charge of each earphone, update the software and enable the detection function. That’s all. Neither the presets, nor the earpone search function are there. I believe that these features have become the prerogative of vivo smartphones.

On the one hand, it is understandable that today manufacturers care about their own ecosystems and create gadgets so that they interact with each other as efficiently as possible. But as an ordinary user, I am still confused by the fact that when using a smartphone of another brand, I do not get access to all the capabilities of the earbuds. Even if they are optional. This is a disadvantage for me.

Controls

vivo TWS Neo

The controls are implemented sensibly. You can swipe up and down (to control the volume), double tap or press and hold. The absence of the classic single touch is convenient and logical. This way there are no false touches.

You can set different actions to double-tap on the left or right earphone – you can activate the voice assistant, Play/Pause the playback, go to the next or previous track. This set is quite enough to control music. But you cannot set any actions for a touch and hold action or change the interaction during a call. However, you get used to it quickly.

The TWS Neo sound

vivo TWS Neo

First, I decided to connect the vivo TWS Neo directly like any bluetooth device. It took me about a minute to connect and was very curious to test how the headphones with 14.2mm drivers and aptX Adaptive sound perform. And, to be honest, the sound disappointed me at first. There was a noticeable prevalence of high frequencies and an almost complete absence of “lows”. The sound was linear, unnecessarily loud and without a hint of clarity.

However, the first impression is not always objective. After installing the app and connecting earphones through it, the sound changed very noticeably. The highs leveled off, the bass appeared, the buds themselves became quieter, but the sound became much cleaner and more balanced. The software was not updated, but the sound improved significantly.

Of course, many factors affect the sound quality in the vivo TWS Neo. From whether the buds fit snugly to whether your smartphone supports the aptX Adaptive codec. In my subjective opinion, the vivo TWS Neo sound quite nice. Of course, in this buds format it is impossible to achieve a complete absence of external noises and deep lows, but the sound is not bad for a variety of genres of music, from the instrumental lounge and pop to the alternative and different sorts of metal. Although ANC would be very welcome here. But we have what we have.

Headset function

vivo TWS Neo

As a headset, vivo TWS Neo is avarage. The quality is nice, but the sound is quiet. If you use the buds indoors, it’s fine, but in a noisy place the volume is not enough in both directions. You have to raise your voice and ask again what was said on the other end. This is extremely inconvenient, but this is usual for many budget and mid-budget TWS earbuds. Despite the fact that the official vivo website talks about an intelligent noise reduction algorithm and a pair of additional microphones, there’s no real improvement.

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Connection and delays

There is no reason to complain about the quality of the connection – during the testing, it was as stable as possible. As for the delays, they appear only in some cases. When listening to music or voice calls, everything is fine, but when scrolling through stories on social networks, some delays are still present. As for me, this is not critical at all and does not affect the overall impression of the device.

The vivo TWS Neo battery life

The company claims that the earphones will last for 4.5 hours of listening to music in AAC at 50% volume. Sounds reasonable enough, since when listening in aptX Adaptive at a volume level of about 90%, the charge lasts for about 2.5 hours. The charging case extends the battery life up to 22.5 hours (50% volume and AAC). If you like to listen to music louder, then the battery life decreases almost proportionally. At the same time, it takes about 40 minutes to recharge the buds on average, and it will take a little less than 1.5 hours to charge the case. Not a record, but it is quite enough for periodic use throughout the day.

Verdict

On the one hand, the vivo TWS Neo is quite a competitive model in the endless TWS market. The earbuds have an interesting design, a good fit (although this is subjective),  can be used for hours without discomfort, offer good sound, convenient touch controls and sufficient battery life for every day. On the other hand, there is the impractical case, a very approximate indication of the remaining charge of the case, quiet, albeit stable voice transmission during voice calls, and somewhat diminished functionality for smartphones not from vivo.

I think that owners of vivo smartphones will be quite happy. But will the owners of other smartphones will probably find another pair of buds that offer better functionality for the same price.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Design
9
Materials
8
Build quality
10
Ergonomics
8
Controls
8
Sound
8
Mics
6
Connection
10
Battery life
7
On the one hand, the vivo TWS Neo is quite a competitive headset in the endless TWS market. The earbuds have an interesting design, a good fit (although this is subjective),  can be used for hours without discomfort, offer good sound, convenient touch controls and sufficient battery life for every day. On the other hand, there is the impractical case, a very approximate indication of the remaining charge of the case, quiet, albeit stable voice transmission in both directions during voice calls, and somewhat diminished functionality for smartphones not from vivo.
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