REVIEW: The Huawei FreeBuds Pro
Definitely worth your time.
We'd previously used the FreeBuds 3 and they were one of our favourite wireless earbuds of last year. So we were expecting good things when Huawei released the FreeBuds Pro a couple of months back.
With their specs and design they're most commonly compared to Apple's AirPod Pro, but at €179, they come in significantly cheaper.
We've been using them for the past couple of weeks to put them through their paces and see if they can build on the solid foundation from last year.
The feel of the FreeBuds Pro is similar to the FreeBuds 3 due to the fact Huawei has used the same shiny plastic for the finish.
The company has abandoned the open-ear fit in favour of a more comfortable fitted design complete with different sized silicone tips for you to pick and choose the best. There’s a handy AI feature here that tells you which size suits your ear.
With the bud and stem design, they're comfortable to listen to for long periods of time and they sit nice and soundly in your ears.
The charging case is slightly bulkier than the FreeBuds 3 and one small issue I did have with the Pro was removing the FreeBuds from the case. Their surface combined with their position in case means they’re actually quite slippery to prise out of their home, but you’ll figure out there’s a knack to it after a while.
The big question but it's one the FreeBuds Pro answer emphatically. Huawei has overhauled the internal components with the dynamic drivers downsized from 14mm to 11m.
This generates a loud, accurate and generally very impressive sound from each earbud.
They also generate a little more oomph than the FreeBuds 3 - with the main criticism of these being that the bass could do with a little supercharging - and you'll no doubt be satisfied with their audio offerings no matter which genre of music you dabble in.
With some earbuds, as you increase the volume, the quality of the audio can suffer a little as the drivers vibrate. However, the FreeBuds Pro have a damper in each earbud to minimise this and the result is a consistent audio from low to high.
While noise cancelling can be a bit hit and miss in earbuds, Huawei have often been one of the better providers of it in their offerings.
The FreeBuds Pro 40DB active noise cancellation works across three levels, Cozy, General, and Ultra, depending on your environment’s ambient noise.
Users can switch between them by themselves, or leave the buds to make the decisions, with dynamic noise cancelling.
The result is quite good, it's not going to drown out someone talking directly to you but will certainly dim out background noise associated with say, a coffee shop or an office.
Some things we liked and some we didn't
The battery life is good and I had no issues with it whatsoever. Obviously battery is affected by whether or not you use ANC but I managed well over six hours with ANC off and over three with it on.
Wireless charging on the case is also a nice addition.
For calling, Huawei uses three different microphones on each bud to help isolate your voice from the background noise. It's hugely impressive and it's an upgrade over the internal mic on your smartphone and that means it's useful for video calls and meetings as well. Who would have guessed just a few short months ago that this would be such an important feature ?
The touch controls are a little bit finicky and inconsistent for my liking, but this is an area a lot of earbuds fall down in. However, they're an improvement from the Freebuds 3 and the control for the volume did work a lot better than a lot of other options on the market.
The direct competitor to the FreeBuds Pro in the market are Apple's AirPod Pro and they stack up very well. They've neck and neck in most areas but they come in around €70 cheaper at €179.
Are they the best out there? There's definitely areas where they're strong and their all round performance means they're better than a lot of others on the market.
The combination of great battery life, good audio, and active noise cancellation all at a relatively reasonable price means they're worth your consideration.