Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 review: The combo breaker

Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro 2 are on the hunt for premium games and the competition has been officially put on notice.

With a premium design that slightly resembles a certain pair of Apple headphones, the FreeBuds Pro 2 stand out with their unique driver structure that delivers sound designed in partnership with Devialet. Add to that the machine learning-based noise cancellation, and it’s clear the company has pulled out all the stops.

So the question is obvious: does all of this translate into a supreme pair of buds? Let’s find out.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 price and availability

The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 headphones are set to launch in Europe at €199 / £169 (around $205) and come in three finishes: Silver Blue, Silver Frost and Silver White.

No word on a US version (chances are it won’t happen outside of Amazon’s weird listing), but taking its UK price into account, it’s a lot less than the AirPods Pro (£249), Master and Dynamics MW08 (£279)and the Sony WF-1000XM4s (£299).

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 design

As I said in the initial announcement, the FreeBuds Pro 2 have a similar design language to the AirPods Pro. But look beyond the usually sleek pill-shaped case and there are some aesthetic differences.

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The bud stems are more blocking, showing off a subtle chrome edging that matches its shiny metal hinge that displays the partnership between Huawei and Devialet. Incidentally, given the hardware design choices made for the Devialet GeminiI’m happy to see the sonic intelligence of this audio company combined with the refined design of Huawei’s products.

Rather than the gigantic Gemini earphones, the FreeBuds Pro 2 fit snugly in the ear with great comfort in long-term use, thanks to the dimensions and weight (0.2 ounces) of the FreeBuds (1.1 x 0 .9 x 0.9 inches). They match the AirPods Pro in all dimensions, so it’s a familiar fit for anyone who’s tried Apple’s high-end headphones. While the Momentum True Wireless 3 are slightly shorter (0.9 inches) and weigh the same, they are a bit bulkier in the ear at 1 inch thick.

Left: Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2, Right: Apple Airpods Pro (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

As for the case, at 2.7 x 1.8 x 1.0 inches and weighing 1.8 ounces, the set is slightly bulkier than the AirPods Pro (2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches), but much friendlier than the beastly pretty container of the second-gen Momentum (1.3 x 2.7 x 1.0 inches).

Simply put, if you’ve familiarized yourself with Apple’s headphones, these will feel familiar and that’s not a bad thing. That means they’re a lightweight pair of headphones that have incredible endurance whether you’re walking or exercising (these have an IP54 water resistance rating), while continuing to be comfortable over long periods of time.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 controls and digital assistant

Touch control options are extensive and customizable on the FreeBuds Pro 2, with single, double and triple tap functions, as well as long press for vast levels of interaction and even swipe to increase/decrease volume.

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Similar to the AirPods Pro, subtle tapping sounds can be heard to confirm receipt of touches, which is a nice addition to hoping your buds are registering your commands.

I’m still a fan of buttons, because you can’t have unintended touches. But Huawei’s workaround reduces the chances of accidental touches, as you have to pinch them to interact.

The smart assistant can be programmed to launch with a simple pinch and hold, and the microphones do a good job of picking up your requests.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 Active Noise Cancellation and Ambient Listening

The FreeBuds Pro 2 excels in active noise cancellation (ANC): packing three mics on each bud and using the second version of Huawei’s intelligent dynamic ANC algorithm to deliver up to 47dB of cancellation strength.

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The mics do a wonderful job of neutralizing background noise and isolating your listening experience. Combined with the snug fit, they can fend for themselves even in the noisiest scenarios, like rush hour traffic, with extremely minimal hissing.

Switch to transparency mode and the mics do a good job of your surroundings too, highlighting the conversation against any kind of background drones. I could hear low level chatter from my partner from up to about 20 feet away.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 audio quality

The FreeBuds Pro 2 packs a unique dual-driver setup, which includes an 11-millimeter quad-magnet dynamic driver and a UHF planar-diaphragm driver. You don’t find technology like this in headphones at a lower price. To translate the breath, it helps with better sound separation: the large magnetically driven speaker handles the bass and the smaller planar output projects the treble into your ears.

