TWS true wireless earphones - under $25
FIVE STARS - Just a few months after the clumsy T3, the Chinese brand QCY releases yet a new pair of cheap truly wireless earbuds. This time, it's a winner. The QCY T5 is the most complete, best cheap Apple AirPods alternative under 50 dollars.
Specs of the QCY T5:
Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC codec
IPX4 waterproof (sweat and rain resistant)
4+ hours listening on a full charge
Charging case can charge earpieces fully 4 times
Comes with 3 sizes ear tips and micro-USB cable
Below this review you will find comparisons between the QCY T5 vs QCY T3, QCY QS2, KZ S1 hybrid, Mpow M5, SoundPEATS TrueCapsule and SSK BT03.
The QCY T5 is also sold as the Xiaomi T5 and Dudios Tic. This then is also a Xiaomi T5 review and a Dudios Tic review.
Also available as Aukey EP-T21! Rather have a voice assistant on your earbuds than a gaming mode? The Aukey T21 is a QCY T5 rebadge with that single change. Buy the Aukey T21 here on Amazon US or Amazon Europe.
Design, comfort and battery life
The QCY T5 is an entirely conventional designed pair of truly wireless earphones. It has stem-like earpieces like on the Apple Airpods - and when you pinch your eyes a bit, it may even look like a black AirPods clone. Or the Honor FlyPods Lite, if you will.
However simple it may look, the design of the T5 is a relief after the strangely experimental QCY T3. That model had a different style of rubber ear tips, which were only available in one size and didn't fit everyone equally well. The T5 has a conventional in-ear design. That means it has standard rubber ear tips that come in three sizes and go in your ears.
It's the central piece of the earphone (the part that goes in your ear), that makes the T5 so good. It's so compact and well-rounded; it makes sure the QCY T5 is one of the most comfortable truly wireless earphones on the market. You can easily wear this for hours on end - even though the ear tips go entirely in your ear.
The fit is good as well. The T5 stays in your ear while shaking or moving rapidly.
The QCY T5 looks and feels very basic - it's just functional here. That goes for the charging case too. It's lightweight and feels a bit cheap, it can be recharged via micro-USB only, and it can charge the earpieces three times fully before needing a recharge itself.
The battery life of the earpieces is a little more than 4 hours on a single charge. Just as good as the $280 Apple AirPods Pro. Ahum - sorry for that. In the sub 25 dollars price class, this is as good as it gets.
Connectivity and controls of the QCY T5
Unlike the QCY T3, the QCY T5 has very straightforward touch controls. It lost the function to slide over the entire stems to change the volume but works solidly in the basics.
With two touches, you play or pause the music. Tap the right bud for a long second, and you'll advance to the next track. Tap the left one for a long second to return a song. By tapping the left side three times, you activate the voice assistant on your smartphone.
What's great is that the QCY T5 lets you switch instantly between using two or one earpieces. Just put one of the earbuds in the case and continue to listen on the other. Pick it up again, and you immediately enter stereo mode again.
The connectivity of the QCY T5 is stellar. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection keeps perfectly stable around 10 meters, even when there are walls between you and your smartphone. It remains stable in areas crowded with wireless signals as well, no matter if you're sitting still, walking, or cycling. Last but not least, the earpieces pair fast - they're likely already connected when you put them in your ears.
Just a shame about the lack of volume control, then.
Call quality, watching videos and gaming on the QCY T5
There's one control function yet unmentioned. By tapping the right bud three times, you activate a special Gaming Mode. It reduces the delay in the sound while playing games, and it does so with great effect.
The sound on action-packed games on both Android and iPhone, is much more in sync with the gaming mode activated. QCY heavily advertises this function - and it delivers. Synchronization is faster than on practically all the other wireless earphones reviewed on this site. It's still not as accurate as wired earphones, but at least it comes pretty close.
The sound can distort on some moments, though, which can only be overcome by tapping the right side three times again. It's not flawless then - but still, this is a great function to have.
As a whole, audio-video synchronization is stunning on the QCY T5 even without the gaming mode. Playback is proper on Android devices with Bluetooth 5.0 and also on the iPhone. Videos in the YouTube app are almost in sync without the gaming mode, and entirely in sync with the gaming mode on. That's a unique performance on the iPhone.
The call quality of the QCY T5 is good as well, as long as you stay indoors. The excellent microphone makes you come through loud and clear on the other end of the line. It's doable to have a long phone call without any problems in connection or speech quality. In more crowded office spaces, some noises may slip in your conversation and it's better to seek a quiet area. Outside, wind noise comes through and there can be tiny crackles and beeps in the line.
The good call quality, audio-video synchronization, and specific gaming mode make the QCY T5 the most complete ultra-cheap wireless earphone to date. This is the total package.
Sound quality of QCY T5
When it comes to the sound quality, the QCY T5 continues on the qualities the QS1, QS2, and T3 already have. There is a difference, however.
The T5 has the same clear mids and highs that the previous models were known and loved for. Both male and female vocals come through with big clarity and liveliness. There are pushed forward in the sound and take a central role, without ruling out other instruments and frequencies. Instruments in the mids and highs, such as cymbals, drums, and piano, sound clear. Happily, they aren't exaggerated and don't sound harsh. Sibilance (the presence of sss-tones in vocals and cymbals) is kept at a minimum too.
The amount of detail is, once again, convincing. The T5 has good stereo imaging and offers musical details to the left and right of you.
