True wireless (TWS) earphones are a dime a dozen now and it’s gotten even harder to choose which one you should get. For this article we’re comparing three TWS headphones that hover around the same price point: the Airpods 2, Galaxy Buds+, and Freebuds 3.
Vincenz (AirPods 2), Dayle (Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds+), and Rodneil (Freebuds 3), have been using their own TWS headphone, but sat down together and took turns listening to each pair for the purposes of this article. Yes, we cleaned each pair before exchanging because hygiene.
A few ground rules: Settings for each device is set to default. We all listened to one of the greatest songs of all time that also happens to be masterfully produced — Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Let’s start with the surface level. What do you guys think about each one’s design?
Rodneil: I was never a fan of how the AirPods look. That stem thing sticking just looks weird to me. Obviously the Freebuds 3 followed the same look so design-wise, I prefer the Samsung Galaxy Buds+.
Vincenz: I despised the look of the AirPods the moment it was introduced — it looks like the ordinary EarPods without the wires. Same goes with how Huawei copied the “stem” buds from the AirPods. I’ll go with the Galaxy Buds+ on design. It’s unique and small.
Dayle: I have the Galaxy Buds so I’m quite biased with the design of the Buds+. I was never a fan of the stem design so the AirPods and Freebuds 3 aren’t exactly my cup of tea.
What about the fit?
Rodneil: I don’t really have a lot to say about the fit. Perhaps it’s because I’ve gotten used to the Freebuds 3. Although to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan at first. If I had to choose, I’d still go with an in-ear one — like the on the Galaxy Buds+.
Vincenz: I never liked the fit of the old EarPods but the AirPods 2 suit my ears perfectly. Same goes for the Freebuds 3 with almost the same design as AirPods. Years ago, I was using a wired JBL Earbuds that were also in-ear and wearing the Galaxy Buds+ felt similar. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it — it even has extra ear tips in the box so you can find that perfect fit.
Dayle: The AirPods and Freebuds are identical but the fit of the Freebuds are more likely to slide off your ear than the AirPods. I like the fit of the Galaxy Buds (still biased) because they feel so light. At first you might feel that they’re coming off, but they won’t. It’s tried and tested (by me lol), you’ll get used to it.
As mentioned earlier, we all listened to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Can you describe the listening experience for each TWS earphone?
Rodneil: I had high hopes for the Galaxy Buds+. Those hopes were immediately shattered. Compared to the AirPods 2 and the Freebuds 3, the Galaxy Buds+ just didn’t deliver the same level of audio experience that I expect from this price point.
The volume on the Galaxy Buds+ didn’t get loud enough to distract you from your surroundings. It’s also lacking that rich texture which is surprising since the Galaxy Buds performed okay in this regard. It’s just really lacking in a lot of aspects.
I felt the AirPods 2 and the Freebuds 3 delivered a similar audio experience. If you close your eyes and turn the volume up enough, you’ll really feel immersed in the song. I will give a slight edge to the Freebuds 3 since I felt its active noise cancellation (ANC) feature truly isolates you from your immediate environment.
Vincenz: I’d go first with the Galaxy Buds+ since I least liked its sound quality. Other than the low audio level, I barely heard the bass — or that powerful beat whenever the music hit its “climax”. I even tried playing with the additional EQs but it really lacks THAT feature as it leans more into clarity.
The FreeBuds 3’s (ANC) isn’t perfect but it gets the job done. It really depends on how loud the song is. Audio levels are fair enough and I enjoyed listening to the songs with the volume at around 70%. The quality is decent but most of the time, the vocals overpower the background music — to the point that it feels muffled and trebly.
I’d still go with the AirPods 2 in this case. Even without ANC, I was able to hear a richer, fuller sound experience — even with just around 60% volume level. The vocals blend well with the background music and synths, and its bass is the most powerful compared to the Galaxy Buds+ and FreeBuds 3.
Dayle: I really want to hear and feel everything that’s going on in a song and frankly, the AirPods did that for me. You can hear all the beats per instrument with the vocals still clear and crisp and everything is just the right balance, it’s the perfect audio harmony. No, I’m not a legit audiophile but I know good quality audio when I hear one.
