Huawei’s FreeBuds Are Now More Advanced Than Apple’s AirPods

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Huawei introduced its own version of Apple’s AirPods called FreeBuds in March 2018, and now the company has updated the product. It seems pretty clear that the FreeBuds are essentially Huawei’s AirBuds clones, except now they have a feature that’s been rumored for Apple’s AirPods for quite some time.

Huawei’s AirPods clones now have noise cancellation

Huawei showed off the FreeBuds 3 at IFA on Friday. The product’s predecessor copied the slim design of Apple’s AirPods right down to the case, but the FreeBuds 3 have a redesigned case to go with the added technology. The larger design enables Huawei’s AirPods rivals to offer noise-cancellation technology — something that’s been rumored for Apple’s earphones for years, although it has yet to make an appearance.

At this point, noise cancellation still isn’t widely available in earphones this small, so these are some of the most technologically advanced so far. Huawei claims the FreeBuds 3 can cancel ambient noise up to 15 decibels with their adaptive noise-cancellation technology. The devices use bone conduction technology to detect when the user is speaking. The microphone has also received an upgrade and is now able to block wind and support conversations while moving up to 20 kilometers per hour.

Huawei’s AirPods rivals can run for four hours on the battery. The charging case adds another 20 hours to the battery life. The Chinese smartphone maker claims the devices charge 100% faster than the AirPods 2 when plugged in and 50% faster when being charged wirelessly.

The FreeBuds 3 also have the Chinese company’s new A1 wearable chip, which is 5% smaller than the chips the company used previously. While 5% doesn’t sound like very much, it does provide just a tiny bit of extra space to pack additional technology into the tiny devices.

Hands on with the FreeBuds 3

The folks at Engadget got some hands-on time with the FreeBuds 3 at IFA. They found that the adaptive noise cancellation didn’t work the same way for all users. For example, the reviewer said she immediately noticed a difference in the earphones between when noise cancellation was on and when it was off.

However, it took a little bit of tinkering before one of her colleagues was able to hear a difference. They had to adjust the noise cancellation profile on the dial inside the mobile app. Huawei executives said this can be done in different environments for various purposes.

Engadget noted that most earphones offer about six hours of battery life, but it’s possible that the noise cancellation reduces the battery life on the FreeBuds 3. Double-tapping the right earbud skips a track, while double-tapping the left one to turn noise cancellation on or off.

The price for Huawei’s AirPods rival hasn’t been announced yet, but they are expected to be a little less expensive than the actual AirPods. The product is expected to be available sometime next month. It’s unclear whether the FreeBuds 3 will ever be available in the U.S. due to the trade issues with China, but they should be available in Europe and other parts of the world. We could hear about the AirPods 3 during the iPhone 11 launch event next week, so it will be interesting to see whether Apple is ready to add noise cancellation to its earphones at the same time.

You can check out Engadget’s hands-on video with the Huawei’s AirPods rivals in its entirety here:

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