We are avid collectors of earbuds.
Looks like we got ourselves another earbuds review! We have tackled earphones from Oppo, Lenovo, and Cherry Mobile. Now, it’s Honor’s turn to take that ahem, “Honor”. Quite a brilliant pun, don’t you think? Some might even say it’s honorable.
Speaking of honors, how great do these things feel and sound? That’s where we’ll take it. After all, it can’t be a review article without actually reviewing the device, no?
We’d like to thank Honor for giving these buds out to us. We couldn’t resist reviewing the thing. It serves no purpose to us if it doesn’t get reviewed.
The Freebuds X3 Lite comes with your most typical peripherals inside the box. When we opened it, the buds were actually separated from its charging case. Underneath the charging case are the USB-C cable, the case (obviously), some extra buds with different sizes, and a quick start-up guide. Nothing else to say here.
The box itself also is pretty simple and straightforward. Nothing too eye-catching or out of place. The back is more detailed about the buds’ features and specs.
DESIGN and FEEL:
For its price and class, I expect something more unique and classy. To say that these earbuds look common isn’t a proper description. I’d say, I’ll call them “generic”. Like, if you search for wireless earbuds over at Alibaba, you’ll see something similar. There’s no branding found on the case anywhere, too.
By the way, the small holes you see in the image are the sensors which you could touch to control the buds. We’ll be explaining these controls in detail later.
It also appears to mimic that of Apple’s AirPods, down to the case itself. Another sign of it looking generic is the case itself. There’s no branding anywhere. At least the Oppo Enco Air2 Pro has clearly distinct earbuds and an oval case with Oppo’s branding on it so you know it’s really from them. The squircle-ish shape of it makes it also challenging for the case to stand on its own. It probably could not do that even if you try so hard.
The green dot underneath is the LED indicator. “Green” means the earbuds are ready for use. While a “red” indicator states that the earbuds or case need charging.
Why do these things feel like your run-of-the-mill buds? The answer may lie with the manufacturer. These are made by Wingtech. An ODM contracted by many manufacturers such as Xiaomi and Honor. They primarily design handheld electronics like smartphones and you may see some companies like Cherry rebrand Wingtech’s devices for their own use. The same reason is applied to the Freebuds X3 Lite.
Despite its generic looks, the buds do feel comfortable in the ears, and the buds do look premium (it’s premium generic!) The silicone tips aren’t as hard as with Oppo’s and they have a smooth matte-like feel to it. That’s why they say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Another important thing to note is that the buds feature an IPX4 rating so it will survive sweat and you can use it safely while exercising.
Neither the box nor the manual mentioned which version of Bluetooth this connects to but this information is present in the HiHonor website. It mentioned that the buds connect through Bluetooth 5.3 which is really impressive because most earbuds use Bluetooth 5.1 or 5.2, and 5.3 is the latest which means more instantaneous and stable connections.
A feature that was mentioned in the box is that these have the ability to connect up to two devices at the same time without disconnecting the other. We’ve never heard of such a feature within its price range. We tested it out and it works. These earbuds are connected to both our PC and our test phone. Although, you could obviously only listen to one music player at a time.
Our colleagues mentioned that the buds do have some problems handling games. Despite the Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity which should make latencies low, the earbuds could not keep up with intense situations in games, such as during shootouts in Call of Duty Mobile and teamfights in MOBA titles like Wild Rift and Mobile Legends. We reckon it will also lag whenever you’re fighting against monsters throughout Teyvat. Try journeying throughout Dragonspine and the buds will break out.
Of course, this only happens during an intense gaming session. Under normal conditions, the earbuds work fine.
There’s also a dedicated gaming mode which you could activate by tapping either bud 3 times. Do it slowly or the sensor would not recognize your touches. This partially resolves the latency issues we have under normal mode.