Still, the QCY T5 does sound a bit different than its predecessors. It doesn't have the same bass impact. When you put the QS1, QS2, and T3 in and press them deeply, they all deliver a sweet, deep bass thump. The T5 has plenty of bass, but less of a thump. Don't expect the biggest bass kick or an ever rumbling sub-bass here. It's more controlled than that.
Lower-mids enjoy plenty of presence and color the music with their warmth, without playing a foreground role. On some occasions, male vocals can miss their dark, raw edge - because they sound brighter than on other earphones. Most of the time, the musical picture is just right - with impact and detail within the different frequencies.
Whether you want to turn up the bass yourself in an equalizer or not, the QCY T5 always delivers top-class upper-mids and highs. It's one of the most allround and balanced wireless earphones you can get for this price.
QCY T5 comparisons
QCY T5 vs QCY T3
Because the QCY T5 uses regular rubber tips, chances are it will fit you much better than the finicky T3. It lacks the volume touch controls of the T3, but controls more convenient. With the right tips and fit, the T3 does have a more pronounced bass and much more forward vocals. It's just tough to achieve. The T5 sounds smoother and more natural but lacks the same bass impact. When it comes to daily use, the QCY T5 is way more practical and the preferred option.
QCY T5 vs QCY QS2
The bestselling QCY T2C (also known as QS2) is a 20 dollar champion. The T5 has better articulated mids and highs, and sounds clearer. With the right fit, the QS2 can provide a deeper bass than the T5 - yet the bass of the T5 is still definitely capable. The T5 can also handle higher volume levels. Apart from the sound, the T5 wins on all other aspects: battery life, comfort, call quality, audio-video synchronization and touch controls.
QCY T5 vs KZ S1 with hybrid setup
A comparison between the QCY T5 and the later released, excellent, KZ S1 with hybrid setup can't miss, since is it another cheap pair of wireless earphones that combines a balanced sound with a gaming mode. Both the gaming modes of the S1 are T5 are highly comparable, and both can distort on very specific sound frequencies - strangely. When it comes to music playback, The S1 and T5 have comparable bass strikes, but the S1 adds a little more bass depth and lower-mid warmth in the sound. The highs are more opened-up on the QCY T5; and the T5 sounds more dynamic than the S1, which in comparison sounds flatter.
QCY T5 vs SoundPEATS TrueCapsule
With its stem-design and the same price, the SoundPEATS TrueCapsule is a direct competitor to the QCY T5. The QCY is more comfortable because of the tinier earpieces, and its touch controls respond better. Battery life is a bit better too. The TrueCapsule has a more pronounced bass and a warmer sound, but the T5 is the complete package due to the gaming mode and rapid switching between one and two earpieces.
QCY T5 vs SSK BT03
The SSK BT03 doesn't have stems in its design and performs worse on call quality and video/ gaming playback. Its sound quality beats the QCY T5, however. It gets more detail out of music thanks to a more pronounced bass and better-articulated lower-mids. Highs are a bit sharper, though. While the comfort of the BT03 is above average, the T5 is even more comfortable. Between these two, it comes down to sound quality (SSK) versus functionality (QCY).
QCY T5 vs Mpow T5/ M5
There's another terrific true wireless earphone under 50 dollars that goes by the name T5. The Mpow has a lovely full bass and detailed lower-mids. It also offers a bigger soundstage and more precise instrument placement than the QCY. The QCY is more comfortable and more functional, with its proper audio-video synchronization and call quality.
QCY T5 vs SoundPEATS TrueDot
Added May 2020 - The later released $25 SoundPEATS TrueDot is another wireless earphone that sounds warm and balanced. The T5 is a bit brighter than the TrueDot, with more emphasis on vocals and higher notes. It does control its highs better, however. The TrueDot has more bass presence and depth and offers better instrument placement within its soundstage. Dynamics on the TrueDot are also better, with better definition in both the lows and highs when songs become crowded.
QCY T5 vs Edifier X3
Added June 2020 - The QCY T5 with stem-design feels more comfortable in the ears than the newly released and top-rated Edifier X3, due to smaller ear parts. It also handles audio-video synchronization for playing games better than the Edifier. The X3 has around 1,5 hours battery life more, however, and musically, it brings in a heavier bass-slam and more body in the lower-mids. The T5 has a more refined bass, and it sounds smoother and more natural in its mids and highs. The Edifier throws in a more dynamic character. You can't go wrong with one of those two.
QCY T5 vs Haylou T19
Added July 23 2020 - There's a new contester for great sound quality for an ultra-budget price. The QCY T5 has a warmer undertone and a slightly fatter bass thump with easier firing sub-bass rumbles. It also puts more weight onto the lower-mids. The Haylou T19 extends highs further and has more spacial details, with more precise instrument placement and more impact from mid-tones, such as guitars and the piano. Its bass is tighter and its sub-bass more detailed. The biggest difference is tonality, however, with the T5 sounding warmer and a bit friendlier. This is a choice only you should make.
The QCY T5 is a fantastic all-round package for its price. It's comfortable, delivers solid call quality, brilliant connectivity and great audio-video synchronization, even in games. Meet one of the most practical TWS and the best AirPods-alternatives under $50.
Five stars - excellent
Buy QCY T5/ check current price:
Buy QCY T5 on AliExpress
Buy Aukey EP-T21 on Amazon US
Buy Aukey EP-T21 on Amazon Germany
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I bought the QCY T5 / Xiaomi T5 myself to test and review. I test and review all audio products equally honest - read about it here.
Consider buying this earphone? I'd really appreciate it if you use the links in this article. It won't cost you extra, yet it will financially support me a bit in my ongoing quest for great affordable audio. <3
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