Skip to main content

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro review

A true AirPods alternative for Android users

Honor Earbuds 3 pro
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Honor Earbuds 3 Pro are perfect for Android users looking for an AirPods-style build, AirPods-style features, but better-than-AirPods sound quality – if you can get your hands on them.

Pros

  • +

    Detailed, spacious, exuberant sound

  • +

    Plenty of AirPods-like features for Honor/Android users

  • +

    Intuitive and well-designed Android app

Cons

  • -

    No iOS app

  • -

    No ‘Find My’ feature

  • -

    The touch controls are a hit-or-miss experience

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro: Two-minutes review

Yes, the resemblance between Apple’s AirPods Pro and the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro is way too obvious to overlook. But rather than joining the ever-growing poor imitation pile, in so many key areas the newer Honor earbuds have actually taken what was good about the Cupertino giant's AirPods Pro and then bettered them. And not just for Honor smartphone owners.

Despite the Earbuds 3 Pro's familiar headshell and toothbrush-head design, under the hood Honor have gone out on a limb by implementing the world’s first coaxial dual-driver design with an 11mm dynamic driver and piezoelectric ceramic tweeter. Basically, it’s a tweeter-inside-driver situation; the two individual drive units are built concentrically so that they radiate sound from the same point – or axis. And it could have been a disaster. Only, it is quite the opposite. It's a resounding triumph. 

Honor has taken the shape of the pro-suffixed AirPods and added on-device volume control to the stems, a more customisable and enjoyable noise-cancellation experience, a new slick and easy app (as long as you don’t own an iPhone) a first-of-its-kind temperature sensor,  and most importantly delivered a fuller, meatier bass, a more expansive soundstage and a better, more detailed sonic experience overall. And it has managed to do it all while undercutting Apple’s AirPods Pro. 

Two-line review? Honor just made one of the best noise-cancelling earbuds out there. Bravo, Honor. 

Honor Earbuds 3 pro with case open

The Honor Earbuds 3 Pro look so much like an Apple 'Pro' product that people will end up doing a double-take. (Image credit: Future)

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro review: price and release date

  • Honor Earbuds 3 pro is available for preorder with AED 649
  • Available for pre-order from now until the 24th of June

Honor hasn't shied out here when it comes to pricing, the company has priced the Earbuds at a premium AED 649 which makes it undercutting Apple's AirPods Pro by only AED 50.

The price for the Earbuds is aggressive but it has all the features and the sound quality to justify that pricing.

A deal worth checking out if you're looking to get a new Honor phone, you can now pre-order the Honor Magic 4 Pro (opens in new tab) at a price of AED 3,999 and you'll get the Earbuds 3 pro, the Honor Watch GS 3 and other gifts totalling a value of AED 2,005  

The Earbuds 3 pro will be officially available for sale on 24th June 2022.

Honor Earbuds 3 pro Type C charging port

Honor's Earbuds 3 Pro case charges via USB-C and wireless charging and it is very pebble-like indeed. (Image credit: Future)

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro review: features

  • Bluetooth 5.2 and intuitive, well-featured app support for Android
  • Four effective noise-cancellation profiles plus ambient aware
  • On-ear volume control and dual device pairing
  • Temperature sensor

First things first: the user-friendly, slick, well-designed Honor AI Space app is only available for Android. And that iOS lookalike quick-pairing feature, whereby you simply open the lid of the box and an image of the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro presents itself ready for pairing, only happens if you’re using an Honor device. But we tested these earbuds using other phones, and even without the quick-pairing function or the app support we still found these earbuds more than stood up to the competition in other areas. 

That said, this is a resoundingly made-for-Android set of earbuds. Although no app is needed to scroll through the ‘noise cancelling’, ‘off’ and ‘awareness’ profiles – you can simply long-press either earbud to cycle between them – access to the Honor AI Space app unlocks four additional profiles with different intensities within noise-cancelling. Tap on ‘noise cancelling’ within this Android app and you’re given a choice of four ‘modes’: ‘intelligent’, which moderates the level of noise cancellation depending on your surroundings; ‘cozy’ which is described as suitable for quiet environments such as an office; ‘moderate’ for noisier environments; and ‘ultra’ for situations where constant noise-eradication is necessary, such as a plane. And very effective they are too. 

