Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro Review: Specifications don't translate into performance
One look at the spec-sheet and I was keen on getting my hands on the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro. After all, how often do you get dual-driver true wireless (TWS) earphones, and that too with aptX Adaptive compliance under Rs. 3,000? Those are the features you generally find in wireless earphones upwards of Rs. 6,000, and not necessarily all of them. On top of that, a promise of close to 30 hours of battery backup and this pair of TWS earbuds from Xiaomi seems to tick all the right boxes. But as numerous cricketers and other sportspersons have shown us over the years, potential is one thing but translating it into performance is another. So will the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro be a runaway winner in this segment or simply end up being a paper tiger? Let's find out.
Bulky case but good in-ear fit for the buds
The Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro design isn't what I would call striking. The capsule-shaped buds with angled ear-tips and a combination of matte body and glossy back do look neat, especially the blue variant that we got for review. The glossy area is touch enabled and there is a tiny LED underneath that hints at the status of connection. The case looks a tad dull in comparison and is quite bulky too, hence not really pocketable unless you are fine with a big bulge in the pocket. It has a charge LED at the front and a USB-C port at the back. The build quality of the product is good with a decent finish. The buds weigh under 5gm each and fit snugly in the ears after a bit of trial and error and turning them around. They don't stick out of the ears much or cause any major discomfort, but they aren't the most comfortable either. On the bright side, they do not pop out even during jogs or workouts. Once you figure out the right fitment in the ear, the passive noise isolation with the preinstalled medium-sized silicone tips is pretty reasonable. There are two more pairs of tips in the bundle; choose one that fits you best.
Feature-set that's too good to be true, but no customization
Some of the features that this pair offers are unheard of in this segment. Each bud is fitted with dual drivers -- a balanced armature driver primarily for high end frequency reproduction and a dynamic driver for the rest of the frequency range. On top of that, the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro flaunts compliance with Qualcomm's aptX and aptX Adaptive codecs over Bluetooth 5.2. However, there is no support for AAC codecs, and Apple users may have to settle for just SBC. You also get wear detection on the buds that pauses the audio when you remove a bud from the ear and resumes when you wear it again. While you get touch controls on the earbuds, their functions are predetermined. Unlike Realme or OnePlus earphones, they do not have a companion app and hence the controls aren't programmable. Double tap at the back of the right earbud lets you play/pause the audio, while two quick taps on the left bud activate the voice assistant. Touch and hold on left and right buds lets you jump to previous and next tracks, respectively. Double tap on either buds also helps you answer and end calls. And that's that; you can neither alter anything, nor can you adjust the volume from the buds. Further, the earbuds support fast pairing only with Xiaomi phones. For the rest, you can pair them using the normal method, where opening the case gets them into pairing mode. Find them in the list of Bluetooth devices on the phone or tablet and connect. The wireless range is perfectly fine with the buds maintaining a stable connection at 10 meters with clear line of sight, and about 6 meters with a concrete wall in between them and the source device. The earbuds are IPX4 rated sweat resistant, and can be worn during workouts and jogs.
Decent for the segment but not what it could've been
While it's easy to get carried away with its specifications, one also needs to keep in mind that this is a sub-Rs. 3,000 pair, and evaluate it accordingly. For starters, these earbuds aren't the loudest around. You need to push the volume upwards of 80% for normal loudness. The good part is they do not crack even at peak volume and are sufficiently loud outdoors. The sound is predominantly bass-heavy, and noticeably overshadows the mids. There is a significant auditory masking and vocals feel recessed, and more so in bass heavy tracks. Despite the presence of a dedicated balanced armature driver, the highs aren't too sharp and roll off a bit too soon. I would have liked more sparkle here as the buds sound slightly soft. Guess it all boils down to the far from perfect tuning, or rather a conservative approach that keeps it from being sibilant, while not making full use of the available resources. The instrument separation is okay and the soundstage is acceptable for the segment. Unlike some of the options from Realme in this budget like the Buds Air 2 or Buds Q2, Redmi hasn't opted for active noise cancellation (ANC) on these buds. I am perfectly fine with not having ANC in this budget, and the company focusing purely on sound quality instead. However, the tuning here doesn't help achieve that target either. While the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro does not sound anything like what dual driver buds should, the overall audio quality is decent for the segment. Just that it could have been a lot better. It is at par with the Realme Buds Q2 but cannot beat the Realme Buds Air 2 or the OnePlus Buds Z. A companion app is in the works, I heard. Its absence leaves the buds in a limbo. Neither can you tweak the output, nor can you update the firmware.
Good call quality, solid battery backup
The call quality on Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro is pretty good. People on either end of the call are clearly audible to each other when indoors and I wasn't asked to switch to the phone microphone even once. Even when outdoors, the microphones do more than a decent job. Some ambient noise does seep through, but doesn't impact the conversation. Moving on to battery backup, the company touts an overall battery life of 30 hours with the case, and 7 hours for the buds alone. The actual figures are not way off. The earbuds managed to last a little over 6 hours on a full charge at 80-85% loudness, which is quite good. The charging case can recharge them a little more than three times over before the case runs out of charge, thus clocking close to 26 hours with earbuds and case combined. Anything above 24 hours can be termed as good battery backup. The case has a USB-C port and one can use any compatible charger to juice it up. These Redmi buds do not support quick charging, and it takes about 90 minutes to charge the case and buds fully using a standard USB-C charger. That's acceptable.
The whole is lesser than the sum of its parts
The Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro is priced at Rs. 2,999 with a six months warranty. Most competing brands, however, offer a one year warranty. While these earbuds do not meet the lofty expectations set by their feature list, they aren't bad either. If you can look past the 'what could have been,' you get a decent sounding pair of earphones with good battery life and call quality. It will face stiff competition from the likes of Realme Buds Air 2 and the OnePlus Buds Z though. Both these TWS buds are priced around the Rs. 3,000 mark and sound better than the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro. However, the battery backup is lower at 20 and 18 hours, respectively. The Realme Buds Air 2 doesn't just sound better but also offers functional ANC, programmable touch controls and sound tweaks through the companion Realme Link app making it the best all-round product in this segment.