Review verdict: The Huawei FreeBuds 4 in the Philippines offers great battery life, comfortable fit, and dual-device connectivity, but is let down by slightly disappointing ANC, and a distinct lack of bass in more demanding applications.
- Excellent fit
- Great touch controls
- Good battery life
- Dual device connectivity
- ANC is a little weak
Lack of bass
Huawei has added yet another set of premium TWS buds to its already burgeoning lineup via their new FreeBuds 4 in the Philippines. The new pair brings ANC to an open-fit design, as well as better battery life and Bluetooth 5.2.
Huawei has maintained a consistent design language for their TWS buds and the FreeBuds 4 is no exception. The design is very similar to the FreeBuds 3 (for obvious reasons), with the case looking a little smaller and lighter. The actual buds themselves are also very similar, and the only physical change here is that they’re a few mm shorter than the Freebuds 3.
The FreeBuds 4 uses an “open-fit” design, which means they kind of hang out in your ears instead of being fully inside of your canals. This gives them a more comfortable fit in your ear at the expense of fully sealing up your ear canal (and thus blocking out the outside world). Huawei tries to alleviate the problematic bits of the open-ear design with ANC, though it doesn’t work out quite as well as they envisioned.
As far as case design goes, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. The case is kept shut via a strong magnet, and there’s an LED light in the front that gives you the charge status of the case and earbuds. There’s a button on the side that allows you to pair the earbuds to another device in case you’ve already paired it to something else already. The case takes power via a USB Type-C port on the bottom.
User interface and Fit
Pairing the FreeBuds 4 with your phone is pretty easy. If you haven’t paired it to anything before, simply opening the case puts it into pairing mode immediately, and you simply have to look for it while your Bluetooth is on.
If you’ve paired it with another device already, you’ll need to press the button on the side of the case for around two seconds until the LED light starts blinking, then you can pair it as normal.
Anyone using a Huawei smartphone will be able to see the FreeBuds 4 right away when it enters pairing mode when it’s placed right beside the phone. As an added bonus, the FreeBuds 4 can maintain up to two active Bluetooth connections at the same time, so you don’t have to manually switch from your phone to your laptop or tablet or vice versa.
Huawei’s FreeBuds 4 is controlled by Ai Life, the all-in-one app that Huawei uses for a majority of its IoT devices. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the FreeBuds 4 on the Ai Life app that’s available to download on Google Play as of writing, though phones that use EMUI and have Huawei’s AppGallery installed will be able to download the correct version that has support for the buds.
Not that it matters too much though, as most of the essential controls can be accessed without the need for the app. A long press on either earbud turns ANC off or on, a double-tap stop/starts whatever you’re listening to or watching, a long press while there’s an incoming call answer it, and so on. Wear detection for the buds is also pretty good, with the FreeBuds 4 stopping and starting whatever I was listening to when I removed and put them on.
As far as overall fit goes, it’s OK. The open-fit design means that the earbuds feel that they’re barely hanging on to your ear, though personally they never actually fell out of my ear while I was walking or running with my dogs. One thing you do get with the open-fit design is comfort, and better awareness of your surroundings while you have them on, which isn’t always possible with in-ear designs. I’m also weird in the fact that I really can’t tolerate having a pair of buds in my ear for extended periods of time, which wasn’t the case with the FreeBuds 4. I had the buds on my ear at the beginning of a workday until I had to put them back in the case and charge them again. They’re a pretty comfy pair of buds to use.
Audio Quality and Battery Life
The Huawei FreeBuds 4 uses large 14.3 LCP dynamic drivers in each bud, and has a “bass-enhancing power engine” for better diaphragm vibration, according to the brand. Do they deliver the goods in terms of sound quality?
Well, yes and no. While the drivers deliver good audio and crisp sound in some aspects, the open-fit design affects the overall soundstage. Bass is there but isn’t as good as an equivalent size TWS that uses an in-ear design. The ANC feature on the FreeBuds 4 does work to a degree by mostly cutting out fainter background noise, but it failed to remove the whine of an electric fan 4 feet away from me.
As far as battery life goes, the FreeBuds 4 is pretty good. The buds themselves can run for around four hours without ANC, though turning on the feature cuts down battery life to around two hours and thirty minutes. Because of that, I’d suggest keeping the ANC off since it really doesn’t cut down the ambient sound too much anyway. As far as the case goes, there’s enough juice in it for another 22 hours of use with ANC off.
Wrap Up and Conclusions
Using the Huawei FreeBuds 4 for a few weeks prior to this review in the Philippines, I’d say the new TWS pair from the Chinese company has a lot of things going for it. The sound quality is good, though the open fit design does affect bass a little bit. The ANC is there, but again because of the design, it doesn’t completely filter out ambient noise to the degree that in-ear buds do.
There’s plenty to like with the Huawei FreeBuds 4, though take note it does have a pretty premium price tag compared to the competition, and even Huawei’s other excellent buds like the FreeBuds 3i and the FreeBuds 4i.
Huawei FreeBuds 4 Review Philippines Price
The Huawei FreeBuds 4 is priced at Php 7,999. You can get it on Lazada, Shopee, or Huawei’s own website. As we’re publishing this, Huawei is offering the FreeBuds 4 for just Php 5,700 for a limited time