Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro review: You can do better
Xiaomi’s sub-brand Redmi has always focused on the budget segment, and its latest true wireless earbuds double down on that approach. The Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, earning them their Pro moniker and a higher price tag compared to last year’s model. But these sub-$50 TWEs still leave quite a bit of room for improvement in some key areas.
Design, hardware, what’s in the box
Holding the Earbuds 3 Pro’s pill-shaped case in your hand won’t give away how cheap it is. Redmi has gone for a soft-touch finish that feels plush and even extends to the inner surfaces. The magnets have just the right pull, and the hinge is also sturdy enough, but be prepared to have a hard time fitting this thick case in your tight jeans pocket. Aside from the pink option we have here, you can also pick them up in white and blue colorways.
The earbuds look like tiny pebbles, color-matched to the case. Once I got the fit right with smaller tips, both earbuds stayed in place even during some medium intensity exercises, but they likely won’t stay put for very long with substantial head movement. The buds are generally comfortable, but since they aren’t designed to match your ear contours, they caused me some discomfort after having them on for a couple of hours straight.
The box contents for the Earbuds 3 Pro are pretty minimal. All you get are the earbuds themselves, three pairs of ear tips (including the pre-installed medium size), and some quick start guides — there’s no USB-C cable provided in the box. That’s fine by me since I’ve not once needed those short, barely usable cables usually supplied with earbuds.
Sound quality, features, and battery life
If you own a Xiaomi phone, then the onboarding process is going to be a breeze. Flipping the case open will pull up a window with a nice little animation to quickly pair the Earbuds 3 Pro without fiddling with Bluetooth settings. However, you’ll have to take the traditional route if your phone isn’t running the latest MIUI 12.5 update. That’s also true for non-Xiaomi phones as there’s no support for Google Fast Pair.
The outer touch-sensitive surface supports a bunch of gestures to control music and even invoke Google Assistant on your phone. These gestures can be dodgy at times as it’s hard to find the right spot by touch. More importantly, you can’t customize any of the controls in the absence of a companion app. That also means there’s no way to tell the battery life remaining on the case if you use a non-Xiaomi phone. Switching between devices is a tedious manual affair, too, without any kind of multi-device support. Although, in-ear detection and solo mode (with either bud) work perfectly.
Left: The connection screen on a Redmi phone, Center: Only SBC supported on a MediaTek Redmi phone, Right: aptX options on a Qualcomm OnePlus.
The connection remained rock solid on the Earbuds 3 Pro no matter which device I used them with, even while I moved to a different room. Gaming, too, was a delight with virtually no lag when aptX was enabled, but there was a slight delay in the audio feedback without it. One big limitation here is that being a Qualcomm-proprietary tech, aptX won’t work with most handsets running a MediaTek or Exynos chip (it is supported on the OnePlus Nord 2, though). The earbuds will fall back to SBC on such phones, which may not affect the audio quality in any substantial way, but latency while gaming could become noticeable.
The sound quality is perfectly okay considering the affordable price point. You’re going to enjoy listening to music on these earbuds once you get past some of its shortcomings that are typical of this segment. For instance, the instrument separation isn’t quite clear, and the bass often bleeds to create a slightly muddy profile. As a result, these aren’t the best pair if you want to hear clear dialogues while watching a movie. There’s no ANC, and the volume is on the low side. Consequently, I often found myself cranking up the volume over 75%.
It turns out that Redmi wasn’t overestimating the earbuds’ battery life by much, which is a welcome surprise. The earbuds lasted for a little over 6.5 hours when playing music at about 75% volume against the suggested life of 7 hours. However, the claimed total life of 30 hours from the case is a bit of a stretch, and you should expect around 25 hours of playback time. Charging speed could be an issue if you’re used to quick recharges, as both the earbuds and the case can take hours to fill up.
Should you buy it?
Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro
But if none of those things are your priority, you’d be better off looking elsewhere. The OnePlus Buds Z and Realme Buds Q2 are two contenders that get quite a few things right, like sound output and ANC, in their respective cases. The Realme earbuds even have a neat app and Google Fast Pair support at a lower price.
Xiaomi’s meticulous selection of features for the Redmi Earbuds 3 Pro creates an economical package that either works for you or doesn’t — there’s no way in-between. They’re decent for the price, but cheap TWEs are flooding the market, and these Redmi buds feel a bit behind the curve.
Buy them if…
- You’re using a recent Xiaomi phone.
- You can live without ANC.
Don’t buy them if…
- You can afford to spend more than ₹3,000.
- You carry your TWEs in your trouser pocket.