Huawei’s FreeBuds 3 are the first truly wireless open-fit earbuds with active noise cancellation in the world and offer a lot of usability with their price tag of € 179/£170.
Inside these tiny buds is a Kirin A1 with Bluetooth 5.1 support which requires a connection time of 2.5s, anything called a dual channel isochron communication that saves power and reduced latency in the 190s. The FreeBuds 3 is immune to IPX4 spray, although their case provides easy USB-C charging as well as wireless charging.
So let’s take a look at them and see how well they are doing in real life.
The Huawei FreeBuds 3 is an open-fit earphone, so they don’t have a rubber tip at the end that sticks into your ear canal. Because of this, they are usually less noisy and more relaxed over longer periods of use, but they are also not isolating the external noise and their bass is not as centered.
I am one of those people who prefer open-fit earbuds to put comfort over accuracy, and I consider the Huawei FreeBuds 3 stunning to wear between my hands. I had them in my eyes for several hours at a time during my two-week testing period and had no complications.
The FreeBuds 3 are quickly forgotten at less than 5 g per earbud.
We also have a very thin condition at a hair under 50 g. It’s a little larger than the AirPods 2 example, but just as well it fits inside a bag.
Let’s return to the AirPods. Clearly, the Huawei FreeBuds 3 is deeply inspired by the omnipresent earbuds from Apple. I’m sure you didn’t see at first glance that the AirPods (2-gen) and FreeBuds 3 were cross-placed in the image below. You’d note that the AirPods 2 has a slightly larger driver opening and a more contoured stem design after further inspection.
The battery is another key difference. The Huawei FreeBuds 3 guarantees 4 hours of battery on the earbuds (each with 30mAh of power) and another 16 hours (410mAh inside) through the charging case. The 2-gen AirPods deliver up to 5 hours of autonomous listening, while the AirPods Pro offers 4.5 hours-both more than the buds of Huawei.
The FreeBuds 3 fits with every smartphone out there, but because of Huawei’s AI Life feature, they are better suited for Android devices and work best with Huawei smartphones running EMUI 10.
Pairing is smooth and snappy-open the case and keep the pair button on the side of the case, the FreeBuds 3 will appear in your Bluetooth screen. The configuration is even simpler for Huawei devices-open the case and you will get an instant request from the device to connect to FreeBuds 3-just like AirPods on an iPhone and Galaxy Buds on a Samsung smartphone.
You can use a sequence of taps to monitor the FreeBuds 3 features-a double tap on the left earbud makes or disables effective noise cancelation while a double tap on the right activates and ceases playback.
You can download the Huawei AI Life app from the Play Store (or the Huawei App Market) if you have an Android phone. From there you can monitor what’s going on with the double tap movements (you can disable it or configure it to invoke the voice assistant), upgrade the earbuds software and change the noise cancelation rate.
Noise cancellation and battery
The Huawei FreeBuds 3 offer up to 15dB of active noise cancellation and it’s immediately felt, but not overly impressive. Noise cancellation works by analyzing the noise in your environment through the microphones on each earbud, creating a waveform of the noise and then creating a counter, phase-inverted waveform to cancel out the noise. This works best with constant low-frequency noise such as the hum of a fan or the drone of an engine.
ANC works hard on the FreeBuds 3 to neutralize noise, but does a fading job. Most of this is the earbuds ‘ open-fit nature, which can not eliminate outside noise. The other aspect is the ANC’s lack of consistency-sometimes by making the result a bit jarring it will unexpectedly let some sound (such as a flowing faucet that instantly is noticeable for a second or two).
If you haven’t used luxury headphones with active noise cancellation, the Huawei FreeBuds 3 calming effect will inspire you. But if you’ve seen some of the best, you’re going to find the FreeBuds 3 a little bad.
It’s a good battery life. I easily got around 90 percent intensity 3-4 hours of music playback and went through two full days of listening at home before the case started blinking green.
Then a stay of 30 minutes on the USB-C cable got the case back up to 100%-that’s very easy. Huawei reports a wired charge of 6W and a wireless charge of 2W.
How do they serve
Then a 30-minute stay on the USB-C cable had the case back up to 100%, which is very simple. Huawei reports a 6W wired load and a 2W wireless load.
The FreeBuds 3 fails relative to Apple’s 2-gen AirPods. The earbuds of Apple have a better bass, a more complex voice, and get quieter in particular. And with the AirPods Pro being in-ear instead of open-fit, they would probably sound much better.
But with an Android device, no one uses AirPods, which is why many people should consider the Huawei FreeBuds 3 over the earbuds of Apple. The FreeBuds 3 cost the same as AirPods 2 with a standard case for starting at € 179/£170 and almost € 100 less than AirPods Pro, though providing USB-C for wireless charging as well as ANC.
The FreeBuds 3 are also very convenient for extended use, which due to their good battery life is also not a concern. But what is most important-it sounds great to Huawei’s FreeBuds 3.
Still, these aren’t inexpensive and if you’re willing to go for Bluetooth earbuds with a wire in between, you might get better sound quality from some of their in-ear competitors or even score a much cheaper but still good substitute. And if you’re not at all concerned with the wireless aspect, then you’re looking at better-sounding buds under $30, but then why are you reading this review?
The Huawei FreeBuds 3 has on their hand convenience and comfort. These are the best earbuds for on – the-go audiobooks and music and have some noise-cancelation added benefit. Due to features like the quick pause and play once you remove the earbuds, they’re an even better proposition for Huawei holders.
Waiting for some price cuts when they hit Black Friday and then the Holiday season is probably a good idea.