Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro review:
- Lightweight profile, well-crafted build
- Very comfortable to wear
- Excellent sound with a balanced profile
- Effective noise cancellation
- 6 hour battery life, 24 hours with case
- Fiddly on-ear controls
- You need a compatible Xiaomi phone to access app
- Not the loudest earphones around
Xiaomi has announced a couple of weeks ago three new wearables, Watch S1, the sporty version of the same called Watch Active, along with Buds 3T Pro. We are currently testing out the first two on this list so look for our reviews to drop in the days ahead. I have also been testing Buds 3T Pro, Xiaomi’s latest pair of wireless headphones.
According to the marketing material, the highlights of this device include up to 40dB hybrid noise isolation with transparency mode, premium sound, DLC diaphragm, and LHDC 4.0. There’s also dimensional audio for immersive listening, convenient dual-device connection and support for wireless charging.
On paper the $199 (check price on Amazon) Buds 3T Pro sound like a capable, high-end product. But are they a viable Apple Air Pods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro alternative? Read on to find out.
Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro review: Design, hardware, what’s in the box
Buds 3T Pro are a more high spec version of Buds 3. They are Xiaomi’s latest weapon in the premium segment of the wireless earbuds space where Apple and Samsung are the leading competitors. The buds are a direct successor to last year’s Xiaomi Flipbuds Pro.
Out of the box, you’ll instantly notice that this feels like a premium product. Xiaomi says the look of the buds is inspired by a Möbius loop design. Their lightweight profile and ergonomic build reminds a bit of Apple AirPods Pro, albeit with a less rounded design.
The retail package arrives with the earbuds, four pairs of different sized ear tips, a pebble-like charging case, a Type-C charging cable and instruction booklet. Two options are available – a Gloss White and Carbon Black colour. My review unit was the latter – colour black with hints of blue.
I found the buds to be very comfortable to wear. The ergonomic design means they do not exert pressure on any part of the ear. I had no irritation or strain on my ears wearing them for hours at a time, and even sleeping with them. Which is not the case with most other earbuds I’ve had the pleasure of testing.
Inside each of the buds are triple microphones. One is used for voice pickup while the other two deal with noise cancellation.
In the ear canal, Buds 3T are close fitting so are quite secure. There is little danger of them falling out and I managed to put in some light exercise with them firmly in place.
The IP55 certification means the headphones are water-resistant, but not waterproof. The splash protection is good enough, though, to keep the music running if you get caught in the rain while running or cycling. You should have no worries there.
At the lower end of the stem on each bud is a physical button. You really have to feel around for it as the pressure-sensitive sensors do not protrude very much.
These are not the typical the single tap touch controls most often found on such products. It takes a firm squeeze of the tip to get the sensors to respond and trigger actions such as play/pause, skip tracks and toggle the various modes. At times I found myself struggling to activate the button – so I actually prefer the touch controls. Maybe in time I would get used to them. Having said that, it is more difficult to trigger an action accidentally with squeeze-type functionality.
The matte finish and premium feel of the buds extends to the charging case. This makes it nice to the touch and acts to deter fingerprints and scratches quite well. There are also some glossy bits on the buds and inside the case.
What I liked is that everything is small enough to carry in your jeans pocket. The case dimensions are 65 x 49 x 24 millimetres and weight 48 grams so is slightly smaller than some of the competition.
Flip the top case lid open and it will stay open. Close it and you will hear a firm snap when the cover slots in place. The buds sit upright in the case – each bud needs to go into its correct slot.
At the front end of the case is a single bright indicator LED. The bottom end of the case provides a USB-C charging port. Next to this is a barely visible pairing button.
The all important battery life does not disappoint. On a single charge the buds will keep going for around 6 hours. For those like me who have an unhealthy habit of listening to Youtube while sleeping, that’s almost enough to get you through the entire night.
Three additional charges via the case are enough to keep Buds 3T Pro going for a full day. After that the case itself will need to be topped up. This is pretty much what you’d expect from this type of product and is similar to what you get with AirPods Pro. The phone’s status bar always displays the battery status indicators of the earbuds, so that’s a quick way of checking how much juice is left.
A quick 10 minute rest of the buds inside the case provides about an hour of listening time. The case only needs to be plugged in for an hour or so to achieve a full charge from zero. Qi wireless charging support is also worth a mention.
Lightweight, semi in-ear design
Dimensions of charging case
65 x 49 x 24 mm
Gloss White, Carbon Black
Single bud: 4.9 grams, Case: 48 grams
6 hours on a single charge
18 additional hours with charging case (Type-C charging port)
for a total of 24 hours
Up to 40dB (3+1 modes)
Earbud input parameters
5V ⎓ 0.12A
Charging case output parameters
5V ⎓ 0.25A
10m (open space free of obstacles)
Audio codecs supported
AAC, SBC, LHDC 4.0
IP55 dust and water resistance (buds)
Price (typical RRP)
When opening the case the buds will automatically switch on. Put them back in the case and close the lid and they will go back into sleep mode and disconnect from any connected devices.
Of course, you do need to go through an initial pairing process. This is quick and easy.
