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Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 review




At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsDual-drivers sound amazingSolid ANC performanceUseful smart featuresWireless charging caseConsIrritating software setupNew colour is a fingerprint magnetSlightly awkward swipe gestureOur Verdict

Apart from a few minor caveats, the FreeBuds Pro 2 offer an excellent experience for anyone looking for reasonably affordable wireless earbuds with excellent sound, ANC and features.

Price When Reviewed

Unavailable in the US

Huawei is back with another pair of flagship true wireless earbuds and not only are they cheaper than key rivals, but they’re also co-engineered with Devialet and include planar drivers. 

Furthermore, they claim to offer high-end features and performance for just £169.99 so let’s find out if that’s true. 

Design & Build  

New Silver Blue colour Smaller case Now IP54 rated 

It’s no big surprise that the design is similar to the original FreeBuds Pro and like rivals, the focus here is on making the earbuds smaller, lighter and more comfortable.  

The ‘cubic’ design featuring chunky looking square shaped stems won’t be for everyone. Nor will the choice of colourways: Ceramic White, Silver Frost and a new Silver Blue option I tested.   

They’re certainly not my kind of style but I’m sure plenty of people will like the blingy, reflective chrome effect of the Silver Blue. Do bear in mind that it results in lots of fingerprints though so if that something you want to avoid, opt for the white model. 

The advantage of this stem design is that, as before, the FreeBuds Pro 2 offer both pinch and swipe touch controls which is a real boon; particularly the latter for volume control which is rare on wireless earbuds. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

However, the swipe gesture is located on the front edge of the stem – not the large area with the Huawei logo – making it difficult to use. You can at least do it on either earbud. 

The case is also smaller – 11% according to Huawei – making it nicely compact. The hinge at the back sports the Devialet logo alongside Huawei’s, though this would be nicer at the front in my opinion. 

More importantly, it’s much easier to get the earbuds out than the original Pro model. In most markets the case will offer wireless charging, but if not then you can top it up with USB-C. 

One of the main design upgrades here is the jump from basic IPX4 water resistance, IP54 meaning they’re also dustproof now. 

Sound Quality & Features 

11mm dynamic driver + planar diaphragm driver Bluetooth 5.2 LDAC Hi-Res Audio Wireless 

Probably the most interesting thing about the FreeBuds Pro 2 is that they have ‘Dual-Speaker True sound’ by way of ‘Ultra-hearing Dual Driver’. Marketing terms aside, this means that the earbuds have two drivers instead of the traditional one. 

It’s not unheard of, but the second being a planar driver is. Unlike a normal cone-shaped driver, a planar driver is flat and although they’re normally used for better bass, this ultra high frequency micro planar diaphragm results in “high transient response and rich treble”, according to the firm. 

It also gives the FreeBuds Pro 2 a wide frequency range of 14Hz – 48kHz when most headphones offer 20Hz-20kHz. And they’ve been co-engineered with Devialet so the important question here is whether these earbuds sound good. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

The simple answer (based on my testing with a Pixel 6, which does have LDAC – more on that below) is yes, and let’s start with the incredible bass performance which when you listen to tracks like James Blake’s Limit to Your Love, normally sounds distinctly lacking on most headphones. The eardrum shaking sub-bass is done true justice here partly thanks to that 14Hz reach. 

The track is also a great test of mid-range and top-end, and while the bass dominates here, the high-pitch percussion slices through cleanly and clearly. James’ vocals also sound rich and dynamic. 

Move onto the Foo Fighters as All My Life and things sound a little more muddy in comparison, but that’s not uncommon for rock music. The FreeBuds Pro still do a great job of reproducing all the different instruments and there’s a nicely energetic response from the drivers along with a spacious soundstage. 

‘Sound effects’ in the AI Life app are actually EQ presets with options for Bass boost, Treble boost or Clear vocals, plus you can create your own with a 10-band graphic EQ. However, I found the default option created with Devialet was perfectly good. 

Huawei offers ‘Triple Adaptive EQ’ which aims to tune the sound and adjust the volume depending on various things such as your ear canal structure. It’ll also kick in if you adjust either earbud. Whether this works is hard to say, especially the latter since moving an earbud will alter the sound by way of sheer physics. 

It’s also worth noting that the earbuds sound good at various volume levels, too, not just when they’re somewhere in the middle. The bottom line is that you’re getting flagship level sound quality at a mid-range price. 

The same can be said of the noise cancelling, which this time around is Intelligent ANC 2.0. This now uses three microphones on each earbud – one on the inner side and one at either end of the stem – and is supposedly 15% than the previous model for depth. 

They have a wider frequency range of 50Hz–3,000kHz and can manage cancelling of up to 47dB which is an impressive figure on paper. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

I took the FreeBuds Pro 2 on a day trip to London and they did a great job of filtering out the sounds around me from people talking in a coffee shop to the sound of a train moving at full pace. As you’d expect, there’s also an ambient mode for when you need to hear what’s going on around you. 

Back to full ANC and there are different modes but you can’t cycle through these with the earbuds controls. The dynamic option automatically adjusts based on your surroundings, similar to Sony’s Adaptive Sound Control minus the location information, but you can go and select from cozy, general and ultra if you like. 

