TCL recently sent out its MOVEAUDIO S600 truly wireless earbuds for Android Headlines to review. And, in a word, I was impressed by everything the company has managed to pack into this wearable at under $100. But that doesn’t mean that all is perfect, even at such a low price. Or with as many features as are included here.
While the company’s focus on aesthetics and features is commendable, there are a few areas where it could stand to improve. For example, charging feels like it takes too long. And bass tones just don’t hit like some users will want it to. Although that’s not at all to say these don’t offer great sound from an objective standpoint.
In fact, there’s actually a lot to love about these earbuds. So let’s take a closer look at how TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 did under a full review.
This is arguably some of the best audio hardware TCL has put out
Now, design language, as shown by our review pages for the TCL 10 Pro and the TCL 20 series, is one area that TCL has quickly mastered in its pursuit of greater market share. Particularly on mobile and mobile accessories. And, as our review of TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 proves, audio is no different.
One of the prominent aspects of this audio device that was immediately noticed was the branding. And that’s not because the brand is plastered all over everything but because it’s understated. In fact, you’ll find the letters “TCL” in only one spot — on the charging case rather than on the buds. The company tucked its brand on the hinge too. So it’s only really visible in all of its metal-engraved shining glory when the carry case is closed. Otherwise, it’s obscured.
The case itself, conversely, is a smooth pebble shape. And that’s smoother than other, similarly designed true wireless earbuds too. Not quite glossy in any way but in coloration, the relatively tiny case is difficult to operate one-handed but feels incredibly comfortable in hand or in a pocket. The difficulty arises from how firmly the lid is held in place, by the way. Rather than challenges in taking the earbuds out of that.
The color of the case extends to the holsters for the earbuds themselves. While the comfort extends to the earbud shape and is amplified by the five included tip sizes. Coupled with a lightweight design, these are beyond just “comfortable” to wear, in fact. They’re easily among the most comfortable that I have worn.
When it comes to quality and caveats, beyond the one-handed operation, there’s a lot to discuss. But only one real pitfall. Namely, that the included charging cable is only a few inches long. While that’s great for portability and not at all uncommon, it’s obnoxious. Especially for those who want to shirk wireless charging in favor of a wall plug.
Everywhere else, these earbuds are extremely well built. Surfaces are all smooth, the earbuds fit firmly into their respective vertical slots, and there’s no complaint from any of the hardware. Even with a fair amount of twisting force on the lid.
Another major improvement over many competitors, though, isn’t immediately apparent. At least not if you aren’t looking for it.
The charging port, which itself is snappy and provides plenty of firm hold, is wrapped in metal. That means that your charging cables aren’t going to jostle free. And that the interior pins used for charging won’t be jostled either. If anything is going to break, the fault is going to probably be in the charging cable. Albeit, not likely with the included cable, which appears to be just as well-made as everything else.
And all of that is, of course, setting aside the inclusion of bright, easy-to-read LEDs or all of the extra hardware features we’ll talk about throughout this review.
Expect the expected from the TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 batteries
On battery life, looking past the hardware aspects, TCL has also hit another one out of the park. Battery life is ultimately subjective but, if my review of TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 shows anything, it’s that this audio wearable is going to be better than the majority of others. Despite offering great audio.
The company claims a battery life of up to 8-hours on a single charge for the earbuds, just for starters. That’s at least two hours longer than the overwhelming majority of competitors. And TCL isn’t being misleading about this either, which can’t be said about all competitors. In fact, during my review of TCL MOVEAUDIO S600, I saw an average of right around 7 with ANC features turned on. And that’s with volume up at around 85-percent.
What’s more, the charging case offers an additional three charges or so. So I found these headphones lasted just an hour or two shy of the claimed 32-hours per charge under my relatively extreme test conditions.
Charging, the entire package, conversely, takes right around two hours. That’s not brilliant by any stretch but isn’t too bad either. Especially since these last such a long time. Although, charging up wirelessly is going to take a bit longer still.
Audio is great but also one of this wearable’s biggest caveats, for bass lovers
Audio is undeniably the most important aspect of any audio gadget. So we should, perhaps, start with the biggest pitfall for TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 under review. Namely, that’s the bass.
Now, these TCL earbuds will deliver a stunning level of balance across pretty much any genre or medium of media. In fact, it’s fair to say that I was impressed by the level of balance they presented to my ears. But, short of using secondary application settings to adjust bass, they also lack the punch that many competitors bring to the table.
