There are a couple of essential smartphone accessories if you’re more than a passing user of your devices, and a good set of headphones is definitely near the top, if not at the top, of that list for most people. As much as I will defend the need for a 3.5 mm headphone jack with my dying breath, I also really appreciate the elegance and usability of a good set of Bluetooth headphones.
My issue has been finding a really good set of Bluetooth earbuds that could replace my great wired collection with something just as good sound wise, be wireless but not have terrible battery life and range and not be ridiculously overpriced. Believe it or not, in the smaller form factor that can be a difficult combination to find.
Enter the $129.95 AUD Pump Mini 2 from Australian Bluetooth accessory manufacturer BlueAnt. I’ve been using these little guys as my daily driver for podcasts, music and of course calls. So after over 2 weeks of non-stop use how did they go? Have I finally found my ‘perfect’ Bluetooth earbuds? Read on to find out.
The minute you hold the magnetic clasp outer box you know you’re holding something that someone has paid attention to, yes it’s a box but it’s a nice box and attention to the little things can make a difference to the overall feel of a product. Once you’re inside you’re greeted by a fairly typical looking set of Bluetooth sports earbuds along with 3 different sized (4 in total) in ear pieces and 3 additional ‘stabilisers’ (again 4 in total), a carry case and of course a MicroUSB charging cable.
The earbuds themselves are both light and comfortable, I have left the Mini 2’s in my ears for literally hours on end without any discomfort. The different tips and stabilisers should allow almost anyone to customise the earbuds to achieve that perfect fit. To control the earbuds you have the now ubiquitous 3 button configuration, more on that later.
The earbuds boast ‘sweat resistance’ which is backed up by an IP54 rating, so you won’t be able to wear these in the shower (unfortunately) or the pool, but they will get yo through the occasional rain storm or a good workout session. They connect via Bluetooth 4.2 and have up to 6 hours playback.
From a styling perspective, I find the design both minimal but not boring, if I’m being honest I’m not looking for a work of modern art for my ears, the smaller and less intrusive they are the better. When worn in the ear the Mini 2’s are neither invisible nor pronounced, no one is ever going to be unsure you’re wearing earbuds, but nor will they spot them from across the road.
If colour coordination is an important part of your identity then you may just be happy with the range of colours from BlueAnt. The team seems to have understood that some people like to colour coordinate their gear. The Pump Mini 2 comes in Black, Red, Teal, Green and Purple.
The included carry case is a nice addition and definitely goes a long way to making the relatively low price tag welcome, especially for a good pair of Bluetooth earbuds. The overall build quality of the earbuds was hard to assess, the appear solid, and unlike phones, we want out earbuds to be light and plastic. However, the soft touch finish, flat tangle-less cords and sturdy joins and connectors are all hallmarks of good quality design and manufacturing.
To control the earbuds, and your connected device, you’ve got the standard 3 button controller. With the controller you can do all of the standard things, play/pause, volume up/down, skip forward/ backwards, initiate voice control and answer/ reject incoming calls. Some of the controls may be a little different than you’re used to, but it’s all clearly explained in the instructions and easy enough to figure out.
Bluetooth reliability and range can be a bit hit and miss between different manufacturers. As far as reliability goes I never had any issues with the Mini 2’s, once a device is connected it seamlessly reconnects. The only time you’ll have issues is if turn them on in the range of several paired devices, but that’s par for the course with Bluetooth.
Bluetooth range was another issue, when connected to a phone on a desk it had fairly typical line of sight range, perhaps slightly reduced if the ‘cord’ was facing away from the phone. However, on board connection was always a little more finicky. This has been an issue with all of this device I have used, the human body is a sack of water that just loves to absorb radio waves, and poor old Bluetooth just doesn’t fare well.
On larger devices with more powerful antennas, that’s less of an issue, but when you’re dealing with a small device which is also right against your water sack you sometimes get interference from your front pocket to the back of your neck.
The Mini 2’s seemed to do this less then others I have tried but I’d be lying if I said it never happened. The solution is to either re-positioning the phone or the earbuds so they are on the same side of your body.
Ok, the Mini 2’s are well built, look good and have all the features you’d expect great, but how do they sound? To my almost 40-year-old ears, they sound great. I compared these to some of my wired earbuds from Sennheiser, Sony and various others, and they universally as good. Volume was loud, clarity was good and especially with music the fidelity was as good as I can detect.
I’d have no qualms in saying that the Mini 2’s provide as good as a listening experience, if not better than most in-ear headphones. Do they provide the same audio quality as some of the specialised and very expensive earphones? I doubt it, but for my listening purposes they were fantastic, and there’s the thing, at $129.95 they are almost certainly better value and the fact they are an Australian Manufacturer makes them all the more attractive.
I tried several different ways to measure the battery life of the Pump Mini 2’s, in the end, this is my result, they will last you a full day of occasional use. What’s occasional use? I would typically turn the headphones on around 6 am and leave them powered on until around 4 pm. In between I would easily listen to 3 to 5 hours of audio, make occasional phone calls and ask Google Assistant all manner of crazy things.
The Mini 2’s always lasted the day, and into the next day until I started to hear the soft beeping reminder to charge the earbuds. For my use case, this was more than enough, I did find that had to charge the headphones every night, or sometime during the day if I forgot, but I did leave them running all day long and listen to a lot of Audio. You’ll know if your usage is more or less than mine and judge its battery life for your usage.
In the end, these things are relatively small, there’s simply not a lot of room for batteries in there, all things considered, I’m impressed wth how long the do last in such a small package.
I set out at the beginning of this review looking for a set of earbuds that had good sound (tick), be wireless (tick), not have terrible battery life (tick) and range (tick-ish) and not be ridiculously overpriced (double tick). As such the BlueAnt Pump Mini 2 meet these criteria easily, so would I actually recommend them? Yes, yes I would. As of now, these are my go to earbuds to recommend to anyone looking at getting a set of Bluetooth-powered earphones.
Are they perfect? No, but they are some of the best I have tried, and the areas they are not as strong in have more to do with physics and the current state of engineering than any specific failing on behalf of the company. And this is why I still defend the need for a 3.5 mm headphone jack when all else fails when you forget to charge your headphones your trusty backup wired earphones will work, first time, every time.
All that aside, the BlueAnt Pump Mini 2 are a great set of headphones, to demonstrate just how much I lie them the now have their own dedicated charging cable in the house, in fact, they have made it to my tier 1 charging platform, my bedside table. This area is reserved for only the things I carry every day, my most important gadgets that I carry from rising to falling but must charge in between.
If you’re looking for a great set of Bluetooth earbuds, that come with the bonus of being from an Australian company, then head on over to BlueAnt’s website and check out the Pump Mini 2 in-ear wireless sportsbuds, I’m actually thinking of adding a green pair to my Christmas list, because you know Android.
If you’re looking for a set for yourself, or someone else, in addition to selling them on their website you’ll also find them in JB HiFi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks, Tech2go and Dr Boom.