Undeniably one of the world’s biggest tech giants, Huawei has been dominating telecommunications, mobile devices, and now digging deeper into the consumer accessories segment, a category dominated by literally hundreds of different brands.
Enter the Huawei Freebuds Pro, Huawei’s upgrade to the popular Freebuds 3i.
When Huawei made the Freebuds Pro, they made sure that it checks all the right features of true wireless earbuds without sacrificing the truly important things – comfort, sound quality and microphone performance. For a price (Php7999 or USD166) that’s well below most similar-tiered options, the Freebuds Pro really does seem to strike a value/performance ratio that punches well above its class.
The unit given to us was the Ceramic White version, other colors available were Carbon Black and Silver Frost. White isn’t our first option for color because it does look too similar to Apple’s market-leading Airpods, and the silver option looks much sexier.
We’ve already done the full unboxing, check it out here. This time, we’ll be discussing the features of this tiny but powerful earbuds in our Huawei Freebuds Pro review.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Package and Contents
The contents are pretty standard. The only minor complaint we have is that it doesn’t include a pouch to carry the case, which would have been great considering that the charging case is a fingerprint and scratch magnet.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Build Quality and Design
The Huawei Freebuds Pro with case weighs about 60g, and the buds itself weigh 6.1g each. It is a bit heavier than the Airpods (4.1g). Despite the slightly weight difference, it’s still one of the lightest and most comfortable buds we’ve tested, even during long hours of use, due to its shape. It also doesn’t bulge out as bad as the options from Bose, Sony, or even some lower-tiered Chinese brands like Sabbat, Haylou, QCY or even Xiaomi. Being small and light is definitely important for true wireless earbuds, and the Huawei Freebuds Pro is up to par on this aspect.
Comfort is also a very important feature for wireless earbuds, and the Huawei Freebuds Pro has a design that isn’t too intrusive to your ears. It has a standard replaceable oval-shaped in-ear silicone tip.
The Freebuds Pro is also the first ANC-enabled in-ear earbuds of Huawei, and they fitted it with a blocky stem, veering away from any resemblance to the Apple Airpods’ rounded stem.
The curvy, thick case of the Huawei Freebuds Pro is thicker than most other cases. It has a large metallic reflective hinge that doesn’t really serve any other purpose. There’s a USB Type-C charging port at the bottom, a small button on the side for pairing, and it’s also Qi charging compatible.
Software – Huawei AI Life
Although the Freebuds Pro was built to be compatible with most devices, we could somehow feel that it would still be best to use with a Huawei device – primarily due to the availability of software and some occasional pairing hiccups with my non-Huawei device. Initial pairing, however, was smooth and not really much of an issue.
When we tried to use the Huawei AI Life App via Google Play store download on my Samsung Note 10+, the version couldn’t detect my Freebuds Pro. However, we just needed to download the right (updated) version on the Huawei website, and it all went smoothly. This is probably due to Huawei’s current issue with Google, but not all users would be too happy with this.
The Huawei AI Life app is not really necessary for the Freebuds Pro. Unless you want to fully customize the earbuds, the Freebuds Pro can basically do anything you need out of the box.
After finally being able to find the Huawei Freebuds Pro, We were presented with a very simple interface of the Huawei AI Life App.
There’s only some limited options on the Huawei AI Life app for the Freebuds Pro. The most important ones would be the indicators of how much battery remains on each earbud and the case, the Noise Control modes, and ability to change the gestures/shortcuts on the earbuds themselves.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Wear Detection
Wear Detection is just a toggle option that lets you choose if you want the earbuds to detect if the earbuds are off (via a small gold sensor on the bottom of the earpiece).
Anytime you will try to remove the device, whatever that was playing on your device will also pause. However, this also means that calls will be dropped – so be careful when turning on this option.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Shortcuts and Gestures
Again, there’s not actual need to use the companion app or even touch a lot of things on your phone after pairing the device. Shortcuts on the Freebuds Pro are plenty, all done by touching the stem, and you’ll know when a Shortcut is confirmed by a sound similar to small crunch. Long squeeze on the stem and you’ll have the option to switch between ANC modes. Short pinch is pause/play. Double pinch is go forward, triple squeeze is go back. Volume control is also available – just slide up or down on the stem and the volume is adjusted accordingly.
A few things we would’ve wanted on the app (and on the earbuds too): an equalizer option, viewing which devices the buds are connected to, and notification settings. In addition, we would like to point out that software updates for Huawei AI Life are not available on iOS.
