Positioned at less than 100 euros in the in-ear headphones segment true wireless, Huawei’s FreeBuds 4i are supposed to correct the weaknesses of the previous model with a quality and performance close to the models premium. Futura was able to test them to get an idea.

Huawei’s FreeBuds 4i correct the defects that were attributed to the previous model released in May 2020. This is in any case what was recently stated, during their presentation, the product manager of the brand in France. For the brand’s most affordable wireless model, the biggest grievance was battery life. It then peaked at only three hours. The earphones were also criticized for having an impractical storage-recharging roller which made ” knock “. While the FreeBuds 4i are just on the market, it’s time to check if the Chinese manufacturer has managed to respond to these criticisms.

A significantly improved housing

Let’s start with this famous storage box. Resembling the classic pebble found on other models, it is rounded and has a base to remain stable when installed, unlike that of the FreeBuds 3i. Another change, the earphone rods sink into the case while, for the previous model, the earphones were stored horizontally in it. Pulling out the headphones the first time takes a bit of practice, but it’s not crippling either.

Huawei emphasizes the side premium of this case in plastic brilliant. In fact, this does not necessarily stand out, with a hood hinge with a little play and a shiny appearance that takes fingerprints well or adheres to the fibers of clothing pockets. It has the advantage of being supplied with a long USB type C charging cable. This box is not compatible with wireless charging, a privilege of the version. Pro headphones from the brand.

As for the headphones, their design has also been revised. The stems are shorter and thinner. They are also lighter (5.5 g). In terms of comfort, these 4i are as easy to wear as the AirPods Apple Pro. They are completely forgotten and, once in place, it is possible to run with them without having to adjust them. In short, they don’t move. To suit most morphologies earrings, Huawei provides three eartip sizes.

Autonomy that more than doubles

The three hours of autonomy of the previous model were its big weak point. With its Freebuds 4i, it now reaches seven hours with active noise reduction engaged, or ten hours without it. These are the figures announced by the manufacturer during the presentation, but they seem to be more or less verified in the facts. When weak, fast charging gives them up to four hours of battery life in ten minutes. This autonomy then becomes one of the main strengths of headphones.

And the sound?

With 10mm speakers, the manufacturer promises sound quality premium for his headphones. It is true that, for their price, these headphones deliver a sound more than correct, even if we feel that the manufacturer is adding his touch on the different frequencies. Despite this, the reproduction of bass and treble borders on the excellence of this segment. Alone, the medium part remains a little too much in the foreground. At this price level, while there are generally mediocre sounding models, the sound is generally surprising.

Active noise reduction has been reviewed with this model. It is now adaptive and promises to reduce surrounding noise by 22 dB. In fact, it works quite well with deaf noises, but the sound of voices is still present. In short, we should not expect to find ourselves in a bubble of total silence. It is also possible to adjust the reduction so that it makes voices and certain noises audible. When it comes to using a hands-free headset, we’ve noticed that it’s best to make a call in a quiet location. Certain ambient sounds which interfere with the discussion are sometimes poorly filtered. If it is about wind, its acoustic neutralization is also random.

Touch controls

For controlling playback or applying settings at your fingertips, Huawei only offers the bare minimum. A tap pauses or takes a call. A long press gives the choice to activate one of the two surrounding noise attenuation settings or to deactivate it. No adjustment of volume, nor of passage to the next title. It is however possible to add some adjustments, but still not that of the volume, by installing theapplication Huawei AI Life on an Android mobile. But, be careful, unless you have a Huawei smartphone, you will have to be cunning because the application available on the Play Store is no longer updated and does not include support for FreeBuds 4i. First you have to install Huawei’s application gallery and then, from it, the AI ​​Life application. It is also necessary to force the installation of these applications which will be blocked by the Android security system.

After these operations, you can assign a few more commands to each of the earbuds, adjust the noise attenuation, or be able to precisely control the charge level of each earpiece and of the box. Obviously, if you have a branded smartphone, all of the settings are immediately available, with the bonus of quick pairing.

Availability and colors

The Freebuds 4i are available since March 22 in red, white, black. They are offered at a price of 99.99 euros. A reduction of 20 euros is applied until April 25.

Futura’s review

At 99.99 euros, or even 79.99 for a month, hard to find better on the headphones market true wireless at the moment. Huawei has been attentive to the criticisms leveled at the FreeBuds 3i and corrected the shooting with precision. For once, the headphones are similar to the Pro models without reaching them. At this price point, they inevitably encounter limits with, for example, rudimentary touch settings. The headphones also have active noise reduction which may not be the best around, but it has the merit of being present.

Futura’s note

WE love

  • 7 hour battery life and fast charging
  • The low price with an excellent level of performance
  • The good fit in the ear and the comfort of the headphones

We don’t like

  • Rudimentary touch controls
  • The constraints of installing the Huawei AI Life application
  • The surrounding noise attenuation system inefficient during calls

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