At a Glance
- Great sound
- Excellent battery life
- Awkward controls
- Fussy Transparency mode
- Advanced Features only on Xiaomi devices
Well balanced audio, strong noise cancelling, and a comfortable design make the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro earbuds a compelling option. It’s all let down somewhat by the ungainly control method that feels half cooked. Fix that and they’d be fantastic.
Xiaomi’s affordable brand, Redmi, has already been featured a few times at Tech Advisor with its wireless earbuds and budget-friendly phones that on the whole have impressed. Now it’s the turn of the main name to enter the stage, with the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro TWS earbuds. Here’s the full Tech Advisor review.
Design & Build Quality
Unlike the Redmi Buds 3 Pro I reviewed recently, and was rather fond of, the Xiaomi Buds opt for a design that incorporates stems rather than just buds. This gives them more of an Apple AirPod Pro vibe. The speaker casing is set at an angle to make them a comfortable fit in the ear, while you’ll also notice a silver speaker grill on the casing which is used to provide the Active Noise Cancellation.
The buds are light, only weighing 4.9g and measuring 34 x 20 x 23mm each, with plastic shells that seem as durable as any other wireless earbuds I’ve tested. An IPX55 rating means that the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pros will happily endure a sweaty gym session or downpour without fizzling out, but don’t drop them in the bath as they may not survive the quick dip.
Controls are situated on the stems themselves, which isn’t ideal, and rather than being entirely touch-sensitive they require a gentle squeeze to trigger the various commands – again, much like AirPods Pro. More on that later.
The shiny white, curved rectangular case continues the Apple aesthetic, while also housing the USB-C charging port, battery, pairing button and indicator light. To connect the buds to your phone or other device, simply open the lid, press and hold the button until the light flashes, then select the buds from your available Bluetooth devices. A nice feature is that the Xiaomi buds support simultaneous connections, so you can have them paired with your phone and laptop at the same time, taking control of the audio whenever you play something on either device.
Those with a Xiaomi or Redmi phone can access a range of additional settings via the Bluetooth menu. These include being able to reassign the touch commands, upgrade the firmware, switch on additional ANC modes, as well as detailed information about the battery charge situations of both buds and the charging case. It’s a real shame that Xiaomi doesn’t offer these features via an accompanying app so that non-Xiaomi phone users can get the most out of the buds, but I guess that’s another way that the company is emulating Apple.
Sound Quality & Features
As is pretty much the norm now with TWS wireless earbuds, the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pros come with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which can help silence the chaos of the world around you and allow your ears to enjoy whichever audio pleasures you serve them.
The speakers themselves feature 10mm dual-magnet dynamic drivers, with triple microphones enabling the ANC and phone calls. Support for the LHDC 4.0 audio codec and 24bit/96Hz HD audio means you can get some great sounds out of the Xiaomi Buds too.
I found the frequency response of the speakers to be good, with a nice, balanced mix overall. Things never get too shrill or bass-heavy, even when switching between music or spoken word content. Volume levels feel a little quiet at the top end. This could be a good thing though, as hearing damage is a serious issue, and when the noise cancelling is engaged there’s enough level to happily enjoy songs, podcasts and audiobooks without hearing too much of the din in your surroundings.
There are three audio modes available (more for Xiaomi phone users), which are Transparent (feeds in a little of the ambient noise so you can hear things around you), Noise Cancelling On and Noise Cancelling Off.
Xiaomi claims that there is 40dbs of cancellation available, and I must say that it did a decent job of isolating audio when turned on. Obviously, the physical nature of earbuds makes it hard for them to keep a closed seal in your ear canal all the time, but when firmly pressed in they give good protection against random sounds.
The Transparency mode is a little hit and miss. It does introduce quite a lot of ambient noise, which can be very helpful if you’re listening out for a train announcement or walking down a street and want to remain aware of your surroundings, but it has a feature that seems to want to compensate for wind blowing into the microphone. To stop the audio being blown out completely, it switches to ANC instead, then switches back again later. This is a good idea, but the implementation feels clunky.