We walked down the bustling streets of Downtown Dubai including taking a metro ride with 'intelligent' mode deployed and to our surprise, the mode adapted well to the changing environment and gave a similar experience throughout the journey. 

Setting up the earbuds for the first time was a cumbersome task because of the slew of applications that Honor introduced after the separation from Huawei, for instance, Honor has introduced Honor Health that's identical to the Huawei app but they didn't include the Earbuds as a part of that application and you're required to download another application "AI Space" that's supposed to include all the upcoming smart devices of Honor, but once you set up the Earbuds it's a fire and forget task and we've found using the app a pleasant experience with its sleek and easy to use interface that gives control over all the functions and settings of the earbuds.

The noise-cancelling pressure caused by these Honor Earbuds 3 pro is moderate and we didn't find it too exhausting to use over long listening sessions even on the highest noise cancellation level.

On the connectivity front, the buds include Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity that gave a rock-solid connection and also supports multiple devices connected at the same time, the battery life of the Honor Earbuds 3 was claimed to last up to 24 hours when combined with the charging case – which, handily, also offers two hours of playback from five minutes of fast-charging. The juice in the buds is not especially impressive, at six hours of playback on a full charge with no noise cancellation or four with noise-cancellation deployed, but it's acceptable given the quick-charge feature – and the app gives very clear indications of the remaining battery in each earbud and the case, to help you stay prepared for long journeys, oh, and the supported wireless charging has come in handy with these Earbuds as reverse wireless charging becoming widely available in all devices. 

Multi-device connection and auto-switching worked like a charm on these Earbuds, during the review period it gave me a great comfortability while using it on my Windows laptop to listen to music and whenever I received a call, the Earbuds just switched back to my phone to take the call, this feature is really well polished and worked great.

Another feature worth shouting about here is the on-ear volume control. Although you might not think it's a game-changer, the fact that you cannot swipe up or down on your AirPods Pro to control your music, but you can here, becomes no small perk over time. Not having to dig your phone out of your bag to turn the music down on a packed train: huge. 

The touch controls are pre-fixed for some functions (temperature check, and noise cancellation cycling) it's flexible elsewhere where you can assign custom functions for the double touch functions which came in handy to cycle through music or do other functions to your liking.

The novel temperature sensor in these Earbuds turned out to be working great during our testing and gave accurate results but it's important to note that you can't rely on these sensors for medical purposes as Honor said, there's a handy touch shortcut for measuring the temperature manually by triple tapping any of the stems. And you also have the option to track a continuous measurement over time, and to activate an "abnormal temperature alert". though we found it costly on the battery life.

TLDR; Honor gave a lot of features in these Earbuds and even won the race for the novel temperature sensor, beating a lot of other tech giants to the punch... the fact that Find My equivalent isn't in these Earbuds is something we can't complain about since it doesn't exist in a lot of truly wireless earbuds on the market. 

Spoiler alert: they have a great sound too, keep on reading for our opinion on that part.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Honor Earbuds 3 pro fit in the ear

The Honor Earbuds 3 Pro's sits comfortably in the ear and it comes with different eartips to accomodate different ear sizes (Image credit: Future)

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro review: sound quality

  • Detailed, expansive soundstage across the frequencies
  • Powerful, snappy bass and textured vocals
  • A new class leader for Android devices sonically

Arguably the biggest difference between the AirPods Pro and the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro is how much better the latter sounds. Let's let that sink in for a moment. It is no small or incremental improvement on Apple's top-tier offering either. 

We streamed music from YouTube Music & Anghami to test the Earbuds out. We've had a pleasant experience listening experience with a great bass floor we enjoyed in Wegz tracks which were deep and impacting in beat drops. Vocals in the classics of Om Kolthoum and Fayrouz songs sounded greatly expressive and a true to life experience. 

The soundstage is a touch more expansive across the frequencies, too, although that is a more closely-run race. Ultimately, it's the extra detail – the cleaner leading edges of notes, the emotive quality of vocals – that makes the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro the clear winner across the course of our listening. 

Honor's calculated risk of using a new coaxial dual driver design has proven to pay off in the end, the Earbuds 3 Pro sound more engaging, and did really well in many musical genres, delivering rich treble and clear acoustic in a way bettering many other Earbuds.

