Huawei FreeBuds 4i Review
Wireless headphones are conquering more and more ears. No wonder: The uncomplicated Bluetooth technology can be quickly coupled with the smartphone. Music, podcasts, and phone calls then work without the hassle of cables. And the true wireless in-ears don’t have to be expensive: The Huawei FreeBuds 4i cost less than 100 euros, but at least on paper, they offer a whole range of modern technology. The test reveals whether the Huawei headphones keep their promises.
- Good ANC for the money
- Very comfortable
- Solid in-ear battery life
- Bass reproduction is a little weedy
- No auto-pause/resume feature
Huawei FreeBuds 4i holds tight in the test
One of the most significant selling points for the Huawei FreeBuds 4i is the active noise cancellation, also known as “Active Noise Cancellation” (ANC). For this purpose, the headphones with built-in microphones pick up the noise in the environment and actively counteract it with their sound waves. As a result, the waves virtually cancel each other out, and the disruptive acoustic fire fizzles out. Usually, manufacturers pay dearly for this feature. Despite the affordable price, the noise suppression on the FreeBuds 4i works wonderfully. Annoying noise in the bus or train stays outside. The opposite case is also taken care of: In attention mode, the microphones open to the ambient noise. However, there is a distinct noise here. Users make the change directly on the headphones. The controls are, however, fiddly and require some training time. The volume, on the other hand, can only be changed on the connected device. It also takes a little practice to get the headphones out of the small, pocket-sized charging case in the first place.
FreeBuds 4i runs for a long time and sits well
Huawei has turned the biggest weakness of its predecessor, the Huawei FreeBuds 3i, into a strength: The battery of the in-ears, which weighed just 11 grams, lasted for almost 9 hours with activated noise suppression in the test – and thus far exceeded Huawei’s promised 7.5 hours out. A pit stop of 10 minutes in the charging case provides enough juice for about 3.5 hours, which is also excellent. The complete package of noise-canceling headphones and the charging box has a total of almost 22 hours of use before it is necessary to go back to the socket or the USB port. With such an extended playing time, a comfortable grip is, of course, essential. The FreeBuds 4i are attached in the ear canal with rubber nubs, as is typical in the ear canal. Huawei supplies three sizes for this – but the change is quite tedious. The lightweight body of the headphones does not interfere with the ear, and the extension known from the Apple AirPods does not protrude too far from the head. Even long train journeys can be withstood this way. It’s a shame for athletes and outdoor fans: Huawei has dispensed with splash protection, so users must be a little careful when using it. Unfortunately, in the Hamburg wind, you can hear almost every blast of air on the plastic.
Balanced sound with a pleasant bass
In terms of sound, the Huawei Freebuds 4i shows an improvement over its predecessor. Our experts like the balanced and neutral sound and also praise the improved bass. This is a bit reduced on the 4i and therefore much more pleasant, making the sound appear more natural overall – the same applies to the highs.
The acoustics now appear less compressed and artificial than they did with the Freebuds 3i. The 4i also performs well compared to the Freebuds Pro, which was particularly criticized in the test for their too strong bass.
But not all music is created equal. So the bass should have been a bit fuller and more present overall, at least with metal songs. In this respect, the otherwise very neutral presentation in rock lacks the impulses. Voices, however, are pleasantly clear.
Compared to the Sony WF-1000XM4, which has more bass and more present voices to offer, the Huawei Freebuds 4i thus draws the short straw overall. Nevertheless, they cut a perfect figure regarding their price and score with their neutral sound in most situations.
FreeBuds 4i: Huawei trumps Apple
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i from Huawei holds their competitive market and is even slightly ahead of the Apple AirPods Pro. Design and sound are a matter of taste, but Apple technology works a little better when noise canceling. On the other hand, the FreeBuds 4i lasts much longer, with almost nine hours of running time with active noise suppression. In addition, Huawei asked only 99 euros for the convincing features at the start of sales on March 26, 2021 – and thus just half the price of the AirPods Pro. Black and white are available as colors. On request, you can get exclusive earplugs in the famous Huawei red from the official online store.
Tremendous battery life, even after a short charging time
But even the best sound is of little use if the headphones go dead after a few hours. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Freebuds 4i. In the test, the Buds lasted a whopping 9:12 hours of playback on their charges. In combination with the battery in the charging case, playback of 19:17 hours was possible.
Fortunately, if the in-ears fail unexpectedly, they only have to stay in the case for a short time. For example, our test model was available for playback for over five hours after only 15 minutes of charging – one of the highest values on our entire list of the best. For a full capacity, the listeners stay in their case for around 1:37 hours.
In comparison, the FreeBuds 3i only ran for 1:33 hours after 15 minutes and only lasted 3:23 hours with a full charge (13:37 hours with the case charged). In return, the predecessor was able to score with a much better Bluetooth range.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i retains the old strengths of the predecessor: The sound is convincing, the noise-canceling works well, and the true wireless in-ears do not interfere even with long periods of use. At the same time, the manufacturer is turning what was previously the greatest weakness into a plus point: the battery lasts almost 9 hours with active noise suppression – strong!