By most estimates, Apple’s AirPods enterprise alone is value about $eight billion. Let that sink in for a minute. No surprise everybody’s stepping into the true wi-fi earbuds sport — from Samsung to Google to Microsoft to Amazon. And naturally, Huawei joined the get together some time in the past. Its third era FreeBuds 3, whereas beating the AirPods Professional to market (IFA 2019), compete straight with Apple’s newest providing.
I‘ve been utilizing Huawei’s FreeBuds Three on and off for a pair months now, but in addition loved a quick stint with Apple’s AirPods Professional, so right here’s what it is advisable to know. This isn’t a direct comparability or a full-on assessment. I simply need to share my expertise with the FreeBuds Three from the angle of somebody who primarily makes use of Android and enjoys high quality audio. I’d contemplate myself an audiophile, however I’m simply not pedantic sufficient to qualify, nor do I need to be.
Principally, the FreeBuds Three are $200 Bluetooth 5.1 true wi-fi earbuds with energetic noise cancellation that feel and look like AirPods (non Professional) however sound a lot better. They work finest with Android telephones since there’s no iOS app, and supply further comfort options when paired with a Huawei handset.
Should you’re conversant in the AirPods’ design, you recognize what to anticipate from the FreeBuds 3. The one main distinction is that Huawei’s earbuds are additionally out there in black, and that the case is formed in a different way. As a substitute of a rectangle with rounded corners, the FreeBuds Three have a round case with rounded edges. The highest 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).
On the backside of the case you’ll discover a USB Sort-C connector and one other LED that relays the case’s state of cost. Whereas the FreeBuds Three and many of the case are shiny plastic, the hinge is a darkish chrome Huawei-branded steel sq. that’s centered on the bottom of the case. A pairing button, positioned on the best fringe of the case completes the package deal. Aside from being a fingerprint magnet, all of it seems and feels appropriately premium.
Should you’ve ever worn AirPods (non Professional), you recognize what to anticipate from the FreeBuds Three by way of consolation. For me, the match is superb, and the earbuds don’t fall out of my ears, irrespective of how a lot I shake my head. Not like the AirPods Professional and most different noise canceling earbuds, the FreeBuds Three don’t have silicon tricks to kind a seal contained in the ear or present any sort of passive noise cancellation. This makes them extraordinarily snug to put on and fewer more likely to transmit vibrations (like your individual footsteps) into your ears.
When it comes to audio efficiency, the FreeBuds Three are an enormous enchancment over the AirPods and, for my part, sound extra pure than the AirPods Professional. Earlier than I proceed, let me warn you that I’m choosy about audio and I discover most fashionable headphones and earbuds too bass heavy. I favor 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 Analysis ER 4SR in-ear screens (IEMs). You can too discover me listening to Sennheiser HD 600, Sony WH-1000XM3, plus choose Westone, Shure, Grado, Shure, and AKG merchandise.
With that out of the best way, the FreeBuds Three exhibit a slight bass bump out of the field, however in contrast to the Huawei Freelace I reviewed final yr, it’s gentle sufficient that I selected to forego EQ most often. The FreeBuds Three 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 significantly wealthy. The low finish is stable, and imaging is crisp. If something, the FreeBuds Three generally is a bit medical at instances, however that’s a minor fault. I solely want the earbuds additionally supported aptX.
Noise cancellation works wonderful, however the FreeBuds Three can’t match the AirPods Professional’s efficiency. Sure, having a seal contained in the ear helps. That being mentioned, 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 count on the FreeBuds Three to interchange your Sony WH-1000XM3 in your subsequent flight. On the plus aspect, you possibly can modify the quantity of noise cancellation within the app.
Talking of which, noise cancellation struggles when it’s windy outdoors. On a latest stroll I discovered myself having to continually modify the quantity of noise cancellation within the app for the FreeBuds Three to correctly get rid of visitors noise. That is annoying, however isn’t a problem in calmer climate. As for telephone calls, the FreeBuds Three do an excellent job. Callers heard me loud and clear, even in noisy environments, making conversations straightforward and pure.
The FreeBuds Three are rated at four hours of battery life every, plus 20 hours extra with the case. In my expertise, Three hours of use per cost is extra real looking, particularly when utilizing noise cancellation and listening at greater volumes. Nonetheless, I actually haven’t any complaints right here. The case helps 6W wired charging, and 2W Qi-compatible wi-fi charging, so you will have choices relating to topping off.
Huawei makes an app oddly referred to as AI Life (out there within the Google Play Retailer), which helps you to modify numerous 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 Join app, there’s no EQ performance. For these rocking a Huawei telephone working EMUI 10 or greater — just like the P30 Professional or Mate 30 Professional — the FreeBuds Three help two extra comfort options: pop open to pair, and carrying detection.
General, Huawei appears to have hit the candy spot with the FreeBuds 3. They beat the AirPods Professional on worth, consolation, and sound high quality, Certain, the design is spinoff at finest and copied at worst, energetic noise discount is fundamental, and the app solely helps Android, however regardless of gaining access to a wide array of true wi-fi earbuds — from Apple, Samsung, Sony, Razer, TCL, and Jabra — I maintain coming again to the FreeBuds Three for informal listening. That’s gotta depend for one thing, proper?