Realme Buds Air 3 review: cheap true wireless earbuds with ANC

The Realme Buds Air 3 are an affordable pair of true wireless earbuds that don't skimp on features

Realme Buds Air 3 review: woman wearing earbuds
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Realme Buds Air 3 are a pair of true wireless earbuds that are jam-packed with handy features like ANC, in-ear detection and a choice of preset equaliser settings. While not perfect, they are really good value for money.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Effective noise cancellation

  • +

    Up to 30 hours of battery

  • +

    Lots of features in the app

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Underwhelming call quality

  • -

    Transparency mode is flawed

  • -

    No wireless charging

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In the Realme Buds Air 3 review, you’ll be able to find out everything you need to know about this pair of cheap true wireless earbuds. But the most interesting thing about them is the design because they do look really nice. 

Realme is largely an affordable smartphone brand but they also sell headphones, tablets and watches too. You can’t expect to be absolutely blown away by what they have to offer in the audio realm but what you can be sure of is that you'll get fantastic value for money. 

If you are willing to splash out then check out the best true wireless earbuds instead, or for more inexpensive options take a look at the best budget wireless earbuds

Realme Buds Air 3 review: price and availability 

The Realme Buds Air 3 will set you back $59.98 in the US and £54.99 in the UK. You can pick up a pair from Amazon but to see where else you can buy them, take a look at the widgets on this page. 

Realme Buds Air 3 review: design and fit 

Realme Buds Air 3 review: headphones charging case in hand with green nails

(Image credit: Future)

For a cheap pair of earbuds, the Realme Buds Air 3 look great. They’re sleek and stylish thanks to a tube-shaped dangling stem with a glossy top. You can buy them in white or blue, I tested out the latter. 

The matching charging case they come in is shaped like a pill and it easily slips into even small pockets, the top is flat with a glossy Realme logo across it. You can check its battery level using the tiny LED light on the front, and activate pairing mode using the small button on the side.

To find the right fit, these come with 3 sizes of silicone eartips, and because they’re so light, I found them pretty comfortable although I did grow tired of having them in after a couple of hours. I liked how secure they felt too, I could work out in them and they wouldn’t budge from inside my ear.

Another reason you wouldn’t know these are so affordable is that the build quality feels sturdy and long-lasting. They’re IPX5 water-resistant, so not only will they cope with knocks and bumps but they’ll survive splashes of rain or sweat. 

You can control your music without reaching for your phone using the touch function on the stem of each earbud: double tap to pause or play the music, tap three times to skip forwards, press and hold to turn on the noise cancelling. You can also use the controls to answer phone calls or turn on the game mode. 

The case and the earbuds combined will give you up to 30 hours of playtime at 50% volume from each charge, that's with the noise cancellation switched off, it goes down to 22 hours with it turned on. 

If you wanted to listen continuously, you’ll get 7 hours at a time without the ANC, or with it, that goes down to 5.5. hours. Either way, the battery life will be more than enough for most people. 

When you do need to plug the case in, it’ll only take about 100 minutes for a full charge. Or a quick 10 minutes hooked up to power will give you 100 minutes of playtime. Unfortunately, there's no wireless charging here. 

Realme Buds Air 3 review: performance and features 

Realme Buds Air 3 review: single earbud held between fingers

(Image credit: Future)

Straight out of the box, the default tuning of the Realme Buds Air 3 is good even though it won’t quite match up to the best noise-cancelling headphones in the world. The sound is delivered by 10mm drivers in AAC and SBC codecs. 

The result is punchy and energetic audio, although the bass does at times overwhelm the treble so you lose out on the high-end details, affecting the vocals more than anything else. But if it's deep rich audio you’re after then these certainly deliver in that area. 

Using the adjoining smartphone app, Realme Link, you can choose between three different preset sound modes - Bass Boost+, Balanced and Bright. I was perfectly happy with Balanced, Bass Boost+ was a little too punchy for my tastes. You can also choose to enhance the volume, but again, I didn’t really feel the need to use that because the sound was loud enough as it was. 

You can create a customised audio tuning profile too. To make it the app will run you through a series of beeps, asking you whether you can hear each of them before presenting you with your finished profile.  

For listening to spoken word content like podcasts, these earbuds are really clear even when there’s a bit of background noise. That’s made even better with the noise cancelling which does a good job of cutting out surrounding sounds, especially when you set it to the full 'Strong' ANC mode. I couldn’t hear the sound of the road, chatter happening near me and even my keyboard taps were dulled. 

For when you do want to know what’s going on around you, there’s an additional transparency mode, but it didn’t make the world of difference because I still struggled to hear conversations or announcements on public transport. 

Other features in the app include an earbud fit test to check how good the seal is in your ears, in-ear detection that pauses the music when you take one of the buds out, and you can choose to turn on auto-answer which will pick up your phone call as soon as you take the earbuds out of the case. You’ll also get firmware updates in the app so it’s well worth downloading. 

I really like that you can connect to multiple devices at the same time using the Realme Buds Air 3 because it makes chopping and changing between them much easier so if you’re watching videos on your laptop and you get a call on your phone, you won't need to disconnect and reconnect to switch over. 

Connectivity was generally good here thanks to Bluetooth 5.2, I could wander away from my phone without the buds disconnecting.

Last but not least, call quality. The Realme Buds Air 3 have dual microphones in each earbud, when I tested this out, my voice came across clearly but very quietly. I was in a pretty silent environment too so that’s one thing that these can’t do so well. 

Realme Buds Air 3 review: verdict 

Realme Buds Air 3 review: white earbuds in case on white background

(Image credit: Realme)

One of my biggest takeaways from the Realme Buds Air 3 true wireless earbuds is that they offer pretty incredible value for money. Admittedly, these don’t have the soundstage to match up to the most popular pricey buds but given the price, there’s still a fair amount of depth to the audio. 

So they look good, they sound good and they have plenty of extra features, most of which you wouldn’t get elsewhere at this sort of price. Even the noise cancelling does a decent job of keeping your focus on the music. Very impressive!

Realme Buds Air 3 review: also consider  

If you’re not set on the AirPods-style design then the Sony WF-C500 are still without a doubt the best cheap earbuds you can buy purely because they sound superb considering the price tag. You won’t get some fancier features like ANC or wireless charging but you will be able to tweak the equaliser through an adjoining app - something most of their competitors don’t offer. 

Concerned about call quality? Take a look at the OnePlus Nord Buds. Like these, they’re super cheap but you’ll still get decent call quality alongside reliable sound and IP55 water resistance.

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.