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Review: Ugreen HiTune T3 – the Bass Monsters

HiTune T3 are new TWS model from UGREEN, who specializes in consumer electronics, such as phone chargers.
HiTune T3 are new TWS model from UGREEN, who specializes in consumer electronics, such as phone chargers.

The HiTune T3 benefits include a large battery capacity, comfortable design, and simple touch controls, however, their sonic and mic performance are far from satisfactory.

Thank you to Gabrielle Wang, from Ugreen for providing the HiTune T3 for review purposes.

General Usage 56.0
Audiophile Usage 20.6

Score Breakdown

74.6
51.8
What We Like
  • Stable connection
  • Comfortable and secure fit
  • Long battery life
What We Don't Like
  • High latency
  • Sub-par active noise cancellation
  • Bloated bass that shadows midrange and treble
  • No smartphone application to toggle the equalizer
  • Poor microphone performance

Where to Buy

Introduction

There has been significant development in the true wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds market in recent years. There is something of a race to the bottom, but in a good way – that is, the price of TWS earbuds has steadily decreased. While they are cheaper, at the same time, quality and features have improved.

The Ugreen HiTune T3 earbuds are an excellent example of this trend – they cost less than USD$40, yet they have many of the features one would expect nowadays, such as excellent active noise cancellation (ANC), touch controls, and decent battery life.

There are, of course, some sacrifices that must be made at this price point. We will take a close look at what you get for your hard-earned dollars and check out if the sacrifices are too significant.

HiTune T3 are new TWS model from UGREEN, who specializes in consumer electronics, such as phone chargers.
HiTune T3 are new TWS model from UGREEN, who specializes in consumer electronics, such as phone chargers.

Case

Battery

  • Battery Life: 17 hours
  • Connector: USB Type-C
  • Wireless Charging: No
  • Battery Capacity: Not stated

I am impressed with the generous 17 hours of battery life the case provides to the earbuds. The battery capacity is sufficient to last two or three days at work, or a bit less if you wear them during your commute, before you need to recharge.

Charging is done via USB Type-C, which is accessible from the bottom of the case. Unfortunately, there is no support for wireless charging. A full recharge of the case takes approximately two hours.

Even though there is no dedicated fast charging option, it is still a decently fast charge. You can plug them in while getting ready for work in the morning or at lunch to get a little more energy for the rest of the day.
The USB Type-C charging port is located at the bottom of the case.
The USB Type-C charging port is located at the bottom of the case.

UX

  • Can be open easily with one hand: Yes
  • Pass the shake test: Yes
  • Light Indicators: Display case battery level

There is no difficulty removing the earpieces from the case. On the surface, this feature might not seem interesting to users, but I promise it is very handy, especially if you want to take them out during a crowded commute.

The stems of the earbuds can be inserted into the center of the case, with the ear tips facing outwards to fit the slightly oval shape of the case. As a consequence, it is also impossible to stand the case upright, although this is not a major problem.

There are three LED lights on the case’s front, which indicate how much battery is left at a glance. Additionally, the bottom of the case features a small button that is about the size of a hole punch hole. You can press the button on the case’s bottom for a few seconds to view the battery level.

Three solid lights indicate that the case is at 100%; two solid and one blinking light indicate anywhere between 65-100%; one solid, one blinking, and one off mean 30-65%, and one blinking light indicates less than 30% battery life remains.

My only complaint is that the case gives slightly when squeezed, and I am unsure about its long-term durability.

The earbuds have sufficient protrusion when placed in the case.
The earbuds have sufficient protrusion when placed in the case.

Design

  • Shape of the case: Oval
  • Material: Shiny plastic
  • Build Quality: Average

In designing the HiTune HiTune T3, Ugreen opted for a design that was reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods for earbuds, as well as the apparently ubiquitous vertical charging case. They both have an ultra-glossy finish that looks fabulous. That is until you get dust or fingerprints on them.

I cannot say that this is the most beautiful earbud case I have ever seen, but I do find the glossy plastic design to be somewhat aesthetically pleasing.
The fingerprint on the shiny case is obvious, making them hard to maintain.
The fingerprint on the shiny case is obvious, making them hard to maintain.

Portability

  • Weight: Not stated
  • Volume: 5.0 x 6.0 x 2.0 = 60cm cu (~3.66 in cu)
  • Portability: Good

The size of the case is similar to my 3rd gen AirPods case. It can be easily stored in a bag, or even a pocket without difficulty.

The HiTune T3's charging case is slightly bigger than my AirPod's case.
The HiTune T3’s charging case is slightly bigger than my AirPod’s case.

Earbuds

Battery

  • Battery Life: 7 hrs
  • Charge Time (15mins): 70 mins playback time

The earbuds can last for 7 hours of continuous playback. It takes around 1.5 hours to fully charge the earbuds using the case.

7 hours of battery life is definitely sufficient for almost all scenarios, except for extremely long journeys on a flight or train.
The UGREEN HiTune T3 have a similar design to Apple's AirPods.
The UGREEN HiTune T3 have a similar design to Apple’s AirPods.

UX

  • Control Mechanism: Touch
  • Touch Accuracy: Good
  • Control Symmetry on both earbuds: Yes
  • Mono Use: Yes (both sides)
  • There are no volume controls
  • ANC mode can be toggled on the earbuds

As soon as you remove the HiTune T3 from their case, they automatically turn on, and off when they are placed back in the case. They even support mono mode, which means that they will continue to play your audio even if you are only using one of the earbuds at a time.