Simply press the pairing button at the bottom of the case for two seconds while the lid is open. The LED light will start blinking in White. Then connect to the buds via the Bluetooth settings on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. After that, pairing will be automatic so there’s no need to go through this procedure again. In the week or so of testing on a daily basis, I only needed to do a manual connection via the Bluetooth settings on my phone once.
Initial pairing is even easier if you have a Xiaomi or Redmi phone. Opening the case the first time will trigger a prompt on the smartphone screen to begin the initial pairing process.
You can be up to 10 meters away from your phone (open space free of obstacles) and the buds will maintain the connection. After that they will go into passive connection mode for about 5 minutes. If you are still too far away from your phone, after 10 minutes they will enter sleep mode.
The earbuds can be simultaneously connected to two devices via Bluetooth 5.2. This is regardless whether they run on Android, iOS or Windows systems. I had no problems simultaneously linking them up to my Apple iPhone and iPad and switching between the two devices.
Xioami Buds 3T pro offer quite a bit of functionality. The problem is, you need one of the brand’s smartphones in order to access a few of the advanced features. That’s because at the time of writing this review, there is no universal Android or iOS app.
My device of choice is the Apple phone so this review is based on that experience. With this gear I did get was the ability to use the force sensor area on the buds to allow and decline phone calls. One grip of the buds accepts a call, another ends it, while two pinches rejects a call from the outset.
The force sensor area also allows you to control music playback. There is no volume control, which is not ideal, but there is the ability to play/pause, skip to next track or previous track. Or simply take the buds out of your ears. The in-ear detection will pause media playback until you put them back in. Pretty standard stuff.
You can also enable noise cancellation, transparency mode and disable noise cancellation by holding the force sensor area for two seconds. These features will cycle through as you are holding the bud.
The transparency mode does a decent job at letting external sound back in whilst you are listening to audio or music. This is useful when you are on the move as it serves to increase awareness of surroundings. There’s also an Enhance Voice mode which is meant to highlight human speech in the background.
I found the buds handle noise cancellation quite well. Without the Xiaomi app you can only access the default adaptive ANC mode. Xiaomi says this blocks out 40dB of noise and can reduce background sounds by up to 99%. The key phrase here is “up to”. In most cases it will not be close to 99%. But it is still decent enough.
On a busy street most of the sound will be cancelled out providing a relatively quiet environment. You will hear muffled engine sounds and some other noise in the background. But turn up the audio volume and you might even forget you are outside. The caveat are windy conditions where the buds don’t perform particularly well in terms of cancelling out sound.
The default is an automatic mode which is capable of monitoring the level and type of ambient noise in real time and automatically selecting the appropriate noise cancellation mode (Light, Balanced and Deep). Every time the buds switch between modes you will hear an adjustment in the sound. This can be a bit annoying but luckily it does not happen too often.
To switch between the modes manually, you will need a compatible Xiaomi-made phone. This is also required to access dimensional or spatial audio.
I was not able to try this out but the idea is that the feature helps to recreate a 360 degree sound experience. The effect should be similar to what you’d get in theatres or live concerts. As with other devices with this type of functionality, in practice dimensional audio is still in its infancy. Virtual surround sound on mobile devices has not taken off yet and the content library of such audio is not very extensive.
Also worth a mention is the optional head tracking ability. Reserved again, for those with Xiaomi branded phones, it registers your head position when you press play. After that it shifts the soundstage as you turn your head. The effect is that sounds gets more emphasised in one ear and quieter in the other. As with other such products, this is more of a gimmick right now rather that something you will find yourself using regularly.
Xiaomi says their new buds offer studio-level sound performance with rich detail and minimum sound distortion. This very much parallels my experience.
In terms of sound output, the buds offer a beautiful experience with a balanced sound profile and clear high tones and vocals. There’s plenty of body and rich bass which does not drown out other sounds. Instruments also have a good deal of individual separation. I found the buds to offer a more enjoyable listening experience that most other products I have tried out.
My view is that most people will be pleased with the sound quality. Having said that, I do wish there was a way to turn the volume louder. This would be particularly useful when you are outside in noisy surroundings. For example, riding in a busy London bus in rush hour traffic, I found myself wishing I could turn the playback volume up just a bit more. These are definitely not the loudest earphones around.
The highlights of Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro are their lightweight profile, ergonomic build and comfortable fit. As are the quality of the sound, active noise cancellation, convenient dual-device connection and decent battery life.
The $199 price tag of the whole package (check price on Amazon) is also nothing to sneeze at. This is a pair of premium buds which undercuts the competition in terms of price. The one slight negative is that these are not amongst the loudest earphones around.
I would particularly suggest this product to those with one of the newer Xiaomi smartphones. They’ll have the benefit of using the companion app which allows them to access more advanced features such as dimensional audio and head-tracking. The app also offers more control over transparency and noise cancellation modes. I really hope Xiaomi extends universal support as this will make the buds more attractive to Apple and Android smartphone owners.
All things considered, Buds 3T Pro are a pretty good sounding pair of wireless earbuds, that provide a very comfortable wearing experience and beautiful sound. For those with compatible Xiaomi phones, they are probably one of the best options around.
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