Huawei Freelace wireless headphones and FreeBuds Lite AirPods rivals launch alongside Huawei P30

Bluetooth headphones with unusual USB charging and pairing, and AirPods-style true wireless buds unveiled at Huawei P30 event

Huawei Freelace headphones

Alongside the Huawei P30 and Huawei P30 Pro Huawei's also today launched the Freelace wireless headphones. They can give you 4 hours of music from 5 minutes of charging, with initial pairing and charging via a curious, pull-off USB-C arrangement. This at least removes the need for a separate USB cable but I'm not too sure it's the greatest idea ever, since it involves pulling off one of your buds. Nobody wants to be pulling off one of their buds.

It also seems like an odd idea to trigger wireless pairing by… plugging in a wire. Seriously, connecting to Bluetooth buds is not hard. Anyway, this feature only works with Huawei's own phones, running the latest EMUI 91 OS.

FreeLace is made of memory metal – as used in some spectacles – wrapped in liquid silicon. Huawei says this offers 'a decorative appearance' – have a look at the photo and make your own minds up on that one – and a feel that is 'soft and skin-friendly'. 

Huawei Freelace also 'pair' more normally via Bluetooth for non-EMUI users, and come in 4 colours – Graphite Black, Amber Sunrise, Emerald Green and Moonlight Silver – to complement the P30. Total battery life is 18 hours of music or 12 hours of calls. 

Huawei Freelace will set you back €99 – about £90 – when they launch on April 11. No testing has been allowed so far so we have no idea what they will sound like, but let's assume, 'bassy and fun'.

Huawei adds that the Freelace can be sent into standby mode by taking them off and clipping them together (there are magnets in the tips). This never works very well, in my experience so far. 

Technical stuff, courtesy of Huawei: 'Inside each of the speakers is a large dynamic driver unit with a diameter of 9.2mm. Comprising an ultra-thin TPU diaphragm and titanium plating, the drivers deliver a punchy bass and smooth treble. The microphone module incorporates a dual-cavity design which, unlike the microphones in traditional earphones, features an additional channel for air ventilation, greatly reducing the effect of wind on voice pick-up.'

The in-line control buttons handle play, skip, pause and, with a longer press, activating Google Assistant.

Huawei also revealed a more direct AirPods 2 rival in the shape of FreeBuds Lite. These true wireless buds offer 12 hours of battery life – it's not clear if that means 12 hours without charging, or 12 hours with recharges in their battery case. The former sounds unlikely, the latter short even by true wireless standards. They're IPX4 rated – water resistant rather than waterproof – so probably well suited to use as gym and running headphones.

They'll cost €119 – about £100. Huawei FreeBuds already exist, look the same, and are priced pretty much the same as these new FreeBuds Lite. So to be honest, I am not sure what Huawei has even released, here.

Maybe Huawei isn't sure eithrer, since we just received the official press release from the Huawei P30 launch and FreeBuds Lite are not even on it, so you may have to wait a while to sample their delights. AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds are available now, though…

Huawei helpfully tweeted about the Freelace earlier today.

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."