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HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 look to one-up Apple's AirPods with upgraded Bluetooth

Huawei's new Freebuds 3 boast an all-new high-quality audio codec, ANC, and a low latency connection for gamers.

Published onSeptember 6, 2019

HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 with HUAWEI logo

Amid a flurry of announcements, HUAWEI took the wraps off a new generation of true wireless earphones, the FreeBuds 3. Billed as the world’s first true wireless earphones to sport Bluetooth 5.1, the Chinese tech giant is hoping to take advantage of a market gap in hi-res capable models in a very crowded field.

The new FreeBuds 3 is quite comprehensive from a features standpoint, but the internal hardware is the story here. The first model of true wireless earbuds to use HUAWEI’s A1 chip, the FreeBuds 3 represent a new generation of true wireless earphones for the company.

Related: Best Bluetooth earbuds of 2019!

Huawei’s new A1 chip allegedly allows the FreeBuds 3 to post performance metrics of 30% lower latency than Apple’s AirPods, as well as 50% lower power consumption in a package that’s 95% the size of the AirPods’ venerated H1 wireless chip. The A1 brings a new Bluetooth protocol to the table: BT-UHD. If you’re using the FreeBuds 3 with a new HUAWEI phone running EMUI 10.0 or above, both devices will connect using this new standard, which on paper boasts up to 2.3 Mbps data transfer rates. For reference, the next-best codec, LDAC, offers “only” 990kbps.

Lost in the gabble of coverage surrounding true wireless earphones is the fact that very few models even offer higher-bitrate support, let alone premium connections like aptX HD or LDAC. In that light, audiophiles and commuters looking for more out of their true wireless earbuds will want to pay attention to BT-UHD. It’s possible Americans looking to use the FreeBuds 3 won’t have much access to them given the trade instability with the U.S., but international users will have access to earbuds that won’t have to aggressively compress the audio signals sent through their wireless connection — in theory, anyway. We’ll be sure to test these once we get our hands on them.

HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 battery case black white

While it’s unclear what support this new standard will get in Android, HUAWEI phone owners certainly have something to geek out over. HUAWEI seems to have taken Bluetooth audio much more seriously than it has in the past, and that’s a good thing for everyone if they license the tech to other firms. If BT-UHD passes muster, it would represent a welcome improvement to the wireless world of audio.

Other notable Freebuds 3 features include three microphone active noise cancellation technology, an improved 190ms latency, and Qi wireless charging for the earbuds when in the case. There’s a 30mAh battery in each earbud that offers 4 hours of playback on a single charge, while the charging case that provides around 20 hours of total playback. Charging time is stated to take just an hour for both the headphones and case.

The HUAWEI FreeBuds 3 will be available in Carbon Black and Ceramic White colors. Price information is yet to be confirmed, but HUAWEI’s new earbuds will launch in Europe next month.