Now with the FreeBuds, it’s still a good listening experience overall. It has an evidently powerful bass at a normal volume but when you turn it up, the bass sounds distorted. Other than that, the FreeBuds is good for its price.
Last and maybe sadly also the least for me are the Buds+. This pair, though the vocals are clear, has a flat sound even after you try to increase the volume. I’ve also tried switching between preset equalizer settings but still the audio didn’t get better and only made the vocals sound muffled. If anything, the first Galaxy Buds are still a better buy. Hopefully though, Samsung can still improve the audio quality with updates in the very near future.
What other tracks/things did you listen to and how did each earphone fare?
Rodneil: I’m a huge fan of bad-ass guitar riffs so there are two songs that I always make it a point to listen to when trying new headphones: Incubus’ “Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)” and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”
The Galaxy Buds+ was surprisingly disappointing. Not only was the volume lower much lower, it also just didn’t have that rich sound that I had hoped it would have.
Both songs slapped pretty hard on the AirPods 2 and the Freebuds 3. I’m giving a slight edge to the Freebuds 3 because of it’s (ANC) feature. It’s perfect for that really immersive listening session.
Vincenz: Other than Bohemian Rhapsody, I listened to three other tracks: “Psycho” by Red Velvet, “Pagtingin” by Ben&Ben, and “All About You” by Taeyeon.
During this listening session, I was able to answer all my questions about its audio quality. Just like what I said earlier, the AirPods 2 clearly delivered richer and fuller sound quality — and FreeBuds 3 comes close to its quality, just with an added ANC and less bass. The Galaxy Buds+, as expected, performed the worse. It sounded tinny compared to those aforementioned.
Dayle: I also tried listening to Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know”, Justin Bieber’s “Yummy” and “Intentions”, Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” and Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side” (inspired by my spinning classes lol) to give me a feel of how each song sounds from each pair. So far the AirPods gave me that urge to bob my head to the beat (and maybe run to the gym) — FreeBuds 3 came in second.
Any comments on the battery life?
Rodneil: I only probably have the Freebuds 3 on while I’m walking to and from work. And that’s not a long walk. Over the past few months I probably only charge it once every 10 days. The only time I used it for an extended period was during a 20-hour flight. It didn’t die on me at all and probably only charged it two days after arriving from that trip.
Vincenz: For someone like me who’s always stuck in traffic, I usually put on my AirPods to either listen to music or watch TV series and films. The AirPods 2 lasted me around three to four hours. With the additional case, you’ll get more than three times so you’ll get almost a day of listening. Just take note that everytime the AirPods get drained down to zero, it will take around 10 minutes to fully charge them up again.
Dayle: The longest I have my buds on is when I binge watch series and it lasts for about 5 hours on a good lazy weekend because, why not. The Buds+ definitely lived up to its 11-hour battery life promise, bearing with me all throughout my series marathon.
Which one would you recommend the most?
Rodneil: You can’t go wrong with either the AirPods 2 or the Freebuds 3. If you’re using an iPhone, your best bet is to go with the AirPods just for that whole Apple ecosystem experience. If you’re on Android, the Freebuds 3 is a fine option especially with its ANC feature. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend the Galaxy Buds+. Not when the only thing it’s better at than it’s predecessor is the battery life.
Vincenz: If you’re the type of user who just listens to podcasts and TV series, the Galaxy Buds+ is not a bad option since it focuses more on clarity. If you like having ANC as an added feature, you can’t get wrong with the FreeBuds 3. But if you would ask my best pick, I would still choose the AirPods 2 because of the overall sound quality, not to mention the after-sales service you get with Apple.
Dayle: This goes against my Galaxy Buds loyal heart, but i’m going to have to go with the AirPods 2.
Petpuls activity tracker monitors your dog’s wellbeing
Available now on Indiegogo with a special early-bird price
It is without a doubt that dogs are one of the most beloved pets. Like all living beings, they too need affection and proper care. However, pet owners know it can be hard to take care of their furry friends sometimes. Thankfully, there’s a new product that simplifies monitoring of a dog’s well-being for owners.
