IFA 2019: Huawei's Other Big IFA Reveal is Airpod Clones

By Tom Pritchard on at

So aside from the reveal of the Kirin 990, what else does Huawei have in store for us this year? Well it's not the Mate 30 series - - that gets its own launch at the end of the month--its a pair of wireless earbuds that look very much like Apple's Airpods.

The Freebuds 3 are not the first wireless earbuds Huawei has released, as the name suggests, but they do deviate from the last lot a little bit. For one they've continued the Freebuds 2's trend of ditching the in-ear earbud design in favour of one mimicking the crappy design employed by Apple and countless other imitators. You know, the ones that look like they were designed by someone who has never seen a human ear before.

As you can expect they don't really have the same fit and seal you might want from earbuds that could fall out of your ear onto the floor. Or at least they didn't for me, and my ears aren't that big. On the inside anyway. The charging cradle has changed, though, and instead of the little box design Huawei is opting for a case that you slip the Freebuds into. Like the Airpods case, but circular instead of shaped like a little box of dental floss.

None of that is particularly interesting though. It's the features that Huawei would like you to get excited about. Features like the dedicated Kirin A1, a chip Huawei has designed specifically for wearable devices and promises to be smaller and less greedy than similar hardware. Compared to Apple again, Huawei says it uses 50% less power and has 30% lower latency than the company's H1.

The key feature is an 'isochronous dual channel', which in simple terms means your phone will beam Left and Right audio to each respective bud individually rather than beaming both to both (which uses more power) or beams them both to one earbud that relays it to the second (higher latency). Which is nice, though the downside is that this will only work with Huawei devices. Which devices isn't clear, though it was implied that the Mate 30 series will be compatible. The Freebuds will work with other devices,just without that fancy bit of hardware running in the background.

It also features active noise cancellation and a dedicated mic duct that reduces wind and improves microphone quality somewhat. To the point where you can apparently freely talk while cycling at 20 km/h. Not that you might want to.

Huawei also claims that these open fit earbuds have an 'ergonomic curve' and a 'dolphin vocal cavity' for improved audio quality and accuracy. Sadly I can't make a claim on that for sure, but in my brief time with them they didn't sound that great. And the ANC wasn't really working because they didn't fit in my ears securely as that design is wont to do.

The case itself has 20 hours of charging and can be recharged wirelessly or via USB-C. Recharging with a wire will get you 70% off full charge in 30 minutes, while wireless charging will reduce that percentage to 30% in the same time period. Sadly the buds themselves only last for four hours a pop.

Pricing and availability are still TBA.