This story was originally published on April 23, 2021, and last updated on June 9, 2021.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i certainly know how to make an excellent first impression. But there’s more to these sleek-looking TWS earbuds, and what they offer just might be what you need in your next buds. Let’s take a look at the reasons why you should get them.
Eye-catching color option & silicone cases
While the Huawei FreeBuds 4i earbuds don’t have the same design as their predecessor, they adopted a design that’s a cross between the FreeBuds Pro and the FreeBuds 3, down to my favorite shade in a TWS pair yet. The red color option, which we got sent to test, is eye-catching that I can’t help but mention that first. The plastic build comes in that shiny, fire engine red that pops out instantly when you have it on or when you have the case out anywhere.
If that color isn’t for you, the FreeBuds 4i buds come in black or white, too. If you want something more fun but in a different design, Huawei partnered with Momax for some colorful, funky silicone cases you can slip onto the charging case. According to the company, the pebble-like case is inspired by the black sand beaches of Iceland, making it pleasing to hold in your hand.
The long-stem design of these buds helps them fit more securely in the ear. They fit pretty snuggly in my ear that even when I practice yoga with them, I don’t have to worry about these falling out. They aren’t that heavy either, coming in at 5.5g per earbud. There is a bit of strain after extended use, but then that just reminds me to not have earbuds on for that long.
Pro tip #1: Use the right ear tip size. Huawei supplies three with the FreeBuds 4i. These offer a better passive seal that keeps environmental noise out and a bit more comfort.
Huawei prides itself in offering long-lasting audio accessories, and the FreeBuds 4i aren’t an exception. These TWS earbuds live up to the promise of 10+ hours of music playback after it has been fully charged in the case. Of course, this runtime lowers a bit if you have the active noise cancellation (ANC) feature activated or when the volume is set to be louder. But the FreeBuds 4i have been able to maintain that average runtime even if I had ANC on.
I was usually able to fully charge the 215mAh case with the earbuds (55mAh each) in around an hour and 10 minutes. But the FreeBuds 4i offers a fast-charging option, which I’ve recently seen on the 1More Stylish TWS. Huawei ups the competition by promising four hours of use from a 10-minute charge. (The 1More option is 15 minutes for three hours of use.)
I usually got around three and a half hours or so from these buds after a 10-minute charge. When I fully charged the FreeBuds 4i in its case, I got about 20+ hours of use, meaning it gives me one full extra charge. If I do the 10-minute charging, I got around 16 or so hours. The buds allowed me to charge with the case twice using this method.
There is no multi-pairing here, unfortunately. You don’t get the option to just connect one earbud. Both buds drain their batteries at roughly the same rate.
ANC on a budget
If you’re the type who wants to keep environmental noise out (like the hum of a fan, chatter of those around you, or traffic noise), the FreeBuds 4i offers ANC. These earbuds use built-in acoustic components and algorithms to generate inverted soundwaves and actively cancel out the noise. We like this trend of seeing ANC pop up in more affordable buds like these.
Huawei even brings its Awareness Mode to the FreeBuds 4i, so you can stay aware of your surroundings or communicate with someone without having to take out these wireless buds.
Perfect for pop music & handles calls well, too
Huawei armed the FreeBuds 4i with a 10mm dynamic driver and tuned these buds to handle pop music particularly well. It offers a well-balanced performance that lets you hear the high, mid, and low frequencies clearly. It works just as fine with other genres and audio content like podcasts and audiobooks.
The FreeBuds 4i earbuds also work well with calls. Huawei equipped these with dual-microphone noise cancellation so that whoever is on the other line can hear you easily. I’ve used it while running errands in a mall, and I was heard by the person on the other end of the call quite clearly.
These TWS buds offer low latency, meaning the lag between audio and video is hardly noticeable. You can play games or watch video content without any discrepancy.
Works on both Android & iOS
As expected, Huawei users get access to features like proximity Bluetooth pairing, meaning you just have to open the charged FreeBuds 4i to pair with your smartphone or tablet running on EMUI 10.0 or above. Similar to how AirPods pair with Apple products, a pop-up notification will show up to complete the pairing process with a few simple taps.
But other Android and iOS devices can still use the FreeBuds 4i. You can pair via the Bluetooth settings as you would with other Bluetooth-enabled devices. But to access features like customizing the touch controls and firmware updates, you’ll need to download the Huawei AI Life app.
iOS users can access this app through the Apple App Store. But for Android users, don’t download the Huawei AI Life app on the Google Play Store. It’s not the latest version of the app, so newer devices like the FreeBuds 4i won’t show up.
Pro tip #2: Sideload the Huawei AI Life app on your non-Huawei Android phone. Head to this link and select “Download via browser.” You’ll need to enable the “Allow unknown apps to be installed.” for your Chrome browser and then download the .apk. Tap on “Install” after that, and then now you have the app on your phone! (Remember to only sideload apps from trusted and reputable sources.)
Getting access to the Huawei AI Life app means you can access critical software fixes or upgrades Huawei wants to send to your buds. I got wear detection to work on the FreeBuds 4i after an update. It doesn’t respond as quickly as I’d like them to, unfortunately. But it is handy, and I like having that option.
As I mentioned in my first look article, there are touch controls on the FreeBuds 4i, allowing you to play or pause your favorite tracks, call up your voice assistant, and switch between ANC and Awareness modes. The only thing I’m missing here is the volume control.
The capacitive touch sensors work pretty well on the FreeBuds 4i. I hardly had to worry about accidental touches, and it responded to the intentional taps readily.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i that I have updated, and I noticed the app now lets you decide if you want Smart Wear Detection enabled or disabled, which is an excellent addition.
Pro tip #3: If you have the FreeBuds 4i or any other TWS buds, make sure to check in with the app because that’s where the firmware updates are rolled out.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are priced at PHP 3,599, while the silicone case costs PHP 599. Pre-orders for the Huawei FreeBuds 4i are still ongoing until Thursday, April 29. Those who pre-order will take home a free Bluetooth speaker worth PHP 1,499. You can pre-order through the Huawei Store, Lazada, and Shopee. For more details about the pre-orders, check out this link.
UPDATE 1: 2021/06/09 4:50 P.M. GMT+8 BY NICOLE BATAC
Added info on FreeBuds 4i update
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