Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro 2 are an unexciting pair of earbuds. They offer all the features you’d expect, like good quality audio, capable active noise cancellation (ANC), customisable touch controls and have a comfortable fit. They do the job, but there isn’t anything here to make them stand out.
At $359, the FreeBuds Pro 2 are going up against some of the best earbuds on the market, and because of that, they fall short of the mark. The design isn’t great, the audio quality sounds tinny at higher volumes, and the four-hour battery life is half as long as similarly priced competitors.
Usually, when big tech companies produce earbuds, the main attraction is how they integrate into the product ecosystem. Take a look at Apple’s AirPods Pro, and one of the best things about them is how well they work with the Apple ecosystem.
Huawei – these days – only sells a smattering of products here in NZ. Meaning the FreeBuds Pro 2 are missing what could potentially be their standout features.
What’s left is a pair of earbuds offering standard features while not being as good as similarly priced competitors. There are better earbuds out there for the same price or less.
- Good bass capabilities
- Comfortable fit
- Adequate ANC
- Not as good as similarly priced competitors
- Four-hour battery life
- Audio sounds tinny at higher volumes
- Cheap looking design
The FreeBuds Pro 2 cost $359.
The Freebuds Pro 2 sport a stem and bud design much like the AirPods Pro and the Oppo Enco X2s. Here though, the stem is shorter and thicker, and the bud is larger.
They don’t sit in the base of your ear canal like AirPods. Instead, you need to push them quite far into your ear. Similar to earbuds like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
At 6.1g per earbud, they’re comfortable and light, and they come with three different size silicone tips so they’ll fit most ears.
Overall, I wasn’t a fan of the look. They come in three colours Silver Blue, Silver Frost and Ceramic White. For our review, we were given the Silver Blue version, and they don’t look great. The earbuds have a cheap-looking reflective chrome finish and are a sucker for fingerprints.
Although not explicitly designed for workouts, the FreeBuds Pro 2 have an IP54 resistance rating, meaning they’ll survive a splash of water or sweat.
Like other stem-based earbuds, the touch controls here are pinch inputs. I love this. I find it easier to command the earbuds accurately. Here you can pinch once to pause, twice to skip, three times for the previous track and hold to switch between ANC and Awareness modes. With each input, a clicking sound plays, so you quickly know how many inputs you’ve performed. It works well.
You can also control the volume with the earbuds, which is a must-have these days. Frustratingly though, the volume slider is located on the forward edge of the stem as opposed to the broad face. It requires a lot of scrubbing; you can’t turn the volume fully up or down with one swipe, and it gets a bit tedious.
The FreeBuds Pro 2 were co-engineered with Devialet. This is a French acoustical engineering company. The bass capabilities here are decent, and they produce a competent sound overall, but they’re still a way off Sony’s WF-1000XM4s.
Sporting a dual-driver setup, the earbuds have 11mm dynamic drivers designed to produce richer, more defined bass frequencies. What’s different here is Huawei has added an additional planar diaphragm driver that takes care of the treble and higher frequencies. The results are decent. The bass is powerful without muddying the mix, and you can easily hear higher frequencies.
This dual-driver setup allows the earbuds to reach a broader frequency range, 14Hz to 48kHz. Most earbuds offer 20Hz to 20kHz frequency ranges. Theoretically, this means the earbuds can produce a wider range of sounds across the frequency spectrum. However, human hearing can only hear sounds up to 28kHz, so it’s not much to get worked up about.
Listening to bass-heavy tracks like Ragga Bomb by Skrillex was where these earbuds were at their best. The bass was punchy and weighty, and it added a good bounce to the song.
The audio quality also lent itself well to other genres. Songs like Vagabond by Caamp and Cucurucu by Nick Mulvey sounded clean and crisp. I was able to pinpoint treble and high frequencies easily, and the mix was clean and vibrant. But I found bass-oriented songs were best.
