Last December, Huawei released their first true wireless earbuds. I listen to music all the time and having never used true wireless earbuds yet, this was an exciting first. Let’s see how the Freebuds 3 matches up.  

First impressions

For some reason, the carrying case reminds me of the gum tape I used to love as a child. And of course, the earbuds themselves are near identical twins of Apple’s Airpods, sporting the same sleek design. The Freebuds 3 come in a black or white disk with a USB type-C port at the bottom but it also supports wireless charging. It’s ready to use straight out of the box so all you have to do is flip up the cover and it will pair with your phone. To pair additional devices, there is small, nearly imperceptible button on the side that you can use to connect. Once paired, popping the case open will automatically connect the buds to your device. So far, it pairs quickly and without issue with different Android phones as well as iOS and with Huawei’s smartwatch, the Watch GT 2, where I also took it out for a jog (more on this later).

Tap-tap

The Freebuds 3 come with Huawei’s Kirin A1 chip so they have smart features like active noise cancelling, isochronous dual channel transfer, background noise cancelling when taking calls, and smart detection . All you have to do is tap twice on the earbud to turn it on or off. The tap actions can be configured on the Huawei AI Life app but unfortunately, only Android users can use this. Here, you can also configure other actions such as playing and pausing the current song, switching to the next song, and waking your voice assistant.  Additionally, you can also turn on/off and adjust the noise cancelling settings here.

I like how you can adjust the amount of noise cancelling where you can literally feel the sound “zeroing-in” on you—it almost feels like listening in a studio, especially in a quiet room. It also effectively blocks off engine hums, street noise, and most other distractions making for a perfect commute buddy. Another cool feature of the Freebuds is that it can detect when you take them off and automatically pauses sound and resumes playback when you put it back on.

 The taps are registered quickly and activate without delay. The only issue I had with it was that it went semi-haywire when I took it jogging—repeatedly turning noise cancelling on and off—which was probably caused by the constant movement.  Of course, if you plan to use this for exercising, you could just turn the tap shortcuts off permanently. After a pocket-less jog with only the Watch GT 2 strapped onto my wrist and the Freebuds planted in my ears (I left the carrying case at home because I didn’t want to have to hold on to it the entire time), I would personally still prefer laced earphones for fitness activities primarily because the Freebuds didn’t fit snugly enough to withstand the impact of a run. Plus, if you’re on an outdoor run without a place to keep the case in, you’d have trouble making sure you don’t lose an earbud when you have to take them off.

Wear it all day  

On normal days though, the Freebuds do great. The dolphin bionic design allowed for a very comfortable fit that can be worn for hours on end. Battery life is understandably shorter than your typical laced earphones and lasts around 3-3.5 hours of sound per full charge, draining faster if you have noise cancelling always turned on. Thankfully, it charges quickly and can give you half-power in just around 10 minutes. When I didn’t use it as often (around 1-2 hours a day max) it got me through a whole work week before needing a recharge. Huawei says that the earbuds can give 4 hours of playback and the case around 20 hours of playback or 5 full charges. Wired charging takes about an hour, I wasn’t able to test its wireless charging speed though.

Immersive Sound

As I’ve already touched on earlier, the active noise cancelling works wonders in delivering clear audio even in busy areas. While it doesn’t quite block out all ambient sound due to its lack of passive noise cancelling, it’s a good, compact option that delivers.  Sound quality is above average, although it could use more fullness and bass.

Taking calls on it is easy that you’d sometimes forget you have buds on. The Freebuds also smartly cancels out background chatter to allow for a clearer call. It also zeroes in and amplifies your voice using its built-in bone sensor to pick up voice vibrations while you speak.

Our Opinion:

If you must have true wireless earbuds, then consider the FreeBuds 3. It offers a sleek and comfortable wear, great active noise cancelling, a long battery life, and good sound. While it’s definitely not the cheapest Android earbud option out there (it retails at P8,990), it is a worthy contender of its more expensive Apple lookalike.  

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