Over the past year, Huawei has been shooting at the world of personal sound from all guns: first, there were very cool and relatively inexpensive FreeBuds 3i, then the company released FreeBuds Pro with great sound, which became my permanent headphones, and then released the successful Huawei FreeBuds Studio.
Design and Equipment
The face of any product is its box. Huawei started doing what I asked for last year: illustrate the color of the headphones right on the box. If you buy white headphones, there will be white headphones on the box. Buy black – see black headphones on the box!
By the way, in addition to the black and white versions, there is also a red version, but we don’t have such headphones.
In the kit, in addition to a case with headphones, you will find ear pads, a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, and waste paper:
I always wear medium ear pads, but as with other Huawei earplugs, I go for the larger ones. Therefore, if you always use “rubber bands” of the maximum size, you should try on these headphones before buying them.
The pebble-like case looks very nice. It’s compact. But the glossy surface is very easily soiled. Taking pictures of the case is painful. On the other hand, you will not take pictures of the headphones but use them. If this hovers a lot for you, then I recommend taking the white version of the headphones – here, the prints are already not so noticeable.
In the fourth generation, the problems of FreeBuds 3i are solved: the case can be easily opened with one hand, and the headphones can be easily removed from the case.
The earbuds have a nice and comfortable shape: they fit well in the ears and seem much lighter than the FreeBuds Pro.
But here, apparently, slightly different design effects because the weight of each headphone from a pair of 4i is 5.5 grams, while the “projectors” weigh 6.1 grams.
If you have new Huawei devices, then everything is simple here. Bring the headphones to the phone, open the case – and the smartphone will quickly find the headphones.
In fact, all the functionality is already included in the current EMUI 11.0.0, so the Huawei AI Life application with these headphones may not be needed since you can find all the necessary buttons right in the settings. Here you can update your headphones, see the controls, and turn on the desired noise-canceling mode.
Things are a little more difficult with other Android smartphones: you need the Huawei AI Life app. In it, you can view and configure the control of the headphones, see the charge of the case and each headphone, as well as update the firmware:
It is worth saying that my sample has not yet connected to an application that runs on iOS, but this is normal for the pre-release version. Everything will be as simple as with FreeBuds Pro.
Active noise reduction
With FreeBuds Pro, you can choose the degree of noise reduction. This is the main difference between FreeBuds 4i and the Pro version. In fact, FreeBuds 4i has three modes of noise reduction: off, on, and “transparency” mode, when you hear the surrounding noises and voices without removing the headphones. But the degree of noise pressure on the headphones cannot be adjusted.
Despite this, you can comfortably listen to music in the metro.
For my sample, disabling the noise reduction did not affect the sound in any way.
We will evaluate all possible options. I’ll start with one of POD’s favorite nu-metal albums, featuring the song Sound Like War.
Here I would like to get a little more bass. The percussion plays out well, I hear the clicks of the bass guitar lowered by two tones, but the “meat” of the instrument itself is still not enough for me. Regardless, the headphones build a great wall of sound, and Sonny’s voice never goes away.
The chorus, which starts around the second minute, has a very bright drum crash – this is one of the main cymbals used to accentuate and emphasize expression. This track shows the scene very well – the headphones give out a sufficient volume of the mix. There is not a little and not a lot of it.
Here the bass guitar sounded great in the intro, where Mikey Way’s confident playing is clearly audible.
But still, something tells me that the headphones are sharpened for vocals – in almost any song that I listened to, I did not find any flaws in the accompaniment of vocalists and vocalists.
Here I like not only Billy’s sound but also the unusual percussion chosen by the record producer.
The song was released in 1998 when rap was not yet ripping subwoofers, and the bass sounded rather minimalist. I would still turn to something more modern when rap has taken on a permanent sound.
Here the bass is already hitting very powerfully. In many headphones, they would squeeze all other frequencies, and the voice would constantly sag. However, as I said above, in FreeBuds 4i, vocals sound good and do not hide under the bass.
Often, classical works are recorded in concert halls with microphones placed where the audience is seated.
In Huawei FreeBuds 4i, the scene is clearly audible: the harpsichord sounds on the right, woodwinds and strings are distributed throughout the panorama of the mix, the female part of the choir are on the left, and the male part is on the right. The classical orchestral distribution is emphasized by the headphones very precisely. The composition is not lost in the array of instruments. If you want, you can hear the part of many instruments by highlighting one specific one. For example, string phrases played in staccato quarters. Very majestic.
However, here I would note that the scene in this composition is better handled by FreeBuds Pro, where the sound seems more saturated.
Even though it seems that the FreeBuds 4i does not provide enough bass in some tracks, this track lacks it. It does not become dominant but complements the mix well. The harp part gives goosebumps – that is, Huawei has managed to emphasize this point.
As a headset, the headphones do well. Your interlocutor hears you without any problem. This is done thanks to two microphones in different parts of the headphone housing.
By the way, when watching a video, there are no visible delays, so the lagging sound will not enrage you.
With FreeBuds 4i, the company doesn’t even need to prove that it is in the music sector for a long time – previous Huawei products turned out to be very successful. With new headphones, this is only confirmed.
When listening to music, the tops prevail over the lows. This may seem unusual to many, given the fashion of the last couple of decades for massive bass. Connoisseurs of such an airy sound of Huawei FreeBuds 4i will definitely be found since, in a series of musical instruments, there are those whose range is quite high in the frequency spectrum. And in this case, the emphasis is on them.
I would recommend choosing a classic white color – the case does not get dirty as much as black. I have not seen the red version, so I cannot say what it is in use.
The headphones have an excellent battery life – 10 hours on a single charge with the active noise reduction device turned off. The result is impressive. You will definitely not be upset that they suddenly sit down after an hour’s conversation, as was the case with the previous generation. In general, 4i is a successful work on the mistakes of the previous generation: in addition to the operating time, we redesigned the case, which is convenient to open with one hand, and the headphones themselves can be easily pulled out without having to read the instructions.
At the pre-order stage, the headphones will cost even less: $75 for Huawei’s official website.