Huawei may have lost its global footprint, but the brand is still popular among customers in India. China’s tech giant hasn’t launched a noteworthy smartphone in the country for quite some time, but is updating its smart wearable portfolio with fitness trackers and TWS earphones. Almost two months ago, Huawei launched the Huawei FreeBuds 4i TWS earphones for Rs 7,990. Customers can choose from Red Edition, Ceramic White, and Carbon Black colors. Earphones are now available for purchase on Amazon for Rs 6,990.
This review considers a carbon black unit that has been used and tested for nearly two weeks. Initially, the company sent a ceramic white color option, but due to technical issues it had to be replaced. Either way, both variations feature a glossy finish, and the Huawei FreeBuds 4i supports Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). If you’re wondering how TWS earphones work on smartphones other than Huawei (mainly Android or iOS), here’s a breakdown.
design: Start with a charging case that’s the same color as your earphones. As mentioned earlier, users can choose from four color options: Red Edition, Ceramic White, and Carbon Black. The pebble-shaped charging case also has a glossy finish, leaving fingerprint marks. Make sure you don’t put the key in the same trouser pocket, as the case is easily scratched.
The connect button is on the right, but it’s not easy to find at first. But the most annoying part of the case is the incredibly smaller lid than the base. This means that if you use the buttons on the right to connect your earphones, even the slightest touch will close the lid. This essentially affects the connection process. The case weighs about 36 grams, which is about 15 grams lighter than the previous generation Huawei FreeBuds 3i.
On the other hand, the weight of Huawei FreeBuds 4i is exactly the same as the previous model. Each bud weighs 5.5 grams and features long stems that support touch control. Despite the long stem design reminiscent of the first generation of Apple AirPods, the Huawei Free Buds 4i is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I said this earlier in a past review, but I’m not blessed with big ears and wearing canal-style earphones isn’t always comfortable. However, these earphones fit snugly in your ear without causing discomfort.
Finally, the box contains three sets of silicon chips (small and large), with the medium-sized chips turned on by default.
App compatibility and performance: Regarding app connectivity, if Bluetooth is supported, users can connect the Huawei FreeBuds 4i to any smartphone or PC. However, you can fine-tune the touch control only through the Huawei AI Life app. We mainly tested the earphones on an iPhone 12 that was able to connect the buds to the app. However, the connection with Android smartphones (Samsung Galaxy M525G and OnePlus 9R 5G) could not be established. According to the company, earphones also work on Android phones without clarifying the model. I checked a few other reviews, and even GSMArena faced a similar issue. The publication states that the Android app was able to connect the earphones after scanning the QR code on the box.
When it comes to sound quality, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i’s audio is crisp and has moderate bass. However, when compared to competing products such as the Jabra Elite 3 and Nothing Ear 1, the bass isn’t exactly punchy. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t allow you to use equalizer mode, but the quality is the same when connected to an iPhone. Or a Windows PC via Bluetooth (v5.2). The mid frequencies are mostly balanced, but the highs and lows are average. This means that you never experience the best beatdrops and your earphones don’t make the loudest sounds. However, if you wear it for work or regular training (I mainly use earphones for these tasks), Huawei earphones offer decent performance as a price tag.
Fortunately, there was no disconnection and the connection range was about 30 meters, which is not a bad thing at all. The Huawei AI Life app allows you to fine-tune the gestures on both earphones. You can also enable / disable wear detection to stop music by removing one earphone. The app allows you to choose between ANC mode and recognition mode, but you can’t tweak the expected levels, especially in the 8,000 rupee price range. The ANC and recognition mode are satisfactory and do not affect the balanced sound quality. There is no “find my buds” feature that costs 6,999 rupees on Nothing Ear1.
Finally, the sound quality during the call is clear and outperforms the Samsung Galaxy Buds2, which costs around Rs. 12,000 in India. Each earphone comes with dual microphones, one at the bottom of the stem and one at the top. It also has a dustproof and waterproof IP54 rating. This is a pretty good price tag.
battery: If you’re looking for earphones with the right sound quality, an almost balanced audio experience and long battery life, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i offers very satisfying performance. Each Huawei Freebuds 4i has a 55mAh power cell, and the company claims 7.5 hours of continuous playback time at 50% volume with ANC turned off and AAC mode enabled. Even though the volume level was about 80%, the music playback time was about 6.5 hours. This is further enhanced if ANC is off. To be honest, I didn’t even care about checking the battery level and used the earphones on the go for a week without charging once.
The charging case comes with a USB Type-C port so you can use the latest Android smartphone chargers. There is no support for wireless charging, but it is a bargain made by the company if you want to keep the price at 8,000 rupees.
verdict: This tells you if the Huawei Freebuds 4i is worth considering if you’re using earphones in a similar price range that offer similar specifications. On paper, Nothing Ear 1 earphones promise more features and are relatively cheap. However, during testing, I realized that these earphones needed some improvement. The company may address these issues with the latest Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition released this week.
By comparison, the Huawei Freebuds 4i provides satisfactory sound quality with excellent battery life and ANC on the iPhone. However, I had a problem connecting to the Huawei app on two Android smartphones, so please read the return policy carefully before making a purchase decision.
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Balanced sound, excellent battery life
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