Chinese startup Mobvoi has unveiled a new pair of wireless earbuds that look just like Apple’s AirPods, but cost $100 less, and work with both iOS and Android.
Called TicPods Free, the fully wireless buds launched Tuesday on Indiegogo for $60 to start. Apple AirPods cost $160.
TicPods Free work with iOS and Android devices, are compatible with smart assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, and have touch controls on the outsides to skip a song or answer a call.
TicPods Free are the first set of wireless earbuds from Mobvoi, the six-year-old Beijing-based startup that’s backed by Sequoia, Volkswagen, and GV, formerly Google Ventures. Mobvoi also makes other gadgets, including a smart speaker called TicHome Mini and Ticwatch, a line of minimalist smartwatches.
But TicPods Free could quite possibly be a worthy alternative to AirPods. Here’s how they work:
At first glance, TicPods Free look exactly like Apple’s AirPods. The design — an in-ear bud connected to a long stalk — looks nearly identical to what Apple makes.
Like AirPods, TicPods Free come in their own small carrying case, which tops up the buds’ charge between uses.
Mobvoi says a single charge will give you four hours of play time. The buds will charge up completely in 40 minutes, and Mobvoi says you can 18 hours of total battery life.
That battery life is shorter than AirPods, although not by much — Apple says you’ll get five hours of listening time on a single charge and 24 hours of total battery life.
TicPods Free can sense when the buds are in your ears, so music will automatically start when you put them in. AirPods can do that, too.