Huawei FreeBuds 3 Review: A True Wireless Upgrade

The Huawei FreeBuds 3 is the brand’s latest foray into the True Wireless Stereo (TWS) space. With a redesigned look and the addition of active noise cancelling, could the Huawei FreeBuds 3 shine in a quickly growing market?

Huawei FreeBuds 3

Driver Size 14.2mm Dynamic
Battery 30mAh per earbud, 410mAh charging case
Playtime Up to 4 hours on 1 charge, Up to 20 hours with charging case
Connection Bluetooth 5.1, Huawei Kirin A1
Charging USB Type-C (5V 1.2A), Qi Wireless Charging (2W)
Charging Time 1 hour for earbuds, 1 hour for case
Weight 4.5g per earbud, 48g charging case
Others Active Noise Cancelling
Colors Carbon Black, Ceramic White

Unboxing

The Huawei FreeBuds 3 is encased in a traditional white Huawei box. Its contents can be accessed by pulling the little fabric tab at the side. Inside the box are the earphones, charging case, documentation, a quick start guide, and a USB Type-C cable.

Design and Features

Let’s start off with the Huawei FreeBuds 3’s charging case first. Instead of having a rectangle case, Huawei has opted to use a circular design to house the earbuds. The case holds a 410mAh battery, allowing it to charge the earbuds for around 4 times.

Weirdly enough, the Huawei logo is located at the back of the case instead of the front where the case opens. There is an LED light between where the earbuds rest that indicates the charging activity of the device.

Onto the earbuds themselves. The Huawei FreeBuds 3 has a smooth and shiny finish that’s sure to attract both bystanders and fingerprints alike. Both earbuds come with a 30mAh battery inside, which should last you up to 4 hours per charge.

The ear tips are now part of the solid plastic shell instead of having interchangeable silicone tips. This means that the fit of the Huawei FreeBuds 3 cannot be modified from user to user. The seal on the plastic eartips can also vary from person to person. In our case, the FreeBuds 3 isn’t able to fully form a seal allowing noise from the outside to be fully heard.

Despite not having a proper seal to minimize outer noise, the Huawei FreeBuds 3 does have active noise cancelling (ANC). Turning the ANC on and off is as easy as tapping the left earbud twice. An audio notification will alert you if the ANC is turned on or off.

By default, the right earbud will skip to the next track when tapped twice. Both functions of the left and right earbud can be customized via the AI Life app.

Software

In order to use the Huawei FreeBuds 3 properly, you’ll need to download the AI Life app exclusive to the Google Play Store. Once connected to your smartphone, you can customize some of the functions and quickly check the battery life of the device via the app.

The AI Life app is pretty straightforward to use. Opening the app will let you see what devices are connected, which in this case, the Huawei FreeBuds 3. Selecting the device will allow you to see the battery percentage of both left and right earbud as well as the charging case.

As mentioned, the shortcuts for both the left and right earbuds can be customized via the app. Most basic Android functions are present such as Next Song, Play/Pause, Voice Assistant, and Turning on an off the ANC. Annoyingly, there’s no previous track or volume controls present to be bound to either side.

If you do map the left earcup to another function, the ANC can still be turned on or off via the app. The earbuds can also be updated seamlessly via the app.

Audio Performance

Before we get into the audio performance of the Huawei FreeBuds 3, let’s discuss the performance of its active noise cancelling first. Though the earbuds themselves don’t have any noise isolation, the ANC does a good job of acting as a substitute.

Ambient noise such as wind, footsteps, and air-condition buzz are eliminated. Louder sounds, however, like the whirring of fans with metal blades and honking cars are still audible giving you a bit more sense of your surroundings.

We connected the Huawei FreeBuds 3 to a Huawei P30 and played a few tracks on our music library to get a sense of what kind of audio performance it can produce.

It seems that the Huawei FreeBuds 3 has been tuned to have a relatively neutral EQ. The earbuds do a good job of melding the drums, bass, and guitar into a melodic symphony when listening to Three Days Grace’s I am Machine. Matt Walst’s vocals equally comes through with angst that’s sure to get your head banging.

The bass of the Huawei FreeBuds 3 is punchy most of the time but not overbearing. There are some rare occasions that the bass might be a bit lacking. Guitars and vocals in Ember City by Mastodon are clear but the bass can do with a bit more power.

The device comes with dual microphones at the bottom with an aerodynamic duct to isolate wind noise. Based on our experience, calls are quite clear while the other person on the line can hear us clearly even in a crowded situation.

Conclusion

Priced at PhP 8,990, others will undoubtedly dub the Huawei FreeBuds 3 as an AirPods clone, calling it that will do it a big injustice as it offers more than what it appears.

Though the decision to make the whole ear bud a single unit instead of having a removable silicone tip remove most of the passive noise isolation, the addition of an active noise cancelling system makes up for it.

Audio performance is quite good for its price. The neutral EQ of the device will allow you to enjoy most of your music library without any of the frequencies becoming overpowering. There are occasions, however, that the bass might be lacking depending on the track you are listening. In those events, better edit the equalizer settings of your player or a 3rd-party equalizer app to counterbalance the bass.

While there are a few setbacks such as the lack of noise isolation and the sporadic bass performance depending on the track, the Huawei FreeBuds 3 still offers a complete TWS experience with its neutral EQ and addition of noise cancelling. If you’re looking for a solid audio upgrade for your smartphones free from any wires, then the Huawei FreeBuds 3 is for you.