As phone brands slowly kill off the headphone jack, many of them are adopting and releasing wireless earbuds to complement their devices as a means for users to enjoy their ecosystem. vivo’s own wireless earbuds—the TWS Neo—is the company’s own take at Apple’s AirPods with its silicone tip-free form factor.
To make their buds stand out from a literal sea of competing products, vivo has stuffed its offering with a number of tricks, including aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codec and flexible touch and slide controls. Are these features enough to make vivo a serious player when it comes to TWS earbuds?
-aptX Adaptive codec delivers stellar connection and audio quality
-One of the best implementation of touch and slide controls
-No ANC and wireless charging
-Some features exclusive to (newer) vivo phones
Compared to almost all TWS earbuds out there, the TWS Neo’s case is one of the most compact charging cases we have seen to date. It takes in a pebble-like shape that is very ergonomic on my hand. The case has a clean, minimalist look: you ger a small indentation for opening the case in front, along with an LED indicator, pairing button, and vivo branding.
Whether you plan to get them in Moonlight White or Starry Blue, both colors have a glossy surface that is sensitive to smudges and scratches. I recommend getting a silicone case for additional protection.
Being marketed as a premium pair of TWS earbuds, you get USB-C at the bottom of the charging case. There’s no wireless charging on the TWS Neo, and that’s fine for me—having a USB-C port enough for most people.
Without a doubt, the TWS Neo takes in the same form factor as Apple’s Airpods. They have the same silicone tip-free design, along with the same placement for the drivers. vivo’s design veers off from Apple’s offerings thanks to its more angular stems, the placement of the microphone as well as touch controls that offer more functionality.
The TWS Neo shares the same slide gestures found on OPPO’s Enco Free TWS earbuds, though vivo takes it up a notch by letting you freely customize the slide and tap gestures through a dedicated app. Compared to OPPO’s implementation, the gestures on the TWS Neo are more accurate—they properly detected my finger gestures whether I wanted to adjust the volume or change music tracks. You can use the TWS Neo for workouts too: aside from having a good fit, they are IP54 rated so they can handle workout (and heat-related) sweats well.
Instead of focusing on an in-house chip, vivo decided to use Qualcomm’s QCC3046 Bluetooth Audio chip, giving the TWS Neo support for aptX Adaptive—a feature that is a rarity among wireless earphones, especially in its latest iteration. Compared to SBC and AAC audio codecs used in most wireless earphones, the latest iteration of aptX lets you enjoy the most stable and seamless Bluetooth connectivity while delivering excellent power consumption and high-quality audio wherever you are.
I have used and reviewed different TWS earbuds for the past few months, and the TWS Neo’s aptX Adaptive codec reigns superior over the usual Bluetooth codecs. Aside from having a lag-free and near-interruption-free connection, audio quality on the TWS Neo is superb.
Even if it does not have silicone tips, the TWS Neo’s soundstage is impressive: lows and highs are crisp and clear, and the mids are well balanced. Pair it with its sound enhancement features (clear voice, mega bass, and clear high pitch), and the TWS Neo has one of the most versatile soundstage options for any TWS earbuds. Listening to Itzy’s latest album is a pleasure with the TWS Neo, as it highlighted the vocals of all five members of the KPop girl group.
What’s the catch then? Aside from not having ANC (which is pretty much a given because of its form factor), you can only enjoy the wonders of aptX Adaptive if your phone supports it. Currently, you need a phone with at least a Snapdragon 720G/730 processor to enjoy aptX Adaptive.
In addition, the TWS Neo’s sound enhancements, along with find my earphones and smart unlock functions, remain exclusive features accessible only by select vivo phones—the X50 and X50 Pro to name a few. The TWS Neo’s 88ms low latency feature, on the other hand, is available only to the X50 Pro for the meantime. If you want to maximize the features the TWS Neo have to offer, you will need to pair them with vivo’s newest smartphones due to the chipset used.
As for battery life, endurance for the TWS Neo is on the high side, lasting for almost 5 hours before we had to place them back in the charging case. With the charging case, you can use them for around 22 hours. Topping it up is done via USB-C, which takes around an hour to juice them up to 100%.
The TWS Neo has a lot of potential given its set of features. However, not everyone can enjoy all of what it has to offer. Aside from aptX Adaptive being supported only on newer 7 and 8-series Snapdragon processors, some of the TWS Neo’s unique features remain elusive for its current crop of X-series phones.
If you can’t appreciate those features, the TWS Neo still stands out for its stellar audio quality, great battery life, and one of the best implementations of tap and slide gestures. We still do not know the official price of the TWS Neo, but a post said that they will be priced at under Php 5k, which is quite a deal for what if offers.