Huawei FreeBuds 3i review: Great points on a budget

Huawei may struggle with apps, but its hardware is still highly attractive. The agency's latest true-wireless earbuds, the Huawei FreeBuds 3i, combine an available price ticket with good sound quality and contours you'll customarily find on higher-end competition just like the AirPods Pro.Are these competitively priced true instant earbuds a good pick?Find out in our Huawei FreeBuds 3i review.

Huawei FreeBuds 3i: Tech and specs



  • Connection: Bluetooth 5

  • Bluetooth codecs: AAC, SBC

  • Active noise-cancelling: up to 32db

  • Microphones: 3

  • Driver: 10mm dynamic

  • Controls: Double tap, long tap

  • Battery means: 37mAh/earbud. 410mAh charging case

  • Battery life: Up to 3. 5h of playback. Up to 14. 5h with charging case

  • Charging: USB-C, wired only

  • Charging time: earbuds – about 1h; total – about 115 mins

  • Water resistance: IPX4 (splashes only)

  • Weight: 5.5g/earbud, case 51g

  • Ear tips: 4 pairs – L, M, S, XS

  • Functions: Awareness mode, Pop open to connect (EMUI 10 only), Wear detection (EMUI 10 only), digital assistant, touch controls


What are the Huawei FreeBuds 3i like?


Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority


As their name indicates, the FreeBuds 3i (£99/€99) are the follow-up to the more difficult FreeBuds 3 (£149/€189 at launch), which came out late last year.Despite being much inexpensive, the difference between the FreeBuds 3i and the FreeBuds 3 isn't large. In fact, if you need an in-ear design and awesome noise isolation, the cheaper FreeBuds 3i come on top.On the flip side, the FreeBuds 3 have longer battery life and better sound good quality in most suitable situations.Despite being much less expensive, the difference among the FreeBuds 3i and the FreeBuds 3 isn't large.The FreeBuds 3i function active noise-cancelling (ANC) and silicone tips that go into your ear canals, dampening external noise and convalescing the perceived sound quality. Like the FreeBuds 3, they draw notion from Apple's AirPods series, both in look and in feature set. The FreeBuds 3i even include Awareness mode, which goes identical to Apple's Transparency mode.You can use the FreeBuds 3i with any Bluetooth-enabled device, but you'll get the best adventure with Huawei instruments operating EMUI 10 or later, which offer faster connection and dressed in detection.


How do you control the FreeBuds 3i?


The FreeBuds 3i support two simple gestures – double-tap and tap-and-hold. Using the associate app, Huawei AI Life, you could assign the double-tap gesture to playback controls, while tap-and-hold cycles through ANC modes.Huawei AI Life is compatible with nearly any Android device, but it's not accessible for iOS. You could still use the FreeBuds 3i with an iPhone, but you will not be capable of customise the gestures or get software updates, unless you can get hold of an Android device.Also read: The best headphones under $100 of 2020


When used together with a Huawei phone operating EMUI 10 or later, the FreeBuds 3i attach seamlessly by simply popping open the case, and so they detect wearing to automatically pause and resume playback.


You can assign different instructions for double-tapping the left and right earbud, which delivers a bit more flexibility. You can choose between play/pause, next song, old song, and wake voice assistant.Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority


I really liked how the FreeBuds 3 sound, and the good news is the FreeBuds 3i are not far behind when it comes to sound quality. I am not in anyway an audiophile, but I found the FreeBuds 3i enjoyable in most situations.


The biggest issue I noticed was with the lower part of the frequency spectrum. Bass and lower frequencies in general sound less clear in comparison to the FreeBuds 3. It's not awful, but it's sizeable. Clarity aside, low frequencies also tended to drown out parts of the mid-range. I bumped into this issue with many tracks from Billie Eilish that function heavy bass and hushed vocals. This phenomenon, when loud sounds make it hard to understand pretty quiet ones, is termed auditory overlaying and is common with client headsets.While the end result is never disagreeable, if you care a lot about correct duplicate, you can also find the FreeBuds 3i disappointing.I found the FreeBuds 3i entertaining in most situations.The FreeBuds 3i sound quality is otherwise good, especially given that their price ticket. Vocals tend to be clear, so long as they don't seem to be accompanied by a cacophony of drum kicks; I heard no stressful hisses or crackles, and the earbuds get quite loud.It helps that the FreeBuds 3i function silicon tips that plug into your ears (there are four sizes included in the package).These supply the isolation that's sorely missing from the open-fit FreeBuds 3, in addition to the AirPods and other earbuds of similar design. Thanks to this, the FreeBuds 3i sound louder than the FreeBuds 3, despite having a smaller driver: 10mm vs 14. 2mm. To get a much better idea of what this means, believe I could comfortably use the FreeBuds 3i at 30% volume on my laptop, where I had to crank up the volume towards 50% on the FreeBuds 3 for a similar perceived effect.Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority


