This story was originally published on July 12, 2021, and last updated on July 16, 2021.
Huawei’s newest FreeBuds 4 are in town, and I’m putting it through its paces right now. But if you’re curious about my initial impressions of these new wireless earbuds, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are my first 24 hours with the company’s latest premium wireless buds.
Ed’s note: I’m using the FreeBuds 4 with non-Huawei Android devices as I don’t have a Huawei device on hand.
July 8, 2021
8:49 am – 100% earbuds + case
Setting up the Huawei FreeBuds 4 is a simple affair, as with most wireless earbuds setup. If you own a Huawei device, pairing is instantaneous. You just open the rounded silver case, and the silver earbuds pair with your phone immediately. (The FreeBuds 4 also comes in white.)
If you don’t have a Huawei phone, pairing won’t be complicated either. You can connect through the Bluetooth settings of your smartphone. But if you want complete access to the FreeBuds 4’s settings, you’ll need the Huawei AI Life. You’ll need to sideload the app on Android and download it directly from Huawei’s website or get it from the Apple App Store.
Once you’ve set it up, you get access to all the FreeBuds 4’s features, including noise cancellation, sound quality, gestures, and even a find my earphones option. But, more importantly, you’ll get software updates and fixes through the app.
10:16 am – 51% earbuds, 100% case
I’ve been playing music since I’ve set up these buds, and I’ve had its Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) on during that time. That’s why I’m not surprised that the battery drains rather quickly. According to Huawei, they usually drain in two and a half hours with ANC on or around four hours without it.
Huawei introduces a new Open-fit Active Noise Cancellation 2.0 system with the FreeBuds 4, which the company claims is a first for open-fit buds. They come with Adaptive Ear Matching tech to automatically adjust noise-canceling levels to suit your surroundings. They use a dual-microphone hybrid noise reduction system to make this happen. They can detect your ear shape to make sure you get the optimum noise cancelation for you.
With an open-fit design, the downside is you won’t get as good a seal as those with an in-ear design. From what I’ve heard so far, the FreeBuds 4 can block subtle noises but don’t expect them to have as good a seal as in-ear buds. If you have smaller ear cavities, this pair will give you a better experience with ANC.
Audio quality offers a more balanced sound, which I prefer. It tends to crackle if you push the volume to maximum, but that isn’t something you should be doing anyway. I’m comfortable with keeping the volume at around 50% to 60%.
11:26 am – 4% earbuds, 100% case
So far, these earbuds’ battery life is on par with what Huawei claims, at least when ANC is on. I’m also starting to feel strain in my left ear. It might be due to my ear shape, but I tend to get fatigued with open-fit earbuds like the FreeBuds 4 more easily.
These new wireless buds are lighter, though. The FreeBuds 4 only weigh 4.1g per earbud. Its case also looks less bulky than the FreeBuds 4i’s. It is a case that’s easy to carry around in a small purse. The buds are also IPX4 for water- and splash-resistance.
4:06 pm – 70% earbuds, 80% case
I completely drained the earbuds at around three hours and three minutes earlier. According to Huawei, the FreeBuds 4 can offer approximately two and a half hours of use with a 15-minute charge. I’ve noticed it reached 71% in that timeframe, so that might work. But if you can wait just a bit more, it only takes around 30 minutes to charge these buds fully.
Huawei is offering a wired and wireless model for the charging case. The company lent me the wired version. I haven’t been able to test how long it takes to charge the earbuds with the case, but I’ll make sure to mention that in my review.
7:36 pm – 0% earbuds, 80% case
I completely drained the earbuds around four hours and 49 minutes, which is again above what Huawei says you can reach with ANC off. I’ll keep testing usage times before my review comes out to see if it maintains this runtime.
8:08 pm – 100% earbuds, 58% case
The quick charging in their case is one of my favorite things about these earbuds. Another is how responsive the touch gestures are on the buds. They aren’t overly sensitive, but they readily respond. Huawei also includes volume control on the earbuds, which is something I always look for. You can customize double taps on the earbuds via the app, allowing you to choose between play/pause, next song, previous song, waking up your voice assistant, or disable them. But you can’t change the “press & hold” and swipe gestures. The former is for rejecting calls or enabling and disabling ANC; the latter is for volume control.
Their smart wear detection is pretty quick to respond, too. If that isn’t important to you, you can also disable that in the app.
July 9, 2021
8:08 pm – 23% earbuds, 58% case
I listened to music a bit last night, but I just left the buds out of their case after that. As expected, they drain outside of the charging case, so make sure to put it back in after you’re done using them.
One of the new improvements Huawei introduced with the FreeBuds 4 is its Connection Center that you can access via the Huawei AI Life. It can support up to 10 devices, both Huawei and non-Huawei ones. I’ve been able to link a tablet and two Android phones to it so far.
These buds support a dual-device connection. With the Connection Center, it’s easy to switch between the devices you want to be connected to the earbuds. You can even set a Preferred device that the buds prioritize for activating features like waking the voice assistant.
The buds are intelligent enough that they can quickly determine which device is using the audio. And in situations where you get a call, say, on a smartphone while watching something on a laptop, it should switch back to the smartphone so you can answer the call. I still need to test this. But so far, I like that I can be watching something on a Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro tablet, and when I pause that and try to play music on my OnePlus 9, it plays them through the buds. It’s been pretty seamless to switch between connected devices.
As premium wireless buds, I have expectations for the Huawei FreeBuds 4. You spend more on a pair of these after all. But right now, it seems to be living up to my expectations. Given I’m not even using Huawei devices to connect to it, I only have a few gripes so far. I will continue to put it through its paces, but the first impressions are definitely good.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4 are priced at PHP 7,999 or €150. You can still pre-order for only PHP 5,999 until July 15 via Shopee. If you pre-order via the Huawei Store and pay PHP 1,000, you get PHP 3,000 off, meaning pre-order customers can get the FreeBuds 4 for as low as PHP 5,999! Lastly, pre-order customers are entitled to get a three-month HUAWEI Music VIP subscription.
After that pre-order period, the Huawei FreeBuds 4 will be available for a discounted price of PHP 5,999 from July 16 – 23 via Shopee, Lazada, and Huawei Store and get FREE Huawei Bluetooth Speaker worth PHP 1,499 and FREE 3-month Huawei Music VIP subscription.
UPDATE 1: 2021/07/16 7:25 A.M. GMT+8 BY NICOLE BATAC
Added first-sale information on the FreeBuds 4
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