Realme has been making incredibly feature-packed truly wireless earphones over the past couple of years. A few days ago, the company launched the Realme Buds Air 3 with claims of better audio quality, more effective ANC (Active Noise Cancellation), improved battery life, and features like multipoint connectivity for just ₹3,999 (₹3,499 for a limited time).
Our Realme Buds Air 3 review reveals whether the company’s claims hold true and if the new earbuds are worth buying.
Design & Comfort
The Realme Buds Air 3 are among the better designed wireless earbuds in the price segment. The case is small and shaped like a pebble, which helps it easily slide into any pocket. The lid offers a satisfying click and solid feel while opening and closing. Some people might not like the Realme logo on the top of the case.
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The earbuds themselves are light and fit easily in most ears. They have a plastic build with a glossy finish, and I would’ve preferred a soft-touch material. Despite the glossy plastic body, the earbuds fit comfortably and securely despite lacking any ear fin. They did not fall out even when I shook my head vigorously (enough to cause a neck sprain). Even gym-goers and runners won’t find any issues with its fit. And the IPX5 rating is a bonus for people with an active lifestyle.
The stems of the earbuds are thinner and shorter than most other earbuds in the same price segment. The earbuds are placed in the case in a weird way, though. You have to rotate the ear tip section of the buds outwards while putting them inside the case. There is a USB Type-C charging port at the bottom.
Towards the end of the review, the Realme Buds Air 3’s case dropped out of my hands from waist-level height onto a hard concrete surface. As you can see in the image above, the case suffered a few dents and there was a crack towards the edge of the lid. I have never dropped any wireless earphones from such a height, so I am not sure how other earphones would fare.
I tested the Realme Buds Air 3 with the Realme 9 5G SE (Review) and activated the AAC codec. Most of my listening was via Apple Music and Spotify. I also watched a lot of videos on Prime Video and YouTube. I listened to various music genres, including Bollywood, Dance, Electronica, Hip-Hop, Pop, R&B, and Rock/Soft Rock.
The Realme Buds Air 3 are tuned for punchy audio, with a slight emphasis on bass (low-end). But Realme hasn’t gone too overboard with bass, unlike the OnePlus Buds Pro and the Realme Buds Wireless 2. The vocals are clean but not as forward as I like. The low-end has a decent amount of thump, but it’s not as tight or meaty as some more expensive wireless earbuds. There is not enough sub-bass that I enjoy on my wired earbuds like the Final Audio E1000 and the BLON BL03. The high-end lacks that spark and shimmer that I love, but I am nitpicking at this price. The resolved detail is average, too.
The soundstage and stereo separation are nothing to write home about. The earbuds are pretty average in those aspects. You can switch between Bass Boost, Balanced, and Bright equaliser settings. I went through a 10-minute process to activate the Custom Audio Tuning feature, which improved the audio tuning. I could hear highs and vocals more clearly.
Sometimes, the vocals sound a bit metallic, and this phenomenon increases when the ANC mode is activated. There’s support for Dolby Atmos when a compatible Realme phone is used, and customisable equaliser settings are available.
Realme claims that the Buds Air 3 can cancel up to 42dB of background noise. I wasn’t expecting much with the earbuds because of their affordable price point. I’ve listened to other affordable ANC earbuds in the past, but most of them had poor ANC implementation, negatively affecting the audio quality and not cancelling enough noise.
The Realme Buds Air 3 performed really well, drowning out most of the unwanted noise. I was surprised at the amount of background noise that disappeared after turning on ANC. Low-end sounds from the AC and the ceiling fan disappeared. I couldn’t hear most of the vocal sounds from my family members (in another room) and the TV even when the music wasn’t playing.
I couldn’t travel on a flight during the review period, so I can’t really comment on the ANC performance during air travel, but I assume that the earbuds should fare well in such scenarios.
I wasn’t impressed with the transparency mode. Ambient sounds weren’t amplified enough, especially sounds from the higher-end frequency spectrum. I couldn’t test the Wind Noise Reduction feature since I didn’t go out a lot, or if I did, I couldn’t listen to the music.
Overall, the Realme Buds Air 3 have commendable audio quality and ANC performance for the price. I’ve listened to wireless earbuds that cost twice as much as the Realme Buds Air 3 but sound worse.
The Realme Buds Air 3 are highly feature-rich as per their price tag. They feature a Bluetooth 5.2 chip with support for SBC and AAC. Yes, they lack aptX and LDAC, but we don’t expect to see LDAC support at this price. Even the Galaxy Buds 2 that cost 3x the Realme Buds Air lack LDAC codecs. Want to know more about Bluetooth audio codecs? Read our in-depth explanation of Bluetooth audio and various wireless audio codecs.
The earbuds also support ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) and transparency modes. The ANC is adjustable, too (received via a software update). There’s wind noise reduction, too, so you can take calls even when it’s windy (we don’t recommend calling while driving/riding). The earbuds support wear detection for automatically pausing/playing music based on whether or not you’re wearing them.
The companion Realme Link app allows switching between ANC On, ANC Off, and Transparency modes. It also allows tweaking of the audio equaliser. The earbuds also support customised audio tuning as per the user’s listening capability.
You can also enable/disable Volume Enhancer and Wind Noise Reduction features. Game Mode, Dual Device Connection, In-Ear Detection, and Auto Answer features can be tweaked using the app. It also lets you customise touch control settings—Double Tap, Triple Tap, and Touch And Hold—for left and right earbuds. Speaking of touch controls, there was a slight delay between tapping and those taps being recognised.
Realme claims a battery life of up to 30 hours on a single charge (earbuds + case). Each earbud should last up to 7 hours on a single charge with ANC/Transparency modes turned off and volume level set to 50%.
In real life, the earbuds lasted anywhere between 5 and 6 hours when the volume level was set to around 80%. I turned off Dual Device Connection, Game Mode, Volume Enhancer, and Wind Noise Reduction. ANC and Transparency were activated based on requirements. If you enable all those features, battery life will take a hit.
The case can fully charge the earbuds three times, which means you are realistically looking at a total battery life of more than 20 hours. Most people will be satisfied with the Realme Buds Air 3’s battery life. A full charge takes around an hour.
The Realme Buds Air 3 get our wholesome recommendation. They sound relatively neutral yet punchy enough to offer a fair bit of excitement. Most people would like its audio tuning. The ANC performance was really impressive. The earbuds are well-designed, well-built, compact, and attain a secure fit. They are IPX5-certified, too, which means you don’t need to worry about them while working out.
The earbuds are extremely feature-rich and have multi-point connectivity, Google Fast Pair, and a fantastic companion app (Realme Link). Features like aptX and wireless charging would’ve been like icing on the cake, but we’re asking for a lot at this price point. The only thing that Realme can improve with its next-generation TWS is better performance in the higher frequency sound spectrum.
If you want even better audio, you should look towards the Jabra Elite 7 Active, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 (Review). The slightly higher priced Nothing Ear (1) sound only marginally better than the Realme Buds Air 3 but lack a lot of features.
Realme Buds Air 3
The Realme Buds Air 3 get our wholesome recommendation. They sound relatively neutral yet punchy enough to offer a fair bit of excitement. Most people would like its audio tuning. The ANC performance was really impressive, too. The earbuds are extremely feature-rich and have multi-point connectivity, Google Fast Pair, and an amazing companion app.
- Enjoyable audio tuning.
- Excellent ANC performance for the price.
- Multipoint connectivity and Google Fast Pair.
- Good design and IPX5 rating.
- Great companion app.
- Feature-packed for the price.
- Vocals sound a bit metallic, especially when ANC is turned on.
- No support for aptX audio codec.