This results in a frequency response range of 14Hz to 48kHz (the lower end of which goes much further than the AirPods Pro and even the Sony WF-1000xM4), which pairs with codec support LDAC for audio up to 990kbps, and an updated digital crossover processor for improved technical separation of treble and bass to provide a solid platform for high sound quality.

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There is a whole other aspect to this: the setting. Huawei got some help thanks to the company’s partnership with Devialet, which went through a painstaking range of machine and human testing to tune these headphones.

I could talk on the technical side and go into detail about the onboard sensors that measure the size of your ear canal and adjust the equalizer to optimize sound delivery, but let’s cut to the chase.

The end result is headphone-defying sound quality at double the price of the FreeBuds Pro 2. with bass and sonorous tones. lots of life in the mids, while still letting the highs really shine.

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This continues into tracks with more intricate detail like Mac Miller’s “2009”: one of the best songs to really make the most of that signature sound (and a gorgeous melody too). The piano reverb and small breaks in Mac’s voice are accentuated and give plenty of life, but the sharp stings of the 808 bass are felt without impact on any of the other levels.

Even down to the spoken word, like listening to “Not Another D&D Podcast” (my favorite of many Dungeons & Dragons podcasts), these excel at giving personality to every utterance from every presenter, without struggling for a moment over the elongated “s” sounds or percussive “p” pronunciations.

Overall, you’ll find that Huawei excelled when it came to sound quality. The fact that these beat the AirPods Pro comparatively, provide a cleaner and warmer composition than the MW08s, and come close to the WF-1000xM4 shows what a marvel they are.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 app

It’s a tale of two halves for the FreeBuds Pro 2 on the app front.

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For iOS, the free AI Life app gives you a full suite of options for adjusting audio (including a customizable equalizer) and easy access to change your gesture commands, perform a mouthpiece fit test, and find your headphones while playing. a sound.

As for Android users (and more specifically, all Huawei device users), you’ll have a much more seamless experience thanks to the Quick Pair and the AI ​​Life app. Think about how easy it is to switch your AirPods between your iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. Huawei has managed to do the same on its phones and laptops like the MateBook D 16.

It’s an impressive feat rarely found in headphones outside the Apple ecosystem.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 battery life

Huawei promises up to four hours of listening time with ANC on, extended to 18 hours with the charging case, and that largely matches the reality of my usage time.

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Disable ANC and you can extend the FreeBuds Pro 2’s battery life to 6.5, but this essential feature will be on most of the time. Additionally, taking calls while listening reduced my usage time to three hours on a single charge, at 60% volume with ANC on.

In short, it’s not ideal. You were hoping for a little more fuel in the tank, but the wireless charging on the case and the speed at which the buds max out in the case softens the blow a bit.

Huawei FreeBuds 2 call quality and connectivity

Connectivity is handled with Bluetooth 5.2 with multipoint, which helped me establish a secure connection between two of the two iPhone 13 Pro, OnePlus 10 ProHuawei MateBook D 16 and MacBook Pro M1.

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Your voice is clear indoors and out, and the built-in mics do a good job of isolating background noise around you even during my most intense tests, such as walking along traffic at nighttime. point.

Don’t get me wrong, under intense stress like the gale force winds sometimes experienced while walking along the river, you feel like you’re underwater. But the words are understood and thanks to the ANC, you can easily hear the person who speaks to you.

It’s all thanks to Huawei’s deep neural network noise cancellation algorithm, which learned from 100 million voice samples to automatically adjust ANC levels in the background and bring out your voice.

At the end of the line

The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 rewrite the rulebook of what you should expect from headphones at this price point – competing with much more expensive options and leaving some of them in the dust.

While the battery life is slightly disappointing for the buds themselves, they sound amazing, pack strong ANC, take calls well, offer incredibly responsive controls, and pack it all into a sleek design.

Plus, the comprehensive app and software (including seamless integration rivaling Apple on Android/Huawei devices) make it one of the best wireless headphones you can buy now.