At first glance, the ZMI PurPods Pro look quite a bit like AirPods. There’s a white rounded-rectangle charging case with a flip cover that reveals two earbuds with stems. Of course, it’s not exactly uncommon to see this style, and it does look nice, but a more unique design would have been welcome.
The front of the charging case is (weirdly) mostly flat, with a button containing the ZMI logo and an LED in the bottom right. I say weirdly because this case has wireless charging, which is on the rounded back. You’d think the flat surface would be where the charging coil is to make it easier to place. Either way, it’s just a little weird.
Moving onto the bottom, there’s a USB-C port, which is definitely nice to see since a lot of the cheaper wireless earbuds being sold are still using Micro-USB.
As for the earbuds themselves, they really do look like a combination of AirPods and AirPods Pro. Each one has a stem with touch controls, the drivers themselves have a rounded design very similar to Apple’s, and so on.
But the look doesn’t really matter so much. After all, can you see your own ears? What really matters is the functionality: setup, battery life, sound, experience, etc.
I’ve had some bad experiences with wireless earbuds and their initial setup. Sometimes they won’t properly enter pairing mode, or the obligatory app will refuse to recognize them. None of that was a problem with the ZMI PurPods Pro. I opened the case, held down the button to enter pairing mode, ran the ZMI Hear app, and they were discovered and paired in under a minute.
Connecting them to a computer or a phone without the app is also easy. Just enter pairing mode and connect. It’s about as seamless as Bluetooth can be, ignoring any fancy connection-switching technology that doesn’t work reliably anyway.
Before I go into using the ZMI PurPods Pro, I want to talk about the app a little bit. The ZMI Hear app is pretty simple–maybe too simple.
Once the PurPods Pro are connected, you get a status display with the remaining battery in each earbud and the case. Below are the options, starting with the Noise Control category.
Noise Control basically means whether you have active noise cancellation active or not, although the ZMI PurPods Pro also have options for ambient sound and wind noise canceling.
Below that is the Equalizer category, which isn’t as much of an equalizer as it is a bass boost switch. The only two options are Bass and Balance.
After those two sections, there are a few more sound-related options, including Adaptive Volume, which claims to adjust the earbuds’ volume based on the amount of noise around you, Adaptive ANC, which changes the intensity of the active noise cancellation based on how loud your environment is, and In-Ear Detection, which will send a pause signal to your device when you remove the earbuds and a play signal when you put them back in.
There are also some miscellaneous options. The Shortcuts setting lets you change two of the touch gestures in a limited way. You can only customize the double-tap and long-press options. You can change the actions for double-tapping on the left and right earbuds independently to one of the following:
- Wake up voice assistant
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
- Gaming mode
You don’t get any other options.
The long-press option is even more limited since it can only cycle through the different noise cancellation modes. The only thing you can do here is change which modes are part of the cycle. It would have been nice to see more customization options here since there are more valid touch gestures and other actions.
On top of the limited gesture settings, you can tell the app to play a sound to one or both of the earbuds (as long as they’re connected) to help you find them, and you can change the name of the device.
There is a firmware update option, but in the time I’ve had the ZMI PurPods Pro, I haven’t seen any updates, and it seems like the server may not be the most reliable.
Finally, there’s a FAQ option, with some basic troubleshooting steps, along with a big Remove Device button at the very bottom.
Like I said at the beginning, the ZMI Hear app is possibly too simple. I’d personally like to see a few more options for gestures and maybe an actual equalizer. But what’s there does seem to work pretty well, so I can’t complain too much.
Usage & Comfort
If you’ve ever had a pair of earbuds or headphones that just don’t fit quite right, you’ll know how important it is to find a comfortable way to listen to audio. It’s also important that they work well.
Luckily, the ZMI PurPods Pro are pretty comfortable. They’re plenty light, so you probably won’t even feel them most of the time. And if the default rubber tips don’t work for you, ZMI provides both a smaller and a larger option. But all of that is pretty standard for earbuds these days. Even if you don’t like the included tips, you can easily buy some on Amazon or eBay.
What really sets wireless earbuds apart now is how easy they are to use. Do the controls respond well? Are they intuitive? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag with the ZMI PurPods Pro.
The controls themselves are somewhat limited, with the only available gestures being single-press, double-press, triple-press, and long-press. But while there may not be very many gestures, the ones that are there work well. You do need to use a bit of pressure, but that’s intentional so you don’t accidentally pause your music when you want to adjust the earbuds. I’ve never had trouble with the earbuds confusing gestures or ignoring presses.
The problems come in with the automatic stuff. The ZMI PurPods Pro have a proximity sensor in each earbud to automatically pause and play audio when you take them out and put them back in. In my experience, it’s not the most reliable. Sometimes music will pause randomly and just wiggling the earbuds around will make it resume.
There’s also a weird issue where the active noise cancellation will disable itself. I think it’s related to the proximity sensor issue, since wiggling the earbuds usually reactivates it, but it’s pretty unreliable. I’ve even tried turning off all of the adaptive stuff, in case that was affecting anything. It still happens. This is definitely something that could be fixed in firmware, but I haven’t seen any updates in the 2 months since they shipped out.
ZMI advertises a battery life of 7 hours on a single charge with active noise cancellation enabled. As far as my experience goes, that’s pretty accurate. I’ve been able to use them for well over 6 hours with active noise cancellation enabled.
If you disable active noise cancellation, the advertised battery life goes up to 10 hours. I haven’t personally tested that, but I see no reason to doubt it.
Sound & Microphone
The final big important part of earbuds is how they sound, and the ZMI PurPods Pro sound pretty good. I wasn’t blown away or anything, but they don’t sound muddy, they don’t have excessive bass (even with the Bass mode in the equalizer), and they have a good amount of range.
Especially for something that costs $80-$100, you probably won’t be disappointed.
As for the extra sound features, the active noise cancellation isn’t amazing, but it’s definitely effective. I would put it slightly behind the OPPO Enco Q1 earbuds’. Ambient mode, which uses the microphones to pipe environmental audio to the drivers, is your basic ambient mode. It makes it easier to hear the outside world, but doesn’t have a “natural” amount of range, and is slightly delayed. If you’ve used ambient mode before, you know what it sounds like.
Finally, the microphones. I didn’t do too much testing here (since who even calls anymore), but I did use them for a while in a Discord voice call on Windows. People said I sounded fine using the PurPods’ microphones, and the delay, even without Gaming Mode enabled, there was minimal audio latency using the Stereo audio options (not Hands-Free).
Where to Buy
If you’re interested in the ZMI PurPods Pro, you can get them for $65-$100, depending on the source.
Just be aware that, depending on where you buy the ZMI PurPods Pro, you might be waiting up to a month for them to arrive.
Overall, I’d say the ZMI PurPods Pro are a good pair of earbuds. For under $100, you get a higher-than-average battery life, effective active noise cancellation (when it works properly), and good sound. They do have some issues, like the unreliable proximity sensors and a lack of gesture and action options, but it’s hard to complain about them considering the price.
If you’re in the market for some true-wireless earbuds that generally work well and sound good, the ZMI PurPods Pro are definitely a good budget option.