Huawei Freebuds 4i REVIEW
Huawei Freebuds 4i REVIEW
Fancy a Bluetooth signal that never drops, even in the most testing city environments? PAT PILCHER checks out the latest Huawei earbuds.
Huawei has taken aim at the hyper-competitive mid-range wireless earbud marketplace. They’re offering buds that pack active noise cancellation, solid battery life and decent audio, all for a wallet pleasing $159. So, are they worth it? We take a closer look.
From a design perspective, they’re very much an Apple AirPods inspired design. Like their fruity counterparts, they have a stem, so yes, you can look like lieutenant O’Hara from Star Trek if you put them in your ears, wax your legs and wear a mini. The Freebuds 4i comes in three colours – black, white and red. Their glossy coating does make them a little tricky to get out of their charging case, but that’s not a biggie.
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Huawei has also included three different sized silicone ear tips. With the right-sized tip, they’re a snug fit and offer plenty of acoustic isolation. Another bonus spec is that they’re IP54 rated, which means that while they’re not 100% waterproof, you can go nuts at the gym, and your sweat won’t kill them, nor will light rain if you get caught in a shower.
Their charging case is glossy, petite and rounded. On its right-hand side is a small button to fire up pairing mode or (should you need it) to do a factory reset. Between the slots for both buds is an LED that shines different colours to tell you that, for instance, Bluetooth is working or they’re charging or they’re about to run out of juice. The stem on the buds has a dual mic array for making calls. In use, it didn’t do a bad job. I held a conversation with no difficulty while in noisy environments, and call clarity was fine.
According to Huawei’s blurb, the Freebuds 4i uses Bluetooth 5, which to my delight translated into a rock-solid connection. Taking the 4i’s for walkies through the hectic RF environment of Wellington’s CBD the connection never dropped. This is a first. Usually, I get at least one drop out. Equally nice, pairing them on my P40 Pro was seamless, happening as soon as I opened their charging case. Non-Huawei Android or Apple users will still have to delve into their Bluetooth settings menu for pairing, but that’s hardly difficult. Playing/pausing music and answering/rejecting calls is all done via touch controls on their stem. Interestingly, I could not find a gesture for firing up the Google Assistant on my P40 Pro.
Huawei’s blurb says that with volume levels at 50%, the earbuds will give you around 10 hours of music with noise-cancelling disabled or 7.5 hours with noise-cancelling enabled. With the charging case and earbuds combined, you get a total of 22 hours of music. You can also charge them for 10 minutes and get four hours of use.
They have 10mm drivers, and Huawei says they’re tuned for pop music. I threw an eclectic selection of music and podcasts at them and liked their well-balanced highs and lows. After tweaking Neutralizer, a dynamic EQ app that customises audio output to your hearing, their bass developed a decent punch too.
Their Active Noise Cancelling worked well. On noisy public transport, it blocked out the worst of the post 3pm school kid racket, which was enough to make things less distracting. Firing up some music at volume with ANC enabled, I could focus on the music rather than rowdy kids on a bus. Similarly, Awareness mode handily allowed me to hear street traffic when crossing the road. Given their reasonable sticker price, the inclusion of ANC is a definite bonus.
If you’re looking for an affordable pair of wireless earbuds, the Huawei Freebuds 4i might just be what your ears ordered. Their audio isn’t half bad. You also get active noise cancellation and a decent runtime, which combines with bomb-proof connectivity to make them a real bargain.
- The Huawei Freebuds 4i are available in NZ from Friday April 30.