Marshall Headphones always had a confusing line-up of earbuds. This is getting better now. I was disappointed by the tiny Mode II because I could not get a proper seal and thus no bass, but the two new models are solid entries.
The Minor III is an AirPods clone with a dark bad-ass design. You pair them, you stick them in, you play music. That’s it. No settings, no app, nothing. They play up to 5 hours, are IPX3 rated and you can recharge them from the case four times. They have one microphone each for phone calls, you can use either one or both, and they have touch control for music and call control. The left one works exactly like the right one. Like the AirPods they do not seal the ear canal, so the bass volume is somewhat limited but in true Marshall style, they can get really loud.
Motif A.N.C. is a different beast. They seal the ear canal like AirPods Pro, they have ANC and transparency, and you can configure them in an app. I had a perfect seal with the medium size ear gels. If you don’t hear a thumping bass, try other sizes. This is really important and was the source of my frustration with the Mode II.
Battery life depends on ANC use: 4.5 hours with, up to 6 hours without. The case will recharge for a total playtime of 20 or 26 hours respectively. The buds are IPX5 rated, the case only IPX4. Both earbuds have two microphones each for ANC and one microphone each for voice pickup, which gets augmented by one of the ANC mics for beamforming.
The Motif earbuds are clearly my favorite of the two since I can make them mine through customization. Touch control can be turned off, custom touch actions on both ears let you control different aspects, they have a five band equalizer and three profiles. Clever: you can charge to only 80% for a prolonged battery life.
Both cases can be charged with USB-C or on a Qi inductive pad. The earbuds connect via Bluetooth 5.1, the smarter Motif buds use an additional Low Energy connection for control. The sound on both is solid, the matte black color is a welcome departure from the AirPods white. What I actually like best is the fat stem that provides a good grip. The case however feels cheap because the hinge does not open or close as solid as competing earbuds.
I am a huge fan of the Major IV on-ears and the Monitor II A.N.C. over-ears. The true wireless line-up is less convincing. List prices for the three products is 179 Eur for the Mode II, 129 Eur for the Minor III and 199 Eur for the Motif A.N.C. There isn’t much you can design-wise with earbuds that mostly disappear in your ears, but Marshall did a good job on the new earbuds. Mode II is tiny and did not work for me. The other two do work but they do not earn the editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award like the Major IV and Monitor II A.N.C. did. My favorite Marshall product remains the Stockwell II portable speaker.