While we wait for the launch of the new Huawei P50 Pro, Huawei has quietly launched the affordable active noise cancelling FreeBuds 4i.
These follow up the FreeBuds 3i, which I reviewed last year, which are effectively identical to the Honor Magic Earbuds. I liked the FreeBuds 3i, for the price, you could hardly complain, I preferred the fit to the open-style Freebuds Free and at the time, they were the most affordable ANC earbuds on the market.
The market has become awash with ANC earbuds, though, largely thanks to the affordable Qualcomm chipsets launched over the past year or so. So are the new Huawei FreeBuds 4i as competitive as they once were? What’s changed since last year?
I have not used these yet, so I can only comment on the spec and price.
The battery of the Huawei FreeBuds 4i has been massively improved, making them one of the longest-lasting earbuds on the market I am aware of.
The 4i can last for up to 10 hours on a single charge with ANC off or 7.5 hours with it on. Including the charging case, they can go for a total of 22 hours.
The 3i could only do 3.5 hours, but the case will provide 14.5 hours of playback.
The premium Freebuds Pro offers 4.5 hours with ANC, 7 without and 30 hours total.
None of them has an IP rating, which is quite common for ANC earbuds.
Active Noise Cancelling
Normally Huawei is one of the few companies to make claims about the ANC capabilities. This time around, they are a little coy about its abilities, for the price, I wouldn’t expect too much. The Huawei Freebuds 3i offered a moderate amount of ANC, but they could never compete with the premium options.
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro, on the other hand, claimed a 40dB ANC rating which Huawei also stated was superior than both the Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000 XM3. When I reviewed them, they did offer superb ANC.
Like other ANC earbuds, the 4i offers options to switch it off, on or have it in transparent mode.
The Huawei FreeBuds 4i use 10 mm, large dynamic drivers to offer larger amplitude for powerful bass performance. The earphones also adopt the “PEEK+PU” polymer composite diaphragm, which is flexible and powerful, providing high sensitivity and rich, dynamic response, allowing users to hear more details in their music.
The Freebuds 3i also used a 10mm dynamic driver, so it will be interesting to see if or how much the sound quality changes. The FreeBuds 3i sounded good for the price but nothing spectacular.
The original Freebuds 3 had a 14 mm dynamic driver with a secondary bass tube, but the Freebuds Pro has an 11mm ultra-large amplitude dynamic driver.
I personally think the Freebuds Pro are superb, and I still use them, so the driver specs don’t really paint a clear picture about the performance.
Price & Alternative Options
The Huawei Freebuds 4i is launching at £79.99 on the 26th of March
The Freebuds 3i launched at £89.99, but they are currently available for £65.48. Alternatively, the Honor Magic Earbuds which are effectively the same, can be had for as little as £49.99 with a limited-time deal from Amazon.
The Freebuds Pro launched at £169.99, which was a reasonable price for premium ANC earbuds. However, you can now get them for as low as £128 from Amazon, which is an absolute bargain.
There are now lots of affordable ANC earbuds on the market, but I think the Freebuds 4i still stand out as one of the best sub-£100 options. Alternative options include the Earfun Free Pro, Earfun Air Pro and Edifier TWS NB.
While I can’t comment on the sound quality from the Huawei FreeBuds 4i, the massively improved battery and new lower RRP making them a tempting choice for anyone looking for some affordable earphones.
Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API