TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 TWS earphones review – an inexpensive AirPods Pro alternative

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TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 TWS earphones review – an inexpensive AirPods Pro alternative
TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 TWS earphones review – an inexpensive AirPods Pro alternative

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The TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 TWS earphones review – an inexpensive AirPods Pro alternative

REVIEW – You might think that when choosing fully wireless earphones, the sound quality would be the deciding factor. Maybe not. There’s also comfort, call quality, ease of use, brand cache, and of course, price to consider. In general, you can have five out of six on the list. For example, if you opt for sound, comfort, call quality, ease of use and a well-known brand, it will cost you (Hello Apple AirPods Pro). Lower the price and you will have to lose one of the other factors. Now, if you’re willing to forgo that overpriced fruity logo, there might be a near-perfect pair of earbuds for you: the TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 True Wireless Earbuds.

What is it? The TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 True Wireless Earbuds are a budget equivalent of Apple’s AirPods Pro earphones, even though they look more like Apple’s regular AirPods. That long handle is now an accepted look that no one makes fun of anymore.

The S600 earbuds come in just two colors: pearl white or ultra-matte black, which is more gray than black.

A downloadable Android/iOS app is available for adjusting the left/right capacitive touch settings of the earbuds, checking battery life and detecting wear. There is currently no graphic equalizer function available.

The S600 earbuds feature active noise canceling (ANC), 8 hours playtime before charging, transparency mode, IP54 sweat and splash proof, touch controls, 3 microphones per earbud (for calls and transparency mode) and wireless charging. Not bad for a hundred dollars!

To design features
You may recognize TCL as a maker of affordable TVs known for excellent picture quality. For the record, TCL also makes air quality devices, vacuum cleaners, smartphones… and audio equipment.

Many tech companies “do audio”, but more often than not they don’t do audio very well. TCL is kind of an exception. I wouldn’t call them audiophile, but then I wouldn’t call Apple audio-audiophile either. Still, I love Apple’s AirPods Pro earphones. Why? Ease. Apple’s earphones are by far the easiest to use earphones I’ve ever owned. When I put them in, they turn on. When I get a call, they are immediately connected. They just work.

However, I am a full member of the Apple Borg. All my Apple technology is connected and works seamlessly. Most people are not in my camp, so I understand that many will not always have a seamless experience with AirPods Pro earphones or other Apple products. Also, not everyone is willing to pay the Apple tax — that premium price required to join the Borg.

For the non-Apple (and some Apple) folks, TCL has you covered. Their MOVEAUDIO S600 True Wireless earbuds not only perform and behave like Apple’s, but they also cost a lot less. Spoiler: The S600 earbuds are about 85% as good and convenient as Apple, for less than half the price.

Let’s start with the appearance. The S600s are glossy – as in glossy. When you open the bean-shaped housing, you even see two shiny earbuds surrounded by a mirrored base. It’s bling without overdoing it. The lid opens and closes on purpose, but it requires two hands. It’s a bit too big and slippery to open with one hand, at least for me. Although the cover may be large, it still fits easily in a front pocket.

The earbuds snap magnetically into the case. In fact, they click so well that I sometimes have a hard time getting them out because they are so smooth. At least they won’t come out of the case if accidentally dropped, like my AirPods Pro earphones always do.

The S600 earbuds face outward inside the case, which means they look a bit inverted when inside the case. When I pull them out or put them back in the case, I have to physically twist them in my hand before putting them in the ear. I’ve dropped them countless times while doing this – again because they are slippery. But once in my ear they stay put.

The S600s are extremely light and fit perfectly (with the big ear tips). I can wear them for the full 8 hours of battery life without discomfort – a rarity with earphones. Of course, every ear is different, so YMMV.

The S600 earbuds have a lot features normally seen on more expensive earphones. Let’s go through them:

Google Fast Pair – Think of this as the H1 chip on AirPods Pro earphones. The first Bluetooth pairing is instant and the earbuds work immediately when the case is opened. Unfortunately I was not allowed to test this feature because I have an iPhone.

Google Voice Assistant – Although I think an Android phone would handle this feature better, I got it working on my iPhone as long as the Google Assistant app was open. Even then I didn’t seem to time it right to get a response to voice commands. As much as I hate it, Apple’s Siri works smoother on my iPhone than Google Assistant. However, it’s a good idea if you have an Android phone. You can ask about the weather, traffic, calls and calendar reminders by holding the left earbud while talking.

Now for iPhone (and Android) users: the good stuff:

Hybrid ANC with Transparency – When using Active Noise Canceling (ANC), the world and all its sounds disappear. The S600s have a really good ANC – with little effect on the audio quality. Note that ANC significantly reduces battery life. Transparency mode is a feature that becomes necessary as we try to stay safe in a noisy world. The 6 microphones (3 per earplug) allow all outside noise to filter into the earplugs. Transparency mode allows you to be aware of your surroundings and have a conversation with someone without removing the earbuds, although I think talking to someone while wearing earphones looks a bit rude even if you can hear them clearly.

Battery Life – The battery specs of the TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 True Wireless Earbuds are 6-8 hours for the earbuds and 24-32 hours for the case. You can expect 3 full charges from the case before needing a recharge. I never completely drained the battery case, but the earbuds themselves lasted as long as TCL claimed they would. The case also charges wirelessly – another one feature usually found on more expensive earbuds. I usually ignore wireless charging. I have always preferred wired standard charging. Wired charging is also faster.

Echo Noise Canceling – Allows you to hear calls and callers more clearly using the 3 aforementioned microphones in each earbud. It reduces background noise while you talk, making both sides of the conversation easier to understand. People I spoke to couldn’t see I was talking through earplugs and not directly into the phone. Any earphones should be able to sound this good on calls, but unfortunately most don’t.

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