Review Verdict: While the overall sound quality of the FreeBuds Pro isn’t quite up to par with the FreeBuds 3, Huawei’s latest TWS earbuds excels in noise cancellation, where it offers one of the best ANC in the under Php 10k segment. Other features like better battery endurance and more flexible touch controls make it more desirable than the Freebuds 3, though this comes at the expense of a bulkier design and the absence of an IP rating.
- Solid ANC performance
- Very good sound detail across all ranges
- Pinch and slide gestures are well-thought of
- Not easy to remove from the case
- No IP rating
- Less stellar audio quality vs FreeBuds 3
Huawei wants to set the benchmark for sub-Php 10k TWS earbuds with the FreeBuds Pro. Aside from being a no-brainer rival against the AirPods Pro, the FreeBuds Pro claims to have class-leading ANC, along with new pinch and slide gestures. We have been using the FreeBuds Pro for a while now, and here’s our full review of it:
As someone who has been using the FreeBuds 3 as his main TWS earbuds, I’ve been curious about all the changes Huawei has made with the FreeBuds Pro. From our review, I noticed that the FreeBuds Pro uses a less smudge-prone finish and a more conventional oblong shape. Our review unit is in dark gray, though a white version is also available.
For the buds, the FreeBuds Pro is significantly bigger than the FreeBuds 3 and employs a more angular design. While it is understandable why the FreeBuds Pro is bigger–Huawei had to put a bigger battery and additional components for its ANC and pinch gesture feature–I find the overall design frustrating especially when taking the buds off the case.
The team agrees that because of its design–along with the glossy finish on the buds themselves–taking them off the case is not as easy as with the FreeBuds 3. While you can take off the buds on the FreeBuds 3 easily even without looking, you have to properly hold the driver area to take them off. It took me a few tries to take them off quickly, and there are still times where I fumble with it for a few seconds before taking it out.
Like the FreeBuds 3, the FreeBuds Pro supports USB-C charging, along with wireless charging.
If you are using a Huawei device with at least EMUI 10, popping the case open will prompt pairing, making the whole pairing process fast and convenient. If you are using other Android devices or any iOS device, you will have to do a manual pair using the pairing button on the side. In both cases, the pairing process is fast and smooth, and we did not run into any problems.
While the FreeBuds 3 used tap controls, the FreeBuds Pro utilizes pinch and slide gestures. This gives you additional functionality for the FreeBuds Pro. While the Pinch and Swipe gestures are fixed, you can change the settings for the Pinch & Hold gestures to either noise control or voice assistant (not Google Assistant, however).
The FreeBuds Pro do not appear to have any physical buttons on the stem, but you can hear and audible click when you pinch the stems, confirming that you made the gesture. This is a subtle-yet nice addition to the FreeBuds Pro, ensuring that you don’t make any accidental gestures on the FreeBuds Pro’s stem.
Since the FreeBuds Pro have silicone tips, they feel more secure to your ear compared to the design of the FreeBuds 3. Having silicone tips is definitely necessary, as the bulky buds make them more comfortable to use even for long listening sessions. Despite having silicone tips, the FreeBuds Pro is not ideal for workouts and runs, as they lack an IP certifcation–something the FreeBuds 3 has despite its design.
While the bass and overall loudness is not as prominent as with the FreeBuds 3, the FreeBuds Pro has a good amount of separation for the mids and highs. Overall audio quality is less stellar than the FreeBuds 3 because the FreeBuds Pro uses smaller 11mm drivers–the FreeBuds 3 use a 14mm driver.
To make up for the shortcomings in audio quality, the FreeBuds Pro improves on noise cancellation. With the combination of ANC, environmental noise cancellation, and Huawei’s AI tricks, I was quite impressed at the noise-canceling abilities of the FreeBuds Pro.
Huawei claims that it can filter up to 40db of noise, and my actual use lived up to that. I’ve used the FreeBuds Pro while walking around the neighborhood that is packed with noise ranging from people talking to obnoxiously loud mufflers from motorcycles, and enabling ANC on the FreeBuds Pro filtered a good amount of noise to let me enjoy my KPop listening while on the go.
Unlike the Freebuds 3, the FreeBuds Pro has an awareness mode that utilizes all microphones (6 to be exact) to let you be aware of your surroundings while listening to music. Regardless of whether ANC or Awareness mode is activated, the overall sound quality remains to be consistent across the board.
Another improvement with the FreeBuds Pro is battery life. With each bud having a 55mAh cell (vs 30mAh on the FreeBuds 3), you can use the FreeBuds Pro for up to 6 hours of use (around a little over 4 hours with noise cancellation on). The charging case gets a bigger battery as well, this time providing for as much as 30 hours of overall use. Charging via USB-C takes around under an hour from empty to 100%, which is slightly faster than that of the FreeBuds 3.
Wrap up and conclusions
Our FreeBuds Pro review reveals that despite being newer than the FreeBuds 3, the former does not necessarily make the latter outdated. The FreeBuds Pro excels when it comes to battery life, noise cancellation, and user controls while the FreeBuds 3 deliver better overall audio quality and a sleeker design.
With the FreeBuds Pro’s pros and cons over the FreeBuds 3, Huawei is making a distinction between both TWS earbuds to cater to different needs. The FreeBuds 3 is clearly for those who prioritize sound quality, while the FreeBuds Pro is more focused on noise cancellation.