Huawei FreeBuds Review
Huawei shook the smartphone world when they realised their market leading P20 Pro mobile phone. If that wasn’t enough to rock the likes of Samsung and Apple then the Huawei FreeBuds will have certainly made them sit up and take notice.
We got our hands on these Apple AirPod lookalikes and put them through their paces with a selection of some of our favourite music in our full Huawei FreeBuds review.
Huawei FreeBuds Review
When it comes to technology too much is never a bad thing in our view, and that’s why when Huawei released their FreeBuds (their alternative to Apple AirPods) earlier this year we were more intrigued than annoyed at their sheer blatant copying (in design at least) of the aforementioned Apple product.
If nothing else, having a (hopefully cheaper) alternative to Apple AirPods is good for both Apple consumers and non-Apple consumers as it puts at least some pricing pressure on Apple in what would otherwise be a less competitive market place for them.
Now the first thing to point out here is that Huawei are not alone in creating a product that looks very similar to the AirPods, however they are one of the only companies to have done it with a product that is still premium – at least in terms of price and build quality.
The big question is whether the FreeBuds would stack up in terms of audio quality, hands-free and battery. Our hands on review of the FreeBuds will give you the full lowdown.
FreeBuds First Look
Upon first look, the box to the FreeBuds looks pretty large and a few of us in the office sort of gave each other ‘that’ look – however, upon opening the box you are greeted by a beautifully sleek and glossy charging case. It has the Huawei logo proudly displayed but if it wasn’t for that you’d think this was an Apple product on looks alone.
The charging case contains the left and right FreeBuds and has a USB type C charging port to the rear. The case is incredibly light (just over 50g) and measures no more than a few inches. It is almost unnoticeable when placed in a pocket and is perfectly happy in a bag with no risk of damage.
The earphones themselves sit snugly in the case and as soon as you pick them up you can tell they are well made. We could almost tell at this point using our spidey senses that we were going to be impressed with these earphones. The fact that they spring to life as soon as you pick them up is also impressive.
Upon placing the designated left and right FreeBuds in your ears they are surprisingly comfortable, perhaps partly down to the rubber casing that sits just around the speaker. The stem is a touch longer than that of an AirPod and there is a beautiful looking microphone at each end of the stem – the FreeBuds have 4 mics in total.
As the FreeBuds have a type C USB fast charging cable they do charge remarkably quickly and perhaps the best feature of them is that you can enjoy up to 10 hours of usage from them without needing to plug in to an electricity source. 3 hours of playtime is promised with a further 3 charges from the charging case under optimum conditions. We gave the FreeBuds a real testing over a weekend and found that 3 hours per charge from the case was about right – pretty impressive.
The FreeBuds have sensors that detect when you are wearing them so there is little chance of the battery draining if you are naughty and just leave them lying around out of the case – although we would certainly not recommend this. They have sensors on both sides so that you can use double taps to perform basic actions. You can simply double tap the right FreeBud to start and stop music, you can double tap the left to activate voice assistant on your phone (enabling you to voice activate almost anything) and you can double tap either side to take an incoming call or end an active call.
They can of course be used for voice calls over bluetooth and this was one aspect of the Huawei FreeBuds that we were seriously impressed with. With our smartphone in our pocket the call quality was exceptional – both on our end and the caller’s.
Water resistance means that you can wear them in light rain without an issue and even in heavier rain you are unlikely to have any problems.
The all important question when reviewing any kind of headphones is whether the audio quality is any good. So the big question was how did the FreeBuds sound?
We are pleased to report that the sound quality was exceptional. We tested them with a Sony Xperia XZ3 and of course a Huawei P20 Pro – both performed as well as the other although the sound when connected to the P20 Pro did sound a little punchier.
The FreeBuds do all of the work in terms of the audio and they use dynamic drivers to produce a quite stunning sound from such small speakers. As they feature their own independent EQ adjustment you end up with perfectly balanced treble, bass and alto.
We used them with stored MP3 files, Amazon Music streaming, Spotify streaming and also YouTube – all performed admirably on both devices and we put this down to the AAC technology used.
Comfort and Usability
Unless you have ears that resemble those of the BFG or those of Tom Thumb then the chances are that you will find the Huawei FreeBuds easy to wear. There have been very few reports of people having them fall out (which is usually the biggest concern with this type of product) and all three of our testers (male and female) found them not only very snug in their fit but also comfortable.
We have used a lot of headsets over the years – especially of the wired variety and after half an hour or so they can be uncomfortable. We were wearing these for 3 hours at a time and almost forgetting they were lodged above our lobes at times.
The only time the FreeBuds let us down was with the tap controls. There was the odd occasion where the double tap was not registered for pausing music or playing again and this was a little frustrating – but on the whole we found them to work pretty well and be very useable.
Value For Money
It is hard to make a case against these wireless earphones as they are considerably cheaper than the Apple AirPods and in our experience are equally as comfortable to wear and with exceptional sound quality. If you had asked us whether we would want to spend $110 on a Huawei wireless headphone product this time last year then we would probably have said no, but the tide has changed for this company this year with the release of some market leading products – this being one of them.
Yes, there are other imitations on the market for a much lower price – but you generally get what you pay for when it comes to wearable tech such as this and the only difference between these and the more expensive Apple product is the name.
For us, the FreeBuds win hands down in terms of value for money.
Huawei FreeBuds Review
The Huawei FreeBuds are a breath of fresh air, albeit air that we have seen before. For such a premium and high quality product to come from a company we wouldn’t expect and for the end product to be so wonderfully brilliant we have to stand and salute. The FreeBuds seem to have it all – comfort, sound quality, battery life and looks. What’s not to like.
Top battery life
Comfortable to wear
Tap control sometimes awkward