The Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick earbuds are one of the most controversial products I’ve reviewed in a while, as it seems that both my coworkers and friends can’t make their minds up about the striking design. Regardless, the audio quality and overall premium feel have landed them firmly in my good books, though I wouldn’t recommend them to everyone.
- Cool and distinct design
- Solid audio quality
- Premium finish and build quality
- Responsive touch controls
- Companion app
- ANC can be a little lacklustre
- Design can sometimes make them tricky to spot
- UKRRP: £199.99
- EuropeRRP: €179.99
- CanadaRRP: CA$348.99
- AustraliaRRP: AU$399
- Active Noise CancellationFeatures ANC 2.0 to reduce ambient noise
- Companion appAdjust EQ presets and gestures
- Distinctive designRed lipstick inspired design
You can’t fault Huawei for being simple. While we’ve already crossed paths with earbuds such as the FreeBuds Pro 2, we finally got a hold of the FreeBuds Lipstick, and they haven’t disappointed.
The Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick came out in late 2021, though they seem to have passed people by. It seems the company has been pushing its MateBook range rather than focusing on its cosmetic-inspired audio device.
Packing ANC and featuring support for the companion app Huawei AI, there is more to these earbuds than meets the eye.
- Striking and interesting design
- Can sometimes look too much like a lipstick
- Premium and sturdy build
One of the most enticing aspects of these earbuds is the design, and for good reason. While being a fair bit chunkier and heavier than traditional lipstick with the case weighing in at 84.5g, the FreeBuds Lipstick are a pretty faithful recreation of the cosmetic item, which I personally found really fun.
While I won’t give Huawei too much credit – and I do imagine that these are part of some bigger plan to get women more interested in the company – I think the design is distinctive, and the build quality feels very premium, like a designer lipstick.
Most of the casing is a sleek shiny black, with a rose gold strip that features Huawei branding. You can only close the case if this line matches up, which is slightly more fiddly than some other earphone cases, like the OneSonic BXS-HD1. But I didn’t find it to be a big hindrance, especially as you get used to it the more you use them.
The case, specifically the rose gold accent, is prone to smudges due to its glossy finish. While this doesn’t really matter for day-to-day use, it can make them look a little grubby when in sunlight.
The earbuds themselves are completely red, which adds to the lipstick aesthetic. One thing Huawei is missing here is multiple colourways; my makeup-enthused friends and I all believe that pink, peach, apricot, and basically any other classic lipstick colour should also be available. And while red is an iconic lipstick colour, anyone looking to match their makeup to their earbuds would probably be better off with a softer colour, like peach.
I also believe that the case itself should come in different colours, potentially all rose gold or even red. These issues are purely cosmetic, and I still think that the product overall looks premium, but it would be nice to see more colourful and cute options considering the lipstick premise.
However, even though I am a big fan of the design, inherently this is not going to appeal to all audiences. Similarly to the Gravastar Sirius Pro earbuds, if you’re not a fan of the design I doubt you would even consider these as your next pair of earbuds, which I think is a shame. That’s also why I think Huawei should expand the colourways, as they may find a wider audience with makeup enthusiasts if they could find their favourite lipstick shade in the form of earbuds.
I was very pleased with the touch controls on the earbuds, as they were very responsive, on par with my AirPods 2. You can configure the controls in the Huawei AI Life app, with the three options being double tap, touch and hold and swipe.
I also felt the earbuds fit very well in my ears, and I never had any instances of them falling out or moving around. Since I have smaller ear canals I tend to find that plastic units fit me better than silicon ear tips, though I think these have an ergonomic shape that would work well for most people.
The bottom of the charging case houses a USB-C port for charging alongside an LED indicator, which glows orange when they’re charging on a low battery, and green when they hit around 80% charged.
- Decent but underwhelming ANC
- Companion app
- Good battery life
The active noise cancellation on these earbuds has two modes, General and Cozy. I found both modes to be decent but by no means amazing. General mode did help to push out some of the ambient noise on the bus, like announcements and the engine, though I could still pick up on some chatter if people were sitting directly next to me.
I have used the Cozy mode less since it lets in more noise, though I enjoyed using it while waiting for my order in a coffee shop, as I could still catch my order while blocking out the music playing overhead. It also worked great in the office, as it blocked out enough noise that I could focus but not enough that I couldn’t hear a co-worker talking to me.
Despite not being everything I had hoped for, the FreeBuds Lipstick have better ANC than the 1More PistonBuds Pro, and I do think there is a big difference when it’s turned on compared to the ambient mode.
