Huawei’s accessory business has been doing brisk business, and their Freebuds 3 might already be one of the best TWS cans under Php 10K if you’re willing to pony up the dough. But not everyone has the cash to drop for the Freebuds 3, so that’s why Huawei made a slightly more affordable pair in the form of the Freebuds 3i.
- The new design allows for a more secure fit
- Better ANC performance
- Good sound quality
- Good price
- Good battery life
- Connectivity issues with PCs and laptops
- ANC’s performance in high wind is sub-par
The slight redesign makes ANC work so much better
Huawei made a few slight changes to the design of the Freebuds 3i compared to the more expensive model which helps the overall fit and active noise cancellation performance. For one thing, the buds now use silicone tips that fit snugly to your ear, instead of an open-ear design that has the buds hanging on your ear.
The design language is the same and still very Apple-esque, but that’s pretty par for the course for Huawei’s earbuds. The earpieces have 3cm long stalks that hold most of the electronics needed to keep the cans running, which may or may not appeal to your aesthetic sensibilities. For me, this was a non-issue.
The Freebuds 3i’s case is pill-shaped, and the buds are held inside via magnets which securely keep them in place until you take them out. Pairing is easy – simply open the case and push the pairing button on the side of the case for a few seconds until the LED blinks, then pair it as normal. If you’re using a Huawei smartphone (we used a nova 7 5G for this review), you simply put it beside the case and open it, and they’ll pair automatically. There are two color options for the Freebuds 3i too – Black and White, with both sporting glossy finishes.
Intuitive, hands-free operation
Just like the Freebuds 3, you’re getting some form of hands-free controls on the Freebuds 3i.
You can start and stop music with a double-tap on the side of the earbuds. Answering and ending calls are done the same way.
Turning off noise suppression is done by a long press. Additional features and functions can also be assigned to the buds via Huawei’s AI Life app, including turning on “Awareness Mode”, which helps you hear what’s going around you even while listening to music, handy when you’re walking around or commuting (once this plague is over).
Good sound quality and noise suppression, despite connectivity issues
One of the main advantages of the Freebuds 3i VS its more expensive brother is noise suppression. Thanks to its snug fit, the ANC on the buds perform way better than the Freebuds 3.
ANC is a feature that’s usually present on more expensive buds, so it’s nice to get that premium feature on a pair of headphones that’s priced the way the Freebuds 3i is.
There are a few quirks to the ANC though, and while it manages to suppress and eliminate a lot of ambient noise, it struggles with wind noises like the ones produced by a fan beside you going full tilt.
And while the pair managed to connect and stream music to our nova 7 just fine, it had weird connectivity issues to our Windows PC and laptop. Specifically, the pair would sometimes go “out of sync”, with one bud being very slightly delayed from the other, creating an annoying echo effect. We also encountered a few connection interruptions while we were using it with the PC. Not enough to completely spoil the experience, but enough that it became annoying. Hopefully, a software update fixes this.
As for sound quality, the Freebuds 3i was alright. The pair uses 10mm drivers that deliver good stereo sound with clear highs and mids and substantial bass.
Battery life is around 3.5 hours according to Huawei, and we got close to that during our use. The charging case holds around 410mAh of juice and gives you around 11 hours of combined use before you have to top it off via USB Type-C.
Verdict: a better set of cans than the Freebuds 3
Huawei somehow managed to deliver an even better set of TWS earbuds at a cheaper price compared to their already existing Freebuds 3. The Freebuds 3i’s silicone ear tips allow for better ANC performance VS the pricier model.
The Freebuds 3i’s good audio performance and battery life and a lower Php 5,990 price tag objectively make it a better pair of cans VS Huawei’s earlier model, and if you’re looking for a good set of ANC-capable cans, you might want to pick the Freebud 3i up.