Hands-On Review: Huawei FreeBuds Pro Walk the Walk

Pros: Excellent sound for many song genres with a flat response and solid bass. Impressive dynamic auto and manual active noise cancelation (ANC) options and plenty of gesture control.

Cons: The heaviest in its class will tire you after a few hours unless fitted properly. Needs Huawei’s newest AI Life app currently only available through the QR code in the product packaging.

While truly good sound is universally good, when it comes to most basic earbuds and music sources, It’s challenging to gauge how good a pair of headphones are. Whether in-ear, around, or on the ear models, sound can be impacted by so many subjective factors: the music you listen to and from what source, your surroundings, age, ear health, and even your mood.

30 hours of music listening with case

The Huawei FreeBuds Pro, however, deliver a favourable listening experience, in my opinion. The bass has impact, you physically feel like it’s really there. Yet, it’s not boomy like others and doesn’t drown the music. It is present in subtle classical music and definitely there in pop songs, accommodating all kinds of genres with positive results.

The mid tones are rich allowing you to clearly distinguish between vocals and instruments and the highs come through clean. High pitch trumpet notes from Miles Davis keep the brassy sound clean as do podcasts.

Although the FreeBuds Pro weigh more than the most recent Apple AirPods Pro, Samsung Galaxy Live Buds, and Google’s Pixel Buds. they are second in long comfort level after the Galaxy Live Buds unique bean shaped model. They have a premium look, especiallythe Frosted Silver (they are also available in Ceramic White). The short protruding cubic earphone stem uses pinch, pinch & hold, and swipe for a rich selection of gesture controls for things like adjusting volume, pausing music, turning noise-cancelling on or off, activating awareness mode, skipping tracks, and more. I liked that better than tap-enabled buds.

Coolest features

ThThis brings us to the two coolest features of the FreeBuds Pro:

  • As noted, “noise cancelling” “off“ and “awareness” are quickly accessed by long pinching on the buds. According to Huawei, these 40 dB capable noise reduction puppies are the world’s first true wireless stereo (TWS) earphones to support Intelligent Dynamic Active Noise Cancellation.

Featuring a hardware and software integrated solution, the FreeBuds Pro intelligently identify the type of ambient noise based on the user’s immediate surroundings and switch between “dynamic” for automatically adjusting between “cosy” ideal for places with very little noise, “general” for noisy places and “ultra” for extremely noisy places. I found “dynamic” mode automatically adjusts through all these modes quite well but you can experiment manually cycling through the modes on the AI Life app.

Manual selection of Active Noise Cancelation Noise with the AI Life app

I should note there is a slight change to the music tone, like competitors, when using Active Noise Canceling mode and ANC is a battery hog. Keep in mind that a secure fit with the right-sized eartips (they come with three sizes) and using the AI Life feature that smartly makes sure the tips are snug in your ear ensures a noticeable outside noise decrease with ANC off as well.

  • Using the onboard phone call microphones these buds dynamically equalize your sound, especially bass and high tones depending on the surroundings. I found bass increases in intensity when outside.   

A 3-mic system and the bone voice sensor reduce background noises and enhance human voices and allow for clear calls. Dual Anti-wind Noise Structure eliminate the noise caused by strong winds.

Getting the right Huawei AI Life app is annoying

Unlike most Android competitors that easily connect to Bluetooth devices like speakers using the phone’s Bluetooth setup, an extra step is required to download the latest AI Life app. Downloading the current AI Life in the App Store will not work. Instead, you have to use the QR code in the packaging. I found Huawei’s manual install with a “scan code” option did not scan properly. But scanning the code with a third party QR scan app worked well. Another option is to download the proper AI Life app using Huawei’s AppGallery.

It’s a pain to go through these loops, but definitely worth it once you’re finally set up!

Once you have the proper AI Life, the buds sync automatically with your phone by simply opening the case they are in. You can switch between two Bluetooth headphones. There are no issues getting the right app if you have any Huawei phone.

iPhones will work with the FreeBuds Pro but in a limited capacity. Huawei says an iOS AI Life version for this model is in the works.

Good battery performance

              I found an impressive six to seven hours of music playback on one charge with the buds alone with ANC off and about four hours with ANC on. You get three and-a-half to four hours with ANC on/off on voice calls. I got between 29-30 hours of music playback with the charging case. The case also charges wirelessly with most reverse charging capable phone brands. In a pinch they charge from zero to 55% in 30 minutes. That’s fast.

Canadians can purchase the Huawei FreeBuds Pro   ($269), in Silver Frost and Ceramic White at Amazon, Staples, Visions Electronics, Canada Computers, Newegg, Memory Express and Today’s Shopping Choice.