Huawei’s bet in the field of sound has been consolidated since the Asian firm expanded its products beyond its country of origin. The latest product that reaches our market after being presented in China is the FreeBuds 4i, the natural renewal of the Freebuds 3i that arrive to fill some of the shortcomings of the 2020 presented headphones while borrowing some high-end features , such as is the design, the autonomy or the noise cancellation system. 

And it is that, like the rest of the I series models, the new generation is located in the manufacturer’s entry range, with a price that is significantly lower than the rest of the proposals in both the brand’s own catalog (see the FreeBuds Pro ) as well as other true wireless headphones on the market. Will they be a worthy replacement for the FreeBuds 3i? How do they stack up against the rest of the market’s proposals?

Huawei FreeBuds 4i Specifications

Huawei FreeBuds 4i
KindCompletely wireless in-ear headphones
ConnectivityBluetooth Compatibility: Bluetooth 5.2
Open and Pair: Compatible
Usage Detection: Compatible
Simultaneous Bluetooth Connection with Dual Devices: Available
ProcessorTo be specified
Driver unit10-millimeter dynamic driver with effective frequency from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
DrumsPer earphone : 55 mAh
Charging case : 215 mAh
Use time with music :
– 7.5 hours (with CNA activated)
– 10 hours (with CNA disabled)
Use time with voice calls :
– 5.5 hours (with CNA on)
– 6.5 hours (with CNA off)
ControlsTouch on both headphones (L and R)
Presses: once, twice, three times and long press
Scrolling: slide up to increase volume and slide down to decrease it
Huawei AI Life application
TechnologiesActive noise
cancellation Call noise cancellation
Recognition
mode Voice mode
Two microphones per earphone for CNA
Dimensions and weightPer handset : 37.5 x 23.9 x 21 millimeters (height by width by depth) and 5.5 grams
Charging case : 48 x 61.8 x 27.5 millimeters (height by width by depth) and 26.5 grams (without headphones)
LoadWired: USB Type-C (5V / 1A)
Charging time: 60 minutes for the headphones (in the charging case) and 1 hour and 30 minutes for the charging case (without the headphones)
ColorsWhite, black and red
Release dateAvailable
Price79 euros

A level design With Ergonomics And Comfort As The Main Asset

With this new generation, there are many changes that Huawei has introduced in the design. If we focus on headphones, the FreeBuds 4i adopt the lines of the FreeBuds Pro, with a wider and less elongated format that bets on ergonomics as well as comfort, although the weight of the 2020 generation is maintained. (5.5 grams per earphone). 

It should be noted that the ear pads that come standard with the headphones adapt perfectly to the physiognomy of the ear, something that is not always achieved in headphones with in-ear design.

The ear cushions are designed more oval than round, allowing a firm fit to any type of ear.

Where changes have also been made with respect to the FreeBuds 3i is in the charging case. In addition to being smaller (the weight is reduced by no less than 20 grams), the design now has an oval format. This also affects the capacity of the battery, which is now reduced by almost half (we will talk about it in its corresponding section). Regarding the manufacture of the entire set, the manufacturer has opted this time for polycarbonate, a polycarbonate that in the lid area feels somewhat fragile and flimsy when unfolding the case to use the headphones . It will be necessary to see how it withstands the passage of time, given the number of times it has to be deployed per day.

The lid has some slack, which can affect the durability of the charging case in the long run.

Another no less important detail has to do with the difficulty when removing the headphones from their compartment. On more than one occasion I have been forced to use three or more fingers to detach one of the headphones from the case , which is probably due to the design of the capsule itself rather than the weight or magnet that holds them. By the way, the headphones lack resistance to water and dust, a fairly common lack in access ranges but which cannot be omitted if we are going to make sporty use of them.

Correct Connectivity With A Gesture System That Seems Somewhat Clumsy

Connectivity if we talk about true wireless headphones is one of the most important points for its use with third-party devices. The new generation of Huawei arrives with the latest on the market in Bluetooth connectivity: 5.2 with LE (Low Energy) specification to optimize the use of the battery and SBC, as well as support for AAC audio formats. All this leads to a practically immediate synchronization when we use an Android device. The experience with a device of the own brand is even more positive if possible: the synchronization is not only faster, it is also shown in a much more visual way through the EMUI options.

In Huawei mobiles, the headphones integrate perfectly with the brand’s ecosystem.

Speaking of synchronization, the connection of the headphones can be done by the usual means (gestures of Bluetooth devices on Android / iOS) or through the AI Life application developed by Huawei. It should be noted that the compatibility of the application is limited to Android devices, while it is not present on Apple devices with iOS and iPad OS or Windows.

Through this application we can know the battery status of the headphones. We can also play with the different noise cancellation modes and configure customizable gestures : with one or two presses we can stop playback or enable noise cancellation, depending on the actions that we have predefined. Of course, the operation of the gestures is somewhat crude, since they depend on an accelerometer and not on a touch surface, which translates into somewhat slow execution times (approximately 1 or 2 seconds). That is to say that the headphones have a sensor that detects the position in the ears to stop or continue playback. The operation of this system is as expected, without any apparent error that messes up the user experience.

This is what AI Life looks like, Huawei’s app to sync headphones with Android.

Regarding the reproduction of content with dialogues (vlogs, series, movies …), the latency can be seen at some points, especially if we use a device that is not compatible with AI Life, such as a MacBook Pro in My case. In this regard, I recognize that I would have liked to have present standards such as aptX or a2pd to improve latency, although it is most likely that Huawei will solve all these errors through an update, an update that depends, once again, on the application created by the company.

Record Breaking Superlative Autonomy

Despite the fact that Huawei has reduced the battery capacity of the charging case, the autonomy grows by up to 8 hours compared to the previous iteration: from 14 and a half hours to 22 hours. The same happens with headphones, which go from 4 hours to no less than 10 (somewhat less if we activate noise cancellation). All of this, of course, according to Huawei’s use tests. But how do they perform in this regard in a real-use scenario?

Noise Cancelation That Lives Up To Expectation

When we talk about cheap true wireless headphones, one of the points where manufacturers tend to pull the scissors is in the sound section. In the case of the FreeBuds 4i, it is true that we are not facing the best exponent in this section (the size of the drivers is the same as that of the FreeBuds 3i: 10 millimeters), however, the sound experience has nothing to envy other models than double their price.

The headphone performance in the low frequencies is surprisingly good: strong response without clipping on the strongest hits in styles of music such as rock or trap. At mid and high frequencies, the sound response does not shine as brightly as other similarly priced models. Guitar solos and female vocals, for example, are somewhat opaque compared to the rest of the sounds on the tracks, such as drums or the bass line.

This can be remedied, in part, with the use of a third-party equalizer, since by default the application developed by Huawei does not include a section that allows us to configure the frequencies to our liking. In any case, the sound quality is at the highest in its price range, since the average quality of this type of headphones below 80 euros is not usually the best, not to mention the lack of models of recognized brands.

Price of the Huawei FreeBuds 4i

After analyzing all the details of the Huawei FreeBuds 4i, it is time to draw conclusions, which largely depend on the price. At the date of publication, the price of the headphones in the official Huawei store is 79 euros.

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