The latest Creative Outlier Air V3 maintains the excellent battery life and affordable pricing that the series is known for. But the new model also adds features — ambient mode and active noise reduction — that bring it parity with the competition. While not all these features are a hit, the Air V3 is definitely a solid contender in its price range. It also has enough improvements to justify an upgrade if you have the original Outlier Air or the Outlier Gold.
- 6mm drivers
- IPX5 sweatproof
- Bluetooth 5.2
- 10 hours of playtime per charge, 40 hours in total
Coming from the older Outlier Gold, the Air V3 feels like a very different beast. Sure, the Air V3 may look similar, but it's more compact than the Gold and hence more comfortable to wear. However, the button controls on the Gold, which were hard to press, have been replaced (since the Air V2) with more responsive touch controls. The Air V3 goes further by making these controls customisable via the new Creative mobile app. This app is crucial for the Air V3's new ambient mode and active noise reduction features. Ambient mode lets in noise from the surroundings, which is helpful when you're walking on the streets. Turn it on using the earbuds' touch controls (or the app). You can then adjust the level of ambient noise in the app.
Meanwhile, the Air V3's active noise reduction feature does exactly what it says. It dampens certain noise from your surroundings, like the air-conditioner. But it's not the same as the active noise cancellation (ANC) found on other headsets as I could still hear the rain outside. On the bright side, there's hardly any pressure on the ears, unlike with noise cancellation. Both ambient mode and active noise reduction are made possible by the new dual-microphone setup in the Air V3. Having two microphones also helps to improve the clarity of calls, especially when you're in a noisy environment.
The Air V3's audio quality seems similar to previous versions. It sounds more well-rounded and balanced than the Outlier Gold, but the difference is subtle. But unlike older models, there's no aptX support. You can also try Creative's Super X-Fi technology on the Air V3 by installing the SFXI app. However, I found this audio spatialisation feature to be of limited usefulness as it works only for local media files, not for streaming services such as Spotify. Battery life is excellent, with the earbuds offering up to 10 hours of playback per charge. The charging case has three additional charges for a total of 40 hours of uptime. In fact, I have yet to charge the case after using the earbuds for about a week. The Air V3's case also has Qi wireless charging support now, though it is still on the bulky side.
Most importantly, the Creative Outlier Air V3, despite the upgrades, remains as affordable as its predecessors at S$89. It is cheaper than the S$129 Belkin Soundform Freedom, which falls in the same entry-level category as the Creative. The Belkin, though, has its own unique selling point in the form of Apple's Find My feature. If you're unsure whether to upgrade from an older Air, Creative's website has a helpful table comparing the models in the series. Get it from the official store on Lazada or Creative's own website.
Note: Review set provided by Creative.
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