Touch volume control, amazing bass, simultaneous connection of two devices, effective suppression of ambient noise: the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 wireless earphones are refined down to the smallest detail. However, they handle phone calls poorly and we are always afraid of dropping them.
Published at 12:59 p.m.
For several years now, the Chinese manufacturer Huawei has been concentrating on its watches and headphones, at least in North America, and has dispensed with telephones. Last fall we were treated to the latest high-end model of its wireless headphones, the FreeBuds Pro 3, which were introduced as competitors to the AirPods Pro, Sony XM5 and other Galaxy Buds2 Pro.
The first obvious comparison is of course sound quality, and the FreeBuds Pro 3 don't disappoint in initial testing. From rock to jazz to classical music, these headphones have always had the amazing ability to combine well-rounded bass and generous detail in the highest frequencies. We definitely prefer them to Apple's AirPods Pro, especially for the rich bass, and in our experience they're only beaten by Sony's unbeatable and very expensive WF-1000XM5.
The Bluetooth connection works smoothly with both iPhones and Android phones. However, the former have the advantage of being able to download the AI Life application directly from the App Store, while the latter have to find it through “sideloading” via a direct link. Note that Huawei phones can detect nearby headphones and connect to them without further intervention.
You can connect two devices at the same time, phones, computers or televisions. The first person to make a sound then takes control.
Let's stay with the application, which first offers the “Tip Port Test” to confirm that you have chosen the right one among the four sizes included – here we have added the size XS for very small ears. A good note for the equalizer, which initially offers six presets with a photo for illustration. You can also create your own setting. For us, the adjustments are unnecessary as the headphones are quite well balanced.
In this application you can also configure the reaction of the headphones to all the manipulations offered. By default, they are pressed once to answer or end a call or play or pause a song. Twice and the call is rejected or we move on to the next song. Three times and the previous song will play.
Press and hold to switch from transparency mode to active noise cancellation. And the difference is impressive, for in-ear headphones that don't have all the coating of headphones. In the subway or in the city center, the transition is from intrusive noise to a subdued silence that allows you to listen to your music or audio book.
You can also configure this command to call your phone's voice assistant, Siri or Google Assistant. And it works even if these FreeBuds Pro 3 are not part of these ecosystems. However, the voice commands “Hey Siri” or “Ok Google” are not accessible. You can't exaggerate.
The other nice little thing is that you can also control the volume by moving your finger up and down on the earbuds. The technology is delicate and not obvious on the first try, but once again it is completely functional.
The FreeBuds Pro 3 gave us an average of 4 hours of listening time with ANC activated, and around 7 hours without this function. The case, which supports magnetic charging, can charge the earbuds four times.
We like less
Strangely enough, Huawei enthusiastically advertises what we believe to be the biggest weakness of these headphones: making calls. The voice of our conversation partner seemed rather “sweet” to us. However, they heard us well, another aspect that the manufacturer touted with its “2.5x improved voice pickup thanks to a specially developed bone conduction microphone.” Without being too complimentary, let's just say that our voice sounded good on the other end of the phone.
The Bluetooth connection seemed to be difficult at times, particularly during two phone calls that stuttered unpleasantly. The transmission between the two devices connected via Bluetooth can also be problematic. Especially after stopping the music on one, there is a slight delay before the other comes on board.
The headphones held up well during sporting activities. But they tended to stick out of the ear a little and looked like they were about to fall out.
You buy ?
The FreeBuds Pro 3 are undoubtedly very good quality headphones that deliver top-notch sound performance. They've added little touches that are too rare in their competitors, including touch volume control, magnetic case charging, and dual device support via Bluetooth. And all this at a competitive price, it must be emphasized.
Our reservations concern the quality of telephone reception. And if the voice command “Hey Siri” or exclusive use of the Google Play Store are mandatory requirements, the FreeBuds Pro 3 are not the headphones for you.
FreeBuds Pro 3
- Manufacturer: Huawei
- Price: $298.99
Rating: 8.5 out of 10