FiiO's new wireless earbuds look great - but they're missing a key popular feature

FiiO FW3
(Image credit: FiiO)

FiiO's new FW3 true wireless earbuds are here, and they might just shake up the established market with a strong list of features and, potentially, a very affordable price tag.

The new buds come equipped with a high-performance DAC and Qualcomm’s latest QCC5141 Bluetooth chipset, alongside Bluetooth 5.2. The buds support higher-quality codecs including LDAC, LHDC and aptX Adaptive (which support 24-bit streams over Bluetooth), as well as the more standard aptX, AAC and SBC. Each bud has a 10mm carbon-based dynamic driver unit, which FiiO claims will deliver "impressive musicality with excellent bass, clear midrange, and a detailed treble response".

Better news comes if you happen to be a gamer. Thanks to the integration of Qualcomms' Snapdragon Sound chip, the new buds are able to boast Low-Latency Gaming Mode which drops transmission lag to less than 100ms. We've personally sampled Qualcomm's latest Bluetooth tech courtesy of the Snapdragon S3 Gen 2 platform, so this could be a unique USP for FiiO's upcoming earbuds.

More general features are also on the table for non-gamers and gamers alike. Adjustable 10-band EQ settings, manual Bluetooth codec selection, left/right channel balance adjustment and four filter modes could give the FW3 the edge over its established rivals. 

FiiO FW3

(Image credit: FiiO)

FiiO has eschewed touch controls for physical buttons. The FW3 come with four physical buttons — two on each earbud — meaning you can play, pause, skip tracks and adjust volume from the buds themselves, as well as answer phone calls or activate voice assistants such as Siri. 

What about battery life? The earbuds hold seven hours of full charge, with an additional 14 hours from the supplied charging case, and take around an hour to charge. There are two styles of ear tips (silicon and balanced) that come in three sizes (small, medium and large) each.

The FiiO FW3 are available now, priced at a very competitive £95 / $99 / €110 (Australian prices pending). It's a tempting price tag, although it's worth noting these buds don't come with any active noise-cancelling features like Panasonic, Technics, JBL rivals at this price point. Their direct rival in price and features, the Huawei FreeBuds 5i, does include ANC, which makes the omission here a little sad.

FiiO claims the reason for the lack of ANC is that it is focusing on sound, though. The biggest question as a result is, will the FW3 be good enough to beat class leaders in this segment of the market, such as the five-star Sony WF-C700N? We'll have to wait until we review them to find out.


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Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. During his time at the publication, he has written countless news stories alongside features, advice and reviews of products ranging from floorstanding speakers and music streamers to over-ear headphones, wireless earbuds and portable DACs. He has covered launches from hi-fi and consumer tech brands, and major industry events including IFA, High End Munich and, of course, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or trying to pet strangers' dogs.