Huawei FreeBuds 3: an AirPods alternative that's better than the original

Huawei FreeBuds 3: an AirPods alternative that's better than the original
Apple is constantly struggling to keep up with AirPods demand and the Samsung Galaxy Buds have been quite well received this year by both customers and reviewers. Huawei, on the other hand, is yet to experience a similar level of success in the so-called 'hearables' segment but its latest product could change everything.

Sleeker design, dedicated audio chip, noise cancelation


Marketed as the FreeBuds 3, Huawei’s latest wireless earphones replace last year’s FreeBuds 2 Pro and introduce several subtle yet important design changes. The overall look is still reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods but this latest iteration now looks almost identical to the wired earphones Huawei ships with the P30 Pro and other high-end phones, thus creating a product that’s significantly slimmer and slightly longer than the previous model.

Huawei also says its latest creation boasts an anti-wind design that’ll help improve the audio experience. Speaking of which, the company hopes to take things to the next level with a dedicated audio chip called the Kirin A1 which supports Bluetooth 5.1, consumes 50% less power, and is around 5% smaller than Apple’s competing H1 chip, therefore giving Huawei more freedom to design its products.

Accompanying all of this is a “Dolphin” cavity that helps create a more focused, accurate sound experience and active noise cancelation that can be turned off at any point by the user. The latter is pretty impressive considering the size of Huawei's FreeBuds 3 – it's typically reserved for much larger headphones. Also included is an intelligent noise control system that can adjust the sound for each ear canal and a Bone Sensor which detects when you’re speaking through vibrations and therefore help block out sound when necessary. All of this, in turn, should help provide crystal clear audio even when cycling at 20km/h or 12.5mph. 

Regarding some of the more technical details, the FreeBuds 3 include a 14mm high-sensitive dynamic driver with a dedicated bass tube. The Kirin A1 also reduces latency by around 30% and helps provide ultra-low game audio latency. For reference, Huawei’s FreeBuds 3 support a minimum latency of 190ms whereas Apple’s second-gen AirPods offer 220ms and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds settle with 564ms.

Redesigned charging case, decent battery life, faster charging


The original FreeBuds shipped with a pill-shaped charging case while the FreeBuds 2 Pro opted for a square alternative. With the third-generation model, Huawei has gone back to the drawing board and created a noticeably rounder case that now supports SuperCharge tech. This means it can be charged 100% quicker than Apple’s newest AirPods via a cable and 50% faster wirelessly. 

As for the FreeBuds 3 themselves, these are rated for 4 hours of use on a single charge or 20 hours with the charging case. For comparison, Apple’s AirPods can last up to five hours on one charge and 24 hours with the charging case. The Samsung Galaxy Buds, on the other hand, will keep going for six hours with a single charge and up to 13 hours with the charging case.

Huawei FreeBuds 3 release date, price, and availability


The Huawei FreeBuds 3 will be available to purchase in both Pure White and Very Pure Black once they go on sale latest this year. Unfortunately, the Chinese company is yet to confirm an exact release date or the pricing for its potentially popular product but further information will likely be shared later this month when the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro make their debut at an event in Munich on September 19. 

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24 Comments

1. surethom

Posts: 1698; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Yes look great & no in ear canal design this year is a great decision. But Number 1 question, do they have a rubber coating? If not, Fail, Airpods fall out of my ears so easily.

2. joshuaswingle

Posts: 607; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

No rubber coating.

3. surethom

Posts: 1698; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Thats the number 1 problem with Airpods & why rumors Next version will have rubber coating. Great design but Big mistake by Huawei.

4. Feanor

Posts: 1367; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Funny how things work; this mediocre, Apple Airpod copycat product gets a lengthy dedicated article explaining how it is compared to the Apple original, whereas the excellent Sony WF-1000xm3 don't even get a mention. Why? The fleeting attention of people to brands and how it creates brand recognition.

8. vasra

Posts: 129; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Considering Airpods are overpriced and mediocre to begin with, this is no surprise. The world runs on mediocrity and copying.

10. toukale

Posts: 632; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

I am sure you already know why, but just to be safe. This site employs people and those folks do not work for free. Like it or not, anything with "Apple" in it attracts eyeballs and clicks. I am sure you know how the rest of the rest goes.

14. ydl08

Posts: 54; Member since: Nov 01, 2013

From a certain point on PA has bee very favorable to Huawei~

5. surethom

Posts: 1698; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Personally the glossy look of the case makes it look cheap & a chinese knockoff, should have gone Matte White & black, them look more expensive.

6. LawnBoy

Posts: 192; Member since: Feb 23, 2019

Need a design with over the ear clips. Beats comes to mind.

7. bucky

Posts: 3785; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Lol Huawei has no shame.

17. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2215; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

I agree...they are designed influenced by Samsung and Apple.

9. Deadeye

Posts: 78; Member since: Jul 26, 2019

I wouldn't want any hearables that look like a toothbrush.

11. japkoslav

Posts: 1511; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

"alternative that's better than the original" That is not saying much, almost every TWS on the market is better than Airpods.

12. ronaldoguedess

Posts: 7; Member since: Aug 18, 2019

I wonder if it will be better than Pamu Slide! I think not! but I'm totally empressioned with the Bluetooth 5.1. The first of the word for get this technology !

13. QuantumRazer

Posts: 145; Member since: Apr 27, 2019

So Apple uses 'H' and Huawei uses 'A' series chip for their own respective pairs of wireless earphones.. Interesting.

15. mixedfish

Posts: 1557; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

An open design noise cancelling earphone is like designing a water tight sieve. Leaves you with two problems.

16. RajRicardo

Posts: 496; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

I'll go with the Sony's. I tried them on and they are simply amazing, the richness of the sound is way better than what apple's AirPods offer currently.

23. ronaldoguedess

Posts: 7; Member since: Aug 18, 2019

Don't do it man! That model doesn't have waterproof certification, fall off the ear and doesn't have LDAC, APTX etc...

18. NZred

Posts: 39; Member since: Aug 19, 2019

Given there are at least 10-15 headphones that are better than the airpods, why not compare them to something worthy?

21. surethom

Posts: 1698; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Because these are the same open design not like all the others that as in ear canal design

24. ronaldoguedess

Posts: 7; Member since: Aug 18, 2019

I wanna see Qualcomm chip set "QCC5100 Series" in Earphone

26. FLOGROWN

Posts: 58; Member since: Oct 25, 2018

Speaking about Copycat....!!!!

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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