Petpuls is a recently-launched activity tracker on Indiegogo. It monitors a dog’s physical and mental well-being. Yes, this activity tracker built-in to a collar monitors it all thanks to a proprietary AI technology. This AI technology tunes in to a dog’s bark and recognizes five emotional states: happy, sad, anxious, relaxed, or angry.
While this technology won’t let your dog speak to you like the way Dug does in the movie Up, Petpuls ensure an accuracy rate of more than 80% for this technology. After all, the algorithm behind Petpuls uses a database of more than 10,000 bark samples from 50 dog breeds of 4 different sizes.
Aside from tracking a dog’s emotional state, Petpuls also tracks physical activities. The collar houses a built-in accelerometer that calculates the number of calories burned. Those who are wondering just how active their dog is can now easily do it with Petpuls.
On the mobile app, owners can register their dogs to create a unique profile within the Petpuls community. Owners can set the name, breed, gender, weight, age, and more of their dogs within the app. There’s also a “pet favorites” feature to keep track of a dog’s favorite food, toys, as well as canine best friends.
Availability of Petpuls activity tracker
Petpuls is available on Indiegogo for an early-bird price of USD 79. For that price, owners are getting the activity tracker along with an eco-friendly interchangeable collar. Those who missed the Indiegogo campaign may avail it on Amazon for USD 99. It will ship to eager dog owners in late August 2020.
Huawei Freebuds 3i review: A pleasant surprise
Huawei knows how to cancel noise
Taking these TWS earphones from smartphone manufacturers for a spin sometimes feels like a chore. Especially so when most of them look like the AirPods. Such is the case for me with the Huawei Freebuds 3i. However, using it for about a week, and I can say it’s such a pleasant surprise.
That stem design
Now, don’t get me wrong. While I have warmed up to it and it’s more common to see people with these earphones sticking out their ears, I still, personally, am not a fan of this look.
But if it’s there for a reason, then I can’t complain much. Such is the case for the last TWS pair I reviewed. That used the stem as the primary touch area for the controls. In the Freebuds 3i, it’s different.
The stem on the Freebuds 3i lets the mic be closer to the user’s mouth. This is perfect for picking up your voice when you’re in calls — be it voice or video.
Naturally, I tried it on a few calls and asked the people on the other line how I sounded. They said I came off loud and clear. The only problem was my speaking voice, but that had nothing to do with the Freebuds 3i and more with just me being me.
A truly active noise cancellation
This is the feature that truly surprised me the most. The moment I put the earphones on, I immediately felt the effects of the active noise cancellation.
I didn’t even know it had the feature when I first took it out of the box. I just knew it did right when I had both earphones on. That’s how good it is.
Huawei says they used a triple-microphone system to achieve noise cancellation of up to 32db. That along with the in-ear design helps drowning out the noise.
This is in contrast to its elder sibling the Freebuds 3 which handles noise cancellation using the Kirin A1 chip. The Freebuds 3 also uses an open-fit or open-ear design which is why its noise cancellation relies more on the chip.
Huawei also shared a review guide showing how the Freebuds 3i can cancel more noise than the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro in certain situations. Based on what I can recall from my time with the Sony WH-1000XM3, that thing is on a league of its own when it comes to noise cancellation. But the Freebuds 3i, I’m surprised to say, isn’t too far behind.
Neither the Freebuds 3 nor the Freebuds 3i is necessarily better than the other, although we might see the dual-mic plus in-ear approach in future TWS earphones from Huawei given that their partner TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) will no longer be allowed to source tech and equipment from the US.
Not sure if this is a coincidence or not, but the Freebuds 3i is now the second TWS earphone I’ve tested who’s tuning appears to be leaning more towards bass. Another common denominator is that they’re priced below PhP 7,000 (around US$ 143).
It’s great if you prefer bass but compared to the Freebuds 3, it just doesn’t feel like you’re getting the same sound quality. Which is understandable considering the price difference.
The Freebuds 3 sound clearer, brighter, and warmer and you can clearly hear all the sounds. This is in contrast to the Freebuds 3i which seem to favor low-tones more.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Freebuds 3i sounds bad. They just don’t sound as good as higher tier TWS earphones, which is fine. The Freebuds 3i is perfectly enjoyable and is certainly better than its more affordable counterparts.