Overall, the Huawei AI Life is lagging behind the software features and UI from most competitors from audio-focused companies like Bose, Sony, JBL.
Tip fit test
A cool feature of the Huawei Freebuds Pro is the tip fit test. Basically, if you’re not sure if the silicone tips that you’re using is the right fit for you, the Huawei AI Life app can help you by detecting if any leaks are happening on the earbuds, which will let you know that you need to change the silicon tip.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Active Noise Cancelling Settings
ANC Tech explained
Active Noise Cancelling is a major trend now for wireless earbuds, and this means that earphones/headphones with ANC will push out an inverted wavelength to counter the “noise” that is outside of the headset. Here’s a great explanation about it by the soundguys.
There are two important things to realize here: ANC headphones need more power; Thus, with ANC on, headphones get drained faster. Second, ANC headphones need powerful mics and processors that can pick up external sound quickly and push out the inverted sound (so complicated, right?)
Huawei Freebuds Pro Active Noise Cancellation Evaluation
Two great things about the Huawei Freebuds Pro ANC:
- Despite the increased power needed to activate ANC, listening to music with ANC on will still give you 5 hours of continuous play (depending on volume, of course), while ANC off will give you 8 hours. This is fantastic and unexpected for a relatively thin and small earbud.
- There is not just one, but multiple mics around the earbud that accurately pick up the environmental noise (up to 40db only). From our testing, ANC works very quickly, but cannot exert enough power to fully cancel out loud sounds like TV’s or babies crying.
The Freebuds Pro features some customization on how the Active Noise Cancelling will work for you – depending on the environment that you are in. The preset value is Dynamic, which will adjust based on the surroundings. However, if you feel that it doesn’t adjust based on your liking, you can still use either the maximum or lowest setting, depending on your preference. If you choose Dynamic, then Cosy, it will change the ANC setting to Dynamic (Cosy), which means that it will still make minimal adjustments assuming that you are in an environment with little noise. Ultra setting is reserved for extremely noisy places, and we normally stay away from this kind of setting since too much ANC sometimes causes headaches to some people.
Overall, ANC on the Huawei Freebuds Pro works great while listening to music – provided that you temper your expectations a bit. The nearer the sound is, the harder it is to cancel out. However, far away noises have a much better chance of being totally cancelled. Even on Cosy settings, it works and will silence a few basic things we’ve tried such as strong electric fan whirring or keyboard typing (Cherry MX blue/red keys).
Unfortunately, since it can only block out up to 40db, it will not work on shouting people, rushing cars, roosters, alarms/horns, music or movies from the TV.
Another thing to highlight about the ANC is that you also have the Awareness setting, which is the complete opposite of ANC. This setting will let the user be more aware of the surroundings, by opening up some of the external mics to outside noise. This is a great option for those who want to listen to music while still needing to hear the voices of those around. Pretty useful for an office environment.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Sound Quality
Right off the bat, the Huawei Freebuds sounds great to people who aren’t really discerning audiophiles. If you only listen to the occassional Spotify, Youtube Music, Facebook videos, or mostly compressed audio files, then the Huawei Freebuds Pro is the perfect choice for you. The 11mm ultra-magnetic dynamic drivers, which are not enthusiast-level, don’t push out bass or mids that will blow your mind, but they are more than enough for casual listening. There’s also no custom-tuned equalizers on the Huawei AI life app, so you would have to rely on third-party apps on your PC or mobile device for this.
However, one thing about the Huawei Freebuds Pro is that compared to other earbuds within its price range, they do sound exceptionally better. Maybe it’s because of the AI technology, or how they are structurally designed, but bass notes sound more full (but not too deep) and everything else seems just the right amount.
Overall, the Huawei Freebuds Pro are a worthy portable alternative or secondary headset for casual listening, when you cannot bring out your much larger, main over-ear headphones outside your room. The feature set won’t let you down, and neither will the sound quality.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Battery Life
The initial quoted battery life is a total of 36 hours for the Huawei Freebuds Pro, this would mean you would need to charge the earbuds roughly 5-6 from the case. Usage would be different depending on many things, but rated battery life of the buds was around 4-7 hours, depending if ANC is turned on. We would average around 6-7 hours per charge on full usage with ANC sometimes on.
