If you have to spend Rs. 2,499 on a pair of wireless earbuds, what do you expect? ANC and professional tuning certainly won’t make the cut, would they? The realistic expectations are limited to good enough audio quality, great battery life, and a decent looking design. Save for the Boat Airdopes 131 Batman Edition, most other brands are doing the same old AirPods clones in poor plastics and undesirable finishes. And they are most likely to be black. Not the case with Realme, who spends time and efforts on unique case designs (got the pun?).
The Realme Buds Air 3S adds to the expansive list of TWS earbuds from the company, and at Rs. 2,499, it raises the bar for others to match. Similar to some of the recent launches, the Buds Air 3S looks funky and its sole focus is on strong bass. It comes in black and white, and is among the simplest pair of TWS earbuds to buy at the moment. Is it worth it though?
The Realme Buds Air 3S looks unique in its price segment. The earbuds have fins to enhance the in-ear grip, while the shorter stems allow for a convenient way to pull them out, and use its touch controls without dislodging them. I found them to be quite comfortable in my ears, although it could vary with you.
The case is where things get interesting. Inspired by a Music Box design, the case has a black tinted transparent lid, allowing the earbuds to be seen. You can also see the LED indicator for connection and battery charging status, which lets Realme use only a single LED light. The case is well built and I think it would look better in white. This being a Realme product, a Dare To Leap tagline is visible just above the earbuds. On the outside, you only see the USB-C charging port. Overall, the case alone enhances the Buds Air 3S’ appeal.
Affordable earbuds mostly cater to the bass loving crowd and the Realme Buds Air 3S is no exception. The audio signature leans towards a healthy serving of ear thumping bass – you either love it or loathe it. I found it to be pleasant for party songs but if you are in the mood for classical music, or slow emotional numbers, or old Kishore Kumar songs, I guess you will be left dissatisfied. The emphasis on the lows and mids takes away the focus from clear highs.
While there’s no Active Noise Cancellation to dampen the ambient sounds, the passive isolation works surprisingly well. The eartips and fins do a good job to muffle most of the ambient noises. That said, wind noises and conversations can still be heard, which considering the price is acceptable.
The bigger surprise awaits. I am astonished to see Realme baking support for its Realme Link app. Using this, you can customise the equalizer settings and even toggle the Dolby Atmos audio settings. Additionally, there are preset audio profiles to play with if fine tuning is not your cup of tea. Not all affordable earbuds support that.
The Realme Link app also lets you customise the touch controls, and turn on the dual device connection. On Android phones, the Buds Air 3S supports Google’s Fast Pair feature as well. Gamers will also be happy to see a low latency mode, which does a fair bit to reduce the delay in what you see vs what you hear.
Sadly, the Buds Air 3S performed sub-par during calls. The shorter stem meant my voice often appeared muffled and low to my callers. Connectivity with my iPhone 13 Pro Max has been great though.
Realme promises great battery life figures and after using it extensively for two weeks, I was able to reach those claims. I could only use the earbuds for 3 hours at a stretch (music + calls) and the battery meter only showed a depletion of 40 percent. Continuing on the same use pattern with the case involved, I had to charge the case after 8 days. Plus, a quick charge of 10 minutes allows 5 hours of usage.
Let me cut it short – the Realme Buds Air 3S is one of the nicer TWS earbuds to consider if you are unwilling to spend a penny above Rs. 3,000. I was impressed with the audio tuning and if you love strong bass, you will love the Buds Air 3S even more. Pair that with the exceptionally good battery life, the fun design, and support for the feature-rich Realme Link app, the Realme Buds Air 3S ends up ticking all the boxes one seeks from an affordable TWS earbud.
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