The term of the day in the portable audio world is True Wireless Stereo, or TWS, and it is a feature typically present in higher end Bluetooth headsets. We have in hand (or rather ear) the newest Huawei Freebuds 3 earphones and many seem to have tied the term TWS to this product. Oddly enough, you won’t find it used anywhere in Huawei Freebuds 3 literature, and maybe that’s because they take a different approach to ‘TWS’ that we will extrapolate on a bit later. In this report, you just might discover as we seem to have, that the Huawei Freebuds 3 may be the new industry leader when it comes to Bluetooth mobile audio.
Admittedly, my desire to get my hands on a set of Freebuds 3’s came through my love of this Huawei Mate 20x 5G, the largest smartphone available today and one that I simply can’t put down. This beast is a massive 7.2″ in size and bulletproof. Huawei Freebuds 3s are best paired with Huawei smartphones, and even more so with those containing the latest EMUI 10 OS update which enables additional features such as as ‘Wear Detection’ and ‘Pop Open Instant Pairing’. Having said that, these earphones have a very strong following by non-Huawei Android smartphone owners and one has even related that they paired instantly with their Samsung Galaxy.
‘Pop Open Instant Pairing’ occurs as soon as one removes the Freebuds 3 charging case from the package and presses the small button on the left side of the case. This is what appeared on the screen of my Huawei Mate 20x. ‘Wear Detection’ allows IR to understand when you place or remove the earphones from your ear, subsequently starting or pausing the music play. As soon as these were placed in my ears, they were paired and the music started…as simple as that.
The Huawei Freebuds 3 earphones we are reviewing in this report were received directly from Huawei Canada a month or so back and have just been made available in Canada this morning at Visions.ca and staples.ca for $259.99. They already have done amazingly as an Amazon Choice item. My love of music and audio is such that these earphones will receive every bit of credit that they earn; I would never risk my reputation on a jaded report. As a bit of a heads up though, these have been pretty much attached to my head since receipt and I am listening to them right now.
Exterior packaging is very clean and laid out much as a novel might be where the outer shell is slipped off and top opened. Inside, we have the case, Huawei Freebuds 3 earphones, a USB Type-C charging cable, warranty, safety and Quick Start paperwork. The exterior shell case of the Freebuds 3’s is a round charging storage case of plastic construction but looks and feels like fine porcelain. The earphones are available in white, carbon black or red internationally, however, are limited to white in Canada.
There is a small button on the right side of the charging case, Type-C port at the base with a small LED on the bottom and inside the unit, as shown in the above photo. Either LED may be green, yellow or red, depending on earphone and charger battery status, and also flashing white for pairing and flashing red when set back to manufacturers original settings (full description). The charging case is capable of wired or wireless Qi charging and stores a 410 mAh charge which is capable of 20 hours playtime for the earphones.
The power button on the right side is pretty much impossible to photograph and the only way we found it was through pressure where it showed itself. Depress it for two seconds to start things off where the Freebuds 3’s are immediately recognized and a pop-up appears which, as we spoke above, is the ‘Pop Open Instant Pairing’.
The earphones remove easily from the case and are magnetically held in place so, when replacing them, they will be pulled back into position. Huawei describes the Freebuds 3’s as being a Dolphin Bionic Design, and well, they are very similar in appearance to the Apple Airpods, but that similarity stops here. They are IPX4 sweat, moisture and dust proof and we wouldn’t be going for a swim with them anytime soon. At the heart of Freebuds 3 earphones is the HiSilicon 356MHz Kirin A1 audio processor which provides the world’s first certified BT/BLE dual-mode Bluetooth 5.1 SoC.
Each earphone contains ‘R’ or ‘L’ designation, weighs 4.5g, and has a 30 mAh battery which provides 4 hours of music listening before having to throw them back in the charger where it will take an hour to bring them back to full charge. Specific to the Kirin chip and BT 5.1, these headphones have Huawei Isochronous (New Word Alert!) Dual Channel transmission which reduces sound latency significantly. This sends audio information to the left and right earphone synchronously and separately, unlike the industry norm where all audio travels to one ear and then audio is sent from one earphone to the other.
Remember where we spoke of TWS? This is where these headphones are so different. They technically are not TWS whatsoever. True Wireless Stereo has always been achieved by both the left and right signal going to one earphone, and then the signal being transmitted from the one earphone to the other. Huawei Freebuds 3 follow a different route where both the left and right signal are sent to each earpiece independently and isochronously, signicantly reducing sound latency. This allows for much better sound reproduction and video and You Tube sound and voice synchronization. Are there any other with this technology on the market just yet? We don’t think so.
Each Huawei Freebuds 3 earphone also has a built-in bone voice sensor which picks up and enhances your voice much better through vibration, an Aerodynamic Mic Duct Design at the base of the unit that reduces wind noise significantly, and Huawei speaks to studio quality sound and booming base through its 14mm driver. Of equal billing is the fact that we are unable to find any sound specs on their Freebuds 3 website.
The features that have gone into these earphones seems endless as they also have Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) which is adjustable through the AI Life App, and they work through a fully configurable double tap operation. Either ear can be set up for Play/Next song, Play/Pause, Wake Voice Assistant, or Turn on/off ANC.
Now let’s get to the meat and gravy shall we? Check out the next page.
Thanks for the review Les. As always a thoughtful reasoned approach to testing. Now if they would just make them iPhone compatible.