To sum up this Huawei Freebuds 4 review: if you want original Apple AirPod style headphones but you want noise-cancelling built-in as well, then these could be a good alternative. Apple's cheaper buds don't have ANC so you would need to splash out on Apple AirPods Pro to get that.
Huawei is building a name for itself in the true wireless world, offering affordable headphones that tend to deliver on style and sound. The Huawei Freebuds 4 are no different, they may not be the very best true wireless earbuds you can buy, nor are they the best noise-cancelling headphones, but they’re a good option for anyone looking to buy some one-size-fits-all earbuds.
Huawei Freebuds 4 review: price and what’s new
Launched in May 2021, the Huawei Freebuds 4 are available to buy now for around £129 in the UK. They aren’t available yet in the US or Australia but their predecessors are so we’re hoping they will go on sale in those territories soon. The widgets on this page will give you up to date pricing from across the web.
Following on from the Huawei Freebuds 3, the Freebuds 4 have improved on what came before in a couple of big ways. Firstly, Huawei has switched from Active Noise Cancelling to Adaptive Ear Matching (AEM) noise cancellation which automatically detects your ear shape to intelligently block out sounds. Their weight has also dropped slightly from 4.5g per bud to 4.1g which should make them more comfortable for longer.
They’ve also boosted the capacity of the charging case to provide 22 hours of extra charge time (with ANC switched off) as opposed to the 20 hours it was before. Huawei has also improved the overall sound quality of the buds.
Huawei Freebuds 4 review: design and fit
The Huawei Freebuds 4 look similar to their predecessors, with a dangling stem and an Apple AirPod-esque design. Other people would have to look closely to see that they’re not AirPods, which you can tell mostly by the silver tip on the end of the stem. They come in white or silver, with a round matching charging case that’s just smaller than the palm of my hand. It’s just 58mm x 21.2mm so will easily fit in your pocket without creating a bulge. Both the case and earbuds have really good build quality, they don’t feel cheap like some other true wireless earbuds do.
Using a one-size-fits-all approach, the Huawei Freebuds 4 are actually very light and comfortable in the ear, if that’s the style of bud you prefer. If you prefer silicone ear tips that fit securely inside your ear canal, then maybe consider the Huawei Freebuds 4i instead. I personally like this style of earbud, and these are about as secure as they get. That’s not to say they always stay put, I did find that they fell out once or twice while doing some types of workouts, although runs were fine.
To manage your music each bud has touch controls, you swipe up or down the stem to adjust the volume, you tap twice to pause or play the track and hold down to switch noise cancelling on or off. You can also answer your calls using the controls. They work well and the gestures are easy to remember, I did find that they were sometimes a little too sensitive, I accidentally paused my music a couple of times during use.
The Huawei Freebuds 4’s battery life is okay, the buds last 4 hours of music from a single charge with ANC switched off, with it switched on that goes down to 2.5 hours. The charging case gives you 22 hours of music, or 14 hours with ANC turned on. For most that will be alright, it should get you through a long commute or short plane journey. You can definitely get buds with a lot more though. When it comes to recharging them, they come with a long USB-C cable, it’ll take about an hour to charge the case. The buds themselves take about an hour to recharge as well.
Huawei Freebuds 4 review: performance and features
The sound performance from the Huawei Freebuds 4 is good. At normal volumes, it’s balanced with relatively punchy bass and crisp highs. The low-end isn’t quite as powerful as you’d get with the seal of in-ear buds, the sound inevitably is able to slip out. I also noticed that when you turn the volume right up, the sound does get a little distorted. If you’re an audiophile then you will want to look elsewhere but for most people, the sound will be good enough no matter what genres of music you’re into.
Adaptive Ear Matching noise-cancelling tech automatically detects your ear canal shape and the fit of the earbuds to personalise the sound to your ear. When I tried it out, I thought that the noise-cancelling was okay. It did block out the sound of the road outside my house and other quieter ambient noise, but I could still hear most of the loud noises around me like keyboard taps and the washing machine. I also tested it out with some aeroplane noise from YouTube, they definitely dulled the noise but didn’t cut it out entirely. Without the seal created by silicone ear tips, that’s kind of expected.
What’s really great about these earphones is that they have ear detection so if one falls out the music will stop. That means you’ll be more likely to notice if you lose one when you’re out and about.
Using Bluetooth v5, these earbuds are very easy to connect. You don’t need to faff around connecting one to your phone and then connecting the second bud to the first. They hook themselves up quickly and simultaneously. Then, the buds stay connected no matter what. I walked away from my phone with them in, out into the garden and into different rooms without the connection dropping too easily.
Each bud has a built-in microphone, calls were overall clear and loud for the recipient so not much to say there!
Huawei Freebuds 4 review: verdict
If you're looking for true wireless earbuds that don’t sit inside your ear canal and you would like to have noise-cancelling built-in, the Huawei Freebuds 4 are actually quite a good alternative. The battery life isn’t great, and the noise-cancelling isn’t the most effective I’ve heard, but it still manages to cut out some noise. Overall these are comfortable and have decent sound quality.
They’re well-rounded true wireless earbuds with a solid build, stylish design, tiny charging case, touch controls and ear detection. You couldn’t ask for much more at this price!
Huawei Freebuds 4 review: also consider
If you don’t mind having the buds fitted inside your ear, then some of the best sounding buds around this price are the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus. Alongside the excellent audio quality, they have a long-lasting battery, manual EQ settings and a choice between silicone and memory foam tips for comfort.
If you’re on a much tighter budget than this, the Urbanears Luma offer the same sort of style. You don’t get the wealth of features you do here, but they are more than half the price of these.
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