Realme’s earbuds usually perform better than what their price tag suggests. Earlier this year, we reviewed the Realme Buds Air 3 and came up pretty impressed. Now, the company has launched the Realme Buds Air 3S and going by their naming, it would be natural for anyone to assume them as improved versions of the Buds Air 3. However, that isn’t the case. The Buds Air 3S are cheaper (₹2,499) than the Buds Air 3. They lack some important features like ANC and automatic wear detection.
We got access to the new earbuds last week, and we’ve been using them since. Here’s our Realme Buds Air 3S review after using them for a week. But first, let’s have a look at their features.
Realme Buds Air 3S Features
The Realme Buds Air 3S feature 11mm drivers that are tuned for emphasis on the low end (bass). The earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.3 wireless connectivity and support for AAC and SBC codecs. They feature Dolby Atmos support and custom equaliser settings. Realme claims that the Buds Air 3S feature a low-latency mode that reduces latency to 69ms, which makes gaming feel more responsive.
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The earbuds can also switch between two devices automatically. For example, if you’re watching a video on the Realme Pad X (Review) and listening to audio through the Buds Air 3S, and you get a call on the Realme GT Neo 3 (Review), the earbuds would automatically connect to the phone to take the call. Unfortunately, the feature seems to work only among Realme devices, and I wasn’t able to connect them to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 while listening to them via the Galaxy S22+ (Review). But I have yet to come across wireless buds priced below ₹5,000 that have multipoint connectivity.
The Buds Air 3S use four microphones (two on each earbud) to cancel background noise during calls. They can last 7 hours on one charge, and combined with the battery inside the case, Realme claims that the Buds Air 3S can last up to 30 hours for music playback and 16 hours for calls. Thanks to Dart Charge (fast charging), they can charge enough in 10 minutes for five hours of music playback.
Realme Buds Air 3S Review
Right off the bat, the case looks cute in its white avatar. It is compact and can fit inside any pocket without much effort. Its transparent lid may not inspire a lot of confidence, but it actually doesn’t feel flimsy. The Realme Buds Q2s (Review) had a transparent case lid, too, and it felt cheap and low quality.
The rest of the case has a glossy finish, and it’s natural for it to get scratched. I can already see a few micro scratches, but you’ll have to look closely to find them. There’s a USB Type-C charging port on the rear and a pairing button on the front. Overall, the case is compact and has a fresh-looking design and decent build quality. Frankly, they feel better built than Nothing Ear (1)’s case despite being priced much cheaper.
The earbuds don’t follow Realme’s usual styling. Their stem is short and flat. And the earbuds have wing tips for extra stability. To be frank, the Realme Buds Air 3S are quite compact and lightweight, and they look stylish compared to most wireless earbuds in the segment. They are also IPX5-rated for water splash and sweat resistance.
The Realme Buds Air 3S have an in-ear canal design, which means they can block external noise passively. They feel comfortable even after wearing them for hours on a stretch. However, they didn’t fit as snug in my ears as some other earbuds, and that makes passive noise isolation less effective.
The earbuds appear to have air vents that remove air pressure from the ears, making them more comfortable to wear than some other earbuds in the segment. The stem part of the earbuds have a touch-sensitive area for registering touch inputs. Those touch controls can be customised via the Realme Link app on Android and iOS.
Audio Quality And Call Performance
As I mentioned earlier, Realme has tuned the Buds Air 3S in such a way that they emphasise a lower spectrum of audio. So they are bass-heavy. Don’t get me wrong. Despite their bass-heavy tuning, they sound decent. The bass has a lot of thump and rumble. It’s not boomy and loose. I would’ve liked it to be a bit tighter and have more attack, but for the price, I think the low-end performance is good. I thoroughly enjoyed the bass on David Guetta’s Hey Mama.
The mid-range (vocals and some instruments) audio frequencies do take a step back. Vocals don’t sound as clear or open/natural as they should. And this is more apparent in the case of female voices. In comparison, the Realme Buds Air 3 definitely sounded more neutral. On the other hand, the Buds Air 3S are better than the Realme Q2s.
High-frequency sounds leave something to be desired. There’s not enough as sharp as they should. Plus, I’ve noticed a bit of metallic tone that was also present in the Buds Air 3. It’s not as apparent, but I could hear it in some tracks. Soundstaging is nothing to write home about, but you can improve it a bit by activating Dolby Atmos. However, that also makes audio sound more artificial.
Thankfully, the bass emphasis can be dialled down through a custom equaliser. The Realme Link app allows three custom equaliser settings on top of the four pre-loaded ones: Serenade, Original Sound, Pure Bass, and Deep Bass. Overall, the audio quality is decent for the pricing. Yes, the Realme Buds Air 3S lean towards the bass, but with the custom equaliser, you can improve the audio tuning and make it a lot bearable. If you’re a basshead, you probably would be good with the Original Sound preset.
I charged the Realme Buds Air 3S fully when they arrived. And after a whole week, they still have some battery left. You can expect around 5.5-6 hours of battery life, with the volume level dialled up to 80-90%. If you charge them once, you can listen to music for at least 2-3 days, even if you’re a heavy user. You can check their battery charge level using the Realme Link app or via the Bluetooth settings menu on Realme phones and tablets.
The Realme Buds Air 3S are a good pair of truly wireless earbuds, especially for their price. They have a fresh design and good build quality. The case looks cute and fits within most pockets and backpack pockets. The wireless earbuds are comfortable to wear. They sound a bit bass-heavy, but thankfully, you can improve the tuning through custom equaliser settings. The Buds Air 3S also support audio and control customisations via the Realme Link app. If you’re someone who likes neutral audio, you might not like the Realme Buds Air 3S.
Realme Buds Air 3S
The Realme Buds Air 3S are a good pair of affordable truly wireless earbuds. They have a cute and fresh design, and they are comfortable to wear. They sound a bit bass-heavy, but thankfully, you can improve the tuning through custom equaliser settings. Battery life is good, too.
- Good-looking design and comfortable fit.
- IPX5 rating for water splash resistance.
- Decent audio quality.
- Support for companion app with custom equaliser.
- Good battery life and fast charging.
- Audio not tuned to be neutral.
- Fit isn’t perfect, leading to less effective noise isolation.