That’s not to say that bass isn’t present. It is and it is crystal clear. Just as with highs and mids, you’ll hear every note. These earbuds aren’t tinny or lacking in power. But for those who like to feel the bass, let alone other frequencies, these aren’t going to do that without some help from EQ adjustments in apps where that’s available. And there’s no EQ available in the TCL Connect app.
The other major caveat is that volume drastically impacts the audibility and quality of tones across the board. The best listening volumes with these earbuds, based on my review, are between 40-percent and 90-percent. And the upper limit is mostly impacted by just how loud these earbuds get — which is loud.
When it comes to audio features, what these earbuds do deliver is environmental noise cancellation. That’s via Hybrid ANC, which actively cancels out intrusions from noisy environments. And that works almost flawlessly, based on my experiences. Transparency mode is also available, letting environmental noise through to help with situational awareness without diminishing the audio quality.
Finally, for calls, TCL MOVEAUDIO is not the best I’ve heard. A slight speakerphone effect was reported by individuals I called for testing. There’s also no noise cancellation on the mics.
Although that’s not wholly necessary either since the six included mics go a long way toward making each sound that does come through clear and easy to hear. Making MOVEAUDIO S600 a mid-level offering on that front. And landing it right about where it should be, on that front, for the money.
You want firm connectivity & top-tier features? TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 is a good fit
TCL didn’t just pack in great audio either. On connectivity and features, TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 really shone under review.
For starters, Bluetooth 5.0 is utilized for these earbuds. That keeps connections firm at dozens of feet from the source device. That’s without drops, cut-out, or other similar problems ever making an appearance. On this particular front, these earbuds are as good or better than any other top gadget I’ve tested. Albeit at a lower cost than a number of those wearables.
But great connectivity is easy to attain with the right chipset and the right Bluetooth module. It’s not until we take a deeper dive into the features associated with these earbuds that we see the real value. And those are delivered via two means.
First, TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 is compatible with the TCL Connect app. The app does what many others of its sort do. Namely, providing easy access to a full suite of tools associated with audio devices. For instance, this is where I was able to find a more accurate battery read-out, as well as managing noise cancellation and transparency mode. As well as turning those off completely. Although that’s also manageable on the buds themselves.
Moreover, the TCL Connect app lets you control “Wearing detection” so you can control whether music keeps playing when you take a bud out. Or not.
Firmware updates and touch functionality are also controllable via the app. With options for the latter including playback controls, noise cancellation and transparency mode controls, volume controls, and Google Assistant controls. Or, for those who want a more pure playback without accidental interruptions, the controls can be turned off completely.
That’s setting aside the fact that the controls for left and right buds can be customized individually.
Moving beyond app-controlled features, these earbuds also feature Google’s Fast Pair. That meant that when it came time to switch from playback on my phone to playback on another phone or my Chromebook, connecting was easy. A notification appeared and at a tap, I was connected. And, of course, that came with this device’s other hidden feature.
With TCL MOVEAUDIO S600, there’s no need to reach for your smartphone to access Google Assistant. That’s available on-bud, as hinted above, with all of its features intact.
Is TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 worth the money?
At the end of the day, “great” is a subjective term when it comes to audio quality. Or at least it is up to a point. TCL MOVEAUDIO S600 proved, under review, to have wide frequency coverage and great balance.
The biggest caveat on that front comes from the bass end. Although on-source software can be used to add a bit more punch, the bass here just isn’t quite punchy enough. Even if all tones audible to the human ear can clearly be heard in all available modes.
Charging also isn’t the strongest selling point for these earbuds. But longevity absolutely is. Nearly 8 hours of battery life is all but unheard of in the true wireless earbud market.
Coupling that battery life with all of the latest features from Fast Pair to Google Assistant and customizable touch controls will more than help to offset the waiting time for most users. And the addition of in-ear detection, wireless charging, Hybrid ANC, and pass-through audio modes only makes that better.
That’s setting aside the lack of any need for noise cancellation on the microphone side of things. With six on-bud mics accounted for, that’s one feature these buds effectively didn’t need. Although it would still undoubtedly be useful for those users in louder environments.
All of that is, in true TCL fashion, packed into an aesthetically fashionable, comfortable-to-wear bundle. At just under $100, that’s going to be a hard value to beat.