Huawei FreeBuds 4i is the successor to the company’s FreeBuds 3i, which was released back in August 2020. The new FreeBuds 4i have improved sound and call quality, an updated design and noise reduction. I have tested the new Huawei earplugs for a few weeks now and I have to say I am impressed. Considering the price of £ 79.99 (around $ 110), these ANC-enabled, stylish earplugs are of great value.
With their impressive battery life and very good call quality, FreeBuds 4i is a good choice for those of you who are looking for simple earbuds with good call quality that do not break the bank.
Design & Feel
Huawei FreeBuds 4i has a glossy design that comes in three colors: Carbon Black, Ceramic White and Red. The walk-through unit I tested is in red, and although it has a glossy finish, there is not that noticeable smudge. Note that if you choose Carbon Black FreeBuds 4i, the story will probably be different, as stains mostly appear on black glossy surfaces.
The shape of the earplugs is similar to that of Apple AirPods 2, but with an in-ear earphone like the one on the AirPods Pro. The build quality is good and the knobs feel robust and ready for action. Each earphone has a microphone and built-in touch sensitivity.
The biggest difference between FreeBuds 4i and its predecessor is the charging box, which is now round and glossy. It has a single LED light that changes colors when charging and also when paired with your device.
Case’s build quality is not as good as that of its earplugs. The case feels more plastic-like and the lid is a bit flimsy. It’s also a bit of a bummer that the case can not remain open unless you hold it in your hand, as it is designed to remain on the back, unlike the case of the Apple AirPods 2, which stands straight.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i weighs 0.19 ounces or 5.5 grams per second. Earplugs and the same size as Apple’s Airpods 2. The case is also light at 1.28 ounces or 36.5 grams. Each earplug feels comfortable and stable in your ear and does not fall off easily. The earbuds have special openings designed to equalize the pressure in the ear, similar to that of the AirPods Pro.
The case is small enough to fit in the back pocket of your jeans, although it is not the thinnest, measuring 1.08 inches or 27.5 mm in depth, making it a bit clumsy.
Huawei’s new FreeBuds 4i offers average sound quality when it comes to music. The high and medium intervals are good, but I found that the earplugs lack bass and depth. If you are not an audio file and just want a clear sound from your earbuds, then FreeBuds 4i will do the job. If you want a high quality experience, you probably need to look elsewhere.
Connection, touch features and support
Huawei FreeBuds 4i has Bluetooth 5.2 connection. Pairing with both iOS and Android is easy. Note that the earplugs do not pair automatically with the operating systems, so you must pair manually. Once you’ve paired them, FreeBuds 4i does a great job of automatically reconnecting when you pull them out of the case.
You can also install the Huawei AI Life app, which shows the status of your FreeBuds 4i and the audio mode they are in. You can also install firmware updates via the app. Unfortunately, the Huawei AI Life app is only available for Android. It’s also a bummer that the app does not have a sound compensation.
FreeBuds 4i also has touch control. By pressing twice, you can answer and end a call or play and stop a song on both iOS and Android devices. Triple pressing on the earplugs changes the sound modes. Active noise reduction, transparency mode and standard mode are all read out by the earphones when activated. These commands are also programmable in terms of what they do on each earplug with the Huawei AI Life app.
You should note that voice assistants like Siri and Google Voice Assistant cannot be triggered from FreeBuds 4i. When Huawei receives a call, the Huawei earphones also do not tell you who is calling, they just call with your smartphone’s ringtone. It’s the same story in terms of messages.
Call quality and active noise reduction
FreeBuds 4i has ANC at an affordable price. Huawei’s earbuds have both noise reduction and transparency mode. The modes work as intended, but of course not as well as much more expensive competitors like the Apple Airpods Pro.
Active noise reduction performs an average job of suppressing ambient sounds, while transparency mode keeps you aware of what is happening around you. For this price, the ANC function of the earplugs is fine, but not the best. Of course, you can also turn off modes and use them without these features.
Call quality is pretty good. The voice of the caller is loud and clear. The microphones in FreeBuds 4i are also good as the recipient of the call did not complain about quality issues like attenuation or lack of voice depth. Like most earplugs, FreeBuds 4 is the biggest enemy of the wind. When you are outside and there is a strong wind, there is a noticeable microphone disturbance on the side of the receiver
There are no complaints here. According to Huawei, FreeBuds 4i lasts approximately 10 hours of playback without recharging from the case. This number is measured with FreeBuds 4’s active noise reduction turned off at 50% sound volume. I measured the earplugs with ANC at 70% volume, and they lasted approx. 8 hours of playback time, which was impressive.
The battery size is 55 mAh per. Earplugs and 215 mAh for the battery box. The case is charged via USB-C cable, which is included in the box.