The Vivo TWS Neo offers 88ms low-latency connection.
The TWS earphones support Bluetooth 5.2 and aptX Adaptive codec.
Vivo is promising up to 22.5 hours of total audio playback.
Soon after smartphone brands like Apple and Samsung entered the TWS market, many others are also entering the fast-growing hearables segment. The list of brands includes Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and OnePlus. We recently reviewed the Oppo Enco W31 TWS earbuds, which come at below $60, and were impressed with their performance. Today, we are taking a closer look at the Vivo TWS Neo earbuds that were launched alongside the Vivo X50 Pro smartphone and are priced around $80.
For the price, Vivo is offering Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity along with support for Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive codec. The TWS earbuds also come with AI noise canceling feature to enjoy crystal clear calls and music listening experience when outdoors. While all this sounds good on paper, does it deliver?
Compact and Easy to Carry Case
The earbuds case is small, compact and has a pebble-shaped design. The earbuds magnetically snap inside the case and have the charging contact points at the bottom of the stem. The case has a glossy finish to it, which makes it slippery if your palms are sweaty.
It has a USB Type-C port at the bottom for charging and a small, circular button on the front which indicates the charge status using an LED light. Long-pressing the button for over five seconds puts the TWS earbuds in pairing mode.
Design and Comfort: One Size Does Not Fit All
The Vivo TWS Neo earbuds feature a half in-ear design, something that was made popular by the Apple AirPods. But this design has a major problem – at least for some people like me. The earbuds are made of plastic and have a glossy finish to them. They have stem popping out of the ear, and while it should offer better support to keep the earbuds in place, the reality is the opposite.
The “one-size-fits-all” approach does not work well here. The fact that the half in-ear design does not have silicon tips to attach makes it difficult for everyone to get a comfortable fit. For me, the earbuds would constantly keep slipping out of my ear, even with little movement.
One of the days, I was having tea with some biscuits and watching a video on the phone with the earbuds plugged in. A few bites of the biscuits, and the jaw movement pushed the earbuds to fall out. On another day, I sneezed a couple of times, and both earbuds fell out. Despite all this, I dared to go on a walk wearing the Vivo TWS Neo. But within 100 meters of walking, one of them fell out, with the other almost on the verge.
This half in-ear design is not meant for my ears. My sister had no such issues. Even after jumping and skipping a few times, the earbuds did not fall off her ears. For my type of ears, the ones with in-ear canal type TWS earphones work well.
How comfortably the earbuds fit in your ears differs from person to person.
Gesture Controls: Not Too Intuitive with a Loose Fit
Vivo has included gesture control features where you can adjust the volume by swiping up or down on the stem of either of the earbuds. This can be changed via the Vivo earphones app on Android smartphones. But if you have a Vivo X50-series smartphone, you can find the settings under Bluetooth.
For me, as the fit was loose, the earbuds would always come out whenever I used to swipe to adjust the volume. You can also configure the single tap and double-tap gestures to play/pause and skip tracks. There is also an earphone detection mode which will automatically pause music when you remove the earbuds and start the playback as soon as you put them back in your ears. Also, as it does not use a master/slave type of connection, you can also use a single earbud to listen to music or take calls.
If the fit in your ears is loose, the gesture controls are not too intuitive.
Performance: Sounds the Best Only on Vivo Phones
During my review period, I connected the earbuds with the Vivo X50 Pro first for a couple of weeks. Then I switched between the Galaxy Note 10+ and Asus ZenBook laptop. While they are compatible with multiple devices, the one thing I noticed is that the earbuds work the best with the Vivo smartphone. You also get advanced Sound Effect options such as Clear Voice, Mega Bass and Clear High Pitch.
To get the best audio experience, the fit of the earbuds plays an important role. The half open-ear design also means no passive noise isolation, and so, you will not be able to enjoy the proper audio experience. When connected to the Vivo phone, the audio sounded much better as you get aptX Adaptive Audio codec by default. On the Samsung phone, it did not latch on to the aptX codec, even after enabling it in Developer Options.
Talking about performance, focus tracks included Miracle Love by DJ Project. I was streaming the track in high-quality on Spotify. Vocals and mids sounded crisp, but the bass was weak. I played the same track on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G (AAC codec), and while the output was a bit louder, the audio sounded a bit boomy. However, the bass seemed a little balanced here. For the rest of the tracks, I used the Vivo X50 Pro only.
Moving on, Memories of Love by Synkro offered wide soundstaging, slightly punchy bass and crisp highs. Overall audio experience was good here. Time by Pink Floyd sounded good and I could easily distinguish between the different instruments that were playing in the background. However, that punch in bass was missing, and that could be because the earbuds do not offer proper passive noise isolation.
Audio on the TWS Neo sounds better when used with a Vivo smartphone.
Call Quality: Good For Calls, Not for Discord
I tested the call quality in two different ways. While on voice calls, the person could hear me clearly and I could too. But I cannot say the same when using Discord while playing PUBG Mobile. The recipient always complained about low audio. I tried both on Vivo and Samsung phones, but the issue continued, and I think it could be something related to Discord. But I play daily, and this does not happen when using other TWS headphones.
Battery Life: Can Go Days Without Charging
Vivo claims that the TWS Neo can offer a total battery life of 22.5 hours. Individually, the buds can offer up to 4.5 hours. During my testing, I was constantly getting four hours of battery life here. The carry case added three full charges. On average, I was using the earbuds for about two-and-a-half hours a day, and I was easily able to go for one full week without charging. You can check the battery level of individual earbuds in the app. Sadly, it does not show the battery level of the case.
Average of two hours of usage on full charge makes the earbuds battery last for about a week.
Conclusion: Good Attempt, With Room For Improvement
For Vivo’s first attempt, the TWS Neo fares well. It offers good audio experience on Vivo flagship phones, but the experience on other smartphones could have been better. As I mentioned in my review, the half in-ear design may not fit everyone’s ears, so that should be your consideration before buying one. On the design front, Vivo could go for in-ear canal ones for its next earbuds.
Stable connectivity with Bluetooth 5.2 support and aptX codec on compatible smartphones works in its favor. Battery life is also good for its segment. Similar to its competition, adding wireless charging on the case along with a fast-charging feature could be a good addition for the successor. Vivo could take some hints from competitors such as the OPPO Enco W31, OnePlus Buds and the Mi True Wireless Earphones to make the next earbuds better.