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Huawei FreeBuds 4i Review: Great ANC, With Subtle Sacrifices

HUAWEI FreeBuds 4i

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are Huawei’s latest TWS earbuds offering that offer active noise cancellation (ANC), and 10 hours of continuous music playback. Being the successor of the Huawei FreeBuds 3i, just what does the FreeBuds 4i offer on the table to make it worthy? Let’s find out, but first, specs shall we?

Specifications

Product NameHuawei FreeBuds 4i
ColourCeramic White
Carbon Black
Red Edition
Speaker Units10mm Dynamic Drivers
BatteryEarbuds capacity: 55 mAh (minimum value)
Charging case capacity: 215 mAh (minimum value)
DimensionEarphone dimensions: 37.5 mm (H) x 23.9 mm (W) x 21 mm (D)
Charging case dimensions: 48.0 mm (H) x 61.8 mm (W) x 27.5 mm (D)
WeightSingle Earphone: 5.5g
Charging Case: 36.5g
BluetoothBluetooth 5.2
MicrophoneTwo MEMS Microphones

What’s In The Box?

Huawei FreeBuds 4i
  • Huawei FreeBuds 4i
  • Charging Case
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty Card
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • Spare Eartips

Design

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

As the latest member of the FreeBuds family, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i’s key features are the addition of active noise cancellation (ANC) and a long-lasting battery life of 10 hours of continuous playback. The earbuds are said to be inspired by the Reynisfjara black sand beaches of Iceland. It looks like a pebble stone, featuring an edgeless design, and has a glossy finish on the exterior of the charging case. The Huawei logo can be found on the front, with the notification LED right below it, and the USB Type-C port being at the bottom.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i earbuds themselves have a glossy finish to it, and personally, I’m not a big fan of it. More on that later in the user experience section. The stems are rather thick and large, and on the bottom you will find the chrome tip that will come in contact within the charging case for charging.

Comfort

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

Comfort wise, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i does a good job of staying in place. It doesn’t wobble or come loose, even after some violent headbanging. Because the stems are angled towards the front of your face, it avoids the earlobes. This prevents any earrings you may be wearing to touch the earbuds’ stems.

After prolonged hours of use, I didn’t feel any discomfort or audio fatigue. But I did find the stems to be touching the sides of my face a lot. It’s not something you realize at first, but after a while, you will and you’d wish it didn’t.

User Experience

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i does support proximity Bluetooth pairing, as long as you’re using a Huawei smartphone/device. Just hold the earbuds’ case near your Huawei device, pop open the lid, and it should automatically detect the earbuds for instant pairing. This saves you the trip to the Bluetooth settings page, and it takes less than 30 seconds to set up. Once you’ve pressed “Set Up”, you’re good to go.

One of the biggest annoyance I have with the Huawei FreeBuds 4i is its glossy finish on the earbuds. I’ve had difficulties just trying to get the earbuds out from the charging case. Because of the glossy surface, it’s really hard to pull/pinch the earbuds out of the case. And the magnets at the bottom of the stem is also quite strong, which makes taking it out even harder.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

Because it has a glossy finish, both the case and the earbuds are very prone to fingerprint smudges. I have cats at home, and their fur would also constantly stick onto the charging case. It feels good in the hands, but not very nice to look at when it’s covered in fingerprint and specks of dust.

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i does not have wear detection, so when you do take the earbuds off from your ear, your music will continue playing. This might lead to additional battery life being wasted.

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Running on Bluetooth 5.2, I have never experienced any stuttering or dropped connection on the FreeBuds 4i. Even at a distance with walls and doors between me and my phone, the music still kept playing with no hitches whatsoever.

Touch Controls

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

Unfortunately, touch controls are rather limited on the Huawei FreeBuds 4i. You can only do double tap and long presses on the earbuds, and this allows you to play/pause music, answer/end calls, and switch between ANC profiles. There is no volume controls, no skipping tracks, voice assistant activation, and there is no app connection for you to tweak them to your preferences.

So if you need any additional controls, you’ll have to whip out your connected device and do it manually. That being said, the touch panel does respond quickly and accurately to avoid mistouches.

Audio Quality

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i feature 10mm dynamic drivers, yet I can’t help but feel the volume appears somewhat limited. Even on 100%, I still feel it’s not as loud as I hoped it to be. That’s why I’m always at the 80% mark, as that is the sweet spot for me. At 100%, there is very little distortion.

The highs are clear bright, with a great mid performance delivering vocals, and the lows are well managed to offer the right amount of thump when the bass drops. The bass isn’t as strong as I thought it’d be, but it’s adequate enough for EDM/pop tracks to be enjoyable.

ANC

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

ANC on the Huawei FreeBuds 4i can be switched between three profiles – off, Awareness, and ANC. In Awareness mode, the microphone picks up your surrounding noise so that you’re always aware of what’s going on around you. I use this mode around dinner time so I know when dinner is ready. During my commutes, I’ll use ANC to cancel out unwanted noise, but when it comes the time to walk, I’ll switch to Awareness mode.

Active Noise Cancellation works great on the Huawei FreeBuds 4i. When the music starts playing, I can’t hear my keyboard clacking, finger snapping, running water, hairdryer running in the room. It’s a godsend because it also cancels the construction noise coming from the renovation being done upstairs.

Call Quality

Call quality on the Huawei FreeBuds 4i is great for video conferences and online meetings. I could clearly hear the caller, and the receiving end could also hear me clearly with no problems.

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Battery Life

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i could last up to 9 hours and 36 minutes of continuous music playback during my testing, and this is with ANC turned off. Used in tandem with the charging case, it could give me about 21 hours 42 minutes of use in total. These are slightly lower than Huawei’s claims, because I enjoy my music a little louder than normal people, which is around the 80% volume mark. I’m sure if you listen to your music a little softer at mayb 40% or 50%, you can get more battery life out of these earbuds.

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i doesn’t come with wireless charging features, but it does have fast charging onboard. A 10-minute charge does give me 4 hours of music playback, so this is accurate as per Huawei’s claim. Charging it from zero to full takes about an hour.

Conclusion

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i offers ANC and long lasting battery life on a budget. The casing is compact, there’s fast charge onboard, and it works very well with your Huawei smartphones/tablets.

Sure, it does come with certain caveats, but if all you care about is audio quality and the peace of mind that ANC gives you, the FreeBuds 4i will be worth your every buck.

Written By

Chief Content Developer at The AXO

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