Huawei FreeBuds 4i review: Charge less, listen more

Huawei FreeBuds 4i review: Charge less, listen more

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These days, there are just so many TWS devices to choose from. Ranging from expensive ones with extensive features to more wallet-friendly choices, wireless earbuds can already be regarded as a staple in a modern lifestyle. But, again, with so many choices out there, coming home to something familiar like the Huawei FreeBuds 4i shows that you can get a reliable device with advanced features all at a friendly price.

Now smaller, sleeker, and considered more powerful, what else does the Huawei FreeBuds 4i offer? Read on to find out.

Design

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i has undergone a semi-dramatic design overhaul when compared to its previous FreeBuds 3i. It ditches the old pill box-shaped design in favor of a smaller, more pocketable oval-shaped charging case. It’s not the most compact TWS charging case around but it can easily fit in your pants pocket or the palm of your hand.

The back of the case is rendered flat so it’s won’t wobble around when you put it down on a flat surface. There’s also a button on the right for manual pairing, an LED indicator up front, and the USB Type-C charging port at the bottom.

We’re still getting that high-gloss finish though which is very smooth to the touch and actually makes the device quite easy to clean. Our FreeBuds 4i comes in the Ceramic White color but there are two other colors available — Carbon Black and Red (Yes, it’s simply called Red)

As for the buds, they’re now shorter and smaller but seem just a tiny bit thicker. The design is also more rounded overall with a better fit for the ears thanks to the new ergonomic design. If you’re coming from the 3i or something similar, you’ll appreciate the shorter stems which help add a “barely-there” feel to the buds. It also feels less cramped in the ear and is easier to wear for longer periods of time.

Sound performance

Equipped with a 10mm driver, the FreeBuds 4i is an above-average performer in its price range and produces quality sound with a good balance of highs and lows. The improved earbud design and its silicone tips also provide a good seal in the ears that helped in improving overall sound. The lows have also been improved and are now much more present and alive while highs remain clear and balanced.

Don’t expect to crank up the volume to max, though, as you lose that balance as audio gets louder. At 80-100% volume, the bass will come up pretty thin while the highs can become just a bit overpowering. Though, in truth, this shouldn’t be a problem because it’s not healthy to max out the volume when listening on earphones in the first place.

Operating the FreeBuds 4i is easy thanks to the touch-capacitive sensors found on both buds. Much like the 3i, you’ll be able to customize what taps on the earbuds do. Actions are limited to double taps and tap and hold for each earbud, though.

In terms of controls, I’m still looking for a bit more flexibility. I personally find having just double taps and tap and hold quite limiting and had me reaching for my phone at times to take full control of the device.

In terms of latency, the FreeBuds 4i claims to have a minimal amount so you can enjoy content seamlessly. For playing music, taking calls, or playing games, I didn’t experience any lag to the point of inconvenience. The only time it became noticeable was when I started playing resource-heavy games like Genshin Impact. Audio would sometimes come about half a second late which wasn’t the best when watching cut scenes or cinematics. It didn’t happen often, though, so it’s forgivable.

ANC and Awareness mode

Back on the FreeBuds 4i are the Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) and Awareness modes. Huawei has been providing consistently good active noise cancelation across all its TWS devices so far and the FreeBuds 4i is no exception. The ANC on the 3i seems to perform better though but both still perform more than acceptable, more so in this price range.

You’re not getting pro-grade cancelation but it is enough to drown out surrounding noises. I was even able to drown out the noise of a TV playing music nearby. I could still hear it at a minimal volume but once I started playing music, I could barely hear it anymore.

As for Awareness mode, it’s a convenient feature to have and performs just as it should. The buds were able to take in the surrounding sound and feed it to my ears quite clearly. Even with the buds on, I was comfortably able to talk to others and could hear what was happening in the room thanks to the dual mics that can recognize and enhance voices. Though, of course, once you play music or any other audio, the surrounding noises become less audible.

While you can use the FreeBuds 4i straight out of the box, I would highly suggest downloading Huawei’s AI Life app to really get the most out of the device. It’s a great way to access all of the features without needing to touch the buds. You’ll also be able to monitor your battery life better and customize your taps.

Overall, the FreeBuds 4i show enough improvement to warrant an upgrade from past models. You’ve got better sound quality, overall, and have access to easy-to-use features that are really convenient.

Battery

Huawei claims that the FreeBuds 4i can last up to 10 hours of playback with ANC disabled and up to 7.5 hours with ANC enabled. I wore the FreeBuds for one whole working day, about 8 hours, and the FreeBuds 4i lasted with a little extra juice to spare. The battery life is very impressive, no doubt about it.

You can even get more life out of your buds with the charging case. We were about to get about 3 more charges from the case before it ran dry.

A 30-minute charge of the case with the buds in them resulted in 55% battery for the earbuds while the case was at 25%. It took about an hour to charge the case to full. Huawei says that even a mere 10-minute charge should be able to provide up to 4 hours of playback.

Creature Feature

In our reviews, The Modern Creatures aims to find special features in devices that make them worth having. For the Huawei FreeBuds 4i, it would have to be its battery life.

If you’re the type of person who appreciates not having to charge the whole day, then the Huawei FreeBuds 4i is just for you. Its long-lasting battery made me realize the luxury of not having to constantly charge your device and I really liked it.

And even if I was caught in a situation where the buds ran out of battery, I could take a break, leave them in the case to charge and they’d be ready again by the time I’d get back.

Final thoughts

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i offer the same reliable and quality performance the line has come to be known for. Not only are you getting good performing ANC on an affordable device but also good battery life to support it. Narrowing things down, if you value quality, balanced sound, and dependable features at a very good price, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i is something really worth considering.

The Huawei FreeBudss 4i is currently priced at PhP 3,599. There’s an ongoing promotion as well over at the official Huawei store where you can get a free thermos for every purchase or go for the bundle that includes a Huawei Band 4e. It’s also available at Huawei’s official stores on Lazada and Shopee.