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Hands on: Huawei FreeBuds Pro Review

First Impressions

I’ll have to wait for full pricing details and spend more time testing the battery before I can give a full score, but so far it’s a big improvement over previous Huawei efforts. The FreeBuds Pro sounds good, features strong ANC and has a design that isn’t just a copy of something else.

Key Specifications

  • ANC
  • 4 hour battery life with ANC on
  • USB-C
  • In-ear

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The Huawei FreeBuds Pro offers the best audio and noise-cancelling experience yet from a pair of the brand’s headphones.

Going head-to-head with the AirPods Pro, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro are a high-end pair of ANC in-ear headphones. 

Design – Far from an AirPods rip-off

The FreeBuds Pro look really good, with a far more angular stem than the usual rounded off style. I like it and I especially like the dark grey, almost metallic hue the review sample came in. You’ll find three silicone tips in the box, and throughout my week with the buds I’ve found them to be very comfortable, even during long listening sessions.

Along with the buds, you get a charging case in the same colour. This is a smooth, pebble-like case that’s small enough to slip into a pocket. It’s pretty much what you’d expect, with a LED on both the inside and out as well as a USB-C port for charging. There’s no pairing button, however the buds enter pairing mode when you flip the case open.

The stem of the earbud is where the controls sit, at least in their capacitive form. These can be fiddly as the area to hit but the interface offers plenty of functionality. You can swipe down to lower the volume, hold to alter the ANC levels and tap to play and pause. 

Sound and ANC – A big improvement and excellent ANC

It’s fair to say we’ve not been big fans of Huawei’s headphones to date, but I think there are some real improvements here and it probably helps that these aren’t confined to the ‘budget’ area of the market.

Related: Best wireless headphones

These FreeBuds Pro have a very balanced sound, with a particular skill for picking out vocals. After a few listens I would say they sound as good as AirPods Pro, with just enough bass to ensure the low end doesn’t feel flat.

Its ANC skills are impressive too, ensuring music and audiobooks can be heard on a rattling tube train without having to turn the volume up. The ANC is certainly stronger than on the AirPods Pro, with Huawei’s rival especially good at cutting out the drawl of a car engine. Huawei is touting this as the ‘world’s first dynamic noise cancellation’ with up to 50db of noise cancellation and a sensing system that recognises your environment.

One issue I did come across, which might be down to the sensing system, was that the ANC would occasionally turn off and on for no reason. I’d be sitting on the train and it would randomly turn off and then back on again. Hopefully these small bugs can be ironed out in a software update.

I’ve been mainly using the FreeBuds Pro with an iPhone 11 Pro along with the Huawei P40 Pro. Of course, being in the Huawei ecosystem gives you benefits such as extra customisation with the app, and handy extras like the setup wizard to get the right tips for ears. Nevertheless they work just fine when paired with an iPhone.

One very obvious strong point is the mic system, which does a great job at reducing irritating wind noise when talking outside.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro – Early Verdict

I’ll have to wait for full pricing details and spend more time testing the battery before I can give a full score, but so far it’s a big improvement over previous Huawei efforts. The FreeBuds Pro sounds good, features strong ANC and has a design that isn’t just a copy of something else.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

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