Huawei’s FreeBuds 3 are a solid alternative to Apple’s AirPods Pro
By most estimates, Apple’s AirPods enterprise alone is price about $eight billion. Let that sink in for a minute. No surprise everybody’s stepping into the true wi-fi earbuds recreation — from Samsung to Google to Microsoft to Amazon. And in fact, Huawei joined the get together a whereas in the past. Its third technology FreeBuds 3, whereas beating the AirPods Pro to market (IFA 2019), compete instantly with Apple’s newest providing.
I‘ve been using Huawei’s FreeBuds 3 on and off for a couple months now, but in addition loved a transient stint with Apple’s AirPods Pro, so right here’s what you want to know. This isn’t a direct comparability or a full-on assessment. I simply need to share my expertise with the FreeBuds 3 from the attitude of somebody who primarily makes use of Android and enjoys high quality audio. I’d take into account myself an audiophile, however I’m simply not pedantic sufficient to qualify, nor do I need to be.
Basically, the FreeBuds 3 are $200 Bluetooth 5.1 true wi-fi earbuds with energetic noise cancellation that feel and look like AirPods (non Pro) however sound a lot better. They work greatest with Android telephones since there’s no iOS app, and supply further comfort options when paired with a Huawei handset.
If you’re aware of the AirPods’ design, you already know what to anticipate from the FreeBuds 3. The solely main distinction is that Huawei’s earbuds are additionally out there in black, and that the case is formed otherwise. Instead of a rectangle with rounded corners, the FreeBuds 3 have a round case with rounded edges. The prime third of the case pops opens to retailer/cost the earbuds and reveal an LED that displays the earbud’s cost stage (crimson for low, yellow for mid, and inexperienced for top).
At the underside of the case you’ll discover a USB Type-C connector and one other LED that relays the case’s state of cost. While the FreeBuds 3 and a lot of the case are shiny plastic, the hinge is a darkish chrome Huawei-branded metallic sq. that’s centered on the bottom of the case. A pairing button, positioned on the suitable fringe of the case completes the bundle. Other than being a fingerprint magnet, all of it appears and feels appropriately premium.
If you’ve ever worn AirPods (non Pro), you already know what to anticipate from the FreeBuds 3 when it comes to consolation. For me, the match is great, and the earbuds don’t fall out of my ears, regardless of how a lot I shake my head. Unlike the AirPods Pro and most different noise canceling earbuds, the FreeBuds 3 don’t have silicon suggestions to type a seal contained in the ear or present any sort of passive noise cancellation. This makes them extraordinarily snug to put on and fewer seemingly to transmit vibrations (like your individual footsteps) into your ears.
In phrases of audio efficiency, the FreeBuds 3 are a huge enchancment over the AirPods and, in my view, sound extra pure than the AirPods Pro. Before I proceed, let me warn you that I’m choosy about audio and I discover most fashionable headphones and earbuds too bass heavy. I want a flat frequency curve, detailed mids/highs, and exact imaging. My headphones of alternative are $150 BeyerDynamic DT990 PRO and my default “earbuds” are $250 Etymotic Research ER 4SR in-ear screens (IEMs). You can even discover me listening to Sennheiser HD 600, Sony WH-1000XM3, plus choose Westone, Shure, Grado, Shure, and AKG merchandise.
With that out of the way in which, the FreeBuds 3 exhibit a slight bass bump out of the field, however in contrast to the Huawei Freelace I reviewed final 12 months, it’s gentle sufficient that I selected to forego EQ generally. The FreeBuds 3 rendered Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You” with a spectacular stage of finesse and nuance. I discovered the mids/highs spectacular for true wi-fi earbuds, with voices and cymbals sounding notably wealthy. The low finish is solid, and imaging is crisp. If something, the FreeBuds 3 may be a bit scientific at occasions, however that’s a minor fault. I solely want the earbuds additionally supported aptX.
Noise cancellation works wonderful, however the FreeBuds 3 can’t match the AirPods Pro’s efficiency. Yes, having a seal contained in the ear helps. That being stated, Huawei’s earbuds do an OK job at eradicating steady ambient noise like followers. In different phrases, noise cancellation nonetheless makes a distinction — simply don’t anticipate the FreeBuds 3 to change your Sony WH-1000XM3 in your subsequent flight. On the plus facet, you’ll be able to alter the quantity of noise cancellation within the app.
Speaking of which, noise cancellation struggles when it’s windy outdoors. On a current stroll I discovered myself having to continuously alter the quantity of noise cancellation within the app for the FreeBuds 3 to correctly get rid of visitors noise. This is annoying, however isn’t a problem in calmer climate. As for telephone calls, the FreeBuds 3 do a good job. Callers heard me loud and clear, even in noisy environments, making conversations straightforward and pure.
The FreeBuds 3 are rated at four hours of battery life every, plus 20 hours extra with the case. In my expertise, 3 hours of use per cost is extra lifelike, particularly when utilizing noise cancellation and listening at greater volumes. Still, I truthfully haven’t any complaints right here. The case helps 6W wired charging, and 2W Qi-compatible wi-fi charging, so you could have choices when it comes to topping off.
Huawei makes an app oddly referred to as AI Life (out there within the Google Play Store), which helps you to alter varied settings, like the quantity of noise discount and the double-tap conduct for every earbud. It additionally allows firmware updates, however in contrast to Sony’s Headphones Connect app, there’s no EQ performance. For these rocking a Huawei telephone working EMUI 10 or greater — just like the P30 Pro or Mate 30 Pro — the FreeBuds 3 help two extra comfort options: pop open to pair, and carrying detection.
Overall, Huawei appears to have hit the candy spot with the FreeBuds 3. They beat the AirPods Pro on worth, consolation, and sound high quality, Sure, the design is by-product at greatest and copied at worst, energetic noise discount is primary, and the app solely helps Android, however regardless of having entry to a huge number of true wi-fi earbuds — from Apple, Samsung, Sony, Razer, TCL, and Jabra — I maintain coming again to the FreeBuds 3 for informal listening. That’s gotta depend for one thing, proper?