Huawei's FreeBuds 3 are the latest AirPods rival you need to know about

Adaptive noise cancelation and a brand new wearables chip are just two of the reasons you should pay attention to Huawei's latest wireless headphones.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read

Huawei's FreeBuds 3.

Katie Collins/CNET

Ever since Apple unveiled its much-loved and much-mocked AirPods , tech companies around the world from Samsung to Chinese startups have been producing their own rivals to the wireless earbuds. Huawei has its own AirPod rival, and on Friday at IFA showed off the latest version of the headphones: the FreeBuds 3.

Huawei has opted for an open-fit earbud design with stems, tucked inside a circular and glossy black or white case. The FreeBuds 3 boast four hours of battery life and an additional 20 hours with the case. Huawei claims that the FreeBuds charge 100% faster than AirPods 2 or 50% faster if they're charged wirelessly.

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The most remarkable feature of the FreeBuds is the adaptive noise cancelation (ANC), which is unusual in headphones of this size. Huawei claims the FreeBuds are capable of 15-decibel ambient noise reduction. Bone conduction technology can tell when you're speaking and, combined with a refreshed microphone duct, can block out the wind and allow you to continue your conversation even if you're travelling 20 kilometers per hour.

The FreeBuds also boast Huawei's freshly announced A1 wearable chips. It's 5% smaller than any chip Huawei has used before, which doesn't sound like much, but according to greatly increases flexibility of what can be incorporated inside a headphone of this size. The chip's combination of Bluetooth 5.1 and Bluetooth Low Energy 5.1 should enable faster sound transmission (for Ultra HD quality audio) and decrease energy consumption.

The chip should also appear inside other Huawei wearables, including other headphones, smartwatches, neckbands and eyewear.