Review: The Honor Magic Earbuds are functional, if uninspiring, wireless earphones
They’re fine… just fine.
Honor’s Magic Earbuds are the latest “hearables” to come from Huawei’s youth-focused subsidiary. And if I had to describe them using just one word, saving me the effort of writing a full review (and, indeed, you of reading one), I’d say they were “functional” and call it a day.
These buds are so mid-range, their spirit animal is a spirit level. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
Priced at £90 (or circa $110), they’re neither crushingly expensive nor worryingly cheap. Build quality is solid, but it hardly feels premium. There are the usual features you’d expect from some buds in that price neighborhood, including USB-C and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Sound quality is decent, but hardly exceptional.
If the Honor Magic Earbuds were any more “middle-of-the-road,” they’d be a road in Lebanon, Kansas (which, Wikipedia informs me, is a few miles northwest of the geographic center of the contiguous United States).
Blue da-ba-dee, da-ba-dai
Honor shipped this journo a delightfully-turquoise pair of Magic Earbuds. And sure, they’re so offensively luminous, the Italian dance group Eiffel 65 is actively penning a musical tribute to them. But I don’t mind. I’ve spent the past eight years reviewing all sorts of tedious brushed-chrome tat. This is a welcome (and refreshing) change.
The charging case has an interesting feel. It’s solid and well-built, offering a decent amount of protection. The buds snap into place with a satisfying click. It’s perfectly functional (that word again), but hardly screams “premium.”
The buds themselves ape the AirPods aesthetic. Originality aside, I don’t mind this design. From an ergonomic perspective, a nice tubular antenna makes it easy to pluck the buds from your ear. And for what it’s worth, they’re delightfully comfortable to wear, even for long periods.
To control the device, you’ve got to swipe on a capacitive panel on the side of the buds. This takes a bit of getting used to, and you’d be wise to read the manual, but I can’t fault the overall responsiveness. Unlike some buds I’ve tested, the Magic Earbuds don’t force you to impotently scratch your ear in order to adjust the volume.
All about that bass. Allegedly.
Like every pair of consumer earbuds ever, the Honor Magic Earbuds promise strong bass, thereby appealing to hip-hop heads and sousaphone enthusiasts alike. The reality isn’t quite there, with bass notes feeling relatively flat, particularly with the volume cranked up. This is particularly obvious when listening to anything by Manchester jazz group GoGo Penguin.
Fortunately, ANC is relatively strong, proving competent at filtering out intrusive background noises. Calls were decent, although the buds failed to mitigate against wind interference particularly well — which is a problem when you live in England, a country not particularly famed for its tranquil climate.
On the battery front, Honor touts three hours of battery life with ANC on, with an extra thirty minutes if you turn it off. Our testing proved this to be fairly accurate. That’s fairly middle-of-the-pack. Not amazing, but hardly terrible.
Who is this for?
The Honor Magic Earbuds are available now. And while they failed to knock my socks off, they’re still reasonable value for the price. Honor wins points on design and ANC performance. But when it comes to sound and battery life, their report card shows a measly C+. Must try harder.
If you’re tempted, you can find the Honor Magic Earbuds from the usual places: the various Amazon stores in the markets were Honor is active (like the UK and France), as well as Honor’s own online stores. If you’re based in the states, you can find a pair from the various exporters of Chinese tech, like Gearbest.
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Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more. A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.