Huawei FreeBuds 3 is one of the competitors with similar characteristics, but differences in design and a more affordable price. The segment of wireless headsets is going through interesting times, and this is largely due to Apple. The company has made fashionable the rejection of the audio jack and compact truly wireless earplugs. The trend was eagerly picked up not only by buyers but also by manufacturers. This year, AirPods Pro set a new bar: not only true wireless, not only compact and lightweight but also with active noise reduction. Not formal, but quite real. We already had an overview of the amazing Sony WF-1000XM3 TWS headset with noise reduction.
What is it?
Huawei FreeBuds 3 is Huawei’s true wireless headset with Apple AirPods design. Like last year’s model, it is equipped with a noise reduction system, but it has slightly more modern characteristics (an intelligent Kirin A1 processor and Bluetooth 5.1 support). Unlike last year’s Free Buds, these are liners, not plugs.
How do they look?
By design – one-on-one like canonical AirPods, with the only difference being that the model is available in black. The glossy “charcoal black” willingly collects signs of use, from time to time the headphones need to be wiped so as not to look like a slut. The case is completely plastic, there is a silver insert at the bottom – also plastic.
The design is such that it is impossible to insert them incorrectly. In the ears, they sit like a glove. And they are lightweight at all (4.5 g each, which is 20% less than AirPods Pro). On the one hand, there is a big and fat plus – you can even train with them in the gym and run, not even the heavy Sony WF-1000XM3. On the other – and a minus, since the headset does not shine with autonomy.
There are two microphones on the case, as well as a touch control unit. It’s inconvenient that the active area is small, in fact, this is only the top of the headphone leg. If you remove one earphone, playback stops, but you can start it manually. If you remove both, then the headphones will continue to play (they will be turned off only in the case), delighting with the loud sound of others.
Case for carrying, it is also for recharging. Also compact and also in the spirit of Apple, it can be carried not only in a small handbag but also in your pocket. It supports fast wireless charging and charging via a wired Type-C interface, as well as reverse charging, but only with Huawei smartphones. The case easily opens with one hand. Inside, the headphones hold tight to the magnets, they just won’t fall out. Small diodes indicate if each earphone is charged.
The glossy finish is surprisingly scratch resistant. Worn with keys and small things, small imperceptible scratches may appear, but overall, it looks decent even after three weeks in the bag. The only thing that collects fingerprints is the classic black gloss issue.
In general, the design and ergonomics of the model are on top, if you do not take into account the rollback with the form factor and a modest set of gestures for control.
How to manage them?
You can control the Huawei FreeBuds 3 headset using the Huawei AI Life app. It displays the charge for each of the headphones and for the cover (by the way, you can roll up the update only with more than 30% charge for the cover).
By default, double-tap on the left earphone turns on / off noise reduction, on the right – switches the track to the next. Unfortunately, the variations end there. You can change the types of actions in the application, but you won’t add the number of gestures. But you can control the intensity of the noise reduction. The headset supports the work of voice assistants, apparently, because everything is so meager with gestures.
What is the sound?
Despite the fact that the third-generation Free Buds headphones have become regular earbuds, thanks to active whispering, the environment does not interfere with enjoying music. The same thing with the conversation – the interlocutor is heard perfectly, the voice sounds natural, he hears me well. The characteristics indicate that the design of the headphone can cope with winds up to 20 km / h, that is, the device will not lose conversation even while running and cycling.
The only drawback of the open design, in fact, is that the music outside is also well audible, and if you remove the headset and twist the sound to the maximum – almost a disco.
The specifications stated that the chip supports dual channel synchronous data technology and audio processing technology with a frequency of 356 MHz. This allows you to transmit the signal stably and without interference, even in places with high congestion (stations, airports), as well as transmit sound synchronously and without delay. In general, yes, I did not have to complain about signal transmission.
