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The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are the successor to the company’s FreeBuds 3i, which were released back in August 2020. The new FreeBuds 4i have improved sound and call quality, an updated design, and noise cancelation. I have been testing the new Huawei earbuds for a couple of weeks now, and I have to say that I am impressed. Considering the price of £79.99 (around $110), these ANC enabled, stylish earbuds have great value. With their impressive battery life and very good call quality the FreeBuds 4i are a good choice for those of you who are looking for simple earbuds with good call quality that won’t break the bank.
Design & Feel
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i feature a glossy design that comes in three colors: Carbon Black, Ceramic White and Red. The review unit I’ve been testing is in Red, and even though it has a glossy finish, smudges aren’t that noticeable. Note that if you choose the Carbon Black FreeBuds 4i the story is probably going to be different, as smudges show mostly on black glossy surfaces. The shape of the earbuds is similar to the one of the Apple AirPods 2, but with an in-ear earpiece like the one on the AirPods Pro. Build quality is good and the buds feel sturdy and ready for action. Each earbud has a microphone and built-in touch sensitivity.
The biggest difference between the FreeBuds 4i and its predecessor is the charging case, which is now round and glossy. It has a single LED light that changes colors when charging, and also when pairing with your device.
The case’s build quality isn’t as good as the one of its earbuds. The case feels more plasticky and its lid is a bit flimsy. It is also a bit of a bummer that the case cannot stay opened unless you hold it in your hand, as it’s designed to stay on its back side, unlike the case of the Apple AirPods 2, which stands straight.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i weigh in at 0.19 ounces or 5.5 grams per earbud, and are similar in size to Apple’s Airpods 2. The case is also light, at 1.28 ounces or 36.5 grams. Each earbud feels comfortable and stable in your ear, and doesn’t fall off easily. The earbuds have special vents that are designed to equalize pressure in the ear, similar to one’s on AirPods Pro.
The case is small enough to fit in the back pocket of your jeans, though it isn’t the thinnest one, measuring 1.08 inches or 27.5 mm in depth, making it a bit chunky.
Huawei’s new FreeBuds 4i offer average sound quality when it comes to music. The high and mid-ranges are good, but I found that the earbuds lack bass and depth. If you’re not an audiophile and just want a clear sound from your earbuds, then the FreeBuds 4i will do the job. If you want a high quality experience, then you should probably look elsewhere.
Connectivity, touch features and support
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i have Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity. Pairing with both iOS and Android is easy. Note that the earbuds do not pair automatically with the operating systems, so you need to do the pairing manually. After you’ve paired them, the FreeBuds 4i do a fine job of automatically reconnecting when you pull them out of the case.
You can also install the Huawei AI Life app, which shows you the status of your FreeBuds 4i and the sound mode that they are on. You can install firmware updates via the app too. Unfortunately, the Huawei AI Life app is only available for Android. It’sIt is also a bummer that the app does not have an audio equalizer.
The FreeBuds 4i also have touch control. By double tapping you can answer and end a call, or play and pause a song on both iOS and Android devices. Triple tapping the earbuds changes the sound modes. Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode and standard mode are all read out to you by the earbuds when activated. These commands are also programmable as to what they do on each earbud with the Huawei AI Life app.
You should note that voice assistants like Siri and Google Voice Assistant cannot be triggered from the FreeBuds 4i. Also, when receiving a call the Huawei earbuds don’t tell you who the caller is, they just ring with your smartphone’s ringtone. It’s the same story in terms of notifications.
Call Quality and Active Noise Cancellation
The FreeBuds 4i feature ANC at an affordable price. Huawei’s earbuds have both Noise cancelling and Transparency mode. The modes work as intended, though obviously not as good as much more expensive competitors like the Apple Airpods Pro.
Active Noise Cancellation does an average job in suppressing surrounding sounds , while Transparency mode keeps you aware of what’s happening around you . For this price, the earbuds’ ANC feature is fine, but not the best. Of course you can also turn off the modes and use them without these features.
Call Quality is pretty good. The Caller’s voice is loud and clear. The microphones of the FreeBuds 4i are also good, as the receiver of the call did not complain about quality issues like muffleness or lack of voice depth. Like most earbuds, the FreeBuds 4i’s biggest enemy is the wind. When you’re outside and there is a strong wind there is a noticeable microphone disturbance on the receiver’s side
There are no complaints here. According to Huawei, the FreeBuds 4i last about 10 hours of playback without recharging from the case. This number is measured with the FreeBuds 4i’s Active Noise Cancellation off, and at 50% audio volume. I measured the earbuds with ANC on at 70% volume, and they lasted about 8 hours of playback time, which was impressive.
The battery size is 55mAh per earbud and 215mAh for the battery case. The case charges via USB-C cable, which is included in the box.
Price and availability
For now, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i are only available in Europe and Asia with a price of £79.99 (around $110) in the UK, although it varies by market.