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Huawei FreeBuds 3 Review - Seamless connection, high-quality audio, ANC!

Xtreme
In order to make a dent in the ever-growing TWS (true wireless stereo) earphones market, Huawei has recently outed the FreeBuds 3.
Huawei FreeBuds 3 Review - Seamless connection, high quality audio, ANC!
The best TWS right now?

Armed with an enhanced aesthetics for comfort, AI smarts, active noise cancellation (ANC), a large dynamic driver (speaker), and a more affordable PHP 8,990 price tag, the FreeBuds 3 is the Chinese tech giant's bet to take on the likes of Apple AirPods 2, AirPods Pro, and more.

Let's see in this review if it is really that good and if it the one for you in this review.

Unboxing/Accessories

Everything inside the box
Everything inside the box

Huawei kept its packaging simple with the nice print of the buds and the company's logo in gold. Inside the box, you'll find the charging case with the earbuds inside, USB-A to USB-C charging case, and the paper documents such as the warranty card and manual.

There's no sight of a USB wall charger and carrying pouch which would have been a welcome addition in the package.

Build Quality/Design

The body
The body

Huawei FreeBuds 3 uses a neat all polycarbonate construction with a glossy finish. It also has IPX4 water splash resistance which means that it is safe to use during workouts.

While the materials that Huawei used for the FreeBuds 3 are good, be a bit careful with it as it is a bit prone to hairline scratches.

FreeBuds 3 arrived with an AirPods 2 like design, but better. The earpieces of the Carbon Black edition even has a trim of chrome painting at the bottom that makes it look sleeker to my eyes.

Also, it uses the 
Bionic Dolphin Design with curves to let the buds sit deeper in the ear and let you enjoy better audio quality.

Pocketable case!

The case is also neat. It is a tiny rounded case designed to easily fit pockets and rest easily in the palm.
Rounded case
Rounded case

This case also serves as the charging dock, extra power supply, and pairing pod for the wireless earphones.
Flip to open design with LED indicator inside
Flip to open design with LED indicator inside

It has a flip to open design with LED indicator, USB-C charging and LED light at the bottom, and a pairing key at right. The case also has wireless charging support that works with Qi chargers and even your Huawei flagship phones with reverse wireless charging tech.
USB-C charging port below
USB-C charging port below

Just allow us to note that its body, like most devices with glossy material, is a fingerprint smudge magnet.

But overall, this is a lightweight, compact, and stylish true wireless earphones.

Comfort/Isolation

Comfortable fit assured!
Comfortable fit assured!

As mentioned above, Huawei implemented the new Dolphin Bionic Design not just to improve audio, but for comfort as well.

Effortless comfort!

I'm usually not a fan of earbuds without foamies, but I was able to get the right fit the moment I slapped the buds on my ears.

Since it uses a "one size fits all" type of design, I asked some of my friends to try it and they think that it is very comfortable to wear buds.

Overall, it resulted in the most comfortable earbuds I've ever tried.

It sits quite deeper than your usual earbuds as well. The effect of that is it helps with noise isolation a little even if it is an open type of design.

I would also like to note that it doesn't fall off your ears easily even if you headbang while listening to rock music or do some hardcore workout. Just make sure that you get the right fit.

When you use the noise-canceling mode, the effect is mind-blowing. Its isolation is almost as good as some in-ear earphones with slightly average insertion.

Huawei said that it offers up to 15dB of active noise cancellation and they could be right. Even without any music playing, it can lessen the noise from the electric fan or the person talking beside me by a lot.

It won't still totally block all the outside noise to make you still a bit aware of your surroundings, but it is enough to let you enjoy music better.

In its app, you can even adjust the noise-canceling depending on your ear shape. Basically, it can give you a customized noise-canceling solution.

Battery

The nice rounded charging case
The nice rounded charging case

The buds highlight 30mAh per earpiece with an extra 410mAh on the charging case. I usually get around 4 hours of usage at about 60 to 80 percent volume. With ANC, the battery drops a bit faster and it gave me a little over 3 hours of batt life.

It could be better, but that's decent enough for most. Besides, it has a neat-looking charging case that can give you an extra 16 hours of usage. In total, it has up to 20 hours of batt life.

Charging time is also quick at about 1 hour from 0 to 100 percent on the earpiece.

15 minutes of charge can give you 2.5 hours of playback. 30 minutes of charge can give you up to 14 hours of playback via wired charging.

The charging case can be charged via USB-C at 6W or 2W wirelessly. I prefer to charge it via USB-C as it is faster at around an hour from 0 to 100 percent.

Wireless charging is slower at over 2 hours, but it could be convenient if you have a lot of wireless charging pads around your area or if you forgot your USB-C cable. It is also faster than the 0.8W of AirPods 2.

Also, if you have a Huawei Mate 30 or any phone with reverse wireless charging, you can use it to charge the FreeBuds 3.