The noise can be felt even when the music is not playing. There is a feeling that you are as if in a vacuum and you can hear only those sounds that relate to your own body – if you tap on the headset, type on the keyboard, etc. In the subway, the sound of the train, of course, is not completely muffled, but still, it does not have to be “shouted out” with the help of volume. The same thing near the road. When I listened to music at home with active noise reduction, I did not hear the doorbell, although it was a couple of meters from it.
By the way, all this happened on the default noise reduction settings. This is about a third to a quarter of the possibilities of FreeBuds 3. In a big city, you can bet in the middle, but I would not risk more. Unless in a loud but safe place like an airplane or train.
Application settings and noise reduction, in particular, are very modest compared to the Sony headset. I can’t say that this is a big minus for me personally because I was satisfied with the default options offered by the manufacturer, they are quite universal. But there are users who are more important to drown out the sounds of conversations (for example, because they work in a noisy office) or industrial noise. This is not here, I think that for such people this is a specific drawback.
Huawei FreeBuds 3 has a 14mm dynamic emitter. As for the musical abilities of the headset, on the whole, they are not bad, although they are inferior to the Sony WF-1000XM3. It seemed to me that Sonya sounds cleaner, brighter and deeper, they are for more demanding listeners. Although here everything is pretty good with bass, and with a three-dimensional picture, and in general. As much as possible for wireless headphones. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of AirPods, so I can’t compare it. In my life, I use either the wireless OPPO Enco Q1 or inexpensive wired headphones. In my opinion, they are comparable in sound. But if you are one of those who expect a perfect sound from the headset, you are definitely not in the true wireless category.
What about the battery?
The manufacturer promises up to four hours of operation of the headphones on a single charge and up to 20 hours – taking into account the capabilities of the case. For reasons incomprehensible to me, my left earpiece always discharged faster than the right one, this can be seen even in the screenshot from the application.
Also, the characteristics indicate that 15 minutes of recharge is enough for 90 minutes of sound. In my life, in some scenarios, I lacked the autonomy of FreeBuds. For example, if I go shopping somewhere, I often listen to music all the time, and in the end, I had to recharge them at least once during my shopping trip. But in the format – go to training, drive to the office, meeting, etc. – fine. If without long trips, then fully charging the headset with a case was enough for four days stably.
What are the alternatives?
There are already a number of headphones in the true wireless noise-canceling form factor on the market, but in fact, it only works well in the latest models. So the competitors at FreeBuds 3 so far, two, and miscalculated. AirPods Pro – for iPhone and Sony WF-1000XM3 owners – for Android. We’ll leave Apple out of the brackets since it’s still more convenient for owners of the technology of this brand to stay within the ecosystem. Sony WF-1000XM3 is better in terms of sound, autonomy and noise reduction settings, but they cost more. FreeBuds 3 has the advantage of smart ergonomics, a convenient compact case with wireless charging and a slightly lower price. Although, I think, with such a price tag, the difference is not so great as to take it into account. Therefore, I advise you to build on use cases. If you have an active lifestyle and would like to train with such headphones, Sony is not an option at all. Also, they are not so convenient in everyday life due to the size of the charging case. But if the first two factors are not important for you, then the WF-1000XM3 looks more interesting.
Formally, last year’s FreeBuds also had a noise reduction system. But this is only formal. The difference in price between the models is about two times, and it is completely justified, in my opinion.
In the dry residue
Headphones in the true wireless category, and even with noise-canceling, are still very expensive and not for those who value sound above all else. It’s convenient, practical enough, but damn expensive. If the price factor does not bother you and you are ready to pay extra for the novelty of technologies, then FreeBuds 3 is one of those models that you can pay attention to if you have an Android smartphone.
3 reasons to buy Huawei FreeBuds 3:
working noise reduction system;
slightly more affordable prices than the nearest competitor.
2 reasons not to buy Huawei FreeBuds 3:
the existence of Sony WF-1000XM3 (for those who can not deny themselves anything);
modest autonomy (excluding the charge from the case).