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Motorola Moto Buds+

True Wireless in-ears with sound by Bose and Active Noise Cancelling

In a nutshell

These headphones feel similar to the AirPods Pro 2 and Bose Quiet Comfort in your ears. If that sounds too good to be true, then there are reasons why, even though the noise cancelling of the Motorola Moto Buds+ has apparently been developed in collaboration with Bose. Does the idea of Bose sound and Bose ANC at a favourable price seem appealing? It sounded tempting to us and we were listening very carefully – but we were just not completely thrilled by these headphones.

Pros:
  • Sound
  • Wearing comfort
Cons:
  • No iOS app
  • Hi-Res Audio, Dolby Atmos & head tracking only with certain Motorola smartphones
  • Noise when using the transparency mode
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The Motorola Moto Buds + from Lenovo are a real treat: these in-ears, available in “Beach Sand” and “Forest Grey”, are in no way inferior to the great white competition in terms of feel.

The in-ears themselves look very similar to AirPods. And they wear like them too. The most obvious difference is the matte housing, which provides a better grip and, therefore, held better in my ears. When the manufacturer writes that “the Moto Buds+ offer Bose’s unique expertise in Active Noise Cancellation and EQ tuning”, it makes you sit up and take notice. So, do you get a premium product at a lower mid-range price for just 120 euros retail? And did we mention that it even comes with Hi-Res Audio and Dolby Atmos, including head tracking?

This sounded so tempting that we couldn’t say ‘no’ and were curious to see how the Moto Buds+ would perform in everyday use. Spoiler: The Motorola Moto Buds+ are only really good with certain Motorola smartphones. This is a doubly bitter pill to swallow, as all kinds of Lenovo/Motorola technology, including mobile phones, have been banned from sale in Germany since the beginning of May. Motorola smartphones that support Dolby Atmos, head tracking and Hi-Res Audio are affected, so, unfortunately, we could not take this into account due to a lack of devices for our test. However, as soon as the sales ban is lifted and we receive a suitable test device, we will, of course, review the Moto Buds+ for their advanced sound capabilities.

First impression

The small, fully recyclable cardboard box contains the in-ears, the charging case, three different-sized ear moulds (S, M, L), a USB-C to C cable and the usual paper documents.

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The case, which is a few millimetres taller than that of the Apple AirPods Pro 2, ensures a good grip, thanks to its textured surface, just like the in-ears. Thanks to IP54, the in-ears can easily withstand light rain, sweat and splashes of water. They fit comfortably and do not slip when used with tight-fitting ear tips, even with vigorous head movements.

However, the controls take some getting used to at first. It is important to know that tapping the finger end rarely leads to success; instead, you have to tap the stem with your entire fingertip. This is why the Moto Buds+ only support double and triple taps as well as press-and-hold, rather than single taps. Both in-ears can be assigned commands independently of each other via the app. However, triple taps, in particular, do not work reliably. We found the exclusively pressure-sensitive operation of Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 more convenient, as it even further reduced incorrect commands. As with the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, there isn’t much to adjust via the app – so the Moto Buds+ aren’t wonders when it comes to configuration either.

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The equaliser comes with four pre-sets (“Brilliant treble”, “Bass accentuated”, “Vocal accentuated”, “Neutral”) and a custom EQ with 10 bands. Incidentally, Bose’s counterparts only offer a 3-band EQ.

There is also a gaming mode that reduces the latency (offset) between picture and sound. Auto-pause can be deactivated/activated here, a fit test checks whether the in-ears are sitting properly, and a headphone locator function searches for the earphones by beeping if they are lost.

Sound

Equipped with dynamic dual drivers, the Motorola Moto Buds+ sound quite appealing – depending on which mode is active. If ANC and transparency mode are deactivated, they sound flatter and less muscular than they do with them on. The sound description that follows applies especially with noise cancelling activated.

You can quickly hear that Bose is at work here, as the sound signature is strongly reminiscent of Bose’s QuietComfort earbuds, even if they are a touch more bass-heavy. Nevertheless, the Moto Buds+ laid down a warm, present foundation, the tonality of which remained easily perceptible even at full volume without radiating into the mids.

