Entering into a busy mid-range headphones marketplace, the Huawei Freebuds 4i try to trump the competition with active noise cancellation (ANC). Paired with the decent battery life and stylish, curved design, at less than £80, they certainly seem like great value for money.
Find out more about them in this Huawei Freebuds 4i review, where I’ll cover everything from their design and battery life to sound quality and all of the extra features they offer.
Huawei Freebuds 4i review: price and availability
In the UK, the Huawei Freebuds 4i are available now to buy now direct from Huawei, setting you back £79.99. In Australia, you will be able to pick up a pair from the 12th of April 2021 for AU$159. Be sure to check out the widgets for updated pricing.
Although the Huawei Freebuds 4i will be coming to the US at some point, currently, there aren't any confirmed dates or pricing. Based on the above, we would expect them to sit at around $100.
Huawei Freebuds 4i review: design, build quality and battery life
With an Airpods-esque design, the Huawei Freebuds 4i have a dangling stem with rounded edges. Available in three colourways: black, white and red, the small earbuds have a shiny, stylish look to them. Naturally, they lack the more premium feel of more expensive headphones, but they feel robust all the same. Having the glossy coating does make them a little slippy to hold and finicky to get out of the case, though that's something you quickly get used to.
In the box, they come with three sizes of silicone ear tips to help you find the right fit. Comfort-wise, they did the job. I wouldn’t say they are the comfiest earbuds out there, nor did they feel the most secure, but they did stay put no matter how much jumping around I did. They are IP54 water-resistant up to 1m, so although not completely waterproof, they will be safe from sweat or light rain. Most useful for gym workouts, these aren't really the best for running so check out T3's guide to the best running headphones if that's what you are after.
The charging case is a small, equally as glossy, rounded pebble shape. It looks great, there’s a small button on the right-hand side to put the headphones in pairing mode. As well as the button, there’s a tiny LED light that illuminates in different colours letting you know if Bluetooth is activated, when they’re charging or when they are running out of juice. On each earbud is a dual-microphone, giving you crystal clear calls.
Thanks to Bluetooth 5, I found the connection never dropped. If you have a Huawei phone, connecting them should be seamless, and will pick them up as soon as you open the charging case. For Android and iOS users though, you’ll need to pair them through the Bluetooth menu on your phone. Actually getting both earbuds connected was a bit of a faff at times, as is the way with many true wireless earbuds.
Touch controls on the top of the stem are used to pause and play the music or to answer a call without the need to reach for your phone, you can also activate the noise-cancelling or ‘awareness’ feature which keeps you aware of your surroundings. There was no way of skipping through tracks or adjusting the volume from the touch controls. In use, I did find that the earbuds didn’t always respond to my touch. It would also have been good for it to be a simple tap once affair, instead you need to tap twice or long-press. I’m nitpicking but having more taps did give them less of a chance to understand my touches.
Huawei claims that with the volume set at 50% the earbuds will last 10 hours of music with noise-cancelling disabled and 7.5 hours with noise-cancelling enabled. With the charging case and earbuds combined, you’ll get a total of 22 hours worth of music. For a quick boost, you can charge them for 10 minutes to get four hours of juice. While the battery life is by no means the best you can get, it’s definitely respectable.
Huawei Freebuds 4i review: sound quality and features
The Huawei Freebuds 4i have 10mm large dynamic drivers and claim to be tuned for pop music. Generally, the listening experience was good with well-balanced highs and lows in pop songs like New Rules, Dua Lipa or folk-rock like Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell.
Despite having quite a good sound separation, the mid-range could get a little muddied, lacking some detail and clarity. In bass-heavy songs like Ray Keith, Shy FX - Chopper you might find yourself craving a lot more punch. So although these earbuds do deliver, I would say the Huawei Freebuds 4i really are best-suited to pop music and to tunes centred around vocals.
The Active Noise Cancelling mode did block out a small amount yet didn’t do enough to avoid surrounding noises being distracting. With the volume at about 75%, you could easily hear keyboard clicks, a tap running and chatter. The Awareness mode had similar issues, but in cranking up the volume, both modes did a much better job.
One disappointment was that there was no ear detection that stops the music when one falls out, so the music will just keep on playing. Usually found on more expensive earbuds, it's a great way to avoid losing them, you'll just have to be a little bit more careful with these.
Huawei Freebuds 4i review: verdict
For an affordable, attractive pair of true wireless earbuds that will be suitable for sports, look no further than the Huawei Freebuds 4i. Granted, they may not have the absolute best sound there is or the most impressive battery life but these are a solid pair of Bluetooth-connected earbuds, especially for those who are mostly into pop music. They’re also some of the cheapest earbuds that feature active noise cancelling. Overall, these are a reliable, stylish offering from Huawei!
Huawei Freebuds 4i review: also consider
If you are looking for Airpods Pro alternatives but are looking for a more well-rounded sound to match, consider the Beats Powerbeats Pro or the LG Tone Free FN7 which are slightly pricier than the Huawei Freedbuds 4i but offer much more detailed audio. If you want the best of both worlds, consider the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 or the JBL Tune 225 TWS.
- Block out distractions with the best noise cancelling headphones