Huawei Freebuds 3 I
The Huawei Freebuds 3 is the first open-fit earphones with active noise cancelling. Despite its best efforts, it is extremely challenging to cancel noise with open-fit earphones.
It works to a certain extent and provides noise relief to consumers who totally cannot take the stuffed-up feeling of in-canal earbuds.
Then the Freebuds 3i comes along. Usually, when smartphone manufacturers produce in-house audio products, they are not comparable to the audio specialist brands. Hence
I am delightfully surprised that the Freebuds 3i delivers an overall excellent product that I would use as my daily driver.
I’d be honest – as I always have on my reviews, the audio quality is not audiophile-grade, but it does not sound poorly. What the consumer wants is “clear treble, strong bass”. And the Freebuds 3i has it.
The bass is tangible without too overpowering. The treble is clear and bright, nicely balancing the bass. The midrange has sufficient details thanks to the controlled yet forthcoming bass, but not as full as neutral earbuds.
The mid-treble like the crashing cymbals could sound a little harsh, an attempt to make the earbuds sound more present, but not too harsh to make me reject them. I enjoy listening to them at length, but there’s more to why I like the Freebuds 3i besides audio quality.
I also find the audio codec processing not as good. Even though it supports SBC and AAC, I detect compression artefacts causing the upper frequency to be slightly fuzzy. You will only hear it if you listen hard, so it doesn’t bother me much.
The Freebuds 3i is intuitive to use, quite similar to what Apple has done with the AirPods Pro. I won’t convince you that the Freebuds 3i is better than AirPods Pro, but at half the price, the Freebuds 3i is probably about 90% as good as AirPods Pro. And at 45% of the price.
Noise Cancellation and Awareness
Huawei did pretty well in this area. The ANC and Awareness (ambient mode) are not adjustable, but the quality is good. When riding on an underground train, the Freebuds 3i takes away most sound, except for some fine high-pitched noises which would be covered by your music.
The Awareness mode is also natural sounding, so much so that sometimes I could not tell if it was on. In this mode, the earbuds do not exaggerate the ambient sound, which is good.
It sounds like you are wearing open-fit earbuds, so I think consumers who dislike feeling stuffed up might find the Freebuds 3i acceptable to use.
Critically speaking, the Sony WF-1000XM3 still does a better job in absolute noise cancellation, but I would bring out the Freebuds 3i anytime to use compared to the Sony buds, which are a lot more cumbersome to use.
The Freebuds 3i has a sensor that detects whether the earbuds are in your ear or not. When it’s out of the ears, the noise cancellation and Awareness (ambient sound) mode will be disabled.
At the same time, the music will auto-pause. When you place the earbuds back in your ears, the ANC features will resume, and with EMUI 10 devices, playback will auto-resume too.
Smart Mic For Voice Calls
The mic quality is one of the better ones I have reviewed in recent months. There is good volume and clarity and does not sound too tinny.
What I am impressed with is that the active microphone will switch to the earbud that is on your ear. If both are on your ears, the Awareness mode will be enabled so that you can have a balanced conversation.
Custom Touch Controls
The touch controls can be changed from the AI Life smartphone app. Although the options are fixed, it works well for me.
I opted to use touch-and-hold action for noise control (ANC, Awareness, Off) and double-tap for track changes – double-tap the left earbud to go previous track, and double-tap the right earbud to skip to the next track
. Volume controls are not supported. If I want to pause the track, I just remove one of the earbuds and the audio will pause. To resume, I could double-tap and it somehow resumes playback – this is not documented.
- Dual-channel true wireless stereo, with the left and right earphones working simultaneously
- Professional active noise cancellation: While the outward-facing mic is detecting ambient noise to actively counter with the anti-noise, the inward-facing mic is picking up the rest noise in your ears for further cancellation
- Low power consumption, long battery life
- Triple-microphone noise cancellation during calls
- Automatic earphone detection and rapid pairing
- Petite Size, Mighty Sound With HUAWEI FreeBuds 3i’s highly-sensitive diaphragm carefully tuned to deliver authentically, balanced audio and the 10 mm large dynamic drivers delivering powerful bass, you will feel the brilliance
- of every note in your ears.
- Fits Your Ears, Fits Your Style: With their cone-shaped main bodies are ergonomically crafted for style and fit.
- Reads Your Taps: With built-in capacitive sensors on both sides, HUAWEI FreeBuds 3i presents convenient tapping features and accurate control that disregards unintentional touches.
- Fill Your Day with Music One single charge offers up to 3.5 hours of listening pleasure, while the charging case delivers 14.5 hours of battery life that will fill your day with musical joy.
It’s a small detail, but one that is so sensible. Most other earbuds use either number of LED or blink patterns to communicate the remaining battery life.
Huawei Freebuds 3i does that with the colour: green means full, yellow means half, and red means low. It’s so unambiguous! No guesswork. Huawei Freebuds 3i Wireless Headphones
The Freebuds 3i are rated with 13.5 hours of battery including the case. It’s not a lot compared to other brands, but in an urban setting, you can charge it regularly.