I found several times where I was walking down a street, no noticeable wind to speak of, then the audio would suddenly switch, removing the ambient noise. This would be reversed once the buds thought the wind was gone, suddenly introducing noise once more. In principle this is helpful, but the sensors don’t seem that accurate and the feature became more of a random annoyance. You can upgrade the firmware on the buds, but only if you have a Xiaomi phone, so it might be that the sensitivity gets adjusted in due course.
If you do have one of the company’s smartphones then there are a few other modes you can access. These include four types of noise cancellation, ranging from a Light one that lessens noises like keyboard clicks, right up to the Deep setting that practically obliterates everything apart from the content coming out of the speakers. There are also a couple of Transparency modes too, with the extra option focused on allowing you to talk with people without the need to remove the buds. I didn’t notice a massive difference between them all, but it would be good if these additional capabilities came as standard rather than relying on owning a Xiaomi phone.
Audio on the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pros is great, but the design is let down by a poor control interface. On the lower part of the stem there is the Force Sensor Area. This is the touch-sensitive panel that you need to gently squeeze to trigger commands. The problem is that trying to do this without dislodging the buds from your ears isn’t that easy. With a bit of practice you can get used to it, but I found the triggers weren’t as accurate as the touch-sensitive panel on the Redmi Pro 3 Buds, with the multiple squeezing actions just plain awkward at times.
I have quite long hair, so it could be that this made it more tricky to quickly reach for the buds and use the commands, but I think it’s more a problem with the design itself. There is a proximity sensor though, so removing a bud from your ear will immediately pause playback, then resume once you replace it again, which is helpful.
Battery life on the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pros is better than many others I’ve seen. Xiaomi claims six hours of continual use from a single charge if you don’t use the ANC feature. I think this is most likely true, as I regularly got around four hours of use while switching through the various modes.
The charging case can fully replenish the buds up to four times before needing to be recharged itself, all of which takes just over an hour. The case also supports wireless Qi chargers if that’s your sort of thing.
Price & Availability
At the time of writing, Xiaomi informed us that the retail price will be $199, which should equate to around £179/€199. The release date is yet to be revealed, but expect the buds to launch throughout March and April across the UK and Europe, at which point you’ll be able to order via the Xiaomi Global Store. There’s no release date for the USA (even though the price given by Xiaomi is in dollars), presumably due to the ongoing difficulties Chinese tech companies are experiencing with the US government.
The pricing does pit the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pros up against some very solid opposition, such as the Apple AirPods (3rd Gen) that cost £169/$179/€199 but don’t offer Active Noise Cancellation. Otherwise, you’re looking at around another £80/$100/€100 to get up to the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro (£239/$249/€279) or the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds (£250/US$280/€299) which offer plenty of features, including ANC. Check out our roundup of the best True Wireless earbuds to see the ones we recommend.
The Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro are comfortable to wear, produce balanced audio all of which can be enhanced by the ANC capabilities, plus the battery life means you can go out on a long walk, drive or commute without worrying that you’ll need to recharge them anytime soon. The only real downsides are the awkward controls and temperamental transparency mode, plus the reserving of some better features for Xiaomi-only phones.
To be honest, I think the Redmi Pro 3 Buds are a nicer overall package, for substantially less money, but if you can deal with squeezing the stalks to play or pause your music, then there are some excellent tones available on the Xiaomi buds.
Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro: Specs
- 10mm dual-magnet dynamic drivers
- Three ANC modes (with additional features for Xiaomi phone users)
- Force sensitive controls
- Triple microphone array
- IP55 waterproof rating
- Bluetooth 5.2 (with support for simultaneous connection to two devices)
- Support for LHDC 4.0 audio codec, 24bit/96Hz HD audio and AAC
- Charging case with support for USB-C wired or Qi wireless
- 34 x 20 x 23mm (Each Bud)