The TWS market is full of options from different brands in different price segments. Consumers looking for a decent pair of TWS in the market can get confused because of the choices. Besides, it’s tough for a brand to stand out with so much competition. Realme seems to be aiming at a particular price range to try and attract people. The Realme Buds Air 3 Neo, at Rs 1,999, is the perfect trap — it has a bunch of features to offer at an affordable price.
Realme Buds Air 3 Neo₹ 1,999
DESIGN & BUILD8.0/10
VALUE FOR MONEY8.0/10
What Is Good?
- Good design
- Impressive battery life
- Good audio quality
What Is Bad?
- Realme Link app is not updated on iOS
- Charging case registers scratches and dirt
- Controls are inconsistent
We’ve used the Buds Air 3 Neo in metros, cabs, rickshaws, gyms, and at home. After having used it for nearly a month, here’s our full review.
Realme Buds Air 3 Neo Review: Design, comfort, and build quality
At this point, it’s pretty tough to come up with unique designs as far as TWSes are concerned. We feel like we have seen all types of iterations with the case of the earbuds. From gaming to a case that looks literally like an egg, yes, Pixel Buds A, we are looking at you. But this one takes a slightly different approach with a half-and-half capsule look. Essentially, the lid of the case is made of plastic which is see-through.
The case is designed well and slides into your pocket with ease. It does not eat up a lot of space in your jeans pocket either, so you can keep your phone in the same pocket without any issue. We prefer this case design over the OnePlus Nord Buds CE. We received the white variant for this review, but the Buds Air 3 Neo is also available in a Starry Blue colour.
The case sports a ‘Realme’ logo on the front, with the bottom side housing a USB Type-C port for charging. Between these is an LED light to indicate whether the device is in pairing mode or charging. The charging case lid has a satisfying click whenever you close it. At this price point, we were expecting the lid to be somewhat flimsy, but in our experience, it was quite sturdy and worked well. You can close and open the lid with just a hand, so that’s good. The earbuds sit flush in the case thanks to the magnets and do not fall off even after yanking the buds multiple times. On the downside, the case was quick to gather dirt and minor scratches on it.
The buds look pretty stylish with a dual-tone design continuation here as well. The stem sports a reflective glossy metallic finish, while the rest of the buds look like a typical TWS. The buds are light and made of good quality materials. We prefer earbuds with silicone tips as they are likely to be more comfortable, and the Buds Air 3 Neo comes with the same. The Buds Air 3 Neo are quite lightweight, with each unit weighing just 4 grams. You get two silicone tips in the box and a USB Type-C cable for charging.
The Buds Air Neo 3 features an in-ear design, and these are quite comfortable. We have used these for about four hours on a stretch while travelling, and they did not fall off even once. The buds sit flush in your ear, and the silicone tips create a vacuum. We tested the buds by performing our usual yawn, crunch, and awkward jumping tests while wearing them, and the Buds Air Neo 3 showed no plans of falling out. So, if you are worried about the buds falling off when you are jogging or running on the treadmill, worry not. The Realme Buds Air 3 Neo are IPX5 rated, so using the buds under water drizzles should not be an issue.
Realme Buds Air 3 Neo Review: Connectivity and touch controls
It took us a couple of days to figure out the controls on the Realme Buds Air 3 Neo. Both the stems are touch sensitive, so all the controls are located on the upper side of the metallic stem. The left earbud lets you play/pause the audio by double tapping. Triple-tap lets you listen to the next track, while touch and hold lets you lower the volume. The right earbuds also have the same set of controls except for the touch and hold, which lets you increase the volume. We found the controls to be inconsistent and sometimes needed more pressure than usual to work. Also, it can take some time to get used to the controls.
The Realme Buds Air 3 Neo can be paired with both Android and iOS. Realme also offers app support via Realme Link. The Android app shows you the battery percentage of each earbud but not that of the case. The iOS app is not updated, and we couldn’t find the Buds Air 3 Neo on it. Realme Link also lets you customise the sound effects. So, you can switch between ‘Bass Boost+’, ‘Balanced’, and ‘Bright’ modes. Pairing the Buds Air 3 Neo is a breeze. Opening up the case lid starts the Pairing process, and it’s just a cakewalk thereon.
Realme Buds Air 3 Neo Review: Performance and battery life
The Buds Air 3 Neo features a 10mm dynamic driver that is equipped with PEEK + TPU composite diaphragm, which the company claims can give more volume and better bass performance. We played a slew of songs and watched a bunch of TV shows using the Realme Buds Air 3 Neo. Songs range from Bollywood to Pop and EDM as well. We found the audio quality of the earbuds to be quite good for the price.
We tried all three presets that the Realme Link app has to offer. The Bass Boost+ preset works well with more emphasis on the low end. Songs such as World’s Smallest Violin by AJR, Ava by Famy, and Srivalli had clear separations that we could decipher. The Balanced preset is also able to produce sound well with a neutral soundstage. Finally, the Bright preset focuses more on vocals and the lower ends sound muffled on it. We usually used the buds on the Bass Boost+ preset as that added a bit more oomph to the songs we usually listen to.
The Realme Buds Air 3 Neo also has support for Dolby Atmos — this lets you tweak the equaliser and other presets. Watching content using the earbuds was also a good experience. We did not notice any major distortion at max volume. However, we usually listened to music and other stuff at 50 per cent. The Buds Air 3 Neo does not have Active Noise Cancellation, but the silicone tips help reduce some parts of the excessive noise.
We used this while travelling in the Delhi Metro, and at 50 percent volume, unnecessary noise wasn’t very audible. As for the microphone quality on the Realme Buds Air 3 Neo, it was quite decent. The call receiver was able to hear us well, and they said the voice clarity was good. The earbuds also feature a low latency mode for gamers, and you can enable this using the Realme Link app.
The Realme Buds Air 3 Neo has impressive battery life. The company claims around 7 hours of battery for the buds and 30 hours with the case. We were able to use it for about the same without a need for a top-up. The charging speeds are also quite good. You can charge the device using the USB Type-C port at the bottom of the case. With 10 mins charge, we were able to use it for more than an hour at 50 percent volume, which is quite good.
Realme Buds Air 3 Neo Review: Verdict
With a price tag of Rs 1,999, the Realme Buds Air 3 Neo TWS are a good catch. It offers a good design for its charging case and the earbuds themselves. Moreover, the Buds Air 3 Neo is one of the most comfortable earbuds we’ve used. Even after travelling in metros and running on treadmills, the earbuds stayed in place, and we had no issues with their placement in the ear.
The battery life of the Realme Buds Air 3 Neo is commendable, and so are the charging speeds. The earbuds call was also good as the receiving party did not complain about the voice. The Realme Link app is quite useful. However, we would’ve liked it had they also updated the app support for iOS. Hopefully, in the future, this can be fixed. Overall, we enjoyed our time with the Realme Buds Air 3 Neo, and with companies such as Truke, Boat, and Noise already in the market in this price segment, the Buds Air Neo 3 can be a good choice for people who want a TWS for casual use.