The FreeBuds Pro 2 are equipped with some of the latest wireless tech so not only do you get Bluetooth 5.2, the earbuds also offer Sony’s LDAC codec meaning you can get (when connected to a compatible device and streaming service/local content) Hi-Res Audio Wireless. 

LDAC goes up to 990kbps which until the NuraTrue Pro arrived was the fastest data rate you could get. If not you get the normal SBC, while iPhone users will use AAC. 

In terms of smart features, you get quick pairing with selected Huawei phones, tablets and laptops and dual device connection compatible with much more than just Huawei devices. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

Sensors on the earbuds know when they’re removed from your ears to pause playback and this works very well indeed. It’ll also resume when you put them back but the feature can be turned off in the app if you don’t like it. 

Huawei has also improved call quality as the FreeBuds Pro 2 use a new four-mic system (a bone conduction microphone and three additional microphones) as well as Huawei’s-exclusive deep neural network (DNN) noise cancellation algorithm. 

Whatever Huawei has done, it works very well indeed and the wind reduction – often the most problematic thing about headphones – is better than the vast majority of earbuds I’ve tested. 

Software 

Awkward App Gallery situation Easy to use Good features and customisation 

This continues to be downside for Huawei headphones, although the situation has improved a bit. You still need to download the Huawei AI Life app from the App Gallery, but this can now be done from inside the regular Play Store version. 

Still, it’s overly complicated and you once again end up with two versions of the app installed on your phone. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

The App Gallery will be able to connect to the FreeBuds Pro 2 and it wouldn’t be so bad if it was optional. Well, technically it is but there’s a lot of things you won’t get unless you use AI Life such as the fit test, gesture customisation, find lost earbuds, various settings and software updates. 

Once you’ve got over the annoying hurdles, the app is easy enough to use. Apart from one-time things like the fit test, you’ll want it to do things like change the ANC mode with options for dynamic, cozy, general and ultra. 

There’s also information for things like battery levels and connected devices. 

Battery Life 

Up to 6.5 hours from earbuds 18 hours total with ANC on Wireless charging case 

Something that hasn’t changed from the original FreeBud Pro is the battery life. Huawei still quotes a total of 30 hours when you include the charging case (with ANC off). 

You’ll supposedly get up to four hours of playback from the earbuds with ANC on (6.5 with it off). This tallies up with my experience as a two hour train journey knocked them to 50%, even if they did show 90- and 80% for the majority of that time. 

Chris Martin / Foundry

The case can take you to 18 hours (again with ANC on) which is reasonable but not class-leading. There’s no mention of quick charging the buds, which will take 40 minutes to top up fully. 

Fortunately, the case – in most markets – has wireless charging which isn’t a given at this sort of price. Wired USB-C is also available and faster (with wireless at just 2W) if you’re in a hurry. 

Price & Availability  

The FreeBuds Pro 2 are available now for £169.99; the same as their predecessors, meaning they undercut key rivals such as the AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QC Earbuds.  

Even Sony’s new LinkBuds S are a little more at £179 and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are £219 and until the end of July, you Huawei is offering £30 off the FreeBuds Pro 2 making them just £139.99. 

Even at full price, they make for an excellent value proposition and although you can spend less on earbuds, you’re extremely unlikely to find the level of quality and featureset on offer here.

You can’t buy them in the US officially but in the UK they’re available from the official Huawei store as well as retailers such as Amazon, Very and AO 

Check out our chart of the best true wireless earbuds for more options.

Verdict 

Although I’m not a fan of the new Blue Silver colour and the awkward swipe gesture of the FreeBuds Pro 2, there’s little else negative I can say about them. 

Software remains something of a bug bare, but it is at least easy enough to get the App Gallery version of AI Life from the regular Play Store version, delete the old one and forget about it. 

The dual-drivers offer a polished and dynamic sound and active noise cancelling is at a high level, too. The same is true of call quality and there are useful smart features such as wear sensors, wireless charging and more. 

It’s worth checking your phone supports LDAC in order to get the most out of the earbuds and longer battery life can be found elsewhere if that’s super important.   

Overall, the FreeBuds Pro 2 offer a well-rounded and very nearly premium experience at a very affordable price. 

Specs

11mm dynamic driver, planar diaphragm driver14Hz – 48kHzBluetooth 5.2Bone senso, Accelerometer, Gyroscope sensor, Infrared sensorSimultaneous connection to two Bluetooth devices supportedLDAC, AAC, SBCPinch and swipe gesturesBattery life: Up to 6.5 hours music playback on 1 charge (4 hours with ANC), 30 hr playback with charging caseUSB-CWireless charging (market dependant)Dynamic active noise cancelling (up to 47dB)Dimensions: 29.1 x 23.7 x 21.8 mm (per earbud)Dimensions: 67.9 x 47.5 x 24.5 mm (charging case)Weight: About 6.1 g (per earbud), About 52 g (charging case)IP54Silver Blue,Silver Frost ,Ceramic White

About the author: SubSellKaro

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