Out of Mobvoi’s extensive lineup of headphones–only two of them include silicone ear tips–the TicPods Free and the newly released TicPods ANC (Read our review). The question many of you may have is what’s the difference between these two sets of headphones? More importantly, which would should you consider buying?
While both pairs of earbuds share design language, there are some major differences between them. For starters, the size of the case, the TicPods Free have a substantially larger case that is much bulkier and heavier to carry around.
The TicPods ANC on the other hand, use a slimmed-down lightweight case. Another big difference between the two is the charging port. The newer TicPods ANC make use of the universal USB-C port, which I am a massive fan of, while the TicPods Free are using the old standard micro USB port.
Next up, is the difference between the earbuds. Both use the AirPod inspired stem design, however, the ear tips are distinctively different. The TicPods Free use the typical round silicone ear tips, while the TicPods ANC use more of an oval shape.
Overall, I’d have to give the TicPods ANC the win here for using a more compact case with a USB-C charging port.
Initially, I thought the TicPods Free would be the clear winner in comfort. Between the two, they provide the smallest ear tips, and as someone with smaller ear canals, these are usually the most comfortable for me.
I was surprised to discover that the TicPods ANC were more comfortable overall. However, both sets of buds are lightweight and should offer a comfortable fit for most users.
Neither set of buds are what I would call feature-rich, but they both have some distinctive attributes. Both include touch-sensitive buttons on the buds that allow you to control music playback and access Google Assistant. However, the TicPods Free stands out with Mobvoi’s “tickle” gesture on the stem to adjust the volume, as well as in-ear detection that pauses your music when an earbud is removed.
Both sets allow you to use the buds independently with one huge caveat on the TicPods Free, they only allow you to use the right bud, not the left bud, while you can choose either bud with the TicPods ANC.
Finally, both support IPX5 sweat and water resistance, so you won’t have to worry about ruining your buds when you go for a run on a hot day.
Again, the TicPods ANC comes out on top by doing independent connections better and offering active noise cancellation.
Both sets of the TicPods have a similar sound signature skewing slightly to the highs for a crisp sound. The TicPods Free tend to be a little more forward in the mids though with plenty of detail and a nice thump of bass. The TicPods ANC have more of a V-shaped signature with deeper sub-bass with brighter treble. I like the sound of both, but I’d have to give a slight edge to the TicPods ANC because I’m a fan of deep bass with crystal clear highs.
Going into this, I would have thought the TicPods Free would have the best battery life, surprisingly, that’s not so. Even with the smaller case, and battery hungry ANC technology, the TicPods ANC still manages to last longer.
According to Mobvoi, the TicPods ANC provide five hours of listening time without ANC, and with noise cancellation enabled, they still pull off an impressive 4.5 hours of playback time. Combined with the case, they will get you a total of 21 hours. The TicPods Free, on the other hand, will get you four hours of listening time and a total of 18 hours with a fully charged case.
This is one area where there is absolutely no contest. Between the two, the TicPods Free win easily with a current price of $39.99, while the TicPods ANC are selling for $71.99 at the moment. That is no surprise, considering the TicPods ANC offer a premium feature such as active noise cancellation.
Neither pair of headphones are bad, however, it’s pretty clear the TicPods ANC come out on top. It stands apart by offering longer battery life, great sound, and active noise cancellation–all in a smaller package. The TicPods Free wins in one category, and that’s the price. If you can’t quite afford the TicPods ANC, rest assured the $40 TicPods Free still offer quite the bang for the buck.
If you do decide to pick up a pair of TicPods, our friends over at Mobvoi have sweetened the deal with a 15% discount. Just enter the code Droid15 at checkout, but make sure to hurry, the code expires on September 30, 2020.