Honor’s Magic Earbuds offer an affordable entry into the world of noise cancelling wearables, along with touch controls and the promise of high-quality sound. But are they up to scratch?
I’ve been using them on and off for a little over a week, so here are my thoughts on the earbuds that will set you back around £90 before any offers that Honor love to run from time to time.
Available in a choice of two colours; a ‘robin egg blue’ or more traditional white, as featured here, you get two earbuds and a charging case. The charging case uses USB-C, which is great news now that Honor has – at last – said goodbye to the antiquated micro USB charging standard in favour of the much more convenient reversible charging standard.
Each earbud weighs 5.4g and the charging case a further 51g, so it won’t weigh your pocket down when you’re carrying it around.
The earbuds themselves are very simple affairs, like all earbuds, but come with configurable touch controls to allow you to skip tracks, pause music, or toggle the noise cancellation feature. This is done through tapping or a long press on the side of either bud (each performing a different chosen option).
During my review, the controlling app offered a firmware update that brought a new mode to allow some noise through – a must have feature for commuters or cyclists.
The default mode to cancel all surrounding sound is very effective, and extremely impressive for the money.
With the noise cancelling turned on, Honor quotes the battery life as being around three hours between charges and three and a half with it turned off.
If you’re going to be listening for some considerable time, such as on a long flight, that might not be long enough to satisfy your needs, but if you’re using them for a commute then it’s likely ample. As soon as you remove them and chuck them back in the case, you’ll soon have them topped up in time for your journey home.
The charging case can charge the earbuds four times, so that’s around 14 hours of battery life before you’ll need to charge the case itself.
What matters most is audio quality, and by default the earbuds didn’t enable the high quality audio mode in my phone’s Bluetooth settings (a Realme X50 Pro 5G) so you’ll need to flick that on straight away. The difference in quality is significant.
Pairing was easy, but there is no auto-pairing support that Google is now encouraging manufacturers to use (this negates the need to access the Bluetooth settings at all). For something that takes only a few seconds and won’t need to be done again, I can forgive Honor for this but expect that will be a feature on a future version.
The audio quality was good, but there wasn’t as much bass as I’d like. This is likely down to the 10mm drivers. There’s clearly not a lot of room to play with, so it’s to be expected – especially at this price.
What you’re paying for here is really the noise cancellation feature, which makes such a difference when you’re in a noisy environment. However, while the audio quality isn’t top-of-the-line, it’s still very good and you’ll have no complaints whether you prefer to listen to music, or use them to watch video on the bus.
They work well for that thing most of us never do these days too; making and receiving phone calls.
It’s nice that Honor is offering a bit more colour than just plain white. It might require a bit of courage, and it’s fair to say most will play safe with white, but you only live once, right?
If you’re willing to shell out a lot more money, you can improve the battery life between charges, and boost the bass level and volume, but if you’d rather not spend hundreds of pounds then Honor has come up with the perfect balance between functionality and price.
As I said near the beginning of the review, Honor regularly do special offers, so be sure to look out for any discounts that will make this even better value still.
More info: Honor Website