At higher volume levels, the earbuds did start to sound a bit tinny. This wasn’t a significant issue, but it sets the best earbuds apart. Snare hits sounded tinny in some mixes, and it didn’t have the same audio fidelity as other earbuds like Sony’s WF-1000XM4s.
Interestingly, the earbuds sounded significantly better with the maximum level of ANC turned on. To ensure this wasn’t just the environment I was in, I tested them in a quiet room with minimal outside noise. The audio quality didn’t sound as good with the ANC on medium. I had to have the ANC on Ultra mode for the best results.
The FreeBuds Pro 2 supports adaptive EQ in which the earbuds will equalise the sounds according to your environment. But I didn’t notice much difference in sound as I changed areas. I much preferred personalising the equaliser in the app to get the sound how I wanted it.
The earbuds support Sony’s LDAC codec for hi-res audio. To use it, remember you’ll need a device that supports LDAC as well. Bad luck, iPhone users.
The ANC here is very good. The FreeBuds Pro 2 utilise a tri-mic system to cancel out outside noise, and it’s effective, cancelling out most background noise like a fan or air conditioning unit. It struggled a bit with higher-pitched sounds like the tapping of my keyboard, though. This is something that the best in the business, the Bose QuietComfort earbuds, were able to handle.
The ANC comes in four modes, Dynamic, in which it adjusts levels based on your environment, Cozy for quiet places, General for noisy places and Ultra, for very noisy places. I only found a use for the Ultra setting. In Dynamic mode, the audio quality suffered, and I found it didn’t adjust well to my surroundings. Ultra-mode cancelled almost everything and enhanced the audio quality as well. I just left it in this setting.
Awareness mode is Huawei’s version of Ambient Noise, in which the internal mics pick up outside noise and play it into your ears. It works as well as it should.
The auto-pause functionality works very well. Taking one earbud off would pause the music I was listening to or the video I was watching, and putting it back in would play it again. It was accurate and responsive, and I didn’t have any problems with it playing when I had taken them out.
Huawei AI Life is a relatively barebones app for earbuds. It lets you change ANC levels, perform an earbud fit test, equalise your audio, and you can customise the touch inputs to your liking. All pretty standard stuff.
The earbuds performed well when talking on the phone. My partner was able to hear me even in windy conditions. While she could still hear the wind, my voice came through clearly over the top.
The battery in the FreeBuds Pro 2 is poor. Boasting only 4-hours with ANC turned on, it’s well behind the market leaders.
With ANC off, they’ll last for 6 hours, and you can get an additional 18 hours from the case.
With ANC on the similarly priced Oppo Enco X2 earbuds boast a 5-hour battery, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro’s last an impressive 8.5-hours and the Sony WF-1000XM4’s last 8 hours.
The FreeBuds Pro 2 are well behind in this regard.
Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro 2 earbuds provide a comfortable fit, responsive touch controls, decent audio and capable ANC. But they don’t bring enough to the table to make them a leading choice for true wireless earbuds.
Simply boasting the same features as several other products doesn’t make them stand out from the crowd. Like many others, they’re jack of all-trade earbuds, master of none.
The main attraction here is the audio quality. Thanks to their dual-driver setup, these earbuds produce good, immersive audio with punchy bass and resonant higher frequencies. Also, the ANC is pretty good at cancelling out most noise. With that said, neither of these features trump their similarly priced counterparts, namely Sony’s WF-1000XM4s.
Where they struggle is design and battery. The design looks tacky. The chrome finish is a fingerprints magnet, and they look and feel like cheaper earbuds.
The battery is well off the mark. Boasting a 4-hour life cycle with ANC on, this is significantly lower than earbuds at a similar price.
All this leads to the question, why buy these earbuds for $359 when you can buy Sony’s similarly priced WF-1000XM4s, which are better in every way?
You need to do something to stand out in a market as crowded as the earbuds market. The FreeBuds Pro 2 don’t do this, and there are better options out there.