Huawei has two lineups of flagship truly wireless earbuds. Both are a part of the ‘FreeBuds’ series, but one lineup comes with open-fit design, and the other features closed-fit design. In other words, one come without a silicone seal, while the others have it. Earlier this year, I checked out the Huawei FreeBuds 5. That are the company’s open-fit design, and they performed great. Now, for people who want smaller earbuds, and one with closed-fit design, well, Huawei has you covered. The company launched the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 truly wireless earbuds quite recently, and I’ve been using them for a while now, which is why this review is in place.
The Huawei FreeBuds 5 do come with some silicone seals, even though they’re open-fit earbuds, but the FreeBuds Pro 3 will appeal to more people, as they’re closed-fit by default. They’re much smaller than the FreeBuds 5, and offer much better active noise cancelling (ANC). The improvement here, even compared to the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 that I checked out last year, is quite significant. Not a single product is perfect, of course, but as you can probably tell already, I’m left impressed by the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3. In this article, you’ll be able to find out why, and get a pair yourself, if it fits your style and budget. So let’s get cracking, shall we?
Table of contents
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 Review: Hardware / Design
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 are made out of plastic, and the same goes for their charging/carrying case. That is a given these days, pretty much. Now, the thing is, the Ceramic White model is the only one that feature shiny plastic. The Green and Silver Frost models both have matte plastic, and I’m glass I got to review one of those two models. As you can see in the provided images, I got a chance to use the Green model. It looks really nice in real life, and it actually looks like a combo between green and gray colors. Both the charging case and the earbuds feel really nice in the hand, the build quality is top-notch, which is what we’re used to seeing from Huawei. That is especially true for the company’s higher-end products, of course, which these earbuds definitely are. They’re basically the top-end truly wireless earbuds the company has to offer.
Matte plastic > glossy plastic
The matte plastic didn’t start feeling greasy at any point during my usage, which is not something I can say for the shiny finish. It can get quite greasy, and packed with fingerprints. That’s not an issue at all here, so I definitely do recommend getting either the Green or Silver Frost models. Products with shiny plastic definitely need to go away. In any case, the charging case has a Type-C port at the bottom (though wireless charging is also supported, more on that later), where you’ll also see three holes for a loudspeaker. Yes, the charging case does have a speaker for audio cues. The pairing button is located on the side of the case. There’s one LED light on the outside of the case, and one on the inside. The outer one signals the battery level of the case itself, while the inner one indicates the battery life of the earbuds. The outer one also shows you the pairing status, as it will start blinking white when it’s in pairing mode (you need to hold the physical button in order to enter the pairing mode).
The lid on the charging case feels really sturdy
You need to hold the charging case in horizontal orientation in order to open them, which is the opposite of what the FreeBuds 5 offered. The lid feels very sturdy, it’s a far cray from cheap truly wireless earbuds you’ll find out there. That’s nothing new, though, Huawei has been doing it for years now. The charging case is not particularly grippy, it’s exactly what you’d expect out of matte plastic. Now, the earbuds themselves, on the other hand, are not made out of matte plastic, unfortunately.
The earbuds themselves have shinny plastic finish on them, and they do get rather messy fast. They end up being filled with fingerprints, which is not surprising. Considering they’re quite small, not many people will have a problem with that, but it’s worth noting. The earbuds are quite body, which is good for grip when you’re removing them from the charging case. They magnetize in the case when they’re charging, and you’ll find connectors on the bottom of the earbuds themselves, which is how they’re charging.
They support both swipe gestures & press-to-trigger gestures
Each earbud has a touch-sensitive pad on them. Now, those tiny pads are not located on the part of the earbuds that is facing opposite of your head. They are located on the outer part, but the part that is looking forward/up. They react both on swipe and touches (physical ones), depending on what you’ve set up in the AI Life app. More on that later. It’s also worth noting that even though the surface area of the touch pads is small, they do work really. I didn’t have any issues whatsoever, even though I’d still prefer them to be on the outer part of the earbud. Do note that the earbuds are IP54 certified for water and dust resistance, but not the charging case.
What else sits in the box?
Now, do note that if the pre-installed eartips don’t work for you, there are different ones included in the package. You have XS (Extra Small), S (Small), and L (Large) sizes included, while the M (medium) are pre-installed. In addition to that, and some paperwork, you’re also getting a Type-A to Type-C cable, in case you need it for charging.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 Review: Sound & Call quality
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 are the best-sounding earbuds I’ve ever used, period. I cannot emphasize how great these sound, especially considering the size, not to mention that ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) got improved as well. Even if you don’t mess with the equalizer (which is available, a 10-band EQ, actually), you’ll get great sound out of these earbuds. The sound is not too sharp, while it’s also nowhere near being muffled. It’s really well-balanced across the spectrum. I’ve listened to mostly rock and pop songs during my usage, but I also tested some R&B, songs heavy on bass, and plenty of power ballads, amongst others. Everything sounded great, pretty much. Other earbuds I’ve had contact with don’t even come close in terms of sound quality.