Features

Easy to connect on Huawei devices
Easy to connect on Huawei devices

Using the FreeBuds Lite is simple. All you need to do is open the case and press the (slightly hard to see) pairing key on the right side of the case. After that, you will see that the LED indicator is blinking and you can now pair it with your Android, Apple, or Windows device.

But if you own a Huawei phone, it has an instant pairing feature. Going to the earphones, both sides have the double-tap to function.
Features in the app
Features in the app

If you do not own an Android device, you cannot customize it. Double-tap left to turn on and off ANC and double-tap right to Play/Next.

On the app. You can set if you want to wake up the voice assistant and more.

Each earbud works independently too. If you remove one earpiece, the sensor will detect it and it will stop whatever you are playing (for Huawei phones only). If you put it back on your ear, the playback will resume.

You can also manually resume the music or movie if you just want to listen with one ear.

What's lacking is the volume control on the earpieces like all TWS earphones I know.

Note 1: On the AI Life app, make sure that you update to the latest version to enable volume control on your Windows PC.
Note 2: I hope that there will be an app for Windows/iOS devices and an update to make Huawei-exclusive features available on other devices.

Connectivity-wise, the performance is amazing. Bluetooth lag is nonexistent and it is very stable.

Even while working out and my phone is a few meters away from me, I never had a problem with its connection.

Huawei said that it is due to its 356MHz Kirin A1 chip with isochronous dual-channel Bluetooth designed to let you enjoy the seamless low latency connection which allows users to bring true stereo sound to wireless earbuds. It also helps with power efficiency.

The company also highlights that it has this "Aerodynamic Mic Duct Design" to let users experience clearer calls even on a windy day and even cycling at 20 km/h and a built-in bone voice sensor to make your clear during the phone calls and reduce background noise.

AND Huawei is correct, call quality and clarity on the FreeBuds 3 is amazingly clear.

Audio

Big dynamic drivers
Big dynamic drivers

All of the mentioned good features above are useless if this won't come with stellar audio quality. But thanks to its 14.2mm dynamic driver for rich tunes and the Bionic Dolphin Design that "focuses and modulates" the sound, I'm pleased with what I heard from the FreeBuds 3.

The first thing that I noticed is it is easy to drive. Meaning, it can go loud at about 60 to 70 percent volume.


Impressive audio quality with wide soundstage!

With noise-canceling off, the soundstage is massive since it has an open design. It performed amazingly well on live lossless recordings such as the Live Aid concert of Queen.

With noise-canceling on, the soundstage is a bit narrower. But to my surprise, it just made it a bit narrow. Meaning, the soundstage is still wide. It can still make me detect where the audio is coming from and instruments and vocals are well separated.

Moreover, even if it is an open style earphones, it has fast and tight bass. It's a high-quality type of bass that is not bloated. It has some sub-bass response with a good extension as well. The extension is nearly as nice as some wired in-ear earphones I tried in the past.

The sound signature is U-shaped with depth. It is quite balanced as well. Mids are clear and crisp. The highs are clear and well-extended. Hissing is less too.

For me, this sounds as good as some of my wired earbuds.

In fact, ever since I got the FreeBuds 3, I am not missing the services of my RHA T10 wired HiFi in-ear earphones and my neckband style wireless 1MORE Triple Driver BT In-Ear Headphones E1001BT.

See also: Huawei FreeBuds 3 is the new TWS to beat, here are the 5 reasons why!

Pros - Stylish charging case w/ wired and wireless charging, comfortable fit, AI noise-cancellation, stellar audio quality, the affordable price tag for the overall features and quality
Cons - Some features are for Huawei phones only

Huawei FreeBuds 3 Specs

CPU: 356MHz Kirin A1 audio processor
Driver: 14.2mm dynamic driver
Microphone: Bone voice sensor
Battery: 30mAh per earpiece, 410mAh case w/ 6W charging and 2W Qi wireless charging
Sensors: IR sensor
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
Others: IPX4 water splash resistance, ANC, double-tap control, pop-up and pair, USB-C, Colors: carbon black, ceramic white
Dimensions: 41.5 x 20.4 x 17.8 mm (per earbud), 60.9 x 21.8 mm (case)
Weight: 4.5 g per earbud, 48 g w/ case
Price: PHP 8,990

Verdict

At PHP 8,990, the Huawei FreeBuds 3 is not cheap. But, it is considered a steal for the features and audio quality.

It also undercut the price of several popular and more expensive TWS alternatives such as AirPods 2, AirPods Pro, and more.

Versus the AirPods 2, it has a clear advantage in comfort, sound quality, and noise-canceling despite the more affordable price tag. It is even easier to use and more feature-rich than the Sony WF-1000MX3.

If you are the type of user who's not into in-ear earphones and you are an Android user, this is the best TWS earbuds that I've ever tested for both music and calls yet.

Note: You can buy the FreeBuds 3 on 12.12 for just PHP 6,990, read here.

Build/Design - 4.5
Comfort/Isolation - 4.5
Battery Life - 4.25
Features - 4.75
Sound - 4.75
Average - 4.55/5
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