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Huawei Freebuds 3 review: The Android AirPods Pro alternative

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The Huawei Freebuds 3 are generally very good headphones, but the noise cancelling features are disappointingly inconsistent.

  • Available in white or black
  • Wireless charging is standard
  • Fair sound
  • Noise cancelling is hit and miss – and mostly miss
  • Some features only work with EMUI 10
  • No iOS app for noise cancelling
  • Mediocre battery life

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In its third generation of don't-call-them-AirPods-because-that's-copyrighted FreeBuds, Huawei has added a range of new features to its take on true wireless headphones. The Freebuds 3 come with wireless charging as standard, offer noise cancelling inbuilt without a Pro suffix and provide a range of colours at a price point lower than the standard Apple AirPods.

Which is all great, right?

You can't get something for nothing, and using the FreeBuds 3 reveals the weak points of Huawei's approach and quite why they're a little cheaper than the established Apple models. For Android users averse to giving Apple any money at all they're a fair pair of headphones, but Huawei still has work to do if it wants to unseat Apple.


Design

  • Black or white options
  • They look like AirPods
  • Slightly larger enclosures
  • Looser fit than standard AirPods
  • Round carrying case
Close up of Huawei Freebuds 3 earbuds

Performance

  • Audio quality is fair
  • Noise cancelling needs constant tweaking
  • Huawei saves the best tech for EMUI 10
Close up of Huawei Freebuds 3 earbuds

Battery

  • Four hours battery life at maximum
  • Battery case can take that to 20 hours
  • Wired or wireless charging
Close up of Huawei Freebuds 3 earbuds

Verdict

  • Not quite the AirPods killers Huawei makes them out to be
Close up of Huawei Freebuds 3 earbuds

The FreeBuds 3 talk a big game, but they're ultimately not as well tuned or as comfortable as the Apple equivalent, even if they are marginally cheaper than the 2nd generation AirPods with the wireless case. Wireless charging is a nice inclusion, but the FreeBuds 3 themselves have lower battery life than a regular set of AirPods too.

Active noise cancelling should make the difference here, but the default setting is too weak, and the AI Life-led approach is far too hands-on to be really effective.

If you're an Android user who utterly hates the idea of giving Apple money, then these are a fair but not great alternative if you really want that "AirPods" look. If not, there are better alternatives out there beyond Apple.


Pricing and availability

Price

The FreeBuds 3 headphones sell in Australia for $299 outright.

Where to buy

Specifications

Huawei FreeBuds 3

Build

Category
In-ear headphones
Colours
Black, White, Red
Driver Diameter
14mm

Connectivity

Wired/Wireless
True Wireless
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
Bluetooth 5.1

Features

Noise Cancelling
Active Noise Cancellation
Battery Life
Up to 4 hours
Battery Charging Time
1 hours

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