Review Verdict: the realme Buds Air 3 has almost all of the features of the Buds Air Pro released earlier in the Philippines at a drastically lower price. While there were some sacrifices in the quality of the fit, overall it’s one of the best TWS cans we’ve heard from the brand.
- Tunable soundstage (with realme Link)
- Great ANC and Transparency Modes
- Silicone ear tips tend to slip
- Still no aptX
realme updates its higher-end TWS offerings with the Buds Air 3 in the Philippines. Essentially a close successor to 2020’s Buds Air Pro, the Buds Air 3 has almost all of the features of its Pro sibling while being more affordable.
The case of the Buds Air 3 retains the same cobblestone-inspired design as the Buds Air Pro, though the shape makes it feel closer to Apple’s AirPods Pro. The realme branding is located on the top, behind a window that gives it a pearlescent finish. The pairing button remains on the right side, and the USB-C port is at the bottom. There’s no wireless charging with the Buds Air 3, but that’s forgivable since we prefer ANC over that.
The shape of the earbuds looks similar to the Buds Air Pro, but realme opted to give the Buds Air 3 a metallic silver finish for the stems to give it a more upscale look. You also get silicone eartips with the Buds Air 3, though they are not as high quality as the one included with the Buds Air Pro–more on that later.
User Interface and Fit
Like the Buds Air Pro, the Buds Air 3 can be paired using Google Fast Pair or with the usual Bluetooth connection. The former is a convenient feature, as it allows you to pair the Buds Air 3 to any Android device–as long as it uses the same Google account as the Buds Air 3.
For further customization, the Buds Air 3 also works with the realme Link app, where you can tweak the touch controls and enable other features. New to the Buds Air 3 are the more comprehensive customization options for ANC and customized audio tuning. The latter lets you tweak the soundstage of the Buds Air 3 according to your liking through a series of tests. It’s one of the best alternatives to adjusting the soundstage through equalizer presets, and it helps in getting the most out of the Buds Air 3’s 10mm drivers.
The Buds Air 3 have practically the same fit as the Buds Air Pro: they are light, comfortable, and ergonomic. My only complaint, however, is the quality of the ear tips used on the Buds Air 3. There are times that they tend to slip while on my ears, disrupting the otherwise great sound quality they have to offer. You’re better off using a different set of ear tips to address the slipping issue of the ones included in the box.
Audio Quality and Battery Life
As realme’s higher-end TWS offerings, the Buds Air 3 has a soundstage that’s similar to what I have experienced with the Buds Air Pro. While the overwhelming amount of bass did turn me off initially, it took a few hours of burning in the drivers and tweaking the soundstage via realme Link’s customized audio tuning option to bring out the best in the Buds Air 3.
After the much-needed initial setup, the Buds Air 3 shares a similar soundstage as the Buds Air Pro, though the mids are not as detailed as realme’s more expensive offering. That aside, the overall sound quality of the Buds Air 3 is good enough that I only used the default balanced sound effect and did not need to enable Volume enhancer.
What makes the Buds Air 3 slightly better is overall loudness: I don’t need to push the volume beyond 70% to enjoy what music I am listening to. Its ANC functionality is slightly better than the Buds Air Pro in filtering unwanted noise, and the same can be said with its Transparency mode–not bad of a deal despite being more affordable overall.
Like the Buds Air Pro, the Buds Air 3 is limited to AAC audio codes. It’s more forgivable for the Buds Air 3 to omit aptX because of its affordable pricing and the overall performance of its ANC.
The Buds Air 3 did retain the fast charging of the Buds Air Pro: it only takes around an hour to fully charge it from flat, and a quick 10-minute top-up is just enough to last you around two KDrama episodes with ANC on.
Wrap up and Conclusions
The realme Buds Air 3 is a fitting affordable alternative to the brand’s top-end Buds Air Pro. The Buds Air 3 has almost all of the features of the Buds Air Pro at a lower price, and the issue regarding the ear tips can be addressed by getting a better set that does not slip off.
realme Buds Air 3 Review Price Philippines
The realme Buds Air 3 is priced at Php 3,990 and is available in Lazada.