Huawei FreeBuds 4i Review: best TWS Noise Canceling Headphones for 90 Euro
By: Alex Chub | 26.04.2021, 22:35
There is a huge amount of in-ear TWS headphones, especially in the under €100 range. Both from more famous brands and no-names on the endless expanses of Chinese online stores. Despite this competition, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i is very successful. Thanks to the excellent price-performance ratio. The headphones have everything you need: pleasant sound, an adequately working active noise cancellation system, a very impressive battery life, a comfortable, lightweight design and protection from dust and water. Yes, there are minor complaints about FreeBuds 4i. First of all, an outdated version of Huawei AI Life app on Google Play. The current one can be installed only in the branded App Gallery, or download the APK file.
The current version of the Huawei AI Life app is not available on Google Play
impractical glossy plastic
What's in the box?
Huawei FreeBuds 4i is packaged in a small white box with a picture of the headphones themselves, the name and the main features. Everything is standard in the kit: Huawei FreeBuds 4i in a case, two pairs of interchangeable attachments of different sizes, a USB Type-C cable and documentation.
Huawei FreeBuds 4i
Frequency Response Range
20 Hz - 20,000 Hz
Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC
Radius of action
headphones: up to 10 hours, with a case: up to 22 hours; fast charging
IP54 protection, active noise cancellation
Huawei FreeBuds 4i looks like a bunch of other in-ear TWS models. The body is made of glossy plastic, the main part with a driver inside and feet with charging contacts, microphones and touch pads.
On the outer part of the foot you can see the microphone slot. The sound tube has almost standard dimensions, but the shape is a bit oval. Although this did not prevent from using third-party attachments. The nozzles themselves hold well, do not fly off. In addition to the standard meshes to protect against dirt, there are extra ones in the supplied kit of Huawei FreeBuds 4i. On the inside of the feet you can see the markings of the left-right earphone, microphone slots and contacts.
The headphones do not look unique, yet quite solid. At the same time, there is protection according to the IP54 standard, so that you can do sports with no worry.
The charging case is very compact and weighs 36.5 g. It is oval in shape, reminiscent of sea pebbles. Made of the same glossy plastic as the headphones. It's not very practical, but scratches and prints are not visible on the white version. The black and red variants will obviously collect fingerprints. The case has a single LED indicator that notifies you of the charge level and that the headphones are in pairing mode.
The earbuds inside the case are placed in the appropriate places with the contacts. There are magnets that help with fitting in place and prevent the headphones from falling out. One not-so-obvious point is that glossy plastic is very slippery. And, as practice has shown, it can be difficult to pick out the headphones from the case. The lid itself is also held by magnets, the case does not open spontaneously.
On the bottom of the case there is a Type-C port for charging. There are no other interesting elements.
Huawei FreeBuds 4i in use
Huawei FreeBuds 4i are extremely comfortable, streamlined and very lightweight. The manufacturer claims that the weight of the earphone is 5.5 g. You really hardly feel them in your ears and you can use them for a long time without any discomfort. Thanks to a very well-designed shape, they instantly take the correct position in the auricle. The only thing I didn't really like was the shallow depth of the fit. After long-term use of in-canal headphones with a longer sound tube, you constantly subconsciously try to shove Huawei FreeBuds 4i deeper into the ear. But this is a subjective thing, someone will just like this fit. The passive sound insulation is very smart when properly seated.
To pair with a smartphone, you just need to open the case and hold down the side button for 2 seconds. The front LED will start blinking white. For communication with smartphones, Bluetooth version 5.2 is used. SBC and AAC codecs are supported. Unfortunately aptX and its variations, as well as LDAC were not installed. Huawei FreeBuds 4i is compatible with both Android and iOS. The headphones can be used without original application, but the functionality will be limited.
Touch zones on the outside of the headphone housings are used for control. In this case, there are only two gestures available: double tap and long tap. By default, double-tap is responsible for playing and pausing, as well as receiving and rejecting calls. Long tap - switching between modes of noise reduction: active, off and "transparency mode". In general, the implementation is clear and convenient. It also recognizes the presence of headphones in the ears. Playback is automatically paused if they are removed. Initially, the function was only available on Huawei smartphones. But in the notes to the latest firmware update, it is written that it now works with third-party devices.
All settings are made using Huawei AI Life application. Quick connection works with Huawei smartphones (as in the first two screenshots). The app displays the charge of each of the headphones and the charging case, and there is a quick switch between the noise cancelling operation modes. In the control settings, you can set the double-tap action separately for each earphone: play/pause, previous/next track, voice assistant activation, or simply disable. Long press, unfortunately, can not be reassigned: only the noise mode (or just turn off). But you can select the desired modes for a quick switch. The firmware update is also done in the app. Everything would be good, but there is one unpleasant thing. On Huawei smartphones, the AI Life app is installed and updated from the native App Gallery store. On other Android smartphones, the Google Play version of the app was last updated in August 2020. Consequently, it simply does not see the headphones. I had to install the latest version from the APK-file.
Sound quality, noise cancellation and microphone
Huawei FreeBuds 4i features dynamic 10mm drivers, no armature or hybrid circuitry. The sound of the headphones is also quite expected, with raised low and high frequencies. We can say that the sound is tuned for an avarage user. And, it should be said that Huawei FreeBuds 4i sound really good. Music does not merge into a mess, low frequencies do not crush the rest of the range. But there are a lot of them, they are weighty, dense. Although super detail and speed should not ne expected. The middle frequencies sound a little blurry and dirty. But still, these are not Hi-Fi headphones, and for the segment of TWS models, the sound of Huawei FreeBuds 4i is more than good.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) system uses external microphones to compensate external sounds. On a noisy street, Huawei FreeBuds 4i can well cope with the hum of passing cars and allow you not to be distracted from the music. Noise reduction is not as cool as in the flagship models. For example, Sony. But the cost is also different in 2-3 times. Also, the headphones have a transparency mode in case you want to talk to someone without taking the headphones out. On the street, this mode is safer. Unfortunately, the intensity of noise cancelling cannot be adjusted.
The microphones in Huawei FreeBuds 4i are very good for the TWS model. The interlocutor does not have to ask again, even during a conversation on the street. Yes, some background noise, of course, remains, but there are no problems to convey information.
The FreeBuds 4i are powered by 55 mAh batteries. Huawei claims that this will be enough to listen to music with ANC for up to 7.5 hours or up to 10 hours without noise cancellation. A charging case with a 215 mAh battery will extend the battery life up to 22 hours. The earbuds fully charge in 60 minutes, the charging case - in 90 minutes. There is a quick charge: 10 minutes is enough for 4 hours of operation. These values can only be achieved in ideal laboratory conditions. In reality, the headphones work a little less, but the indicators are still high: they were mainly used with active ANC, the volume was almost maximum. In this mode, it turned out to be 6 hours. Without ANC, you can get a couple more bonus hours.
3 things you need to know about the Huawei FreeBuds 4i:
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i is an in-ear TWS earbud with a comfortable, lightweight design
They sound good and are equipped with active noise cancellation
They are protected against dust and water according to IP54.
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE Some posts may contain affiliate links. Gagadget.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates
Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking