Investing in a pair of wireless earbuds may seem like an easy enough task to complete but it’s often laden with a lot of in-depth comparison and research. It isn’t just the price tag that you have to consider, but also the quality and durability of the audio device. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner,
it’s time to gift your other half (or even yourself) something useful that wouldn’t fall into the category of boring or cliché.
Enter Huawei’s FreeBuds 3 — their latest truly wireless open-fit earbuds and the world’s first in combining an open-fit design with active noise cancelling (ANC).
Although an upgrade from the FreeBuds 2, the all-new earbuds retain its lightweight, ergonomic design which contributes to a more comfortable fit in your ears even for long and frequent usage. As compared to its predecessor, the FreeBuds 3 has improved battery life — 4 hours of non-stop playback on a single charge, that is — as well as better sound quality, and an advanced Huawei Kirin A1 Chipset, which reduces latency for an immersive and synchronised audio while you game or watch videos.
We got our hands on a pair of Huawei FreeBuds 3, and here’s what we think about it!
Due to its open-fit design, it took some getting used to especially since we were more familiar with the in-ear earbuds, which typically had a suction-like effect which creates the blocked-out feel. However, the FreeBuds 3 did fit snugly into the ear and even remained in its position no matter how we attempted to knock them loose (i.e. violent shaking of the head). Unlike its competitors, we were impressed with the overall design which offered a greater distance between the stem and the bud itself, which was great for butterfingers like us who have a tendency to drop the earbuds after taking them out.
The Freebuds 3 itself is IPX4-certified which means that they are sweat and water-resistant, though not entirely waterproof. We used them for a 30-minutes brisk walk and though we were sweating from the heat, the earbuds didn’t show any signs of losing its snug position in the ear. We also noticed that due to its snug fit, we didn’t have to adjust it as often as we would with other similar earbuds.
Above: Model Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw with the Huawei FreeBuds 3 in red.
SOUND QUALITY & ANC
With the controls integrated into the earbuds, we found it a lot easier to relay simple commands as well with a double-tap on each earbud — on the left to toggle the ANC function on-and-off, and on the right to
play/pause music or skip tracks.
Now, we’ve all gone through our fair share of subpar wireless earbuds, but we were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality on the Huawei FreeBuds 3. While we had expected a basic stereo-sounding quality, the audio we got from the FreeBuds 3 was delightfully rich with a well-balanced sound. Despite our audio preference for deeper bass lines, the FreeBuds 3 was still able to produce a pronounced bass that complemented the heavy bass songs in our playlist. While we were not entirely sold on the idea of the open-fit design, the FreeBuds 3 did prove its ability in producing a decent, crisp soundstage with every audio output.
Phone calls also came across fairly clear thanks to the Aerodynamic Mic Ducts, which helped to reduce wind noise, alongside the built-in bone voice sensor that effectively enhances the vocals through bone vibrations. We tried this out on a semi-packed bus and was quite impressed with the clarity on both ends!
While music and calls worked out pretty okay without ANC, we found that the added noise cancelling feature actually helped to create a better all-round audio experience, especially if you often listen to audio with low-end frequencies. As we were aware that ambient noise is impossible to avoid especially on crowded trains, we had the ANC feature switched on to accommodate our listening of an episode of a podcast. Despite the lack of that seal-like feel in our ear, the FreeBuds 3 was still able to effectively block out most of the noise in the train carriage.
Like any other true wireless earbuds, the Huawei FreeBuds 3 comes with a charging case that has its own battery and charges your earbuds on-the-go. Instead of the standard boxy-shaped case, the Huawei FreeBuds 3 is shaped like a disc and fits right into the palm of your hand. Apart from its unique shape, the circular case is built with a spring-loaded flap that powers up when opened, alongside an LED light that indicates battery percentage.
Engineered with fast charge tech, the charging case makes it possible for you to power up your earbuds in 30 minutes. When charged fully, the FreeBuds 3 are able to deliver four hours of playback time although the duration does vary if you use noise-cancelling often.
The charging case has a capacity of 410mAh which means that you can get at least 20 more hours of playback even if you are out and about. Recharging the case itself has also been made easier with an option for you to charge via the USB-C port or through wireless charging.
Above: Music Producer and CO-founder of Zendyll records, Jon Chua, with the Huawei FreeBuds 3 in red.
BLUETOOTH PAIRING ON ANDROID & iOS PHONES
Though the Huawei FreeBuds 3 is pegged out to be an Android-favouring pair of earbuds, connection to the FreeBuds 3 was surprisingly seamless for an Android Huawei Mate 30 Pro, and an Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max — both of which we used to test the pairing process.
Connection using the Huawei Mate 30 Pro was via the Huawei AI Life App which had additional features for us to play around with. In addition to giving us a summary of battery percentages for our FreeBuds 3, we were also allowed to tune the amount of noise reduction for ANC as well as customise the shortcuts we would like to have on the earbuds. The built-in Kirin A1 Chip also performs better with faster pairing and improved Bluetooth range to ensure you get the best connectivity. When paired with Huawei devices that are running on EMUI10, the FreeBuds 3 unveils the bonus Wearing Detection feature which allows you to stop and resume playback each time you take out either of your earbuds.
As the FreeBuds 3 are primarily built for Huawei and Android phones, the Huawei AI Life App is unfortunately not available for iOS users to download. As such, pairing between the FreeBuds 3 and the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max was done via the Bluetooth feature within the phone and the pairing button on the charging case. Although iOS users may miss out on the personalisation features from the app, we felt that this wasn’t much of a dealbreaker as compared to other wireless earbuds.
Above: actress and host munah bagharib with the Huawei FreeBuds 3 in red.
VERDICT: THE HUAWEI FREEBUDS 3 ARE WORTH IT
Though some would argue that an in-ear model would be more beneficial for daily use because of its passive noise-cancelling abilities, we’d like to think that there is a bonus in owning a pair with an open-fit design like the Huawei FreeBuds 3; especially if you’re someone who is looking for a reliable alternative which is affordable, comfortable, and does not require having the buds jammed into your ears.
Just in time for the season of love and passion, the Huawei FreeBuds 3 ($238) will be available in their all-new striking Valentine Red Edition, which highlights the red version’s double coat of paint and advanced UV coating techniques. Learn more about how the Huawei FreeBuds 3 can better your listening experience here.