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Huawei Freebuds 3i review: A pleasant surprise

Huawei knows how to cancel noise

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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.

Bass-biased 

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:

  • Play/Pause
  • 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.

SEE ALSO:
Huawei Freebuds 3 review: Best value wireless earbuds
AirPods 2 vs Galaxy Buds+ vs Freebuds 3: A TWS earphones battle!
6 reasons why you should switch to wireless earbuds

Accessories

Samsung announces larger S Pen Pro

And a brand new S Pen

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Because of the controversial charger decision, the recently launched Galaxy S21 series lost a lot of momentum for its more bombastic features. For example, did you know that Samsung now supports third-party styluses outside of Samsung’s own S Pens? Additionally, Samsung is launching the S Pen Pro.

Before that, however, Samsung has also announced a brand-new S Pen. Compared to the tiny stylus from the Galaxy Note series, the new S Pen is larger, making it more comfortable to hold. However, there is a tradeoff: The new S Pen doesn’t have an internal battery. It won’t have the same Bluetooth functionalities as the ones from the Galaxy Note series. At the very least, infused with Wacom’s technology, the new S Pen still has some functions for Samsung’s smartphones.

Now, onto the S Pen Pro. Compared to the new S Pen, the S Pen Pro is even larger. Since it’s bigger, it can fit an internal battery, which adds Bluetooth functionality including external buttons like a shutter for the camera.

Because both new variants are larger, they can’t fit inside a smartphone slot. They can, however, fit on a smartphone case.

So far, Samsung has not announced any robust specifications yet. We don’t know how big the new S Pens are or how much they will cost. However, the company has promised that both will launch sometime this year. For now, Samsung users, especially for the new Galaxy S21 Ultra, can still use their old S Pens from the Galaxy Note series.

SEE ALSO: Samsung will remove the free charger from more phones

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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Review: Better than AirPods Pro?

Finally, real Active Noise Cancellation out of the box

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Samsung has unveiled the newest Galaxy Buds Pro alongside the announcement of the latest Galaxy S21 series.

Other than the new design, better sound quality, and surround sound setup, there’s now a real and intelligent Active Noise Cancellation.

But do these earbuds live up to its ‘Pro’ branding? Watch our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review by clicking the video link right here.

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Samsung launches Galaxy Buds Pro with intelligent ANC

Also has IPX7 water resistance

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Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung is going from Live to Pro in the True Wireless (TWS) earbuds department with the all new Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. 

Samsung took their sweet time slapping on the “Pro” tag but it seems it’s well worth the wait. Headline features include intelligent Active Noise Cancellation or ANC and IPX7 water resistance among others.

The Galaxy Buds Pro has intelligent Active Noise Cancellation or ANC. It’s smart enough to adjust the noise cancelling levels depending on your situation and surroundings. If you’re out walking, it’ll adjust the noise levels to make sure you still hear if some vehicle is about to run you over. We don’t want anyone getting run over.

It can do this thanks to multiple audio settings that mimic multi-directional surround sound. It has a 6.5mm tweeter and 11mm woofer for better sound.

Galaxy Buds Pro

The Galaxy Buds Pro can automatically pair with your Galaxy smartphone

Additionally, it has IPX7 water resistance making it an ideal companion for when you’re working out. We all know it’s easier to get pumped up when you have your workout playlist blasting in your ears.

If you like to game, it has a Game Mode that reduces audio latency making sure you’re immersed in your gameplay.

It promises up to five (5) hours of Playback with ANC and up to 18 hours total. You can get up to 30 minutes of playback after 30 minutes of charging.

Pricing and availability

US — Galaxy Buds Pro

The Galaxy Buds Pro comes in three colors — Phantom Violet, Phantom Black, and Phantom Silver. It’ll retail for US$ 199.99 and will be available on January 14 on Samsung.com and January 15 with other retailers.

Philippines – Galaxy Buds Pro

Galaxy Buds Pro come in three colors: Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Violet. It will be exclusively available for pre-order at PhP 9,990 on Samsung.com starting January 18 until January 28.

Those who avail of the pre-order will get a free wireless charger pad worth PhP 1,499. The Galaxy Buds Pro will be available nationwide beginning January 29. 

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