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HomeTechEarbuds/HeadsetsHuawei FreeBuds 5i Review - Inexpensive AirPod killers? | Tech Reviews

Huawei FreeBuds 5i Review – Inexpensive AirPod killers? | Tech Reviews

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Huawei FreeBuds 5i Review – Inexpensive AirPod killers? | Tech Reviews



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With the FreeBuds 5i, Huawei would like to offer a full feature package for audio fans for less than 100 euros, which promises you TWS headphones with Hi-Res Bluetooth, particularly good ANC, a lot of battery life and a compact housing in the AirPods form factor. We tested whether the cheap headphones are convincing in everyday life or whether you should rather use a different model.

Huawei can do audio – we were able to find that out in our last tests on TWS , over-ears or smart speakers . The FreeBud series with a number and a letter as an ending known from Apple products has always been aimed at price-performance fans, but hardly does without any functions. With the new FreeBuds 5i, the much-recommended predecessors should now be surpassed by far. LDAC is on board for the first time. The Bluetooth codec can even play back Hi-Res audio files with a high bit rate and should thus allow music to be played back more faithfully to the original.

Transmission type wirelessly via Bluetooth 5.2
Design and protection In-ear with IP54 (dust and splash-proof)
Dimensions Earbud: 30.9mm x 21.7mm x 23.9mm (HxBxT)
Case: 48.2mm x 61.8mm x26.9mm (HxBxT)
Audio-Codecs SBC, AAC, LDAC
Diameter & type of audio drivers 10mm dynamic drivers
Frequency bandwidth 20Hz – 40,000Hz (headphones)
Battery life 6 hours / 7.5 hours (with/without ANC)
18.5 hours / 28 hours
(ANC on/off & with charging case)
Weight 43.7 grams (total)
9.8 grams (earbuds), 33.9 grams (charging case)
Microphone for phone calls Yes, four microphones (two per earbud)
Noise-Cancelling Yes, passive and active
Price 99.00 Euro*

Design & comfort

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The very small case, which is reminiscent of a slightly squashed egg in terms of shape, is a hit right away. It is flattened on the opposite side of the Huawei lettering and can be put down like this. The hinge and the other haptics are immediately noticeable: Nothing here betrays the low price point and would also do well in a €300 TWS.

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The case color with its spots can best be described as dark black-grey (Nebula Black) in our test model. Otherwise, the FreeBuds are also available in a lighter blue (Isle Blue) or white (Ceramic White).

The buds themselves are then visually very reminiscent of their predecessors, which again includes a slight design relationship with the Apple AirPods Pro. They also have good workmanship and wearing comfort in common with the latter. They sit comfortably in the ears and can be adjusted to almost any auditory canal thanks to the three included attachments. Due to their low weight of almost five grams, they are hardly noticeable after wearing them for a few minutes.

<a class=Huawei FreeBuds 5i worn side" width="994" height="994" />

Important for athletes: With the right attachments, the FreeBuds 5i hold even with jerky head movements. With their IP54 certification, they are also designed for things that make you sweat. The only small point of criticism: The silicone attachments are oval in shape and can therefore not be attached from every angle. So make sure that the alignment is correct when you put it on.

Operation & app

With a Huawei smartphone, the connection is very simple: open the case of the FreeBuds and a message will pop up on your display. As an Android user without a Huawei device, however, you have to go through Huawei’s app gallery to get the “AI Life” app. However, you won’t find it in the normal Play Store. A QR code on the packaging takes you directly to the download and you don’t have to search long.

In contrast to the standard Android, iPhone or Mac users even have an advantage here: you can get AI Life directly in Apple’s own app store.

The app is then pretty self-explanatory: In addition to three equalizer presets (standard, bass boost, treble boost), you can also set the high-resolution Bluetooth codec LDAC here. To do this, you have to select “Prioritize sound quality” in the app. You can also check the fit of the earbuds and update them with new firmware.

At first, the only thing that took me a little getting used to was operating the buds via gesture control – because a single tap leads to: nothing. In the app you can then view the individual commands in detail or reassign them if necessary.