The call quality is excellent
What about call quality? Well, that has been improved, and it’s also quite noticeable. People on the other end of the line said that I sounded great, even though I was in a rather busy part of town when I tested call quality, and I was constantly moving too, not to mention that I was riding in a tram too. In fact, several people told me that I sounded great, that they wouldn’t even notice that I was speaking via earphones if I didn’t emphasize that. Now, Huawei is utilizing something called ‘PireVoice 2.0’ in order to make this happen. The company says that the system is able to pick up voices a lot better thanks to this feature, 2.5x better, to be exact. This is done through neural network algorithms, while the extra mics don’t hurt either. All in all, the sound quality is top-notch.
ANC is much-improved compared to FreeBuds Pro 2, and it’s noticeable
Huawei actually claims that it improved background noise cancellation by 5 dB in comparison to the FreeBuds Pro 2. Wind noise cancellation has been improved by 80%, and noise cancellation in general by 50%, according to Huawei. Usually, when testing next-gen earbuds, I either can’t tell the difference in ANC, or the different is not that noticeable. With the FreeBuds Pro 3, however, the difference is easily noticeable. ANC is obviously better, as far as background noise cancellation is concerned. It’s outstanding for TWS earbuds, to be quite honest. It still doesn’t tune out everything, but that’ll never happen with earphones. I didn’t get much wind during my testing here, but wind wasn’t an issue. In fact, it wasn’t really an issue with FreeBuds Pro 2, so if that aspect is improved here, that’s great! Another thing to note is that LDAC support is included too.
There are several ANC modes you can choose from
Now, in regards to ANC, you do have several modes to choose from. Dynamic, Cozy, General, and Ultra modes are at your disposal. The ‘Ultra’ mode is for extremely noisy places, ‘General’ is for generally noisy places, ‘Cozy’ is for places with little noise, and the ‘Dynamic’ mode will allow the earbuds to decide on their own.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 Review: Battery
The battery life varies considerably between different pairs of truly wireless earbuds. The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 don’t exactly excel in that regard, but I’ve seen much worse numbers, so… I can’t really complain all that much. Now, Huawei claims that you can get around 6.5 hours of battery life without ANC, and I see that happening. I didn’t really use them exclusively without ANC for that long to find out, but based on what I’ve seen, yes, it’s possible. With ANC on, you can count for around 4.5 hours, so two hours less than with ANC on. That’s not bad, actually, though as I said, I’ve seen earbuds with better battery life. Do note that the charging case boosts those 6.5 hours to around 25-26 hours. Huawei claims it will push the battery life to around 31 hours, but that didn’t pan out for us.
Wireless charging is also supported
You can charge these earbuds both via a wire (Type-C port), or wirelessly (Qi charging). The charging case can charge up the earbuds in around an hour, and it packs in enough punch to fully recharge them four times.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 Review: AI Life app
The AI Life is Huawei’s application that you’ll need in order to customize your Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 experience. Do note that it’s not necessary for general usage. However, if you’d like to tweak the touch gestures, ANC, or the equalizer, having this app is a must. The same goes for jumping between devices in terms of compatibility, and so on. You can get the Huawei AI Life app directly from the company’s website, or via the AppGallery app store you can install on your phone. The app is not available in the Google Play Store due to the US ban and everything connected to that.
The AI Life app comes with quite a few options, including a 10-band EQ
In the app, you can also choose from several EQ presets if you want (Bass boost, Treble boost, Voices, and Symphony). Alternatively, you can manually set the equalizer to your liking. As mentioned earlier, there’s a 10-band EQ included here for you to use. Customizing touch gestures is also possible, to a degree, and so on. Do note that you’ll get a click sound in your ears when you interact with touch gestures, regardless whether you’re swiping to increase or decrease volume, or if you’re pinching the touchpad for pausing/playing music. These are just some examples, of course.
You can easily re-assign gestures
In regards to default gestures, let’s just go over them real quick. If you pinch the stem where the touch pad is, you’ll be able to play or pause music, or answer/end call. Pinching it twice will reject the call or throw you to the next song, depending of whether you have an incoming call or not. Pinching three times calls up the previous song, while pinching and holding will let you switch between awareness mode, normal mode, and ANC. If you swipe up and down you’ll be able to control the volume. That’s it. The gestures worked really well for me.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3: Should you buy it?
So, should you buy Huawei’s flagship truly wireless earbuds? Well, if you’re looking for a great pair of truly wireless earbuds, love the closed-fit design, and have the money to make it happen… then yes, we’d definitely recommend these. You’ll hardly find a better pair of truly wireless earbuds for this price, to be quite honest. Not only are these earbuds very compact, and offer outstanding sound quality, but they also come with great ANC, and a 10-band EQ that you can utilize. You can fine-tune these earbuds to provide the sound exactly as you like/need, and have a useful tool to tune out when in a busy environment. Truth be said, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 are easy to recommend, as they stand out in many ways, and the price tag is just right.
You should buy the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 if you:
…want great sound output in a tiny package
…need capable ANC, but don’t want to lug around large headphones
…like to fine-tune your listening experience via a capable equalizer
…need a good app to support your earbuds
…connect your earbuds to more than one device
…make a lot of phone calls using earbuds
…need LDAC support
You shouldn’t buy the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 if you:
…need basic earbuds
…hate glossy products