The true wireless earbuds market is bursting at the seams, with fresh launches taking place every other week. Manufacturers are churning them out faster than Ed Sheeran can write hits! For an iPhone user, it’s a no-brainer to settle for the AirPods Pro, which has inspired the market in the first place. Android users have plenty of options but fewer when it comes to active noise cancellation. That’s where the Huawei FreeBuds 3i comes in, which tries to go toe-to-toe with some options from, say, Sony and Jabra. Does it rock? Let’s find out.
Easy to operate
The first thing that catches the eye is the minimalist design of the earbuds case. The pebble-shaped case is not bulky and easily slips into any pocket. Each of the earbud is light to hold and equally light on the ears. There is a resemblance to the Apple AirPods but that shouldn’t cloud one’s judgement. It’s the open-ear design which offers the resemblance. In the box are some silicone ear tips to make the earbuds fit snugly. The FreeBuds can be worn for a couple of hours without any discomfort.
The stems on the FreeBuds appear longer because of the placement of the three-mic system — there is an outer microphone, an inner one and one on the base. We will come to call quality in a bit. Pairing the FreeBuds to the phone is easy. Just pop open the box but don’t take out the earbuds. Scan for the device on your phone and pair it. If you need to reset them, put the buds in the case and press the function button for around 10 seconds.
Obviously it’s about the sound, which is subjective. We tried songs across genres — Muddy Waters diving into I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man to Cream’s I Feel Free, Weeknd’s Blinding Lights to Kacey Musgraves’s Merry Go ’Round and more.
The FreeBuds come with 10mm large dynamic drivers, which is supposed to offer a lot of bass, which it does on Blinding Lights but at times, it’s a little too much, drowning out the vocals. When it comes to Muddy Waters and blues, one can feel the punch while a singer like Kacey Musgraves comes through well. On the other hand, listening to the Beach Boys album That’s Why God Made The Radio, some of the complex notes get compromised. It would have been great had there been an equaliser function in the Huawei AI Life app, which you can install from the Android store. Also, it would have been nice to have a volume function on the earbuds.
Having said that, once you turn noise cancellation on, the sound is clear enough to challenge many brands. The function is spot on and doesn’t give that vacuum-like feel. Active noise cancellation also helps a lot when listening to podcasts and audiobooks. Listening to Something Scary or Philosophize This! on Spotify was a pleasure.
In way of call quality, it’s decent. The three-mic system helps but the person at the other end would know that you are using a wireless option. A good way to find out the quality of the mic is to stand near a sink with the tap running. Can the person on the other end hear you clearly?
Is it for you?
On a single charge, you will get up to 3.5 hours of music while the charging case delivers up to 14.5 hours of battery life, which is slightly lower than the competition. But how many hours do you intend to listen to music using earbuds?! What the Huawei FreeBuds 3i offers is good active noise cancellation at a reasonable price, which makes a difference to an Android user.
At a glance
Device: Huawei FreeBuds 3i
- ANC: Offers active noise cancellation and call noise cancellation
- Battery: 3.5 hours of listening time on the earbuds plus 14.5 hours in the charging case
- Weight: 5.5g each earbud
- Driver: 10mm dynamic
- Price: Rs 9,990 on Amazon.in