As I type this review, I’m listening to Lamb of God’s “Omens,” which is undoubtedly one of the best heavy metal albums to drop this year. The first track in particular – titled “Nevermore” – is a sonically-ruthless track in itself, filled with impeccable guitar and drum work, all of which I was able to hear clearly on TCL’s MoveAudio S180 earbuds.
As far as wireless earbuds go, the S180s come with a decent set of features, especially considering the affordable price. But are they enough to give offerings from more established brands a run for their money? Let’s take a look.
TCL MoveAudio S180 Specs:
- Feed forward Active Noise Cancellation
- 10mm Dynamic Drivers
- 45 mAh batteries in earbuds; 750 mAh battery in case
- Up to six hours playtime, 30 hours with case
- IPX4 rating
Unboxing and Design
The TCL MoveAudio S180 earbuds come in pretty straightforward packaging, and in addition to the earbuds themselves you get some paperwork and instructions, some extra eartips, and a USB-C charging cable. It’s a complete package, with everything you need to set them up right away. Looking at the design, the earbuds come in a charging case which bears resemblance to a ton of other earbud cases out there. On the front we get an LED charging indicator, and around the bottom is a USB-C charging port. The case is pretty compact, and it has a glossy finish to it.
The earbuds themselves are pretty small. They come with a stem similar to most earbuds on the markets these days, and while I do prefer my earbuds without a tail or stem, they are comfortable especially for long periods. They also have touch controls, as well as LED indicators. Additionally, the earbuds feature an IPX4 rating, making them resilient to most water splashes. While this means that they will be safe during workouts and light rain, we don’t recommend dunking them in water.
Set-up & Sound Quality
Setting up the earbuds is pretty simple – there’s no pairing button on the charging case, and you simply have to open the case to allow the MoveAudio S180 to pair with your phone. I was able to connect them easily to my smartphone, and they instantly paired with a secondary device as well.
In general, the earbuds sound great. There’s a decent balance in overall sound quality, although there’s no bass-boost feature here, so folks looking for a heavy, bass-leaning sound will want to take this into consideration. On one hand, the feed forward ANC does manage to keep out most external noises, allowing me to enjoy my music – there’s also a transparency mode available, which will be handy if you’re listening to your music while walking down a street, for example.
Usage & Battery Life
Like I mentioned before, the earbuds feature touch controls so you can tap and hold on your earbuds to skip to the next track (using the right earbud) or activate ANC (with the left earbud). Double-tapping on the earbuds lets you play or pause your music. With that said, I found the tap sensitivity inaccurate at times, and it would occasionally take me several attempts and multiple taps to get around my playlist. On the other hand, the earbuds respond nicely when you hold down on them.
The MoveAudio earbuds also feature built-in microphones – there are two microphones per earbud – which allow you to use them for phone calls and such. Sound quality during calls is so-and-so, but the important thing is that they’ll work when you need them to. In terms of battery life, the earbuds can last you around six to seven hours with ANC turned off, although this goes down to about four to five hours if you use the ANC feature. You can top up the earbuds using the charging case for a total of 30 hours with ANC off, and 26 hours with ANC on. There’s no wireless charging support, unfortunately.
For a price well below 50 bucks, the TCL MoveAudio S180s come with a nice set of features, such as competent ANC, easy set-up, added IPX4 rating, as well as decent sound quality. With that said though, they aren’t perfect, and issues such as the spotty touch detection and somewhat lacking battery life do remind you that these are budget earbuds.
With that said however, folks looking for a straightforward (and more importantly, affordable) pair of wireless earbuds to use for entertainment and communication purposes will be able to get by with these, and if the issues mentioned above matter little to you, then by all means check these out.
TCL MoveAudio S180 Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_50star_emptystar_empty (2.5 / 5)
- Clear audio quality, ANC works well
- Easy to set up
- IPX4 rating is a nice addition
- Touch controls are spotty
- ANC Battery endurance not too impressive