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Huawei FreeBuds 4i review

Huawei's newest wireless earbuds offer a lot of features at great value.

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
£79.99
Huawei FreeBuds 4i review

Our review

Huawei's FreeBuds 4i offer good sound quality and well-executed features at an affordable price.
Pros: Great value for money
Good active noise cancellation
Comfortable fit
Decent battery life
Cons: Glossy finish does attract a little dust
No in-ear detection to pause/play music

Huawei may be best known for its smartphones, but the Chinese brand has worked hard in recent years to expand into smartwatches, Bluetooth speakers and wireless earbuds.

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The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are one of the brand’s latest releases featuring active noise cancellation, decent water resistance and up to 10 hours of battery life. This all comes at a pretty reasonable price of £79.99, making it hard to argue that these earbuds aren’t anything but brilliant value.

But, are these features executed well? Or is Huawei promising more than it can deliver? The quick answer is the Huawei FreeBuds 4i perform well. That’s not to say they aren’t without their flaws, but if you’re looking for a pair of affordable ANC wireless earbuds, you won’t be disappointed with the Huawei FreeBuds 4i.

Here is our Huawei FreeBuds 4i review as we test out the earbud’s sound quality, design and features, including battery life, touch controls and active noise cancellation.

To find out more about Huawei’s other products, read our Huawei Watch Fit review and Huawei GT 2 Pro review. Or head to our Google Pixel Buds review to see how the earbuds compare.

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Huawei FreeBuds 4i review: summary

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are a solid option for anyone looking for affordable true wireless earbuds. At £79.99, they are some of the cheapest earbuds offering active noise cancellation, with the feature more commonly found on earbuds above the £100 price tag. The battery life is also good, with up to 10 hours on a single charge, and you can actually take advantage of it because the earbuds are comfortable.

The only feature we felt was missing was in-ear detection that means your music automatically stops playing when you remove the earbud. However, this is more a useful feature rather than an essential. The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are an enjoyable pair of earbuds for everyday use and offer brilliant value for money.

Price: The Huawei FreeBuds 4i cost £79.99 and are available from various UK retailers, including Amazon and Very.

Key features: 

  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Touch controls to pause/play music and answer calls
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge
  • Anti-wind design to reduce wind noise on calls

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Good active noise cancellation
  • Comfortable fit
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Glossy finish does attract a little dust
  • No in-ear detection to pause/play music

What are Huawei FreeBuds 4i?

Huawei FreeBuds 4i 4

Released in March 2o21, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i are the brand’s latest true wireless earbuds. Offering Active Noise Cancellation and a secure fit, the earbuds do a good job at keeping out unwanted noise. Despite the snug fit, the earbuds are also pretty comfortable so that you can make the most of the 10-hour battery life. At £79.99, the earbuds are a more affordable alternative to the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro.

What do Huawei FreeBuds 4i do?

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i aren’t the most sophisticated true wireless earbuds we’ve tested but, what features they do have, are executed well. For £79.99, these include:

  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Touch controls to pause/play music and answer calls
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge
  • Anti-wind design to reduce wind noise on calls

How much do Huawei FreeBuds 4i cost?

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i cost £79.99 and are available from various UK retailers, including Amazon and Very.

Are Huawei FreeBuds 4i good value for money?

If nothing else, there’s no doubt that the Huawei FreeBuds 4i offer fantastic value for money. As a feature, Active Noise Cancellation does tend to push up the price of true wireless earbuds, so it’s great to see Huawei keeping the cost under £100. The inclusion of features such as IP54-rated water resistance, touch controls and decent battery life also help justify that these earbuds are really affordable. However, likely to keep the price down, some features are missing, including voice control, in-ear detection and wireless charging.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i design

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

There are three colourways available with the Huawei FreeBuds 4i; white, red and black. The charging case is compact and lightweight, but we did find that the gloss finish attracts any dust or fluff lying around. Despite the small case, the earbuds have relatively long stems making them easy to put in and remove from your ear.

The finish isn’t the most premium finish, feeling a little plastic-y, but for the price of £79.99, we didn’t mind too much. This finish also makes them extremely lightweight, therefore improving their comfort.

The earbuds are comfortable enough to be easily worn all day, and three sizes of silicone tips are included in the box.

  • Style: While the white and black finishes are classic, the red colourway is bright and vibrant. The oval shape of the charging case does mean it doesn’t stand up on its own, much like that of Apple AirPods.
  • Robustness: The Huawei FreeBuds 4i feel solid, helped by their IP54-rated water resistance. The gloss finish on the charging case does not show scratches or wear easily.
  • Size: The charging case is on the smaller side for true wireless earbuds. Each earbud weighs about 5.5g, and the charging case is lightweight, too, at 36.5g.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i features

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are not jam-packed with features, but what they do have is done well. When it comes to water resistance, the IP54 rating means that the earbuds are splash and sweat resistant. This isn’t the same as waterproof, so they can’t be worn while swimming, but you should be fine to wear them working out or if you get caught in the rain.

