Review on Huawei FreeBuds 4
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The Review on Huawei FreeBuds 4
Huawei’s latest high-end TWS earbuds are the FreeBuds 4 and they bring an iterative upgrade over 2019’s FreeBuds 3. Not to be confused with the recently launched FreeBuds 4i, the FreeBuds 4 feature open ear design with active noise cancellation that claims to filter out up up to 25dB of ambient noise. You also get the latest Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity and longer battery life in a slightly more compact form factor compared to last year’s model.
I got the chance to try out the new FreeBuds 4 for a long time, using them as my only earphones for work, travel, gym and everything in between. Let’s see if the FreeBuds 4 are really a tangible upgrade over their predecessors. More importantly, can you get really reliable ANC from open-fit earphones? Design and build quality
FreeBuds 4 bring an open-fit style with long stems that are immediately reminiscent of Apple’s regular AirPods and where the visual similarity between the ears is certainly present. The charging case is slightly smaller and weighs less than the ones on the FreeBuds 3, making them easier to fit in pockets and bags. It still looks like you have a dental floss kit with you and I personally prefer the square look of the AirPods case.
The moment I put FreeBuds 4 in my ears, I noticed that they wouldn’t really stay put and tended to loosen up over time to the point where I felt they would slip out and fall. Other people who tried them reported that they fit their sound receptors just fine, so the problem was apparently on my side.
Despite the mediocre fit, I still enjoyed the light and non-intrusive form factor that helped me through multiple hour-long listening sessions without ear fatigue or pain.
The charging case has benefited from a sturdier build compared to the FreeBuds 3 this time around and definitely feels more premium. The opening mechanism is rock solid and provides a satisfying click when closing. The top lid can now support the weight of the entire case without closing, which is a clear sign of the improved construction. The earbuds themselves are well constructed and survived the accidental drop of nearly 6 feet to the floor without scuffs or scratches.
Huawei sells two versions of the FreeBuds 4 regarding the case: a wired charging version used for this review and a wireless charging model that is not yet available. The contents of the box include the buttons in their charging case, a USB-C cable for charging and some manuals. The earbuds have an IPX4 rating for water and dust resistance.
As soon as you put the earbuds in your ear, you’ll hear an accompanying sound to let you know they’re connected. You can use them separately, which is cool if you want to share your music with a friend. If one of the buttons is removed, all media will be paused immediately, including videos on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
The pairing process is the same as with most other TWS earphones – you open up the case and keep the pair button for a few seconds, then select the FreeBuds 4 from the Bluetooth menu. Pairing on Huawei devices is instantaneous as soon as you open the top cover. You also get a tight animation of the buttons to let you know they are connected.
You can pair two devices at the same time (your phone and laptop for example) and the earphones are smart enough to know which device you’re using at the exact moment and can switch back and forth between both and fourth. This feature also worked perfectly on non-Huawei devices, which is a welcome addition if you’re not fully invested in Huawei’s ecosystem.
Huawei’s AI Life app is your one-stop shop for controlling all the features of the FreeBuds 4. Even if you’re a non-Huawei phone it’s best to sideload the app from Huawei’s AppGallery Store as the Google Play version didn’t support the FreeBuds 4 for some reason. Once installed, you’ll be presented with battery status for both the left and right earbuds, as well as their case, a connection center for all your paired devices, and plenty of shortcuts for the gesture controls.
Huawei AI Life App Huawei AI Life App Huawei AI Life App Huawei AI Life App Huawei AI Life App Control
The touch-sensitive stems on the FreeBuds 4 are definitely a strong point and worked exceptionally well in my testing with Huawei devices and smartphones, tablets and laptops from other brands. There’s a double tap and long press on each button, as well as a vertical swipe to adjust the volume. You can remap the double and long press actions, while the swipes are rightfully reserved for volume adjustment.
The Find My Earphones feature is quite clear. The Buds can make a very high-pitched noise to help you locate them if misplaced.
A great new addition to FreeBuds 4 is the Open-fit Active Noise Cancellation 2.0 system. It brings automatic adjustments to noise cancellation based on the environment with a hybrid noise canceling system with two microphones instead of the single microphone system on the FreeBuds 3.
On paper, this means a better choice for ambient noise up and in turn improved noise cancellation, but in reality I couldn’t tell the difference with the older model. The FreeBuds 4 can also detect the shape of your ear canal and then apply the most appropriate noise canceling mode.
Here we should mention that the ANC quality depends on the seal created by the earphones in your ear canal. So smaller ears will of course be better positioned here. Compared to in-ear earphones with ANC, the FreeBuds 4 underperformed in my personal experience at isolating outside noises. People with smaller ear cavities may see different results, so if you have the chance, test the fit before going out and buying it.
Huawei also praises higher-sensitivity microphones that can record sounds up up to 48Khz sample rate, ensuring clear voice recording even in noisy environments. You can find more details in the sound quality section below. There is also a low latency mode with a 90ms delay on HarmonyOS 2 phones (which we couldn’t test yet) and 150ms on EMUI devices which is certainly a welcome addition for gamers. Sound quality
FreeBuds 4 feature 14.3mm dynamic coil drivers. During my testing period I listened to different music genres in addition to the occasional podcast, YouTube video and a few basketball games. The earphones delivered clear, crisp, and rich sound in all usage situations without expressing excessive bass. They’re not the loudest pair of TWS buttons out there, but they still offer a balanced sound profile, which is a noticeable step above more affordable options we’ve tested over the past year. Huawei FreeBuds 4 review
While the sound quality for TWS earbuds is above average, noise cancellation isn’t that impressive. You definitely feel less commotion from the outside with ANC enabled, but it’s nowhere near other premium in-ear earbuds like the AirPods Pro or Sony’s WF-1000XM4. During my testing, I found that the FreeBuds 4 blocked out subtle outside noises, such as keyboard touches or the hissing sound of the office water dispenser.
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