Huawei Freebuds 4i review
Huawei may have issues in the smartphone field, but it does a huge job with sound wearables. We’ve had the chance to review the company’s flagship TWS, the Huawei Freebuds Pro, and now we’ve got Freebuds 4i – a more affordable option that retains the active noise reduction and provides good battery life.
Design and comfort
The Huawei Freebuds 4i we received were in Carbon Black, but you can also have them in red or ceramic white (no actual ceramics included). We found that the one we got is the best choice of all because it can be matched with any outfit without being an accent (like the red version) or having AirPods look-like vibe like the white option.
The knobs are an improvement over the Freebuds 3i with slightly thicker stems and there are rubber tips for a better fit. One interesting thing that Huawei is doing is sending the different sizes of rubber in separate labeled packages, making it a little faster to find the desired size.
The stems have strong magnets at the end so that the buds do not fall out of the case. But with their shiny finish, it’s sometimes hard to get the buds out, but eventually you get the hang of it.
The buds themselves are really comfortable in the ear and they can stay there for a full five hours of listening marathon. There is also a touch sensor on the trunk, which is easy to navigate and does not affect comfort or location.
The Huawei Freebuds 4i can be connected to any device via Bluetooth and works as standard wireless earphones. But to get all the extra features, you need the Huawei AI Life app. Pro tip – download it from the AppGallery or the QR code at checkout because, as the company confirmed with us; The Google Play version may have issues with some non-Huawei smartphones.
The app allows you to check the battery charge levels and adjust the knobs controls – default is double click for play / pause, touch and hold are noise control modes. There are three of these conditions – Noise Reduction, Off and Consciousness. While long presses cycle through them all, you can disable some of them via the app.
Huawei AI Life screenshots
The off mode is standard on the Freebuds 4i – and here it may be worth noting that the passive noise suppression is quite strong due to the tight fit of the knobs. We can confirm that this is the optimal way to listen to music – it produces the most natural sound and has the longest battery life.
Awareness activates the external microphone and amplifies the ambient noise. It works well with short interactions like talking to a cashier, but that’s not how you want to go around.
Noise reduction is the key feature, which is why we left it for dessert. There are not many TWS earphones with ANC in this price range in the market and Huawei did a fantastic job of implementing the feature. The microphones do a good job of detecting noise in the office or at home and reduce it significantly.
The headphones also offer a good sound experience during calls. Freebuds 4i has a dual-mic system that reduces outdoor wind noise, and thanks to the beamforming technology (finding where your voice is coming from), it’s easy to talk on the phone.
The Huawei Freebuds 4i has a 55mAh power cell in each knob, and the case has 215mAh capacity. The company claims 10 hours of continuous playback time at 50% volume with ANC turned off and AAC mode enabled.
More impressively, we managed to reproduce that kind of perseverance in real tests. We got the same result with a Huawei P40 Pro as well as a non-Huawei phone, so there is little to worry about.
With ANC or Awareness enabled and the volume at 100%, Freebuds 4i can play continuously for over 4 hours, but we doubt anyone will go that high for that long.
You also get a decent recharge time of approx. 30 minutes to Freebuds 4i, which means you rarely have a problem with their charging. Completely drained buds and case takes just under an hour to recharge.
The only thing Freebuds 4i lacks is wireless charging, but there is a need to cut some corners to make the price tag.
Huawei Freebuds 4i has polymeric diaphragms and 10 mm dynamic spiral drivers, which work well together and bring clear sound.
The knobs are a solid choice for a daily driver. Music on Spotify or Tidal sounds offensive, the sound is balanced and the vocals are well defined. There is no equalizer in the AI Life app, so you can only set the sound if your smartphone has Dolby Atmos or similar equalizer throughout the system.
Freebuds 4i prioritized battery life, which apparently required less hardware to make room for the battery. However, the trebles are pretty good and the low ends are still pronounced.
The sound of calls is also clean and clear; the microphones do a good job of selecting your voice even through two masks. We had some issues when we covered the microphones with our hands during conversations, but wearing hats does not affect performance as long as the tip of the stem protrudes.
The Huawei Freebuds 4i is easily among the more impressive wireless ANC earphones in their price range. The company did a good job of fixing everything that was wrong with the Freebuds 3i, while maintaining the aggressive price – better design for both the knob and the case, actually active noise reduction and easy navigation.
The 10-hour continuous playing time is a gift when we have to work without being distracted at home. The fast charging and the solid sound experience provide an overall good package.
Speaking of pricing, Huawei Freebuds 4i is available across Europe for £ 79 / € 99, but there are more deals and offers. There is a free Huawei Band 4 with the buds’ purchases in most markets, but you can also get a discount on Watch Fit, speakers, cases and even a six-month free subscription to Huawei Music.
If Huawei offers FreeBuds 4i in your country, you should definitely have them on your favorites list. They are some of the few TWS earphones that offer so many features that enrich the experience even more.