Review: HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 Open Fit with ANC Wireless Earphones

This is my last review for this year 2019 – the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3. It is an open fit wireless earphone with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), a first for an open fit design.

The HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 comes in two colors – Ceramic White and Carbon Black. My review unit comes as the Ceramic White one.

Click the MENU below to navigate to different sections of the review.

Here is a short unboxing video.

Unboxing

I think they can make the packaging even smaller.

My review unit comes with the USB-C cable but not the documentation.

Here is the casing for the FreeBuds 3. This is actually the back of the casing and the hinge is cleverly hidden just above the word (HUAWEI).

And here are the two earbuds that are taken out from the casing.

Design

From the packaging to the quality of the device, the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 feels premium. It is well built with the glossy feel throughout. The round casing is small enough to slip into your pocket and when you wear the earbuds on your ears, they feel secure even though it is an open-fit design.

On the internal structure, it has the Kirin A1 chip, Bass Tube and a 14mm driver. Technically, it would reproduce good sound quality.

It also includes a bone sensor for better transmission and Mic Duct to reduce the wind passing noise.

Usage

Using the Huawei FreeBuds 3 is similar to any Bluetooth headphones. To pair it with a phone, you will need to press a button on the casing (as shown below).

Once done, you should be able to see it appearing in the Bluetooth list. Although the earpiece is compatible with Android and iOS, it is best if you pair it with a Huawei phone with at least EMUI 10 to make full use of its features.

When paired with a Huawei phone with EMUI 10, you unlock unique features. One of them is “Instant Pairing”. Just flip open the cover and the phone will automatically pop-up the “Instant Pairing” request. Super easy to use.

You can use the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 without downloading an app. However, to explore the various features, it is necessary to download the AI Life app by Huawei. You can get it from Huawei AppGallery or from Google Playstore.

AI Life App

With the app, you can update the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 to the latest version. As of this writing, the version is 1.9.0.216.

While reviewing this unit, I had two version updates on it. Now, I am able to double-tap the right side of the FreeBuds 3 to receive or to end a call. Very convenient.

One of the most important features of the FreeBuds 3 (in my opinion) is the Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) feature. Unlike an in-ear design, the open-fit design will have sound-leak. And there are occasions that you might place the earbuds differently. That is when the app comes in handy. The app has a “Noise Canceling” option. When noise cancellation is activated, you can adjust the dial to determine the optimal position to get the quietest environment.

Note: You can also double-tap the left earbud twice to activate/deactivate the ANC but you can only access the dial via the app.

Do note that because it is an open-fit, there will be sound leakage. However, for a person who has not tried out ANC on in-ear headphones, they might be impressed by it.

Will it drop off from the ears?

This might be a worry for many. After testing it for a few weeks, I can assure you that it fits well for most people. I have used it for a 5km run without any worries of the earbuds dropping out.

How is the battery life?

I don’t like talking for long period of time on the phone. My experience might differ from yours. I find that the battery is lasting without ANC turned on.

On paper, it says 3 hours of talk-time. I have not reached that stage that the battery dies on me because I always put them into the casing when I am not using them (and it will charge them immediately).

Moreover, the casing has wireless charging option which is super convenient for me. And Huawei’s recent phones have reverse charging capability. It can be put to good use for charging the FreeBuds 3 casing.

How is the sound quality?

I can only say it is not bad. I am not an audiophile. I can hear the bass (although not that strong) and I wish the treble can be better (a bit flat in my opinion).

How is the usage on a daily basis?

I love it. One of my reasons is that is it an open-fit design. My ears did not hurt even after putting it for a long period of time. Unlike other in-ear earphones, my ears hurt after some time.

And with open-fit, I can still listen to the environment sound. This is important if you are running or crossing the roads. If someone calls me on my phone in a noisy environment, I just need to double-tap on my left earbud to activate the ANC to hear them clearly and vice versa, they can also hear me clearly, thanks to the bone sensor that picks up my voice through bone vibration (and enhances them) and the mic duct that suppresses the wind noise.

With EMUI 10, it also has the “Wearing Detection” feature. It detects if you are wearing the earbud or not. If you are listening to something (e.g a song), it will pause automatically and plays when it detects the earbud is in place.

How is it compared with Apple Airpods (Ver. 1)?

This is a very common question from many due to the fact that it resembles the Apple Airpods.

On the casing, the Airpods has a smaller footprint. However, once you put inside the pocket, the difference is not significant.

On the design, although both sports an open-fit design, the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 has a design that holds better.

On the features, the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 offers more. It has Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and a wireless charging case.

You can check out the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 Specifications below.

Specifications

CHARGING INTERFACE

  • Wired: USB Type-C (5V 1.2A 6W)
  • Wireless: Qi standard (2W)*

*Based on the test results of HUAWEI lab, for reference only.

CHARGING TIME

  • About 1 hour for the charging case (wired)*
  • About 1 hour for the earbuds (in the charging case)*

*Based on the test results of HUAWEI lab, for reference only.

NOISE CANCELLATION

  • Active noise cancellation

WEIGHT

  • About 4.5 g (per earbud)
  • About 48 g (charging case)

*Product size, product weight, and related specifications are theoretical values only. Actual measurements between individual products may vary. All specifications are subject to the actual product.

DIMENSIONS

  • 41.5 x 20.4 x 17.8 mm (per earbud)
  • ⌀60.9 x 21.8 mm (charging case)

DRIVER

  • ⌀14.2 mm dynamic

PLAYTIME

  • 4 hr. playback on 1 charge
  • 20 hr. playback with charging case*

*Based on the test results of HUAWEI lab, for reference only.

CONTROL

  • Double-tap control

FORM FACTOR

  • Open-fit / Wireless / Bluetooth

BLUETOOTH COMPATIBILITY

  • 5.1

BLUETOOTH CHIPSET

  • HUAWEI Kirin A1

POP-UP & & PAIR

  • Yes*

*Requires smartphones running EMUI10 or above.

WEARING DETECTION

  • Yes*

*Requires smartphones running EMUI10 or above.

BLUETOOTH NAME

  • HUAWEI Kirin A1

IN THE BOX

  • Earbuds
  • Charging case
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Quick start guide
  • Safety information
  • Warranty card

Pricing and Availability

The HUAWEI FreeBuds is currently available and the retail price is at S$238. Do check out these stores as they may have promotions on it.

Summary

My first impression of the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 is good. For example, it has ANC, Wireless Charging option, good battery life and very easy to use.

However, if you don’t have a Huawei phone with EMUI 10, you cannot enjoy the full features like Auto Pairing Mode or the Wearing Detection. And for iOS users, the AI Life app is not available on Apple Store. That means you cannot adjust the Noise Cancellation or monitor the battery life.

Overall, the HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 is a premium product with good features catered to Huawei users. Although it resembles the Apple Airpods, it excels in its features. In my opinion, if you want to be different from Apple Airpods, choose the Carbon Black one.

Click Here to the Official HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 Site

Let me know if you have any questions on it.