Voices were clearly emphasised and also remained tonally recognisable at all times. They seemed slightly tamed, so electric guitars or lead synths didn’t cut into the ears.

The same applied to the treble range: only songs with an exaggeratedly sharp mix developed a tendency towards sharpness at full volume.

These tuning measures had a decisive advantage: your hearing doesn’t tire so quickly, and the pleasant basic sound ensures hours of listening pleasure.

Dynamic sound events can be distinctly localised on the virtual sound stage in the head, even if, for my taste, it could have been a little wider.

How the Moto Buds+ perform with Hi-Res audio is something we cannot include in our assessment of the sound, just like their Dolby Atmos and head-tracking capabilities. However, we will make up for this as soon as we have a compatible Motorola smartphone available to us.

Connecting Motorola Moto Buds+ with iOS (iPhone)

If you live exclusively in the Apple universe and are looking for alternatives to the AirPods Pro 2, you won’t get far with the Moto Buds+. Due to the lack of an iOS app, you cannot configure these in-ears and customise them to suit your own preferences. When paired with an iPhone, they behave like simple True Wireless in-ears. In other words, you can connect them, listen to music and make phone calls, but you have to live with the factory settings. So there’s no Dolby Atmos either, let alone head tracking.

As an Android user, you will be familiar with the scenario: Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 behave in a similarly rudimentary way on the competitor platform without any fine-tuning options.

Connecting Motorola Moto Buds+ with Android

If you rely purely on Android or even use it in combination with iOS, you should install the “Moto Buds” app. Here you will find the options already mentioned above, although it must also be said that Motorola, unlike Apple, relies on three-stage rather than two-stage compatibility: If you want to enjoy Hi-Res Audio, Dolby Atmos and head tracking, you absolutely need very specific Motorola mobile phones.

How well does the noise cancelling and transparency mode work?

The active noise cancelling does not offer an adjustable setting, but it does offer two variants: A classic active NC and an adaptive variant that automatically adjusts according to the ambient noise. The latter produces the least noise, although we liked the static variant better in our test, as it absorbed more noise.

Low frequencies were cancelled out better than the upper mids and highs, but the ANC did an okay job so far and was still practical. However, it was not the best ANC.

The transparency mode was noisier than the two ANC variants but still sounded quite natural, and railway announcements could be heard well without having to take the headphones out of your ears.

Motorola Moto Buds+ vs Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds – which ANC is better?

A direct comparison with the equivalent in-ears from Bose showed that they worked more effectively. The QuietComfort Ultra earbuds filtered out white noise, train noise and turbine noise to such an extent that only a high-frequency noise floor (white noise) quietly reached the ears. The Moto Buds+ did not work as broadly across the spectrum.

Motorola Moto Buds+ vs Apple AirPods Pro 2 – which ANC is better?

The white competitor from Apple was also ahead here: they have a wider bandwidth to suppress background noise, and the noise floor was far less noticeable with the AirPods Pro than with the Moto Buds+. Just as with the transparency mode, Apple simply performed better here, as it sounded extremely natural and the noise was hardly noticeable.

Conclusion

The Motorola Moto Buds+ sounded good-to-very-good, and their appearance was also convincing in terms of wearing comfort. If you appreciate the feel of the Apple AirPods Pro 2, then you will have no problems making the switch – on the contrary, the two in-ear models look almost identical. The noise cancelling worked well in practice but cannot keep up with the Bose counterparts, which are priced 200 euros higher. Full functionality is only available to those who own particular Motorola smartphones anyway; Android and especially Apple users have to live with sometimes drastic functional limitations. Bose sound and ANC for a fraction of the cost of the original? That would have been too good to be true!

1 month ago by Pete Schloßnagel
  • Rating: 3.63
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingIn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Weight without cable4 g each, case 43 g

What's in the box

  • 3 pairs of ear tips (S, M, L)
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Charging case

Special features

  • Available in black/anthracite/green and beige
  • BT version: 5.3
  • Approx. 8 hours runtime per charge (without ANC)
  • Total running time: approx. 38 hrs.

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