Hands on: Huawei Free Buds 3 Review

They might look a bit like Apple AirPods, but the Free Birds 3 ANC-toting buds from Huawei are surprisingly interesting.

First Impressions

Good sound and impressive noise cancellation for the size, these could be the AirPod alternatives Huawei fans have been waiting for.

Key Specifications

  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Charging case with USB-C and Qi charging
  • Black or White
  • 4 hours of charge per charge
  • Extra 20 hours from the case

They might look a bit like Apple AirPods, but the Huawei Free Buds 3 buds are surprisingly interesting thanks to the inclusion of noise cancelling.

With the Mate 30 getting its grand unveiling at a dedicated event in Munich on September 19, IFA 2019 saw Huawei focus on some other releases like new colours for the P30 Pro and these Free Buds 3.

Huawei Free Buds 3 Price and release date

Huawei has yet to confirm any pricing details for the Free Birds 3 and we don’t know how much they’ll cost. Hopefully this information will come soon.

Huawei Free Buds 3 Design and sound – Noise cancellation helps these stand apart

The Free Buds 3 have more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s AirPods, however there are some distinct differences. The most obvious is that you can pick these up in a glossy black colour, giving them a stealthier look.

As these are truly wireless earphones, part of the package is a handy case that’ll protect the buds and keep them charged when not in use. This case is different to Apple’s as it’s circular instead of being squared-off and it’s slightly larger.

There’s an LED light on the inside that’ll let you know the battery level and another indicator on the outside for the overall charge of the case.

Related: Best wireless headphones

huawei free buds 3

The buds themselves feel slightly larger than the AirPods when you’re wearing them; sticking out slightly more. Unlike other ANC buds these sit in your ear rather than burrowing down into your ear canal.

Inside the Free Buds 3 is Huawei’s brand-new A1 chip. This will not only power future Huawei headphones but other smart devices including watches and smart eyewear. The chip features Bluetooth 5 and Bluetooth Low Energy 5 along with a dual channel BT connection that leads to lower latency and improved power consumption when compared to the previous Free Buds. It also enables an AirPods-like quick pairing feature that connects the buds to your Huawei phone when they’re close by.

ANC (active noise cancellation) is the key feature here and in my short time testing it out it worked pretty well. Noise cancellation blocks out noise from your surroundings and Huawei said these buds can reduce ambient noise by 15db. I tested them out at a busy dinner table and the effect instantly reduced the noise of the other diners without adding too much annoying hiss. I wouldn’t say it was anywhere near as effective as over-ear cancellation, but it was impressive for such a small pair of buds.

Related: Best phones

huawei free buds 3

Thanks to a nifty software trick you can alter the level of the noise cancellation, moving it from one side to the other. You can also turn it off completely. Sound quality is good too, at least when compared to a pair of AirPods and Galaxy Buds. Bass is particularly strong for such a small pair of earphones. Of course, we’ll need to spend a lot longer with these buds to really judge the sound quality.

Related: The Huawei Mate 30 will be powered by the Kirin 990

Huawei Free Buds 3 Battery life – Fast and wireless charging

Huawei has said to expect four hours per charge from the buds themselves, with the case offering an extra 20 hours altogether. You can charge the whole thing either wirelessly or with a USB-C cable, with a full wired charge taking just 30 minutes. 

You can also utilise the reverse charging feature on the Mate 20 Pro, P30 Pro or even the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 to wirelessly recharge the Free Buds 3 with your smartphone.

Huawei Free Buds 3 – Early Verdict

Good sound and impressive noise cancellation for the size, these could be the AirPod alternatives Huawei fans have been waiting for.

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