Huawei FreeBuds review: Solid as a value-add, less so standalone
- Snazzy form-factor
- Consistent connectivity
- Average battery life
Huawei’s FreeBuds are more modest than they are meaningfully-innovative.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
The Huawei FreeBuds aren’t exactly subtle about their inspirations. But then again, maybe that’s the point. Perhaps that’s always been the point. Huawei don’t do subtle. I mean, check out some of their reactions on Twitter to the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
And, up until very recently, matching the competition kinda was what a big part of what Huawei were about.
Do it better. Do it cheaper. Even if it’s not a unique angle, it’s a perfectly legitimate one. Match the market leader - either on price, aesthetics or features - and consumers start to question how much the competition can really be worth.
Sticking a notch on your next smartphone isn’t going to bury the iPhone X. Throw in a face ID system, Animoji-analogue, OLED display, wireless earbuds and a superior seflie-cam - and it all starts to add up.
It’s a real death-by-a-thousand-cuts sort-of strategy. After all, if you can get a cheaper phone that offers just as much, why spend more? If the seduction of brand power is the only thing left on the table, it can start to lose its allure.
Earphone type: in-ear, true wireless
Weight: 5.6g per earphone
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Built-in Microphone: Yes
Noise cancelling: ENC on Microphone
Pack Ins: 2x pair of earrings, 3x pairs of ear tips
Battery Life: 3 hours per charge, 10 hours total
Design - Look, Feel and Features
At times, the Huawei Freebuds feel like a throwback to the Huawei of yesteryear.
Other times, they feel like a mix-tape. A greatest hits list of features, design choices and dot-points pulled from elsewhere. Aesthetic detritus cobbled together and encased in glossy plastic - a tech company’s steadfast ally when it comes to covering up the seams.
The FreeBuds have the toothbrush-tip looks of Apple’s own AirPods, the battery life of Jaybird’s RUN, the haptic one-touch controls of Samsung’s IconX earbuds, the voice assistant integration of Sony’s WF-1000X, the IP54 weatherproofing of the PumpAir Sportsbuds and the built-in ENC microphones of the Jabra Elite 65ts.
With the FreePlay earbuds, Huawei cherry-picked some of the best features from their competition. Unfortunately, as a result of so many things trying to squeeze into frame, it’s inevitably left askew. The final product here leans more towards jack of all trades than master of any particular one.
The FreeBuds sound decent but rarely exceptional. The sound quality here is audible enough that you’re not going to strain to hear the lyrics. But, at the same time, it’s got a roughness around the edges that clearly sees it sit behind higher-fidelity alternatives out there.
Pulling from as many other earbuds as it does, it’s frustrating to see the FreeBuds also replicate the pain-points of its competition as well as their strengths. The haptic touch controls can often be quite finicky. Half the time, they’ll activate when you don’t want them to. The other half of the time, they’ll refuse to active when you do want them to.
And across the board, really, the FreeBuds lag behind.
There are plenty of modern true wireless options out there with superior battery life. There are plenty out there with beefier audio fidelity. There are plenty out there with better weatherproofing and noise-cancelling. The FreeBuds do have a slight advantage when it comes to price versus the AirPods. But when spending that extra $100 can get you so much more, it’s hard to lean on this as too much of highlight.
The one meaningful exception here comes in connectivity. Despite being a first-gen effort from Huawei, the FreeBuds are remarkable solid when it comes to connection strength. I experienced very little, if any, dropouts or audio lag while using these headphones.
The Bottom Line
Huawei’s FreeBuds are more modest than they are meaningfully-innovative or ambitious. But there are definitely worse true wireless earbuds out there.
These feel like a product designed to subtract value from Apple’s premium price-tag more than they are one that adds to Huawei’s own growing cache. And for the most part, they’re good enough. A solid value add, if you’re looking to pick up Huawei’s latest Nova 3i but hard to recommend on their own merits when there are so many other options out there - and more exceptional ones at that.
Join the newsletter!
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Apple iMac Pro
Toys for Boys
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
Ransomware has been one of the most prolific malware families for years, generating financial losses for targeted users and organizations, as well as significant revenue for cybercriminals.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Moto G6 review: A solid mid-tier effort with few compromises
- 5 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
Latest News Articles
- Jaybird announced Tarah Pro wireless sport headphones
- Turtle Beach’s Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp is now available
- JBL announce Everest headphones optimised for Google Assistant
- JBL introduces new Free X true wireless lifestyle headphones
- Beats by Dr. Dre and Disney unveil headphone collaboration
PCW Evaluation Team
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
- Oppo R17 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- The Best Australian Black Friday Tech Deals That Aren't On Amazon
- Google Pixel 3 XL review: Ghost in the machine
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies