PRACTICALITY AND EASE OF USE
Within minutes of the courier dropping off our Huawei Freebuds 3 earphones, I took them out of the package and pressed the side button. They paired instantly and I was up and listening to music. When I remove them from my ears, the music player is paused automatically. When I reinsert them, they start. When I am finished with them, I simply place them in the charging case where they are re-charged. When I want them once again, I simply remove them from the case and place them in my ears and music starts where it left off. It is that easy. When not in use, they go into standby mode and there is no on and off. As much as I enjoyed the Helm Audio True Wireless BT Earphones that we reviewed here, I cannot tell you how much of a pain having to turn on and off both earpieces was.
I have the Freebuds 3’s set for ‘Play Next Song’ on the right and ‘Google Assistant’ on the left bud. A simple double tap is all it takes to tell Google to call anyone on my contact list, or to execute any other Google Assistant command. When someone calls, or even when I click on a FB or You Tube video, the music player pauses and allows priority, starting once again when that is complete. I am told that my voice has never been clearer and it sounds like I am right there, this the result of Huawei’s built in bone voice sensor.
I have used these jogging and was told they are very clear while running, with little to no wind noise. Bluetooth reaches a distance of 180ft in open areas and is reduced significantly where obstacles come into play. There is about a 40ft distance from my locker at the gym, separated by two cement walls and that was asking just a bit much.
FITMENT AND ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION
The Huawei Freebuds 3’s are open ear buds, unlike the Helm Audio earphones that I spoke above which completely block the ear canal. These fit and hang from your ear which concerned me….until I put them on for the first time. I find they fit snug and have used them continuously in the last two weeks in the gym, on the elliptical and jogging with no issues whatsoever. The only minor point to mention is when one accidentally taps the bud when wiping off sweat, that could very well knock it out of your ear. The Huawei Freebuds 3’s are very comfortable and easily forgotten during use, unlike the plug type of earbud that you would only want to keep in for a few hours max.
Active noise cancellation is a bit of a rarity with products of this type and, admittedly, I haven’t found the need for its use much. In speaking to industry peers, however, there seems to be a common opinion that there is a loud and noticeable humming when ANC is active. I don’t hear that… but let me explain. ANC is only adjustable through use of the AI Life Android App where you can move the blue circle as seen below. I find its placement as shown where it is ideal and it is my opinion that there is ANC without additional humming or noise that displaces the original noise.
As you move that blue dot around the circle, everything gets louder and actually amplifies sound and noise, to the point where there is a loud humming when the blue dot is moved exactly opposite of where it is now. Having said that, the AI Life App is worthy of a review on its own and is capable of so much more than AIC as shown in its home screen here:
There is a distinctly different sound to the Huawei Freebuds 3’s and I am not sure if it from the fact that sound is delivered to each earpiece independent to the other isochronously (that word again). It is almost a deeper, purer sound and definitely one that sets these earphones apart. Just as one could easily identify sound that might be from a Denon receiver as compared to a Sony, these earphones could be easily separated from the crowd by their audio reproduction characteristics.
Let’s not confuse this ‘deeper, purer’ with base because, although I find the base very satisfying, it is not as powerful as the Degauss Labs Twelve Driver In-Ear Monitors that we reviewed a while back. You won’t find any distortion from these at their loudest point. Old Town Road by Lil NAS X was a great tune to validate such as well as any song by Billie Ellish. Having said this, we have to place a bit of this on the fact that these are open ear headphones and the ear canal is not sealed.
Older tunes and vocals champion through these buds whereas bands such as Hawthorne Heights suffer. Sound separation throughout James Blunt’s song, ‘You’re Beautiful’ coupled with the vocal reproduction make this song a highlight on the Huawei Freebuds 3’s. Actually… Any JB song does that.
So we have a very comfortable yet not punchy base, pleasant mids with a strong vocal return, along with what might be described as a stretched higher spectrum where you just might want to turn it down a bit if you are a heavy metal lover.
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT IDEAS
As much as we like these Huawei Freebuds 3 Earphones, could they improve on them? Yes. We WOULD LOVE to see volume adjustment as an option in the earpiece and that single point is probably the biggest downfall we have seen through use the last few weeks. My music tastes jump everywhere and, well maybe I just got used to adjusting the volume for different songs. Having a simple tap left to turn up the volume with a single tap right to turn it down would be amazing, as would incorporating it in the options like the other ‘double-tap’ commands.
We haven’t tried these on other Android phones as of yet but there are questions of feature loss through phones without EMUI 10, one being Wear Detection. Make these features available, regardless of buyer and Android phone, and the Freebuds 3 just might become the industry leader in mobile BT earphones. Similarly, we might like to see the price of the Huawei Freebuds 3’s come down just a bit, where available. In Canada (our home base), we are seeing these at $259 Cdn, whereas they are $189 US.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND THIS PURCHASE?
Absolutely. I have been watching the Freebuds 3 for several weeks prior to this report and hadn’t a clue as to whether a sample would be granted. I had read a few reviews and have to laugh because, if I were to have read this review weeks back I would have hit the purchase link right then. There is just so much more to these buds than meet the eye. Pop-Up Instant Pairing, Active Noise Cancellation, configurable double tap operation, Bone Sensor Clear Calling, 4-hour operation with 1-hour recharge, great BT 5.1 distance… and the most valuable feature of all which is ‘Wear Detection’ which eliminates that darn on/off necessity, this in itself is the home-run for the Huawei Freebuds 3.