When it comes to wireless earbuds, I’ve found there are several things a given pair needs to get right to be considered good. Sound quality, comfort, battery life, usability, noise cancellation and more are all integral to the overarching earbud experience, and just about everyone will weigh these things differently. That’s what makes it somewhat tough to recommend the EarFun Free Pro 3 earbuds — they nail some of the above aspects while whiffing hard on others, and depending on what you care about, they’ll either be solid earbuds or a disappointment.
I’ve been testing the EarFun Free Pro 3 earbuds for several weeks now, bouncing back and forth between them and my current daily driver earbuds, the Pixel Buds Pro. I’ve mostly been impressed with how the Free Pro 3 buds stack up given the significant price difference between the two — the Free Pro 3 earbuds cost $89.99 in Canada compared to the $259.99 cost of the Pixel Buds Pro.To my ears, the EarFun Free Pro 3 sounds almost as good as the Pixel Buds Pro. There are definitely instances where the Pixel Buds sound clearer, but overall, they’re close enough that, for the price difference, I’m more than satisfied with the Free Pro 3. I primarily listen to podcasts and music with my earbuds, typically bouncing between various genres, including metal, jazz, R&B, hip hop and more (basically anything but country). The EarFun Free Pro 3 buds handled everything well, with podcasts sounding clear and sharp and music sounding full, though maybe not as balanced as I’d like. Of course, you can also download the EarFun app and mess with things like the equalizer to tune things to your liking.
Decent comfort and battery life
Regarding comfort, I’d rate the Free Pro 3 higher than the Pixel Buds Pro. The main reason for this little silicon wing on the end of each earbud is that it simultaneously helps the Free Pro 3 buds lock into my ears snuggly and prevents them from putting too much pressure on my ear and becoming uncomfortable over longer listening sessions. Of course, the Free Pro 3 are no Surface Earbuds (and at this point, I don’t think anything will match the comfort those buds offered), but I do think the EarFun buds are a step up in comfort from the Pixel Buds for longer sessions.
Regarding battery life, the EarFun Free Pro 3 isn’t bad either. The company advertises up to 7.5 hours of playback time with active noise cancellation (ANC) turned off or six hours with it on, plus either 33 or 27 hours of additional time, respectively, with the charger factored in. In real-world use, it felt like the buds got very close to those ANC numbers, though I didn’t test the battery life with ANC turned off.
Unfortunately, this is where things start to fall apart for the EarFun Free Pro 3 buds. They do have ANC, which is a plus, but it’s not nearly as good as what the Pixel Buds Pro offer. For example, when using the Free Pro 3 on my weekly GO train commute into the MobileSyrup office, I can still hear a significant amount of noise from the train, though it’s somewhat dampened. The Pixel Buds Pro did a better job of making it sound like I wasn’t on a train but in a quiet room instead. As someone who would rather have mediocre ANC over no ANC, I didn’t mind the noise cancellation on the Free Pro 3 buds, but if you value good ANC, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Touch controls aren’t the best and the earbuds have connection issues
Moreover, usability and reliability were both problem areas for the buds. The Free Pro 3 were great when I could just pop them in my ears, hit play, and not worry about them. But times where I wanted something more, like the ability to easily pause or skip songs, things weren’t great. In general, I found the touch controls on the buds weren’t responsive to what I wanted. For example, the double-tap to pause function almost always registered as a single tap, which would increase or decrease the volume that I had playing depending on which earbud I tapped on.
Continuing with the usability thread, I quickly came to miss smart features from the Pixel Buds Pro, like how they automatically switched from ANC to ambient mode when I started talking. It’s a small thing, but it came in handy more often than I realized. Plus, there are many little ways where the Pixel Buds Pro plays nicer with my phone of choice — currently the Pixel 8 — compared to the Free Pro 3 buds, contributing to a more seamless user experience.
As for reliability, the Free Pro 3 earbuds often gave me issues when it came to connecting and disconnecting from my phone. On multiple occasions, I’d put the buds and started playing something, only to discover it was playing on only one bud. Then I’d have to take both buds out, put them in the case, close it, wait a second, then open it and take the buds out again in hopes they’d connect properly on the second try. Or third. Other times, I’d take out my buds and put them in the case only to discover later that the earbuds never actually disconnected from my phone, and I’d have to manually do so from the Bluetooth menu.
Speaking of the charging case, I appreciate its small size, though the plastic enclosure admittedly doesn’t feel as premium as what you get with something like the Pixel Buds Pro. It offers a USB-C port for charging and wireless charging, which is a huge bonus in my eyes.
Overall, I think the EarFun Free Pro 3 offer a decent package for the $89.99 price. That said, they earbuds are far from perfect and the reliability issues I had, while seldom more than a mild annoyance, detracted from the overall experience. If you’re looking for decent sub-$100 earbuds and don’t mind mediocre ANC and occasional connection issues, the EarFun Free Pro 3 fit the bill.
The EarFun Free Pro 3 are available on Amazon for $89.99.