There are times though when the earbuds disconnect and reconnect which is not comfortable. This mainly occurs when you connect two devices and you’re listening to music on the other. That’s disappointing because this makes the feature feel more like a gimmick than an actual useful feature. By the way, did we mention it connects through Bluetooth 5.3?
According to the box and promotional materials, these earbuds have a 28-hour battery life with the case included. This means each bud lasts for 6-7 hours under normal usage while the case lasts for around 21 hours. This is the same claim the Enco Air2 Pro made as well and frankly, this is an impressive battery life and you could use it on long trips. We’ll test that claim below to see if it was true. We’ll also test its charging speeds.
Speaking of charging, the case charges via a USB-C 2.0 port located underneath. We used the given USB-C cable and a 40W charging brick to charge these. (The buds only support 10W so the Wattage doesn’t matter). This charging speed is more than enough since wireless earbuds don’t carry as big a battery in contrast with phones.
Based on our tests, each bud in the case took about 15 minutes to charge to full. Although, we noticed that the right earbud has more capacity than the left. Within our first five minutes, the left bud has 50% capacity while the right bud has 67%. Each bud lasted for x hours outside of its case. The left bud strangely dies first before the right. During our testing, we noticed that the right bud has 3% more battery than the left. So to fix this, we simply let both of them die out and then charge them simultaneously.
We couldn’t determine how much battery the case has because the app has no indicators for it, so it will be excluded from our tests. However, it did manage to last longer than it should have, although it really depends on our usage. With ours, the case was able to be used for more than 24 hours which is already a good sign.
You could determine how much battery your buds have via the AI Space IoT app by Honor. Your buds will be automatically added once you connect these to your phone via Bluetooth. That saves a bit of time and it’s pretty convenient. For other earbuds we have tested, you have to manually go through that process which can be a chore for some.
The Honor Choice Earbuds X3 Lite can be configured via the AI Space app which you can download both in iOS and Android. As mentioned earlier, the buds would automatically be added once you have an account signed in and they are connected to your phone via Bluetooth. The app handles updates for your earbuds, if there are any.
There are a few controls available, although barebones. First of all, you can only see the battery percentage of each bud, not the case. Second, there is no equalizer built-in, only presets, and third, the controls here are customizable but only at the minimum. It does not provide controls for volume adjustment so when you need to lower the volume, you have to bring out your phone each time which sort of defeats the purpose of using TWS earbuds. There are controls for previous and next tracks though which you can only do outside of a call.
Pressing and holding the earbuds allows you to reject a call… and nothing else. This is not adjustable. Tap three times to enable or disable game mode.
The touch controls are accurate but a little slow. Sometimes, taps don’t register so you have to tap it gently. It’s certainly not PHP 4K standards (as our colleagues from Honor told us) as the Enco Air2 Pro with a similar price tag has a far faster response and more accurate control. We like to compare it a lot to those buds because of the price Honor told us, and we’re expecting close competition.
We do like where these controls are placed. They are not obstructive and they are convenient so we didn’t have any accidental touches.
SOUND and CALL QUALITY:
The earbuds feature different sound types, though AI Space does not provide an equalizer which is strange because that never happened with our reviews before. The Cherry Buds Cube has an equalizer and so does the Oppo. Lenovo does not count because that one did not have an app to control or customize with. The app provided provides the bare minimum. Looks can be deceiving sometimes as the app looks modern.
The app does provide sound presets. There are four and it defaults to the standard one. There is a “Vocal” option which mutes most of the instrumentals so the vocals are highlighted, “Pop” which is designed with pop music in mind and amplifies all types of sounds and frequencies, and finally “Super Bass” which amplifies bass. Again, you cannot manually edit these frequencies.
I’m going to use the standard preset for this test. Of course, I will test out the others too but we’ll use the default to accurately judge the sound quality of these earbuds.
Under standard mode, these buds feel cheap. I mostly hear mids and the bass is weak. The earbuds are pretty loud because even at half the volume, every sound feels amplified. You could go deaf by going in max. Don’t do it. While it does not have ANC (even though the website claims otherwise), a very loud volume achieves the same effect.
