Huawei has alternative version of AirPods for Android users

Tech Tools: Freebuds 3 boast noise-cancelling, but don’t expect complete isolation

Product name: Freebuds 3

Price: €179.0

Where to buy:


Thu, Nov 28, 2019, 05:46


Android users who have been coveting AirPods may be eyeing the Huawei Freebuds 3 with some interest. They look remarkably similar to the original AirPods, but have one important difference: they have active noise-cancelling.

The Freebuds 3 are open fit, so if you are looking for noise isolation you won’t get as good a result here. On the other hand, you can wear them and still hear a bit of what’s going on around you – or at least part of it. Ramp up the noise-cancelling, though, and you will find quite a bit of the background noise is filtered out.

Designed to work best with the Huawei phones running the company’s EMUI 10 software, these ear buds will nonetheless work well with any Android device. You need the Huawei AI Life app to customise the ear buds, from the degree of noise-cancelling to the touch controls on each ear bud.That’s available through the Play store.

If you are an iOS user, you are out of luck though, as the app doesn’t appear to be available in the App Store. That doesn’t mean they won’t work with Apple devices; they will. You just connect them as a regular set of Bluetooth headphones, but you might not have as many options for customisation.

For comparison, they are similar in fit and design to the original AirPods: rigid plastic with no silicon tip. For me, that effectively rules these out as an option for headphones. That style of ear bud doesn’t fit comfortably in my ears, and after less than hour of wear that meant my ears were too sore to keep them in.

Soundwise, they are okay as long as you can customise the noise-cancelling through the app. They aren’t as good at filtering out noise as some other noise-cancelling headphones I’ve used, but they are also significantly cheaper.

Battery life is reasonably good at four hours, and the charging case powers up quickly enough.

The good
Made for Android users and at a reasonable price for noise-cancelling ear buds. The charging case will power up quickly so you aren’t without them for long.

The not so good
The fit isn’t comfortable – for me at least – and the noise cancelling isn’t as good as you might expect.

The rest
The AI Life is an important part of getting the most out of these ear buds. Huawei has thrown in water resistance too.

The verdict
If you are looking for a decently priced set of active noise-cancelling ear buds, the Freebuds 3 are a good option – for Android users.