They would be: Double tap to answer or end a call – otherwise use it to pause/play music. Holding down one of the two earbuds will switch between “ANC”, “Awareness” mode or neither. If you hold during an incoming call, you reject it.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i worn service

Adjusting the volume, on the other hand, is really easy: just swipe up or down on one of the two handsets. It works intuitively and precisely. In addition, you don’t always have to take your smartphone out of your pocket to change the volume: nice.

After a short familiarization phase, the operation of the Huawei FreeBuds works well. For a little more flexibility, I would have only wished for a more comprehensive equalizer. In view of the price of the FreeBuds 5i, this is already complaining at a high level.

Mic Quality – Clearly intelligible even in noisy environments

TWS cannot cast magic. There are several centimeters between you and the microphone, where noise can affect your voice. However, manufacturers are trying to get more out of the recording performance with sophisticated algorithms. The FreeBuds 5i are among the better specimens here. 

Active Noise Cancelling – Stark.

The FreeBuds are definitely recommended for anyone who likes to have their noise-cancelling headphones in their ears without music. They also filter out deep noises in the subway well. They are only slightly overwhelmed by the hissing sound when the door is opened. Are there better ANC in TWS form? Definitive.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i Hand

The AirPods 2 Pro are significantly more shielding, as is the Pro version of the FreeBuds. But in the range up to 100 euros there is actually only one comparably good TWS pair: The Anker SoundCore Space A40. I like the tonal tuning of the Huawei much better.

…and the music? Warm.

Musically, there is a clear emphasis on deep mids, high and (somewhat) low bass. Voices move slightly backwards in the mix, but always sound present and clear. The higher pitches, on the other hand, are played with a little less presence. Cymbals, hi-hats or violins are (too) tame and get lost in the rest of the soundscape. Huawei sticks to the old adage: “Bass, we need bass”. The kick drum gets an extra shot of warmth and moves forward in the sound.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i einzeln

Many people may like this tuning as it suits many genres of music and puts a stop to jarring highs (which some songs were simply produced into).

Also really commendable: The good stereo image. Instruments can be clearly separated in front of the inner eye. Due to the design, the music plays in the head rather than in front of it. A real stage (i.e. a “the music is playing in front of you” feeling) only exists with over-ear headphones. In summary: Nothing for audiophiles, but just right for occasional listeners and fans of bass-heavy music. In addition, the FreeBuds 5i are also very loud and can be easily adjusted with third-party apps using the equalizer.

Battery life

Huawei promises 28 hours with the case, 7.5 hours without. That’s decent and should be enough for almost all application scenarios. However, these values ​​are not really groundbreaking.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i Akku

With the ANC switched on, the percentages also tumble a little faster. Between six and seven hours were still in it. Sufficient, but not earth-shattering. Some other models, such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, last longer. The case and buds were fully charged in about 90 minutes. So it was even a little faster than Huawei officially states (110 minutes).

Conclusion on the Huawei FreeBuds 5i – Good & inexpensive AirPods alternative

The Huawei FreeBuds 5i are worthy successors to the popular predecessors. They weigh less, charge faster and sound better. With additional features, such as the high-resolution LDAC Bluetooth codec, you can also reproduce music more faithfully to the original.

Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 Review : Top Sound Meets Strong ANC | Tech Reviews

At least if you help out a bit with the equalizer, the FreeBuds 5i are definitely bass-heavy. Many listeners and especially fans of pop, hip-hop or electronic music should already like this in the delivery condition.

I was really impressed by the good active noise cancelling. Even without music in your ears, the Huawei TWS shield you well from most of the external background noise. Deep tones in particular are filtered well. The microphone can also pick up your voice clearly even in noisy environments and convey telephone or video calls well.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i beide

The app operation is designed to be rather rudimentary. In addition to three sound presets, there is only one adjustment to the solid gesture control. A Huawei equalizer with more frequency bands would have been nice here. All in all, the FreeBuds 5i are still convincing: Because for their low price, they offer an all-round successful set of features, simple operation, and a feel that is usually only available in several price classes above it.

In this way, Huawei has once again created a cheap alternative to the AirPods or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. And for sports fans, thanks to the IP54 certification, they can even serve as a good value for money tip. Sweat or dust hardly bother the Huawei TWS.

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A full time tech enthusiast with a passion for writing. Religiously follow everything new happening in the tech world and share my two cents with my audience here.

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