Andy Mossack reviews Huawei’s astonishingly good Freebuds Pro in-ear buds that are literally packed with features.
The wireless buds market is getting crowded and very competitive, so it is refreshing to find a pair of buds that offer a standout benefit which might just give Apple’s Air Pods and Sennheiser’s Momentum a run for their money.
ANC (Active Noise Control) long being the domain of fancy over-ear headphones has struggled to offer up a decent in-ear wireless option. However, Huawei’s audio engineers have had a eureka moment with the Huawei Freebuds Pro and fitted them with hugely impressive 40DB active noise cancellation that works dynamically like a dream.
It comes in three noise cancellation modes – Ultra, Cozy and General and the dual microphones positioned inside and outside the earbuds can quickly identify your surrounding noise environment and automatically switch between the three.
Clever stuff, and not just fancy window dressing; this is USP that is well worth the headline billing.
From a design perspective, the Huawei Freebuds Pro look the part too. Unlike the Sennheiser’s Momentum 3 which I found to be chunky and a little cumbersome, these are elegant little square-shaped stems that do more than just look stylish. They play a key part in operating the buds too. Each stem has a force sensor that reacts to a squeeze or a slide. A single squeeze plays pauses or answers a call while a double squeeze skips forward a track and a triple squeeze skips back one. A long squeeze enables the ANC modes and you can adjust the volume by sliding up or down either stem.
It’s an intuitive system but can be a little clumsy particularly if you have stubby fingers. However, after a little bit of trial and error, you will get to know where on the stem you need to the squeezing and sliding so bear with it.
The same goes for getting them out of the case as the stems fit snugly into what is already a snug case. While on the subject of the case, it plays a crucial part in elongating the battery life by charging the buds each time you put them back in. Huawei claims the Freebuds Pro offers 4.5 hours of play with active noise cancellation enabled and up to 7 hours with it turned off without having to recharge. The case punches in an extra 15 hours of charge while on the go and only takes 30 minutes or so to recharge using USB – C or a wireless charging mat.
Three sizes of silicone ear tips are included in the box so the buds should fit any type of ear. I have a particularly small ear canal which has always made fitting in-ear buds frustrating, but thankfully these passed the snug test and stayed in while walking in the wind and jogging in the gym.
I was also impressed with the call and audio quality. Each earphone is equipped with two Bluetooth antennas that offer 360° omnidirectional Bluetooth signal coverage providing a stable connection. They also allow you to connect to two smart devices at the same time (Android, iOS and Windows) and will automatically switch between the two when needed: like a computer and your phone for example. The triple mikes – two pointing out and one inward – provide a healthy audio response even in windy conditions; something to do with an integrated bone sensor working jointly with dynamic EQ adjustment to boost audio performance. I really loved the clear bottom bass tones cutting through when ANC cut in.
One note of caution here; Huawei Freebuds Pro will pair with Apple and Windows but the extra features available via the dedicated Android Huawei AI Life app are not available at the moment.
Full marks to Huawei for creating a stellar pair of in-ear buds packed with innovative features and a lot cheaper than Apple’s expensive Air Pods.
Tell me more about the Huawei Freebuds Pro
The Huawei Freebuds Pro come in three colours: carbon black, ceramic white and a fetching silver frost, and retail at £169.99.
To truly realise the outstanding audio capabilities of Huawei Freebuds Pro, you can download Sonic Escapes, a series of 360 binaural soundscapes that allow listeners to travel through sound and escape the world around them
To listen to all three tracks and experience Huawei’s Sonic Escapes, visit https://consumer.huawei.com/uk/campaign/sonic-escapes/#overview or simply download the Music app from the Huawei AppGallery.