I listened to everything from the pop track “Fanfare” by TWICE to the heavy rock sound of “Mighty Long Fall” by One OK Rock and was very pleased with how these tracks sounded.
Easy to pair, easy to use
Like with many other first-party TWS earphones, the Freebuds 3i will be automatically detected by the phone nearest to it as soon as you flip the lid open. This means pairing is instant and easy.
Naturally, you’ll have to go the usual pairing route if you’re using this with a phone from another brand. This means long-pressing on the button next to the USB-C port to enter pairing mode, and then going into the connectivity settings of your phone to complete the pairing. Not as straightforward, but works just as well.
There are two ways to control the earbuds. First is to double tap on either earbud. Second, is to touch and hold. Touching and holding turn noise cancellation on and off for either earbud.
Double tapping the left bud is set to “Play/Pause” by default while the right bud is set to “Next Song.” You can change this on the Huawei AI Life app with the action options being as follows:
- Next Song
- Previous Song
- Wake Voice Assistant
Curiously, there’s no action set for a single tap. Adding that would have given users the option to set all actions above a set motion for control. Instead, you can only choose to at a time. It’s a puzzling choice.
Like any TWS earphone worth its salt, it also has wear detection. This means the music is automatically paused when you take them off and resumes when you put them back on.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
At PhP 5,990 /SG$ 168 (US$ 123), the Huawei Freebuds 3i is a pleasant surprise. Price-wise, it’s in direct competition with the Galaxy Buds+, and those buds have absolutely nothing on the Freebuds 3i’s noise cancellation.
If you’re looking for TWS earphones with near top-tier noise cancellation but don’t want to spend north of PhP 7,000, then this is easily one of the better options. There’s room for improvement but you’re getting quality earbuds for what you’re shelling out.
It has a solid build, a bass-leaning tuning, and pretty darn good noise cancellation. It’s not bad. Not bad at all.
Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-cancelling king now official
‘The best just got better’
The Sony WH-1000XM4 is now official. Sony’s best-in-class noise-cancelling over-ear headphones just got a refresh and the improvements further make shine an already polished device.
Multiple device pairing
This has been one of this headphones’ weaknesses and it has finally been addressed. You can now connect the Sony WH-1000XM4 to two devices simultaneously.
When a call comes in, your headphones will know which device is ringing and connect to it automatically. You’ll also be able to quickly switch your headphones to either of the two devices in a single tap.
Every iteration of these headphones already sound amazing. But that didn’t stop Sony from elevating the listening experience even further.
The ever-reliable QN1 is still here for noise-cancellation but it’s now paired with a new Bluetooth Audio SoC. It can sense and adjust to music and noise at over 700 times per second.
It now also has Edge-AI, DSEE Extreme which more accurately rebuilds audio lost during digital compression for a full fidelity experience. The 360 Reality Audio feature is now also making its way to these headphones. It lets listeners enjoy a custom immersive musical field that is perfectly optimized for each individual user.
The WH-1000XM4 also supports Google’s helpful new Fast Pair feature that lets you easily locate where you left your WH-1000XM4 by ringing them.
Previously, you had to cover one of the ear cups to disable the noise-cancelling for a short period. Now, you only have to speak and the headphones will recognize your voice,
automatically stop your music and let in ambient sound so you can conduct a conversation without removing your headphones.
What’s been carried over?
As mentioned, the superior sound and noise-cancelling are still here but enhanced. The simple and sleek look has also been retained. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
The battery life also remains the same which is a good thing. You get up to 30 hours overall and the quick charging function gives you up to 5 hours of wireless playback from 10 minutes of charging.
The headphones also still know if you’re wearing them or not. It stops the music when you have it off and resumes playback when you put them on.
Lastly, it still has support for Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for your personal voice assistant.
Pricing and availability
The Sony WH-1000XM4 will come in Black and Platinum Silver.
In Singapore, it will be available at selected retail shops and online stores starting August 7,2020 at a retail price of SG$ 549.
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