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.
TWICE x CASETiFY collection officially dropping on Feb 9
‘Full of love to ONCE’
TWICE really knows how to make ONCEs (they’re fandom) feel special. The global superstar K-Pop group is teaming up with tech lifestyle brand CASETiFY for a special collection. The waitlist for their first ever collaboration has begun. The official release is set on February 9, 2023.
TWICE x CASETiFY
The collection was made to celebrate TWICE entering their 8th year. There’s a huge focus on ONCE as well as artworks inspired by the world of TWICE.
The TWICE-ful Love Grippy Case is the highlight of the collection. It’s decorated with a cushion designed with the TWICE Logo. It’s the first 3D phone case from CASETiFY with this kind of design. The case, however, is only available for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
But cheer up since the collection does include many other designs made for different smartphone models and gadgets. The lineup is filled with TWICE’s history and ONCE’s memories.
There’s a sticker case highlighting the tracks from the past seven years, a signature case with the members’ signatures, a Heart case with the members’ names, and lastly, an artwork featuring one of their top songs, “What is Love?”
For Apple-loving TWICE fans, there are also AirPod cases, Apple Watch bands, MacBook Sleeves, and a bead strap with the original heart color stones of all the members. There’s also a phone strap with TWICE logo metal charm.
Win a phone case signed by your TWICE bias
Whichever member is your favorite: Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, or Tzuyu, you’ll have a chance to win a case autographed by one of the members. CASETiFY STUDIO Shibuya Parco in Japan will have special wall displays with autographed cases and artwork from the collection. More details on the campaign coming soon.
The TWICE x CASETiFY collection launches worldwide on casetify.com/co-lab, available for purchase online, in the CASETiFY Co-Lab app (available now in the App Store), and at CASETiFY Studio locations.
2023 Minimal Desk Setup
With Logitech’s newest keyboard and mouse
Last week, Apple launched the new Mac mini, a BYODKM device — bring your own display keyboard and mouse.
But how will Michael Josh’s revamp his 2023 desk setup?
Watch our special Logitech desk setup and styling video now to know more!
Google is working on an AirTag competitor
Since its launch, the AirTag has created a whirlwind of controversy because of how the tracking device was used (or misused). Today, the general consensus is that the AirTag offers more benefits than potential drawbacks. Everyone now wants in. Google, according to a recent finding, is reportedly working on its own AirTag competitor.
Via Kuba Wojciechowski and Mishaal Rahman on Twitter, Google is developing quite a bit in the tracking device segment. The developers are currently expanding the lineup of Fast Pair to include support for more locator tags like the AirTag. However, besides support for other devices, the development also includes references to a first-party tracking device.
The device, “grogu” as it’s currently called, is under development by the Nest team. It will include on-board speakers and Bluetooth LE support.
Google has not hinted at any developments to confirm any upcoming tracking device. With the currently available information, it’s impossible to check what the final product will be called or what features it will come with.
A Google-based tracking device will still be a godsend for users, though. Currently, only Tile offers an alternative to the Apple-based AirTag. Besides allowing users to keep track of their misplaced devices, a tracking device is now an essential must-have for travelers to make sure airlines don’t accidentally misplace pieces of luggage.
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