My partner has been getting on me a bit about being present during my days. Her chief complaint seems to be that I always seem to have something in my ears. I can’t be mad, though, because she’s not wrong; I usually have some sort of earbud plugged into my noggin. While I know I should probably spend more time listening to the other people in my life, there are just… so many podcasts out there, and someone’s got to listen to them. So I might as well use something nice while I’m listening then, maybe Huawei’s FreeBuds 4i.
So, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i are the latest mid-range offering from Huawei, successor to the decent FreeBuds 3i and a step down in price and performance from the FreeBuds Pro. These come in three different colours: black, white, and a sizzlingly hot red, and feature a stick with angled silicone nub to fit into the ear itself, similar to the FreeBuds Pro or Apple’s AirPods Pro. Personally, I always like this shape on an earbud, smaller, stemless buds tend to lose themselves in my comically large ears and require some light excavation to remove. Also, I like the colours a lot. The white is clean, black is classic and always looks good, and the red is just obnoxious enough to turn some heads.
“Rather than the oblong rectangle the 4i comes in perfectly palm sized flattened egg shape with a divot so in can sit flatly without any kind of wobbling.”
The charging case has gone through a bit of a remodel since its last iteration. Rather than the oblong rectangle the 4i comes in perfectly palm sized flattened egg shape with a divot so in can sit flatly without any kind of wobbling. The case is charged by USB-C, so it should charge lightning quick. The internal battery should hold enough juice to bring the buds back up to charge at least twice without getting plugged back in, leading to over a full day’s worth of extensive use, in my experience.
A small LED under Huawei’s branding will provide the charge status of the case while it is open, and a small button along the side can used for pairing but is otherwise practically invisible without a bit of scrutiny. Internal magnets hold the buds into place while charging, but, largely due to their smooth shape, removing the earpieces from the case are often a bit of a struggle. It’s not so much that it takes some great feat of strength but more that they are hard to really get a good grip on.
“The Huawei FreeBuds 4i host nice microphones for this class of equipment and even more impressive active noise-canceling.”
Now, as for the all-important noisy bits—probably the more important aspect of these little sound nubs—they do quite well. Music and calls come in clearly though the bass here tends to be lacking. By contrast, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i host nice microphones for this class of equipment and even more impressive active noise-canceling. So, you’ll be fine plugged into these for phone calls and podcasts, even if they are outclassed when it comes to some musical accompaniment—even if you happen to have a distressed partner or pet adamantly vying for your attention.
Generally, there is a lot to like about the Huawei FreeBuds 4i. As I mentioned, I love the colours and style. The shape of the buds themselves is comfortable and easily conducive to all day listening, and the batteries won’t stand in your way here either. Each individual bud will last you about 8 hours on a full charge and, assuming there’s some juice in the case, will charge back up quickly, long before the other bud has spent its charge, and the buds connect and disconnect seamlessly leading to little to no pause in the music when switching out. ANC can be toggled on and off in case you want to squeeze out a couple more hours of precious phonic joy from each bud.
There aren’t a lot of knocks against these. They certainly won’t crank out the highest calibre sounds, especially when it comes to deep, low tones, but what they do is still fairly impressive considering their mid-range price point. The little monsters can be frustratingly finicky to get out of their charging cradle, but it’s a momentary obstacle at worst. If you’re looking for a new set of Bluetooth noise-makers for daily use and don’t need the absolute best sound quality on the market—especially if you’re not looking to spend heaps of money—then the Huawei FreeBuds 4i are a great choice, with decent active noise-canceling to boot.