It’s no secret that Huawei phones have lost a bit of their appeal since Google was banned from working with them. Every cloud has a silver lining. While there’s no sign of the Biden Administration helping out, Huawei has started to invest heavily in other areas of their business to create gadgets that support smartphones. While the likes of their Gentle Monster sunglasses collaboration is cool, it won’t appeal to every user. Dedicated audio, on the other hand, does have broad appeal. Huawei has churned out some incredible earbuds and headphones in recent years from the FreeBuds 3 to the FreeBuds Studio.
Huawei has just launched its latest pair of truly wireless earbuds called the FreeBuds 4i. I’ve been reviewing these for the past few days, here’s what I think.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i Features
Huawei has split its earbuds into three price points. At the top, are the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, in the middle are still the FreeBuds 3. Previously, their entry-level buds were the FreeBuds 3i, a pair of buds people still tell me they’re delighted they bought them. Now, these are being replaced with the FreeBuds 4i.
I’m going to kick off with the sound quality. Sometimes I keep this till later, but I think this is noteworthy to start with. The predecessor to these buds were great, but I could still tell they were the entry-level buds. There was just something about them that made them good for their price, a subtle difference from being just good in their own right.
The FreeBuds 4i are considerably better. Huawei describes this as being learnings from the high-end feeding the low-end. For me, this nails it. I love my FreeBuds 3. They’re my goto call buds, but the FreeBuds 4i are right up there. They’re not just good for the price, they’re a great pair of earbuds full stop.
After being run through the tech behind the buds, it’s clear that a lot of research and development has led to even these entry-level buds being the result of scientific endeavour.
The buds’ driver design cleverly emphasises the treble highs while also reducing distortion. Crisp audio, clear treble and enough bass to be punchy without making the buds too uncomfortable to wear for longer stints – important considering the battery life. I’ll come back to that later.
These is one bit of functionality which the FreeBuds 4i do not support and I will miss this. You can only connect to one device at a time. While working from home, I’ve enjoyed listening to music on my phone while quickly jumping on a team video conference without changing buds or fiddling with Bluetooth settings. This is one sacrifice you make for the price.
Has mic-quality become more important than ever now that many of us spend so much time on video calls? Whether it’s for work or keeping in touch with family, often it will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i provide excellent mic quality.
I love real-world testing and on a video-call shortly after getting these buds, my audio quality was complimented. That’s a pretty big compliment to get today if you’re working from home. These buds feature a slit-duct design similar to that of the Huawei FreeBuds 3 which practically eliminates wind noise.
Active Noise Cancellation
Active Noise Cancellation is one of those technologies that has become so standard and affordable in an incredibly short period of time. These buds demonstrate that best. I remember testing my beloved FreeBuds 3 and being completely underwhelmed by the ANC. Now, the technology is nearly at the standard of my “other beloved” headphones, my Bose QC35 II over-ear headphones.
The buds themselves are light. Really light, again, contributing to being wearable for longer. In the box, you’ll get three silicon tip sizes to ensure a comfy fit. Not quite the range of fit options you get from the Melomania Touch, but plenty nonetheless.
I’ve been looking more and more into ear fatigue lately, having touched on this when reviewing the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro. Owing to the lightweight design and shape of the earbuds themselves, pressure on your ears is greatly reduced. This is an essential bit of progress for the earbuds as vastly improved battery life means you can wear these for nearly more than twice as long as the precious buds. With a 10 hour battery sans ANC or 7.5 hours with ANC, you’ll rarely go a full workday or trip while requiring a charge. If you do, 10 minutes gives you four hours of use and a grand total of 22 hours with the charge-case.
For that reason, it’s critical that Huawei successfully tackled ear fatigue, making them just the second pair of earbuds I’ve tested to do so properly.
Huawei FreeBuds 4i: The Verdict
When you get to test buds week in and week out, the romance can be lost. I know, it’s a first world problem but it’s an important point. Because during all of these tests, something arrives that makes testing worth it again. The Huawei FreeBuds 4i absolutely does that for me.
The technology is affordable and the quality, while not quite at Apple AirPod level, is far from indicative of the price gap. You’re looking at a pair of buds here which will set you back €80 but delivery quality, not short of, a €200 pair of buds. The technology has come a long long way and making the decision on buying should be easier than ever.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i is available to buy from today for €80, and is available from Vodafone, Carphone Warehouse, Eir, DID, Power City, Harvey Norman, and Three.