The Huawei FreeBuds 3 earbuds were an excellent offering by the company. Those earbuds launched last year, and are still quite compelling, if you like open-ear earbuds. If you’re more of a closed-ear type of person, and you like that silicone seal, chances are you’ll like these ones better. I’m talking about the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, the company’s new earbuds that we’re here to talk about, in this review article
I’ve spent quite a bit of time with these earbuds in the last couple of weeks, and there’s plenty to say here. I’m no longer surprised by quality audio earphones from Huawei, but these earbuds still managed to up the ante. Now, truth be told, I’m more inclined to use open-ear earbuds, and the FreeBuds 3 fit me perfectly, but generally speaking, the FreeBuds Pro are probably better for the vast majority of people.
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro offer a different experience compared to the FreeBuds 3, completely. Not only because they’re a different type of TWS earbuds, but because their case is different, and so is the sound coming from them. That being said, let’s kick this off, shall we.
Shiny plastic could have been avoided, but the build is solid
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro are made out of plastic. That goes for both the earbuds themselves, and their charging case. Huawei used the very same plastic it used or the FreeBuds 3, the look and feel is exactly the same. This is shiny plastic, and it actually looks okay in black (officially called Carbon Black). Do note that it is a fingerprint magnet, even though the plastic is so black, chances are it won’t matter to most people. The Silver Frost (even though they look more like dark gray) and Ceramic White should hide those fingerprints even better, though I haven’t had a chance to use those.
The charging case is heavier than the one holding the FreeBuds 3
Let’s talk more about the charging case first. It does resemble the one that comes with FreeBuds 3, but it’s completely different in terms of general shape. It has an oval shape, compared to the round one from the FreeBuds 3. This is a matter of personal preference, to be quite honest. I personally prefer the case from the FreeBuds 3, as it’s not only round, but it’s thinner, and lighter as well. Speaking of which, the charging case weighs around 60 grams, while each earbud is 6.1 grams. Altogether that results in about 72 grams. That’s not heavy at all, but it’s heavier than the FreeBuds 3, that’s for sure. I was able to tell straight away, and after I looked it up, it turns out that’s true. The FreeBuds 3 case weighs 48 grams, and each earbud 4.5 grams.
The difference is not that big, though, so… chances are that won’t mind. At the very bottom of the case, there is a Type-C charging port. Huawei’s logo is placed on the front, and this case
Taking the earbuds out of the charging case is not easy
also supports wireless charging. More on that later. As far as earbuds themselves are concerned, they do come with a step, which features sharp corners. These earbuds do come with a silicone seal, unlike the FreeBuds 3. Taking them out of the charging box is not exactly easy, as they’re slippery… but it’s not a problem once you get used to it. The earbuds are not big, and they do look quite good when you wear them, due to shorter stems.
The earbuds themselves do not charge wirelessly, as there are pins included on the bottom, which connect to the ones inside the charging case. This case also has two LED indicators. The one at the bottom (on the outside) will indicate the battery level of the case itself. The one on the inside will indicate how much charge the earbuds themselves have. There are three different light colors you’ll see, green, yellow, and red. Those represent charge levels, of course.
Pairing is seamless, even more so on Huawei devices
The most important part of any earphones is audio and general performance, isn’t it. Well, you’ll be glad to know that Huawei did an excellent job here. The Huawei FreeBuds 3 are excellent, and these are only improving upon that. The difference is not huge, though, not at all, so if you do own the FreeBuds 3, hold onto them. First and foremost, let me say that pairing is extremely simple. All you have to do is press a button on the side, which is barely visible on the Carbon Black variant of these earbuds. It is also flush with the case. That is not a bad thing, as you’ll use it only for pairing, and it needs to stay out of the way.
In any case, you’ll need to long-press that button, and you’ll be able to see it as an available device on your phone. If you’re using a more recent Huawei device, however, you’ll see a pop-up on your smartphone, which will allow you to pair it without even going to Bluetooth settings. That being said, you can also control various gestures and other options through a more modern Huawei smartphone, without a third-party app. Such functionality is built into the system. If you do not own it, you can do the same on any Android phone, but you’ll need to download an app in order to do it.
Huawei’s AI Life app allows you to customize touch actions
The app’s name is Huawei AI Life, and it is available in the Play Store, but not a version that you’ll need. You’ll need to scan the QR code on the Huawei FreeBuds Pro box in order to get the APK. Once you do, though, the app is really useful. You can control the gestures for various actions on these earbuds. Each of the earbuds has touch-sensitive parts for such actions, similar to the FreeBuds 3. By default, you can short-squeeze an earbud to pause or play your song / podcast, the same goes for answering or ending a phone call.
If you swipe up or down on the front-facing side of an earbud, you can control their volume. Double and triple squeeze options are also available. By default, you can reject calls and skip between tracks this way, but those can also be remapped. It’s also worth noting that a longer squeeze activates ANC (Active Noise Cancellation), which we’ll talk about soon. Such action also allows you to use “Awareness Mode”, which will make sure you hear your surroundings even if the earbuds are in use. Using these gestures is not a problem at all, though you’ll need to get used to it.