Both the case and earbuds charge quite quickly though, the buds itself can charge within less than 30 minutes when put in the charging case. The case can be charged from 0% to 100% in around ~1 hour, using the USB Type-C connector. Using the wireless charging mode would take a significantly longer time.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Microphone Quality
Sample test using my Samsung Note 10+
Sample test using the Huawei Freebuds Pro
While audio from the phone seemed a bit more full, it also suffers from not being able to filter out unwanted noises, such as breathing, ambient sounds and sharp “s” and “t” letter pronunciations. However, the Huawei Freebuds Pro was definitely much better – it was able to filter out these noises, provide more clarity to sharp pronunciations, and provide a much more clearer sound.
This also resulted in fantastic call quality – a great improvement to any mobile phone use. One thing to point out is that the microphone does not have any AI noise cancellation, so any other louder noises in the environment will still probably be heard.
Huawei Freebuds Pro: Special Features
This in-ear earbuds is loaded with some other nice features that are pretty useful in everyday use. The Huawei Freebuds Pro has dual-bluetooth antennas, utilizing Bluetooth 5.2, which means that you can connect the earbuds to two devices at the same time. Pretty useful when you’re sitting down on your desk and you need to make calls on your phone while listening to music on your computer.
Huawei also fitted the Freebuds Pro with a Dual Anti-Wind Noise design. Sounds fancy, but it basically means that any wind or whooshing sounds while running or walking will be minimized due to the internal design of the earbuds.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
With so much competition in True Wireless Earbuds, the Huawei Freebuds Pro boasts an array of useful features not usually seen in this segment. However, it does lack some features that some consumers might be looking for – such as AptX, a PC-compatible app, adjustable equalizers, or a decent IPX rating (Don’t use it for sweaty runs or in the rain).
By all means, it’s not a cheap true wireless earbuds. However, with its great active noise cancelling performance, fantastic call quality, useful shortcuts, and an enjoyable sound quality, it’s a great option in this category. It will not be able to satisfy hardcore audiophiles, but it is definitely more than enough for most users.
However, Huawei was probably gunning too high for its price. If the pricing was just a little bit cheaper (less Php1000 or USD20), then it would be perfect. That’s all fine, since Huawei does normally launch a few promotions, including this awesome pre-order promotion in the Philippines. Do check it out!
- Per earbud
- Height: 26 mm
- Width: 29.6 mm
- Depth: 21.7 mm
- Weight: About 6.1 g
- Charging case
- Height: 70 mm
- Width: 51.3 mm
- Depth: 24.6 mm
- Weight: About 60 g
- Per earbud
- Silver Frost
- Ceramic White
- Audio Technologies
- Active noise cancellation
- Call noise cancellation
- Awareness mode
- Voice mode
- Dual Anti-Wind Structure
- Bone Sensor
- Battery Capacities
- Per earbud: 55 mAh (min.)*
- Charging case: 580 mAh (min.)*
- Wired: USB Type-C (5 V/1.2 A/6 W)
- Wireless: supported (2 W)
- 11mm dynamic
- Bluetooth compatibility: BT 5.2
- Pop-up pair: supported*
- Wear detection: supported
- Simultaneous Bluetooth connection with dual devices: supported
- *Requires smartphones running EMUI10 or above.
- Press control: once/twice/three times/long press
- Swipe control: up/down
- In the Box
- Silicone ear tips (three sizes)
- Wireless charging case
- USB-C charging cable
- Quick start guide
- Safety information
- Warranty card
- Playtime (used with EMUI 11)
- Music playback:
- 5 hours (with ANC enabled)**
- 8 hours (with ANC disabled)**
- Music playback:
- Music playback:
- 4 hours (with ANC enabled)***
- 7 hours (with ANC disabled)***
- Music playback:
- Voice calls:
- 2.5 hours (with ANC enabled)***
- 3 hours (with ANC disabled)***
- Charging time
- ~40 minutes for the earbuds (in the charging case)***
- ~1 hour for the charging case (wire, without earbuds)***
- ~2 hours for the charging case (wireless, without earbuds)***
*Typical value. Actual capacity may vary slightly. This capacity is the nominal battery capacity. The actual battery capacity for each individual product may be slightly above or below the nominal battery capacity.
**Listed data is applicable on some Huawei smartphones when running EMUI 11 or later as follows: HUAWEI Mate 40, HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro, HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro+, HUAWEI Mate 40 RS Porsche Design, HUAWEI P40, HUAWEI P40 Pro, HUAWEI P40 Pro+. When the earbuds are paired with other devices, the actual data may vary depending on product functions and system differences.
***The battery life and charging data come from Huawei labs with conditions by default: volume at 50%, and the AAC mode is enabled. The actual battery life may vary depending on the volume, audio source, environment interference, product functions, and usage habits. Based on the test results of HUAWEI lab, for reference only.