By far the best mode is Pop because everything here is amplified, in particular, the bass. In this mode, vocals, instrumentals, and high frequencies are balanced and amplified too, but the bass here is clearly the main feature of this mode. When you set this up for the first time, we recommend using this mode on any type of music. Most of our test audio has about 200-300Kbps bitrate.
The “Vocal” mode lowers the intensity of instrumentals and enhances vocals, as the name obviously tells. We use this mode to accurately test the vocals. The results are decent. Each tone of voice can clearly be heard without breaking up. Certainly not concert or studio quality, but clear enough for any audio user.
Super Bass is a mode if you really just wanna hear the bass. This mutes the mid and high frequencies as well as vocals. When we think of a name like “Super Bass”, we’re expecting a more amplified bass but also bringing the mid and high frequencies to a balance. That’s clearly not the case here and the name is yet again a marketing trick by Honor. If only there was a built-in equalizer so users could customize the music the way they want it. Maybe through a future update.
These earbuds thankfully provide a decent call quality with voices that are clear and clean even if these don’t have ANC built-in. However, that comes at a disadvantage. If you’re in a noisy environment, then you may not hear the other party so you have to be in a quiet place to perform calls. The earbuds have a range of 10 meters and will slowly break up if you go any farther.
The Honor Earbuds X3 Lite doesn’t look anything too special, especially when you see it from the outside. It looks generic as if Honor just went over to Alibaba and ordered a number of ODM AirPods to sell for their own brand. However, beyond that generic looks comes the amazing sound quality including a clear and clean voice during calls and an immersive sound if you choose the right mode.
It connects to Bluetooth 5.3 which means instantaneous connections. We also appreciate that these buds can simultaneously connect two devices at once without needing to disconnect the other. We also like how comfortable these things feel to your ear. Their silicone tips aren’t as hard as other brands we’ve tested and so they can be put in your ears for long hours and they won’t be irritatingly itchy.
It’s just disappointing to hear that these earbuds have a pretty high latency despite what the website claims. Also, its dual connectivity mode isn’t 100% reliable either because the earbuds lag and break up when that happens, making this feature virtually useless. Its complementary app, AI Space, doesn’t have a lot to offer either. The lack of a customizable equalizer as well as less versatile touch controls are really inconvenient and makes the earphones less personal. You are only left with presets.
Also, by default, the earbuds have a pretty weak bass but thankfully the “Pop” mode fixes that so we recommend you use that mode to get the full experience.
These earbuds are also IPX4 rated so you could use them while exercising. It doesn’t have noise cancellation despite what Honor claims so you have to be in a quiet environment for you to use these properly during a call.
Overall, a mediocre pair of earbuds which offers clear and clean calls and a decent sound experience when you choose the correct EQ mode.
- Lightweight even when the buds are inside
- Can simultaneously connect to two devices at once
- Clear and concise calls
- Loud volume that does not depreciate the louder you go
- Decent sound quality with strong bass under “Pop” mode
- Comfortable to wear. Silicone tips are soft and can be worn for several hours
- Despite its generic looks, the buds look premium
- Easy to control as it is located on the top lag of each bud.
- The design looks generic. No branding found on the earphones themselves
- Mediocre sound quality with very weak bass and mostly only mid frequencies heard on “Standard” mode.
- AI Space lacks an equalizer. You’re only left with presets
- High latency can cause the sound to break up, especially when gaming.
- Non-flexible touch controls and no way to adjust the volume using the buds
- Dual connectivity is not reliable. You will experience lagging and sound break-ups most of the time.
- No Noise Cancellation, despite what Honor claims
It’s currently not available in the Philippines. However, Honor told us it will be soon with its official price tag to be revealed once that happens. These were given away during the Honor SM Marilao grand opening to lucky winners.