  • Sound quality score: 5/5

Honor Earbuds 3 pro with Earbuds out of the case

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro comes with a design similar to Apple's AirPods Pro and they weigh a tad less than the latter  (Image credit: Future)

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro review: Design

  • Available in white and grey colours
  • Just 5.1g per earbud
  • So AirPods Pro-esque it's almost funny

There's no getting around it. If imitation be the sincerest form of flattery, Honor had some very nice things to say about Apple's AirPods Pro when fashioning the Earbuds 3 Pro. It's alarming how similar the two propositions look, side by side. 

That said, Honor has gone just a touch better here again in some ways. As well as white, Honor has released a silver colour and, with one bud weighing just 5.1g without the tip, Honor has also shaved three decigrams off the AirPods Pro's listed 5.4g per bud. It's a minor improvement, but if you like the look and fit of the AirPods Pro, you'll have no complaints here. 

We can't help but return to the on-ear volume function either; swipe up or down along the straight spine of either earbud and a little beep reassures you that the earpiece has registered your request and done the business for you. 

While there's little in it for battery life – Honor Earbuds 3 Pro promise four hours of playtime and AirPods Pro claim up to 4.5 hours of listening, both with ANC on – the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro support USB-C charging and Bluetooth 5.2 where AirPods Pro are back on Bluetooth 5.0 and sport a Lightning port – and remember, although AirPods already have an audio-sharing function, specific features that were introduced in version 5.2 of the Bluetooth Core Specification may well mean that Honor's proposition can support Auracast audio sharing in the future. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro review: value

  • AirPods-like specs and battery life for less than AirPods
  • Easily betters AirPods for sound
  • No Find My features or scope for head-tracked immersive audio

All things considered, the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro represent a good value, especially if you're an Honor (or Android in general) smartphone owner and can have that AirPods-Esque quick-pair feature for a little less than AirPods money.

In terms of feature set, Honor sits top of the class for value too. there aren't a lot of Earbuds that can beat the Earbuds 3 pro as a complete package, especially for the feature set, the sound quality and the noise cancellation.

Coming to UAE at AED 649, the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro sits comfortably in the middle of the noise-cancelling headphones offerings, They are neither overshooting too high like the Bose QuietComfort and the Sony WF-1000XM4 nor do they compromise on features or sound quality like other cheaper Earbuds... it just hits a sweet spot when it comes to pricing especially here in the UAE.

  • Value score: 5/5

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro review: should I buy it?

Honor Earbuds 3 Pro
AttributesNotesRating
FeaturesAdditional features but fully accessible on Android phones only4.5/5
Sound qualityImpressive. Easily surpasses the competition for detail, bass weight and timing at the level5/5
DesignExcellent, but so AirPods-like it's criminal 5/5
ValueAn excellent buy for the money, as long as you don't own an iPhone5/5

Buy it if…

You want AirPods looks and features but for an Android phone
The Honor Earbuds 3 Pro delivers more thrilling sound than AirPods Pro and that should be enough. But for Android owners, the app is a joy to use and the design is a proven winner. 

You prioritise sound over a unique or quirky design
There are no big surprises in the design and when wearing them, you may feel as if you're following the herd. But the sonic chops here cannot and should not be ignored, because the step-up in terms of clarity and detail is quite startling. 

You own an Honor phone (or basically any other Android phone)
While it might not be a crucial feature, the iOS-Eque quick-pairing is a nice feature to have, add to this the likeable Honor AI Space app (only available on Android) and a levelled-up sonic experience. What's not to love? 

Don't buy it if…

You own an iPhone

Don't get us wrong, the sound still beats Apple's AirPods Pro hands down, but the Honor Space AI app is not available for iOS, which means you'll lose access to those four useful noise-cancellation profiles in addition to quick pairing and the ability to turn periodic tempereature checks.

You're often losing your headphones

There's no Find My equivalent onboard here which, given their price, is a little worrying if often take Ubers and commuting a lot…

You'll rely on this device for temperature monitoring

Again, these Earbuds aren't meant to be used for health tracking or medical purposes, while this feature is a good  addition and gives you pretty accurate results, It's not a medically approved device and you should look for a medical thermometer.

Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.