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AirPods 3 vs. Belkin Soundform Freedom

AirPods 3 in Case
AirPods 3 in Case (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Belkin's latest answer to true wireless earbuds is Belkin Soundform Freedom, a set of Bluetooth earphones that look a bit like AirPods Pro but come at a much more attractive price point. Although they appear similar to AirPods Pro and have a price even lower than the AirPods 3, Soundform Freedom earbuds offer a very different set of features that either the AirPods or their Pro counterpart from Apple.

Overall, the AirPods 3 do have more cool features for iOS users, but the Belkin set also has its advantages. You can get an idea of how this pans out by looking at the specs:

AirPods 3 vs. Belkin Soundform Freedom: Key differences

Airpods 3 And Belkin Soundform Freedom

Airpods 3 And Belkin Soundform Freedom (Image credit: iMore)

Soundform Freedom and AirPods 3 have very little in common, as you can see in the chart below. Everything from chipset and battery life to controls varies widely between the two. Even the charging capabilities and color choices are different for each.

AirPods ProBelkin Soundform Freedom
TypeWireless Bluetooth EarbudsWireless Bluetooth Earbuds
ChipH1 headphone chipQualcomm QCC3046 SoC
Battery life6 hours8 hours
ChargingMagSafe wireless chargingQi wireless charging
Active noise cancelationNoNo
Ambient noise modeNoNo
Live ListenYesNo
Spatial AudioYesYes
ControlsForce touch sensorTouch
InputsLightningUSB-C
ColorsWhiteWhite, Black
CaseMagSafe wireless charging caseQi wireless charging case
MicrophonesDual beamforming microphonesDual microphones
Voice assistant"Hey Siri" hands-free voice assistantTouch-activated voice assistant

One major thing that these earbuds do have in common is a lack of active noise cancellation. Neither of these will filter out distracting ambient noise while you're listening to music or streaming videos. However, the Belkin has a unique ENC feature that isolates your voice during phone calls, so we'll go into all of that below.

AirPods 3 vs. Belkin Soundform Freedom: Similar form factors

Airpods 3 Vs Belkin Soundform Freedom

Airpods 3 Vs Belkin Soundform Freedom (Image credit: iMore)

Visually, the AirPods 3 and the Belkin Soundform Freedom look pretty similar at first glance. The Belkin earbuds share the same general form factor with a long stem. It's not clear exactly what the stem is for since the Soundform Freedom controls are incorporated onto the back of the earbud rather than the stem. Perhaps it's just to add the convenience of a "handle" for inserting or taking out the earbud, but the stem here seems a bit superfluous. The stem on the AirPods 3 is used for the force touch controls, an intuitive and convenient addition to the design.

Some people prefer the less-invasive comfort of the AirPods design, while others need the more secure fit of the ear tips on the Belkin buds.

One of the bigger design differences here is the open-ear design of the AirPods versus the ear tips on the Soundform Freedom earbuds. It's hard to say which one works better; it really depends on the user. Some people prefer the less-invasive comfort of the AirPods design, while others need the more secure fit of the ear tips on the Belkin buds. In general, those who use earbuds mostly for exercise or sports appreciate the more secure design of ear tips, while those who wear earbuds for hours a day at the office or in the home prefer a more relaxed, comfortable fit. When it comes to design, fit, and color options, these aspects depend on your own personal preferences.

AirPods 3 vs. Belkin Soundform Freedom: Sound quality versus voice isolation

Airpods 3 Vs Belkin Soundform Freedom Earbuds

Airpods 3 Vs Belkin Soundform Freedom Earbuds (Image credit: iMore)

For sound quality, the AirPods 3 are going to give you the best sound experience, especially with iOS. For one thing, they offer more authentic sound reproduction in general with excellent clarity. Add on top of that the benefits that comes with the H1 chip, such as Adaptive EQ and spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, and you have an immersive listening experience that is simply unmatched by Belkin. Adaptive EQ is a technology that uses an inward-facing microphone to listen to the music as you are receiving it; then, it adapts the sound according to your ear shape and size to give you the most authentic sound possible. How cool is that?

The Belkin Soundform Freedom earbuds may not support adaptive EQ, but they offer a unique environmental noise cancellation feature (ENC).

The Belkin Soundform Freedom earbuds may not support adaptive EQ, but they can play spatial audio on Apple Music. These earphones also offer a unique feature called environmental noise cancellation (ENC) that isolates your voice from surrounding noise during voice and video calls. This makes the Belkin earbuds an excellent choice for anyone who attends a lot of virtual meetings, especially if you have to make calls from crowded places like airports or coffee shops.

Another advantage of the Soundform Freedom is the long battery life. They offer up to eight hours of continuous playback instead of six hours for the AirPods 3. Since the wireless charging case can give them an extra 28 hours, you can play the Belkin earbuds for up to 36 hours before charging them. That's six more hours than you get with the AirPods 3 MagSafe charging case. The main advantage of the AirPods charging case is that it is MagSafe-compatible for optimal wireless charging at the fastest speeds.

AirPods 3 vs. Belkin Soundform Freedom: Are AirPods 3 worth the high price?

Airpods 3 Versus Belkin Soundform Freedom

Airpods 3 Versus Belkin Soundform Freedom (Image credit: iMore)

It's pretty clear which earbuds offer a lower price point. The Belkin Soundform Freedom set goes for about $120, although you can commonly find it on sale for as low as $100. The AirPods 3 are considerably more expensive at $179, but you do get quite a few bells and whistles for the extra investment. The AirPods are worth paying for if you have the budget, but the Belkin earbuds do offer a good value for the price.

AirPods 3 vs. Belkin Soundform Freedom: Which should you buy?

Deciding between the AirPods 3 and the Belkin Soundform Freedom will likely come down to your budget and listening needs. If you're an audiophile that needs the best possible sound quality, then the AirPods 3 are the way to go. Because of the H1 chip, Apple's 3rd-generation AirPods use adaptive EQ and dynamic head tracking to create a unique and immersive sound that you'll be able to share with friends through audio sharing.

Belkin does not provide these extra benefits, but the Soundform Freedom earbuds offer the best voice isolation for phone calls and video conferences. If that's what you're planning to use your earbuds for, then you can't beat the Belkin earphones. These are also the more affordable choice, but the AirPods 3 are worth the extra expense if you ask me.

Jaclyn Kilani
Jaclyn Kilani

Jaclyn Kilani is a content writer at iMore. She's a longtime Apple addict with a flair for creating (written works, design, photos; you name it!) on her devices. Jaclyn has also worked in the marketing sector for over 16 years, dabbling in a bit of everything from writing to graphic design and digital marketing. In her heart of hearts, however, she is a born writer and an avid reader who adores everything about the written word. Someday she may even churn out a book or two.

Throughout her career, Jaclyn has also developed something of an addiction to all things Apple. Her professional and personal life is enhanced by an ever-growing collection of iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple Watches, and even AirTags. Luckily, this expensive habit is of great use to her work at iMore, where she writes with authority on Apple products and the accessories that go with them.