There are no physical buttons on the device; instead, they use touch controls. Be aware, however, that the touch controls are extremely sensitive, so be careful if you are combing your hair back or putting on a jacket.

With one tap on either earbud, you can play or pause audio, while a double-tap on the right earbud advances you to the next track, while a tap on the left earbud advances you to the previous track.

It is also possible to make calls – double-tapping either bud enables one to answer or end the call while pressing and holding for two seconds enables the other to decline the call (another instance where you will have to be extremely precise with the touch controls).

By holding down the left earbud for two seconds, you can activate your phone’s voice assistant. Want to switch between active noise cancellation (ANC), ambient sound mode, and normal mode? You can cycle through these options by long-pressing the right earbud for two seconds.

Unfortunately, the one control I most frequently use is not available: volume control. You still need to pull your phone out of your pocket and adjust the volume manually.
The stem of AirPods 3rd Gen is slightly shorter than UGREEN HiTune T3.
The stem of AirPods 3rd Gen is slightly shorter than UGREEN HiTune T3.

Design

  • Profile: Medium
  • Material: Plastic
  • Comfort: Good
  • Fit: Good

When I tried the HiTune T3 for the first time, I was skeptical about how well they would fit and I worried that they would not be comfortable due to their form factor. The opposite proved true. Besides being extremely comfortable, they also provide a good seal.

The first few times you use them, you may have some difficulty getting them into place. However, if you wiggle them around a bit, you should soon be able to get them seated quite comfortably. Additionally, they include four sizes of silicone ear tips, so you can change the size if necessary.

The UGREEN HiTune T3 sit well in my ears.
The UGREEN HiTune T3 sit well in my ears.

Mic

  • Noise Cancellation: Good
  • Voice Pick-up: Substandard

The environmental noise cancellation is the first dealbreaker.

The environmental noise cancellation on the T3 is too strong, to the extent that my voice is suppressed. This observation is even more severe when the surrounding environment is noisy, like on a crowded train. I have no confidence in using them for calls or meetings.

Mic demo

Sound

  • Driver: 10mm PU + wool composite dynamic
  • Sound Signature: Bassy
  • Sub-bass: Substandard
  • Bass: Substandard
  • Mids: Very Poor
  • Treble: Very Poor
  • Sound Detail: Very Poor

Active noise cancellation (ANC)

I am not satisfied with the effectiveness of the ANC of the buds. I did not expect it to be exceptional at this price point, of course, but it did not completely block out the sound in any room.

Despite the ANC mode being toggled on, I can still hear the clicking of my keyboard and other everyday sounds.

The angled nozzle of UGREEN HiTune T3 helps to improve the fit.
The angled nozzle of UGREEN HiTune T3 helps to improve the fit.

Overall sound quality

As far as sound is concerned, Ugreen went with an unusual tuning for the HiTune T3. On budget headphones, bass and treble are typically boosted to keep the performance fun and attractive. Unfortunately, on the T3, the treble becomes nearly wholly sacrificed for the sake of the bass.

There is too much bass.

These headphones remind me of old Beats headphones or the overpowering “Bass Boost” feature that was offered by a significant number of cheap portable CD players.

As a result, the sound is not balanced. There is a muddy bass response and they struggle to properly enunciate individual bass notes. In addition, they do not make much use of mids or highs.

Having such a lack of balance is somewhat disappointing, as bass and treble should naturally complement each other.

If you enjoy bassy tones, you might like these earbuds. And, although they reproduce audio fairly well for TV shows, podcasts, and phone calls, their high latency renders this strength fairly useless for video watching.

The lack of a companion mobile app disappoints me. As a result, there is no way to change the EQ or other settings in order to offset the default tuning. The sound profile as-is will have to be used.

The shiny surface of the case makes the overall appearance classy.
The shiny surface of the case makes the overall appearance
classy.

Connectivity

  • Audio Codec: SBC and AAC
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.2
  • Bluetooth Chip: BES2500
  • Auto-connect when: Case cover is opened
  • Average drop-outs in an hour: 1 – 2 times
  • Multi-point connection: No

With the implementation of Bluetooth V5.2, the connection between the Ugreen HiTune T3 to my phone is stable. They support AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs, which are the two most commonly found in smartphones. As noted, despite using AAC, I find the latency to be too high, making these earbuds unsuitable for movie or video playback.

At this price point, I do not expect a multipoint connection. The earbuds will auto-connect to the last paired device when the case is opened.

The LED lights show the battery level of the case.
The LED lights show the battery level of the case.

Waterproof

  • IP Rating: IPX5

An IPX5 rating means that the earbuds are resistant to rain and sweat. With their comfortable and secure fit, I find them to be useful when exercising.

Conclusion

With the price of USD$39.99, the Ugreen HiTune T3 serve their purpose as a pair of TWS with stable connectivity. They also provide additional features like ANC. However, there are too many compromises in the sonic quality and microphone performance, making them a pair of TWS that can merely produce sound.

In the current competitive market, Ugreen will need to continue to focus on the main factors that users are concerned about. I can live with a pair of TWS that do not have great ANC but poor sound quality will always break the deal.

 

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