Huawei’s various corporate and regulatory issues have weighed heavily on its business, but that has not stopped it from launching new products, especially in audio and portable segments. Like many other brands, Huawei has entered the true wireless audio space in India, with the launch of high-end products at competitive prices that hope to take on the flagship options of Apple, Samsung and Sony. Among the recent launches is the product I’m reviewing today, the Huawei FreeBuds 3i true wireless headphones.
Simple style, comfortable fit in the channel on the HUAWEI Freebud 3i
Although we have seen a somewhat adventurous style and eye-catching designs on real wireless headphones in this price segment, the Huawei FreeBuds 3i looks like most other options. The headphones are simple with a glossy plastic finish and have a shape that makes them look a little like Apple’s AirPods. There is no logo on the headphones. You get a proper adjustment in the channel, which ensures effective noise isolation, and thus allows active functional noise cancellation.
Available in two color options – black and white – the HUAWEI Freebud 3i’s headphones each have three microphones that are used for active and environmentally sound noise cancellation, as well as for voice calls. There is no IP rating for dust and water resistance, or even any type of protection against spills or environmental pollution, so you need to watch out for water with these headphones. Each headphone weighs 5.5 g, and I found that the fit was comfortable over long listening sessions.
The headphones have touch sensors at the top; you can control playback, call your phone’s voice assistant and control sound modes through gestures. The commands can be customized with the Huawei AI Life app (only available for Android). The app also allows you to update the firmware of the HUAWEI Freebuds 3i when it is available, as well as view the exact battery levels of each earphone and powered box. It’s a pretty simple application that does its job, which is a good thing.
The powered station is neither too large nor too small and matches the color and texture of the headphones. There are LEDs outside and inside, and a pairing button on the back for when you need to pair the headset with a new device. powered is via a USB Type-C port on the back.
What I didn’t like about the powered box is the way the headphones have to be placed inside; they fit magnetically but are positioned sideways. I was often confused about which headphone went where, and while it wasn’t particularly embarrassing, it certainly wasn’t as intuitive as I would have liked.
The Huawei Freebud 3i uses 10mm dynamic drivers and has a claimed noise reduction of up to 32dB. For connectivity, headphones use Bluetooth 5 with support for SBC and AAC codecs. The claimed battery life is 3.5 hours for headphones and a total of 14.5 hours with the powered box; I managed to achieve these figures in mixed-use tests. This is not particularly great compared to other options in this price range, even considering the active noise cancellation.