Huawei FreeBuds Pro, analysis: a blow to the effect of AirPods Pro

We have spent several days using the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, a headset that in Spain aspires to be the best fully wireless headset with intelligent functions on the market, an extremely competitive market and saturated with options, with options for all possible budgets and criteria.

Let's start with the basics, in our experience, Huawei FreeBuds Pro is the best direct Android equivalent to Apple's AirPods Pro. We speak not only for the resemblance in design but also for the quality of the sound itself, intelligent functions and the quality of its active noise cancellation. Although they're not perfect, if you're looking for smart TWS headphones, these should be the choice.

If you use Android, they are probably the default option to consider if you are looking for the best experience, although for its high price it is recommended that you know all its features, virtues and aspects to improve.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro: its key aspects
At the design level, they remind us of Apple's AirPods Pro, especially the white model, at least on the main part of the headset.

The stick, antenna (or whatever you prefer to call it) if it follows its own style, with more industrial lines and a very original area on the touchpad. The Huawei logo is appreciated, and within the obvious inspiration, it ends up feeling like a unique product.

In terms of sound quality, we have a well-compensated sound and the best listening experiences in its category. Spatial sound capability stands out, and music files that are prepared for surround systems are heard from the cinema. And speaking of movies, watching movies or series with these headphones is an absolute delight.

Due to Huawei's restrictions on trading with North American companies, we do not have support for Qualcomm aptX sound codecs. The AAC codec is very well used, yes, and we don't give up a good sound or a high latency level. In that sense, we don't have many complaints.

The battery is an aspect where FreeBuds Pro doesn't stand out much. Normally in a charge with intelligent active noise cancellation and average sound we have about 4 hours until it tells us that we have 10% battery, the appropriate time to store them in its case, a case that will allow us to make a couple of extra charges and that we can charge by wireless charging or through the USB C port.

ANC sound
Then we will detail the active noise cancellation modes, but for now, we will focus on the main one, as it is the one that has chicha, known as Dynamic Noise Cancellation. When we were reunited with Huawei testing their devices, the company told us about this feature with great enthusiasm and pride, and it is not for less.

Let's take a summary of how active noise cancellation works. Through the sound captured by the microphones, the Kirin A1 processor can identify the type of scenario in which we are in and emit a reverse wave that will cancel out certain noises. The cancellation of Huawei is smart, and if you will let in some alert sounds, such as the next metro stop indicator.

Huawei's promise is ambitious, but my feeling with the system is that it still needs work to be polished. Cancellation is supposed to be able to identify when an alarm sounds or you're being talked about to let some of the sounds go by and you're isolated from everything but what matters. If it worked they would be the ultimate headphones but in real life, in the end, I finished hearing all the alerts of great importance. The sound that let's go, however, is that of my noisy mechanical keyboard (something that I consider positive because I like the sound of it, but it is a sign that the system still requires work).

We hope that Huawei will continue to improve this system in future updates, and that is that at the end of the day, the fact that they include a chip as powerful as the Kirin A1 (remember that it is a processor capable of carrying the system of the Huawei Watch GT2, GT2e, GT2 Pro and Huawei Watch Fit) means that the hardware is there and that the software can still improve.

The multi-device experience
Having a physical button to sync is very rare in TWS headphones, and having Huawei incorporate it into its case is a total success, as one of the advantages of these headphones is the multi-device experience.

FreeBuds Pro can be connected simultaneously to two devices, and although in theory, it has memory to remember up to 5 devices, in our experience, you can only have it connected to two because when you connect to a third computer, no longer as you click on connect on which it has been disconnected you will have to use the button again. They're great if you want to connect them to two devices, so choose wisely.

In my particular case, most of the time I have had them linked to the computer and mobile at the same time, and while on mobile the experience has been very satisfying, on the computer the experience has left something to be desired, since both Windows, Linux and Mac we have noticed micro-cuts quite assiduously, being less than half a meter away from the device. On the computer, we have been able to listen to music, but communication in calls with the microphone has not finished convincing us either.

Without a doubt, the connection to the PC is the big weakness of the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, and it's a shame because they're really good enough not to want to wear anything else. During these days I have surprised myself by spending the working days without missing my main PC headphones (some large Razer Nari Essential, but they also stand out for their comfort).

Huawei AI Life: the mandatory app for managing headphones
One of the biggest drawbacks we've had with FreeBuds Pro is the use of the app, and not because it works badly, not because of its lack of intuition when it comes to installing it.

If you have a Huawei mobile you don't need anything, because everything you need to manage the app is pre-installed on your mobile, but for the rest of the world, it is necessary to install the application. However, there are very few indications that you should download the app.

In the package, in the back we find a QR code to download AI Life, but it does not take you to AI Life, but to a WeChat link on Google Play. It may be a preliminary QR and when it reaches people redirect to where it should, but in our test, it has been so.

Next step, I go to Google Play and download AI Life (in my case, open it because I already had it installed when I bought my router, which I consider one of the best Huawei products). But in our experience, it has not been valid because the headphones are not supported. The version of Google Play at the time of writing the latest update is August 8, 2020.

We assume it will be updated, but for the time being it is still not. After searching the manual if we find a QR code, this time if it is valid, and it takes us to a link where to download AI Life on AppGallery or directly in APK format, and here if it works. So you don't lose it, we leave you in this post the right QR so you don't lose sight of it.

The gesture system
Like many other smart headphones, Huawei FreeBuds Pro features a touch interaction system that allows us to control sound or accept incoming calls from your phone without even having to take it out of our pocket. However, this is a very curious system.

Most headphones the touchpad is in the most accessible part of these, however, the most obvious decision is not always the most convenient, since this type of touchpads often ends up touching them accidentally, something that on a personal level frustrates me quite a bit.

The touch area of the FreeBuds Pro is in the stick, it is quite small and at first, it is difficult to interact with them, but when we get used to it we end up convincing the experience. It's far from a perfect system, but we find it a right decision on the right track.

It is inevitable to compare free buds Pro with Galaxy Live, which is that they are all rivals in terms of price, sound quality and technology. I've been using Samsung headphones on day-to-day life for a long time, and two features are missing from the Huawei app:

  • Find my headphones: Tools that make our headphones beep to find them.
  • Equalizer: Huawei has considered that as in Emui there is already an equalizer and the FreeBuds Pro drink from it, which like it was not much necessary to incorporate one into the app. We understand that Huawei wants to give some advantage to its mobiles, but if you buy Samsung headphones you will have access to the equalizer, whether your mobile is a Galaxy, a Pixel, Xiaomi or any other.
  • Home Screen Widget: For the last few months I have been using the Galaxy Buds+, a headset whose widgets on the home screen have shown me to be very useful to manage the remaining battery and easily access certain functions.

Post a Comment