The Xiaodu Du Smart Buds are the entry ticket for AI giant Baidu to the TWS market, featuring cutting-edge technologies like intelligent voice recognition, real-time transcription, and voice recording.
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The Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) giant Baidu enters the field of true wireless stereo (TWS) with the Xiaodu Smart Buds. With the inclusion of Baidu’s hardware and software integration strategy, Xiaodu aims to claim a piece of the TWS pie from other major players like Apple.
The Du Smart Buds are the entry-level TWS model from Xiaodu, featuring intelligent voice recognition for real-time transcription.
In this article, we will reveal the actual capability of the Du Smart Buds and determine whether they can threaten the current players in the TWS market.
- Battery Life: 12 hours
- Connector: USB Type-C
- Wireless Charging: No
- Battery Capacity: 500 mAh
The Du Smart Buds charging case provides three full charges to the earbuds, offering a total of 12 hours of additional playtime. The USB Type-C charging port is at the bottom of the case. In the price range of sub-USD$50, it is reasonable for Xiaodu to exclude the wireless charging option from this model.
- Can be open easily with one hand: Yes
- Pass the shake test: Yes
- Light Indicators: No light indicator on the case
You can easily open the case with one hand. The earbuds sit in the case firmly, with the help of magnets. The earbuds protrude sufficiently from the case and can be removed without much struggle.
There is one serious flaw in the case’s design – there is no charging light indicator.
You will never know when the case will just give up on you and stop charging the earbuds.
- Shape of the case: Oval
- Material: Plastic with a matte surface
- Build Quality: Average
Nowadays, TWS case designs are getting more and more similar. They all resemble the Apple AirPods’ design – oval or squarish with a top lid. Xiaodu did not spend much effort on innovation, and the Xiaodu Smart Buds’ case has a very mainstream design.
I am glad that Xiaodu chose matte plastic because it can resist dirt and fingerprints better than glossy plastic.
- Weight: 40g (With earbuds inside)
- Volume: 5.2 x 5.6 x 2.4 = 69.6 cm cu (4.27 in cu)
- Portability: Outstanding
Despite having the same basic design as the AirPods, Xiaodu’s charging case is smaller, thinner, and more portable than Apple’s and will not cause an awkward bump when you put it in a pocket.
- Battery Life: 4 hrs
- Charge Time (15mins): 30-45 mins playback time
The Du Smart Buds have a significantly shorter battery life than most of the TWS models on the market. On a full charge, they can serve you with continuous playback of four hours. Based on my usage, the earbuds will take around 1.5 hours to obtain a full charge from the case.
While four hours of battery life is sufficient for daily commuting usage, I need longer battery life and faster charging to serve me in my office.
My 3rd Gen Apple AirPods are a good example of typical TWS batteries – six hours of battery life can last me the entire morning before I break for lunch. I usually charge them during lunch, and they last for the afternoon.
- Control Mechanism: Touch
- Touch Accuracy: Average
- Control Symmetry on both earbud: Yes
- Mono Use: Yes
- Limited control on the earbuds
- Configurable control
The Du Smart Buds use touch control, and I find the accuracy is about average. They register my gestures accurately most of the time. The controls can be configured with Xiaodu’s smartphone application. However, users can only choose one function per side, and there is no volume control option.
While I usually control the playback via my phone instead of the earbuds, those who heavily rely on control via earbuds may find this limitation a deal breaker.
- Profile: Medium
- Material: Glossy plastic
- Comfort: Outstanding
- Fit: Good
The Du Smart Buds strongly resemble early Apple AirPods. The stem is almost as long as the first-generation version. The Du Smart Buds appear outdated as many newer models are moving away from this long stem design.
Nevertheless, the comfort and fit are supreme. After a long hour of listening, I tend to forget that they are in my ears.
- Noise Cancellation: Good
- Voice Pick-up: Average
I find the Du Smart Buds’ microphones excellent in terms of noise cancellation and voice pick-up. I can make phone calls or attend virtual meetings during a busy commute.
- Driver: 13mm dynamic driver
- Sound Signature: Flat
- Bass: Very Poor
- Mids: Average
- Treble: Average
- Sound Detail: Substandard
Overall Sound Signature
The Du Smart Buds’ overall sound signature can be classified as flat. They create a two-dimensional headroom with insufficient depth and height. There are limited dynamics with no ups or downs.
Xiaodu did not unleash the real potential of the 13mm dynamic driver. The Du Smart Buds fail to create bass that sufficiently engages users. It’s simply touch-and-go, and I find it difficult to “submerge” myself in the music on many pop tracks.
The lack of deep bass and rumble makes the sound signature dry.
The Du Smart Buds have a more prominent midrange than the bass region. The midrange takes the front stage and engages the audience. While the Du Smart Buds are a good candidate for podcasts, their musicality is insufficient for music listening due to the lack of bass.
I cannot enjoy listening to music with the Du Smart Buds. A lot of details are missing.
Similar to the midrange, the Du Smart Buds focus more on treble than bass. The treble extends and decays well – no uncontrolled treble decay causing a “hazy” or noisy treble performance. Those with lower tolerance toward sharp and bright treble will find the Du Smart Buds sound comfortable.
- Audio Codec: AAC and SBC
- Bluetooth Version: 5.0
- Bluetooth Chip: Not stated
- Auto-connect when: Taken out of case
- Average drop-outs in an hour: 0 – 3 times
- Multi-point connection: No
Xiaodu does not mention the Bluetooth chip used in the Du Smart Buds, but I suspect Baidu may have developed it. With the help of Bluetooth version 5.0, the connectivity is exceptionally stable.
During my review period of 3 weeks, I did not experience any signal drop-off, even when I was on crowded public transport!
- IP Rating: IPX4
Due to the Du Smart Buds’ IPX4-rated water resistance, users will not need to worry about sweat or rain. However, the earbuds tend to be slippery when wet, and I find them to be insecure when I am using them during exercising.
- Available on: iOS and Android
- Earbuds’ exact battery level display
- Touch control can be modified
- Real-time transcription and voice recording
The application displays the actual battery level. Touch controls on the earbuds can be modified in the application.
The most significant selling point of the Du Smart Buds is its intelligent voice recognition developed by Baidu. With this feature enabled, users can use the Du Smart Buds as a voice recorder or for transcription.
The Du Smart Earbuds are unique but have a lot of room for improvement. The poor sound quality and short battery life are likely deal breakers for most users, who prioritize sound and battery life more than other fancy features. The real-time transcription and recording are helpful but not for everyone.
I highly encourage Xiaodu to focus more on the sound tuning as the current sonic performance of Du Smart Earbuds is disappointing.