The FreeBuds 3i haven't blown my mind with their noise-cancelling, but they are completely better during this regard than the FreeBuds 3's ANC, which was barely sizeable.The ear tips keep a large number of the ambient noise out, which makes it much easier for the ANC function to make an audible difference.Like with all ANC headphones, you will get the best effects with low, monotone noises just like the buzzing of an plane cabin or car engines. Meanwhile, high frequencies come through, and ANC will fight to adapt to variable noises like the chatter of a café.Read more: The best noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds


If you wish to work – or simply relax – in a loud atmosphere, you'll definitely want to keep the FreeBuds 3i in ANC mode.Even with music off, you'll hear the difference. And when you do listen to music, you will not want to crank up the amount as high, which is good to your auditory health.The FreeBuds 3i help you toggle in a particular mode that helps outdoor sounds go through, making them easier to hear even when listening to music. It works a lot just like the AirPods Pro's Transparency mode, it's just called various: Awareness mode.There's a sizeable change among Awareness mode and easily turning ANC off. I could hear my wife confer with me easier, even without pausing music or turning the amount down.Awareness might also come in useful when walking or strolling on busy roads or on every occasion you wish to pay attention to your atmosphere.Note that Awareness mode must be enabled from the Huawei AI Life app. If it is not enabled, the earbuds will simply toggle ANC on and off.Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority


The FreeBuds 3i work over Bluetooth 5 and help the SBC and AAC codecs. SBC is the most simple Bluetooth codec around, sacrificing audio high quality for lower data transfers. Meanwhile, AAC is a more superior codec that allows better audio quality, but it is only really suitable for use on Apple contraptions. Android contraptions tend to carry out erratically with this codec. Bluetooth multipoint isn't supported, so you will not be capable of attach the FreeBuds 3i to, say, your phone and laptop at an identical time.


In my use, the FreeBuds 3i attached effortlessly and reliably to my Mate 20 Pro phone. I didn't run into any issues worth mentioning. It was a unique story with my laptop, where the two earbuds often went "out of sync. " One earbud would lag very slightly in comparison to the other, making a considerable echo effect. This would happen for a number of minutes until the earbuds would resync on their own.I also encountered short interruptions once in a while when connected to the laptop.The FreeBuds 3i won't win any prizes for battery life. In my experience, they shut down after about three hours of use (with ANC on). That's about an hour under the FreeBuds 3, and quite a bit less compared to other true instant earbuds.The good news is you'll be able to use the case to charge them up four times over, which should push total battery life at over 12 hours.For reference, Huawei claims up to 3.5 hours for the earbuds and 14. 5 hours of playback with the case covered.Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority


What I like about the FreeBuds 3i



  • The comfort and ease of use.I liked that the FreeBuds 3i connect easily and reliably and after you have them in your ears they don't feel heavy or uncomfortable.

  • The sound isolation and ANC. Thanks to those two characteristics, I could tune out the out of doors world in a way that just wasn't possible with the FreeBuds 3.

  • The gestures. They worked reliably.


What I do not like in regards to the FreeBuds 3i



  • The pretty short battery life With ANC on, I had to pop the earbuds back into the case in three hours or less. Not ideal for those who use them at work or on long trips.

  • The connection issues on Windows laptop. The slight desync kinda ruined the experience of using them with my laptop. I am not sure if this issue is usual or genuine to my setup.

  • The ill-defined bass. Bass-heavy track parts lacked definition.


FreeBuds 3i review: Should you buy them?

Huawei FreeBuds 3i Good active noise-cancelling on a budget We can recommend the Huawei FreeBuds 3i to those searching for an inexpensive pair of true-wireless headphones that qualities active noise-cancelling. The advice is simpler if you currently use a up to date Huawei device just like the P series or the Mate series.
  • £99 at Amazon

I can put forward the Huawei FreeBuds 3i to those attempting to find an inexpensive pair of true-instant headphones that qualities active noise-cancelling. The advice is less complicated if you currently use a up to date Huawei device like the P series or the Mate series.


For their price, the FreeBuds 3i's sound high quality is solid. The active noise-cancelling with Awareness mode is sweet to have in this price range.You should doubtless pass on the FreeBuds 3i if you want the most effective sound. The audio hardware is less performant in comparison to the more costly FreeBuds 3, and so they fail to spot better codecs like aptX.For around an analogous price as the FreeBuds 3i, you may get alternatives including the 1st-gen Samsung Galaxy Buds, the Edifier TWS1, and the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2. Some of those alternate options offer wireless charging, better codecs, and awesome water resistance.However, most don't offer ANC. For that, you'll have to stretch your budget a bit more for the Panasonic RZ-S500W noise-cancelling earbuds.That's it for our Huawei FreeBuds 3i review. Time to weigh in: do these earbuds seem like much?

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Dated : 2021-02-18 14:52:47

Category : Reviews

Tags : Audio Huawei