Moving on to the companion app, and I was impressed with the variety of options it gave me in terms of customisation. I was able to manually switch between ANC modes and could change the controls associated with the gestures. Since the touch controls are solid I didn’t have to dip into the app as often, which made the experience of using them more fluid.
You also have the option to play with the EQ presets. However, you only have the option between Bass boost, Treble boost and Default, with no option to manually customise the audio. While I would have liked more options, I was impressed with the Bass and Treble modes presented and thought they worked well with the audio.
You can also check the battery on each earbud and the charging case which I really like, as earbuds like the Sirius Pro don’t give you any way of checking how much power your device has left.
The battery life was also good, and I found that I rarely had to charge the earbuds. I used the earbuds in total for around five hours with the ANC being toggled on and off before they needed to go back into the charging case, which is longer than Huawei claims they can last on one charge. The charging case claims to offers up 22 extra hours with ANC turned off, and I think I got about that during my time using them, with the earbuds lasting several long train and bus journeys before dying completely.
The connection overall was also impressive, and I didn’t experience any dropouts or interference when linking up the earbuds in busy signal environments like a train station. They also worked seamlessly with my laptop, the Huawei MateBook D 16, and I think the audio quality was consistent no matter what they were connected to.
- Punchy, warm audio
- Impressive bass performance
- Detailed vocals
Despite the quirky design, the main reason to invest in earbuds is because they sound good. Thankfully, I think the FreeBuds Lipstick hold up, with music playback sounding punchy and warm without losing nuance.
Heat Waves by Glass Animals sounded smooth and detailed, with the vocals and instruments balancing out. The bass notes could reach a deep level without sounding distorted, with the drums sounding distinguished and punchy. This song also had a distinctive soundstage, as I could hear the vocals coming in from the front and the percussion rounding out the sides.
Bass boost mode also elevated certain songs, like alt-J’s Breezeblocks, as it allowed the notes to go even deeper. In Breezeblocks, I could pick up on the individual bass notes being played under the vocals, and it created more contrast against the drum snare and bells than when I played in Default mode.
I didn’t utilise the Treble mode as often, though that’s mostly due to my own music taste. Steely Dan’s Do It Again, however, sounded great using this mode. The electric sitar and percussion instruments shined without sounding distorted or overpowering, having a great tonal balance while still sounding impactful.
Default mode also worked well and I tended to have that mode on more often than others, since it was still able to create a decent soundstage with less emphasis on the higher and lower notes. Olivia Rodrigo’s good 4 u sounded bright and maintained a lot of detail, with the track having more emphasis than when I played it on the PistonBuds Pro.
Comparing these to my AirPods 2, I think the Huawei have more overall detail and a better representation of the mid-range, and I didn’t need them to be turned up too loud to actually distinguish the instrumentals.
Overall, I think the FreeBuds Lipstick work well with a variety of different genres, and I felt that the Bass and Treble modes worked wonders in elevating certain songs. While I do think that earbuds like the Sony WF-1000XM4 will provide a better audio experience overall, these are not to be sniffed at, which surprised me considering the overall draw in here is the design.
However, I would also say that the price point of these earbuds are slightly on the high end, meaning that you will need to love the design to make them really worth it.
Should you buy it?
You want solid audio quality and a makeup-inspired design These earbuds blend ANC, solid touch controls and a helpful companion app with a distinctive design. Any makeup-lovers should definitely consider these, and I would implore non-makeup wearers to give these a chance, as there is more substance to these than you may expect.
You want some traditional earbuds Despite my love of the design, it’s not going to be for everyone. The ANC is also not perfect, and you can find earbuds with the same or better audio quality for a similar price point from the likes of Sony and Bose.
The Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick surprised me as I was definitely expecting them to be style over substance. I think that the design is innovative and interesting, though I don’t think that they will appeal to some audiences, which does put them at a disadvantage.
While the ANC mode could be better, it still delivered an admirable performance that worked well for me in most environments, provided it wasn’t excessively loud. And overall I have to praise the audio quality, as I think these buds picked up on a lot of detail and nuance that some cheaper earbuds miss out on, with the Bass and Treble modes bringing new heights to certain songs.
Features like the companion app, solid touch controls and good battery life also help cement these earbuds for me, and I think they are worth it provided that you’re going to enjoy the lipstick style, as they are a similar price as some other high-end earbuds from the likes of Sony and Bose.
My main note to improve is that Huawei needs to branch out in terms of the colour of the earbuds and charging case, as I can see these developing a strong fanbase provided there were a few more colourways that match up with the most popular lipstick shades.
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Tested for more than a week
Used the companion app
Tested out all modes
Tested with real world use
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No, these earbuds come in one shade, with a black and rose gold casing and red earpieces.
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