Once you find the right size silicone tip, the earbuds are pretty secure. When using them out running, we only occasionally needed to readjust the earbuds, and it wasn’t enough to become irksome.

As is the case with most wireless earbuds, how long the battery life lasts depends on what you use them for. If you’re just listening to music or podcasts (without noise cancelling), you can easily stretch the battery life up to 10 hours on a single charge. This will come down to seven and a half hours with ANC enabled.

Being on lots of calls will also naturally drain the battery. Using Active Noise Cancellation, we found the battery lasted around six hours. The earbuds are also quick to top-up, with a 10-minute charge providing at least three hours of music playback.

The only feature we felt the Huawei FreeBuds 4i could really benefit from was in-ear detection. We would have liked the audio to automatically stop when the earbuds are removed, but it is a function you quickly learn to live without.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i sound quality

Huawei FreeBuds 4i review

For the price, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i‘s sound quality is good. Music doesn’t quite have the same richness provided by the more expensive Grado GT220, but it is well-balanced.

The volume range is good, too, although we rarely used the higher levels due to the Active Noise Cancellation. The ANC does a good job at filtering out background noise. We particularly enjoyed enabling the ANC when listening to podcasts to ensure that speech isn’t drowned out by external distractions.

Featuring a dual-mic system that comes with a slit-duct design, the earbuds do a good job at filtering out wind noise. This might be particularly useful for anyone who likes to take calls on the go.

When you don’t want ANC enabled, it is easy to switch off by holding down the touch controls on either earbud stem. A double-tap will pause and play music. The touch controls aren’t very sensitive, which has benefits and shortcomings. The benefit is that you won’t accidentally pause music while adjusting your earbud. The downside is that you do have to tap quite firmly to engage the controls, which can be a little awkward.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i set-up: how easy are they to use?

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i have a relatively simple set-up, although the Huawei AI Life app does allow for more personalisation when it comes to settings.

Once out of the box, set-up largely relies on Bluetooth being enabled on whichever device you’re connecting to and holding down the button on the case to initiate the pairing. In our case, the earbuds connected first time without any trouble.

The earbuds are supplied with everything you should need, including a USB-C charging cable and three sizes of silicone tips. The latter ensures you get the most secure and comfortable fit and aid the Active Noise Cancellation.

What is the difference between Huawei FreeBuds 4i and Huawei FreeBuds Pro?

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are some of the brand’s newest true wireless earbuds, but they aren’t the only option. Released in September 2020, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro are a more premium wireless option. With an RRP of £169.99, the earbuds can now be found around the £120 price point at Amazon. While it is still a reasonable price for ANC earbuds, this is still a good £40 more expensive than the Huawei FreeBuds 4i.

The biggest difference you’ll find in the sound quality and noise cancellation technology. The ANC of the Huawei FreeBuds Pro is a little more comprehensive and offers a Voice Mode that reduces the ambient sounds to make voices easier to be heard in noisy environments. However, both pairs of earbuds have ANC and Awareness modes.

The FreeBuds 4i excel is battery life – the Huawei FreeBuds 4i still boasts the best battery life of the brand’s earbuds and can last close to 10 hours on a full charge. In comparison, the FreeBuds Pro can only last up to seven. This is still a decent battery life; it just won’t stretch the full day.

The FreeBuds Pro also don’t have any IP-rated water resistance, so we would avoid using them in any downpours of rain. If you want earbuds to use for sweaty workouts or runs out in the rain, we suggest choosing the Huawei FreeBuds 4i, which are IP54 rated and splash resistant.

Our verdict: should you buy Huawei FreeBuds 4i?

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are a solid option for anyone looking for affordable ANC wireless earbuds. With a battery life that can last up to 10 hours, the earbuds should easily last your full workday, and IP54-rated water resistance means the earbuds are splash- and sweat-resistant. Because the earbuds are actually quite comfortable, it also means that you can make the most of that battery life.

They aren’t without flaws; we would prefer the touch controls to be a little more sensitive, and there’s no in-ear detection to stop music. But, we don’t think this takes away from the fact that the Huawei FreeBuds 4i are a good pair of earbuds at a really good price.

Rating:

Some categories (sound quality and features) are weighted more heavily.

Design: 3/5

Features: 4/5

Sound quality: 4/5

Ease of set-up: 5/5

Value for money: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

Where to buy Huawei FreeBuds 4i

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i are available from a number of retailers.

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