The MOTTO are wireless Bluetooth earphones that have a dongle on the end, attached to two-foot cables that terminate to an inner-ear-outer-ear earbud. The earbud design is somewhat reminiscent to Sony earphones, and has a spun metal decorate cap on the end.
The MOTTO’s dongle is made from plastic and houses the internal lithium polymer battery, the play/pause/power/pairing button, a volume rocker switch, and a slider switch that turns the noise cancelling mode on or off. On the back of the dongle is a spring-loaded shirt clip that you attach to your shirt or lapel. On the bottom of the dongle is a micro USB port for charging the earphones, and a 3.5 audio input jack for connecting to your source device should the battery go dead (a simple 3.5-3.5mm cable is included). Also included are a couple pairs of different-sized silicon ear tips, and rubber rings you can put in place should you choose to remove the silicon outer-ear guides. You also get micro USB cable, and a nice zipper neoprene-feeling pouch to store the MOTTO in your bag.
As I mentioned before, the MOTTO is an inner-outer-ear design, which means the silicon tips go into the inner ear, but the body of the earphone rests in the outer ear in a bud design. This earbud design means that the earphones remain very comfortable for wearing for long periods of time, and are easy to insert in the ears. On the flip side, however, the earbud design means that passive noise isolation is average at best, and there is quite a bit of ambient sound that comes in. The other downside is that the earbud design means these earphones sit loosely in my ears, and have a greater tendency of falling out. To counteract this problem, the MOTTO has silicon ear guide hoops that put pressure on the top part of the outer ear canal to stay put. I personally would have preferred an outer-ear wing guide design that stays put better, and braces against more of the outer ear.
Bluetooth and Controls
The MOTTO connects via Bluetooth, and has an NFC chip for easy pairing to Android phones. I used the MOTTO with my iPhone 7, and I was able to achieve a steady connection with little hangup time before the earphones connected. My one complaint is that there is some audible chirping and radio noise when I have MOTTO connected, and I am in a quiet environment. In a commuting environment, however, there was little issue.
The volume controls work with the iPhone, but I did notice that the volume increases and decreases by two steps, instead of one step. The play and pause control works fine for my iPhone, but there is no Siri or voice assistant function, so holding down the play/pause button will turn off the earphones. Another bonus is that these earphones also have a microphone located on the right cable leading to the earbud, which allows you to make phone calls or video calls. I tried out the microphone, and I came in loud and clear to the person on the other end.
The battery is quoted at 7 hours, and in my testing, I achieved 6-7 hours. Charging takes around 3 hours, and these headphones can be charged by ay micro USB cable. Smartomi does recommend against plugging these headphones into a wall outlet adapter like you get on smartphones, so I charged them off either my laptop, or my small external batteries.
As someone who is spoilt by the best-in-class active noise cancellation (ANC) of the Bose QuietComfort series, I honestly thought that the ANC on the MOTTO was going to be subpar at best. Much to my surprise however, it is actually quite good, especially given the price of these earphones. No, the MOTTO is not going to rival the ANC performance of a Bose QC35 or a Sony MDR-1000X, but it performs better than its price would suggest. Keep in mind that the ANC is not as quiet as those other, far more expensive products, so there will be some audible hissing. When I turned on the ANC while riding the bus, the MOTTO provided a great deal of active noise cancellation (from road noise, roar from the engine and heaters running). I switched off the ANC mode just to be sure, and indeed there was an audible difference in the ambient sound level. Keep in mind that the earphones are an outer earbud design that fits somewhat loosely in the outer ear, so passive noise isolation is not fantastic. On the flip side, this little isolation means that you can turn off the ANC mode, and hear enough ambient noise to be aware of your surroundings while you walk around. I recommend, however, that one always takes an earbud out of one ear before they do something like cross a street.
These earphones have a good sound for their price. I do notice, however, that they fall a little short in their midrange presence. They are somewhat withdrawn, so an EQ boost to the midrange helps to even out the sound. Bass is mostly neutral, but does have a little extra thump in the lower midbass, so the MOTTO keeps up nicely with hip-hop, pop and dance music. ANC mode seems to add a little bass boost, and makes the sound weightier than when the ANC is turned off.
The treble doesn’t seem to have any issues with spikes or other trouble spots, so I have no complaints there. For a feature-packed earphone that costs less than 60 dollars, the MOTTO’s sound quality holds up well.
I originally thought I was not going to like the Smartomi MOTTO, since I have been so accustomed to much more expensive wireless and ANC devices. By the time of this review, however, I was impressed with how well these earphones hold their own in features and ANC performance. At such a low price for what you are getting, the MOTTO makes for a great commuting earphone. They aren’t the best for working out, since the earbuds will probably slip out, but for causal use in mobile settings, these are a great option.
What I would like to see in a future version is more midrange, a little less hiss from the ANC circuitry, and ear guides that have a wing design, which would help to make the earbuds more secure in the ears. Overall, though, the MOTTO is a great value for the money, and I would recommend it to people looking for an affordable wireless earphone for public transit commutes. I would like to thank Jennifer and the staff at Smartomi for kindly sending me the MOTTO to review.