They’re comfortable to wear for longer periods of time
Now, in terms of comfort… well, they are quite comfortable. Those silicone seals are quite comfortable, when you find the right size. Luckily, there are three sizes included in the box, so you can find the right fit without a problem. I’ve worn these earbuds for hours and hours, and I felt no discomfort whatsoever. I personally do prefer plastic, open-ear earbuds, even though those do cause discomfort at first. Once your ears get used to them, it’s not a problem. These earbuds with a silicone seal do not take any getting used to, really. Even if your ears are not the same, and you do require a larger silicone seal for one of them, that’s not a problem. You do not have such an option when it comes to open-ear earbuds. So, that’s certainly a plus.
The audio quality is impressive, to say the least
The audio quality coming from the Huawei FreeBuds Pro is impressive, simple as that. You may not expect Huawei to provide something like this, but there you go. One thing to note is that these earbuds are a tad bit bass-heavy, by default. It’s not too exaggerated, but it’s something to note. I don’t mind this, at all, but you might. Other than that, the audio is well balanced, it’s good across the spectrum. These are, in fact, one of the best TWS earbuds I’ve used as far as sound quality is concerned. Vocals are sharp, while the sound is not tinny at all. It’s right and powerful, which is great considering these are just TWS earphones.
ANC works extremely well
If you’re wondering if ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) is any good, rest easy, as it functions really well. It did an excellent job of detecting the level of noise, and balancing out everything. You can even choose between three different levels of ANC if you want, in the app. You can choose between cozy, general, or ultra, whichever fits you best. The awareness mode also worked really well. If you need to talk to someone when you’re out and about, and don’t want to remove your earbuds, this is the way to do it.
I’ve had no issues with connectivity, none whatsoever
What about the connectivity, were there any disconnections worth mentioning? Well, they did disconnect ones for a brief second or two, but then disconnected. Other than that, I have not experienced any issues, and I’ve been using them for weeks. No matter if I walked and talked, listened to music, or doing whatever else. Even when my phone was a bit farther from these earbuds than it should be, the connection was stable and solid. Poor connectivity can ruin the experience completely, and you’ll be glad to know that wasn’t the case here. That goes for both my OnePlus 8 that I’ve used in collaboration with these earbuds, and the Huawei P30 Pro as well.
Call quality is on a high level as well
What about the call quality? Many of us use TWS earbuds to make phone calls these days, and I’m one of them. Well, these are also one of the best TWS earbuds I’ve used for that purpose as well. I was able to hear my callers without a problem, while I heard no complaints from the other end of the line regarding how I sounded. I also tried being on the other end, and the microphones included on the FreeBuds Pro (three of them, per earbud) really do work really well. If you’re planning to use these to make phone calls, don’t worry, it’s a really good experience.
ANC-less battery life is excellent
Huawei claims that the FreeBuds Pro can provide you with 7 hours of listening, and up to 30 hours with the charging case. Those numbers are accurate, if ANC is disabled. I was able to get over 7 hours of listening with ANC disabled, around 7 and a half, actually. When it’s enabled, chances are you won’t be able to squeeze out more than 4-5 hours. I was somewhere in that range. In terms of charging, Huawei claims that they can recharge in 40 minutes, and that part is accurate. In terms of charging the case itself, that will also top up quickly, at least over the wire. Wireless charging is slower.
Not everything is great, though
These earbuds are not perfect, of course, not a single product is. So, it is worth noting that they are not water resistant. They are not IP rated at all, though you should be able to use them when it’s raining, and the same goes when you’re working out… without a problem. I did both, and had no issues.
Multi-device connectivity isn’t perfect
It’s also worth noting that while the Huawei FreeBuds Pro do offer multi-device support. You can connect them to two devices at once when, so that they’re instantly connected when you remove them from the charging case. The thing is, I had some issues with this feature, as they tended to lose one connection randomly. I’ve also experienced some random audio restarts on Android 11, which is a bit odd.
Google Assistant support is non-existent
I’ve already mentioned that these earbuds are kind of difficult to remove from the case. You’ll have to wedge them in order to remove them, and it’s really not a pleasant experience. I’ve used them for weeks, and it’s still a pain removing them. The last gripe I have is… well, there’s no Google Assistant support. While I personally don’t use Google Assistant that much, I know many people who do. Many of them do believe this feature is essential for TWS earbuds. For me, it’s definitely not, but if it for you, do note that Google Assistant is not supported here.
There’s no doubt the Huawei FreeBuds Pro are great. These are amongst the best TWS earbuds in the market, but the question is, are they worth $232? Well, I’d say they are, considering the competition, but you can get some cheaper alternatives which are just as good, at the very least. The Jabra Elite 75t earbuds are a great choice, while the Apple AirPods Pro are also worth considering at this price range. There are also come offerings from Sony and Sennheiser that you may consider. If you do opt to get the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, you won’t make a mistake. These earbuds are well-built, they look nice, while the audio performance is great. That goes for ANC as well, while the earbuds also offer great call quality, and battery life. There are several negatives that we’ve talked about, but that doesn’t change the fact these earbuds are… well, great.