The Huawei FreeBuds 4 offer decent sound, noise cancellation and intuitive touch controls but the battery life in particular leaves something to be desired.
Do you love the look of Apple’s second gen AirPods, but own a growing collection of Huawei gadgets in lieu of an iPhone? If so, the Freebuds 4 could be your ideal earbuds.
The FreeBuds 4 were released alongside the Freebuds 4i and the Freebuds 4 Pro in 2021, offering consumers a middle-of-the-road option with larger drivers and more connectivity options than the 4i, and without paying extra for the 4 Pro’s noise cancellation or EQ features.
Unlike the AirPods, the FreeBuds 4 have ANC. Sure, this is a feature you can find on the AirPods Pro, but at a higher cost.
And there are some features that incorporate Huawei’s smartphones, laptops and TVs, making these earbuds worth consideration if you’re knee-deep in the Huawei ecosystem.
From the long stem-design to the shiny white finish and silver bottoms, the FreeBuds 4 look almost identical to Apple’s 2019 AirPods. The only visible difference between is that the tail of the AirPods tapers in at the top, whereas the FreeBuds remain skinny across their length.
If you’re looking for a way to trick people into thinking you have AirPods, the FreeBuds will definitely do the job.
This means that the earbuds don’t come with silicone ear tips. While the hard plastic was still lightweight and comfortable, I’d personally prefer ear tips found on the 4i and the 4 Pro, as I find they generally provide a better seal and ensure the earbuds stay put.
I tried my best to shake the FreeBuds out of my ears and, to their credit, they stayed in place. However, they felt so close to the edge of my ear that I’d feel hesitant doing any vigorous workouts in these earbuds. They do feature a water resistance rating of IPX4, meaning they should be able to handle some sweat or wet weather.
The earbuds feature a very simple set of touch controls, which allow you to tap and swipe to play, pause, adjust the volume, answer calls and toggle the noise cancellation. I appreciated how easy the controls were to remember, but would have liked the option to skip forward and back a track too.
The FreeBuds 4 come in a charging case with a unique circular shape. I like that Huawei chose to move away from the Apple style here and do something different with the case. The closest comparison I can think of is the Google Pixel Buds 2 case. The case features the USB-C port on the bottom, and supports for wireless charging.
The FreeBuds 4 take advantage of Huawei’s latest Open-fit Active Noise Cancellation 2.0. The company claims the earbud’s open-fit design allows pressure to remain equalised, while still ensuring environmental sounds can be heard. There’s also “adaptive ear-matching technology” that detects your unique in-ear shape and chooses the best ANC mode for your ears.
This explains why the noise cancellation was impressive despite the earbuds not feeling all that snug in my ears. There isn’t a huge difference to be found with active noise cancelling on as, even without ANC, the earbuds offer surprisingly good passive noise cancellation for their fit, but I did notice slight improvements in chatter and environmental sounds being blocked out with ANC on.
There’s also a wear detection sensor that is quick to pause the music when you take an earbuds out and resume tunes when they’re put back in.
The sensor is incredibly sensitive and responsive, which is great if you need to take the earbuds out for a conversation and don’t want to miss the best part of a song or a podcast.
The FreeBuds 4 are well-equipped for connectivity. The earbuds feature the latest Bluetooth 5.2 standard and mesh well with the rest of the Huawei eco-system.
You can choose to connect up to two devices at once, manage multiple devices in the Audio Connection Center section of the Huawei AI Life App and even listen to movies on your TV with the earbuds using EMUI’s Device Plus feature. There’s also support for reduced latency down to 90ms on Harmony OS 2 phones, and 150ms on phones running EMUI. If you have a collection of Huawei devices at home, the FreeBuds 4 are bound to fit in seamlessly.
As far as battery life is concerned, the FreeBuds 4 have a shorter playtime than even lower priced rivals like the EarFun Free Pro and the Urbanista London, along with many of the pairs in our best wireless earbuds guide.
Huawei claims the earbuds last 4 hours with ANC off and just 2.5 hours with it on. Include the charging case and they’ll last you 22 hours without ANC and 14 hours with. I found the 4 hour claim checked out, with the earbuds dropping to 50% in 2.5 hours and 0% in just over 4 hours with ANC turned off in testing.
The earbuds do, however, support wireless charging which is something you won’t find on the cheaper FreeBuds 4i.
The FreeBuds 4 feature large 14.3mm LCP dynamic drivers, offering a frequency range of up to 40kHz. There’s also a bass-enhancing power engine in each earbud that Huawei claims offers greater diaphragm vibration and deep bass, though I wouldn’t say it’s as effective as Huawei makes it out to be.
Hotel California by The Eagles sound incredibly dynamic through the FreeBuds 4. There’s good balance between the bass, mids and treble and the soundstage is wide and spacious, allowing every instrument room to breathe. The drums and guitar sound particularly great in this track, with the earbuds able to convey a high amount of detail across both.
Switching up the genre, Bert Kaempfet’s La Vie En Rose is another dynamic performance with an abundance of detail to be found in the brass and a wide open soundstage.
The loose fit of these earbuds had me concerned about the amount of bass that would come through, but I was left pleasantly surprised. Meet Me At Our Spot by The Anxiety, Willow and Tyler Cole kicks in with a low, thumping bassline that continues to hum along below the track.
While the bass sounds great, I still think it could go deeper and offer more detail definition, but that may be me being picky at this price. All in all, the FreeBuds 4 are a fantastic-sounding pair of earbuds.
You’ve got other Huawei products While you definitely don’t need a Hauwei phone or a Matebook to enjoy these earbuds, they are well-placed in the eco-system and certainly offer some perks for Huawei lovers.
You need a long-lasting battery If you travel a lot or have a commute longer than a few hours, you may find you need to charge these earbuds up more than you’d like to.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4 are a great-sounding pair of earbuds that take advantage ANC, a wear detection sensor and simple touch controls.
The earbuds also slot themselves seamlessly into Huawei’s ecosystem, with quick pairing and EMUI features that allow the earbuds to work well alongside Huawei’s other devices.
My main issues here are the loose-fitting design and the short battery life. The fit will come down to personal preference, whereas the battery life falls well short of its competition.Trusted Score
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Tested the earbuds for one week
Drained the battery fully
Tested with different streaming services
Yes, the FreeBuds 4 feature Huawei’s Open-fit Active Noise Cancellation 2.0.Are the FreeBuds 4 waterproof?
They are rated IPX4, meaning they can handle splashes of water.Do the FreeBuds 4 support wireless charging?
Yes, the Freebuds 4 do support wireless charging.