The latest offering is the Freedbuds Pro, a line of noise-canceling buds that have a lot of adorable features but a few drawbacks.
The first thing to talk about is the case.
It has an elongated shape, very curved edges, and a hinged top that makes the buds visible.
One major difficulty, however, is that due to the way they sit in them, it can be very difficult to grab the buds and remove them from the strong magnets that hold them in the case.
This has been a source of significant frustration as I repeatedly tried and failed to get it out each time I used it before finally reaching my goal.
The problem is that if you pull on the buds, there is nothing to make a purchase for, which will cause your fingers to slide off.
Once out, although the buds have a rather unusual but attractive design.
A rectangular stem is attached to the round earphone, to which a rubber ear cup is attached (three different sizes are included).
In a way, they look like Air Pods Pro, but with more angular features.
However, the blocky stem makes it easy to place the buds in your ear, where they will feel firm and secure even when you exercise.
They are available in three colors – black, white and silver.
Freebuds Pro’s sound is generally very good.
They are powered by dynamic 11mm drivers that deliver really good audio quality.
They feature ANCS (Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation) technology, which uses microphones pointing inwards and outwards to detect residual noise.
The drivers then generate noise-canceling signals that counteract the noise in the immediate vicinity.
Noise canceling on buds will never be as effective as it is on over-ear headphones.
But the Freebuds Pros make a decent fist out of it.
You can also adjust to the surrounding noise and toggle the noise canceling mode automatically when dynamic mode is on.
There are three of these modes – General, Comfortable, and Ultra – the latter is best for travel, the middle for work environments, and the former for street-type environments.
However, these modes can also be selected manually in the Huawei AI Life app if you can get them (see below).
There’s also an awareness mode that lets you hear surroundings and voices without removing the devices – a useful feature.
The battery life of the Freebuds Pro is pretty good.
According to Huawei, with noise cancellation turned off, you get 7 hours of listening time on a single bud charge and 30 hours if you charge it repeatedly from a full suitcase.
With noise cancellation enabled, you get 4.5 hours of listening time and 20 hours when you use the case to charge.
In reality, these claims are pretty accurate at first anyway – however, as with all electronic devices, especially small ones, time will drain the battery a lot.
The case supports wireless charging. A wired charge without earbuds takes an hour, wireless two hours.
It takes about 40 minutes to charge the buds in this case.
A useful feature is that you can use a smartphone or tablet to charge the case on the go.
The buds are controlled by touch and innovative pinching gestures.
These are done over the rectangular stem that protrudes from the bud head.
A long press or squeeze on the stem will toggle between noise canceling and detection mode.
Swiping up and down adjusts the volume.
A short, sharp pinch starts or pauses audio playback. When a call comes in, it is answered and ended.
A double pinch jumps to the next track, while three pinches push a song back.
They take a bit of getting used to, but once you figure it out, they work pretty well.
However, these gestures cannot be used to switch between the ANC modes.
This must be done via the smartphone AI Life app. That’s fine if you have a Huawei or Android phone.
But if you are an iOS user you will run into trouble with no app available which is really disappointing and quite inexplicable.
Connectivity is pretty intuitive and straightforward.
A small (and rather difficult to spot) button on the side of the charging case triggers Bluetooth pairing mode when the lid is open.
After the initial pairing, the buds should automatically connect when you open and remove the lid.
The buds have a dual antenna design, which means they offer a pretty stable connection with a decent range, even if your phone isn’t that close.
Call quality is very good thanks to a decent triple microphone system and structure against wind noise.
A bone sensor also uses bone vibration during a call to identify and amplify voice signals.
One negative thing, however, is that the buds do not have official IP dust or water resistance. But Huawei claims they are waterproof.
Noise-canceling earbuds generally don’t have a good reputation, especially with those who like high quality sound.
In this regard, the Freebuds Pro offer surprisingly good performance and an overall remarkable sound quality.
They also have other adorable features like decent battery life, good controls, good build quality, and they’re comfortable to wear.
There are some serious drawbacks, however, like the fiddling around with removing it from the case, the lack of an iOS version of the AI Life app, and the issue of water resistance.
At around 180 euros, they are cheaper than the AirPods Pro from Apple and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.
In terms of price and functionality, there isn’t a huge amount between the three.
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