Huawei FreeBuds 4i Bluetooth Headset Review: Surround Sound with Good ANC [análise/vídeo]


Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

Huawei has been betting on mid-range Bluetooth headsets for some time now, but it always had something to disappoint consumers. Shy sound, weak autonomy and problematic integration marked the previous models. It seems, however, that the bad phase is going away and the company promises significant advances with the Huawei FreeBuds 4i. In addition to gaining a new design, the headset has more battery, a new color option and Bluetooth 5.2.

Like past generations, the devices feature active noise cancellation technology, which has always earned high marks for excellent performance. The FreeBuds 3i was a disappointment, but does the current model please? I have tested Huawei FreeBuds 4i at home, on the street, at the gym and on the subway, and I share my opinion about the product in this review.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i Video Review

ethics notice

O Techblog is an independent journalistic vehicle that has helped people make their next purchase decision since 2005. Our reviews are not intended for advertising, so they highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each product. No company has paid for, reviewed or had advance access to this content.

FreeBuds 4i was provided by Huawei on loan and will be returned to the company after testing. For more information, visit tecnoblog.net/etica.

Design, comfort and case

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

The Huawei Freebuds 4i has a compact, modern design that won me over right away. Of course, this look looks familiar, after all it would even be strange if Huawei chose not to copy Apple wearables. Controversies aside, the Chinese continues to stand out for investing in quality materials and, even belonging to the category of intermediates, the 4i has the feeling of being top-of-the-line.

I, however, am not a big fan of headphones with little legs. However, the reduction made by Huawei in the current generation pleased me a lot. The company was also right to provide a red version that is very beautiful, at least that’s what it looks like in the promotional photos. Other options in black and white are available in Brazil.

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)
Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

Regarding comfort, at no time did I find myself complaining about discomfort. In many situations, I could wear them quietly on the street, while walking, and at the gym without noticing pressure or feeling like they were going to fall off all the time. For those who exercise, as well as 3i, the current headphones are IPX4 certified, so they are splash resistant.

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)
Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

The case, in turn, underwent a change and follows the language of current wearables. It’s more compact and smaller than previous models, but still retains the glossy, quality material we’ve seen in the past. At the bottom is the USB-C power input, at the front there is an LED, while on the right side is allocated a pairing button.

Features and connectivity

To configure the headphones, the Chinese makes the Huawei AI Life application available for Android and iPhone (iOS). On the five-star App Store, Huawei’s app is rated 1.6 and there are many reports of people failing to connect their headphones to the app. This also happened to me on both systems and the problem was only solved after the firmware update, which should only be done on the computer, by downloading a program called Audio Assistant Tool. I only found this out as some users shared the path of stones in the app store itself. Huawei, why don’t you report this anywhere?

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)
Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

After getting angry, installing the program and finally connecting the wearables, you can use the app to check the battery level of the headphones and case, configure the active noise cancellation, activate and deactivate the usage detection and change the commands of gestures. However, there is no option to be able to control the music volume from the device itself. Equalizer is another feature left out of Huawei AI Life.

They have Bluetooth 5.2 and, as I expected, the range and stability are excellent. Throughout the tests, even with some external interference (at home, on the street and in the subway), the gadgsts played normally without losing the connection.

Sound Quality and Microphone

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)
Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

Now we need to talk about the great evolution in the sound part. The sonic performance of the Huawei FreeBuds Lite was completely powerless and tended to tumble easily — it was a disaster; FreeBuds 3i performed ok, but the lack of bass still bothered me. In FreeBuds 4i, the sound reached the ideal level considering its category, so much so that the company obtained positive marks in this area in several analyzes in the specialized media in other countries.

The company knew how to balance it well, delivering a lively sound, with strong bass, but without exaggerating the intensity. The mids sound balanced, while the highs can play a little stridently, even at low volumes. For example, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now, by Starship, can be heard on FreeBuds 4i with vigor: the high sounds gain a lot of space, as does the vocals. The bass is in the background, but it doesn’t fade. The separation of instruments is not spectacular like in more premium headphones, but I liked how the Huawei model tries to separate each one; I managed to identify several of them along the range.

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)
Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

already the rock beggin‘, by the Italians Måneskin, is played with a lot of energy, however it sounds a little polluted at its height, during the chorus, when the drums, guitar and vocalist start to press more. It is an embolism that, in practice, will not bother less refined ears. In conclusion, this is a headphone that has everything to please those who generally enjoy pop, hip-hop, R&B and electronica.

The quality of the microphone surprised me and I can say it’s one of the best I’ve tested on a Bluetooth model. The components cannot eliminate external noise, but even with background noise, the other person will hear you without difficulty. During the tests I didn’t need to raise my voice, as I had the impression that the headphones raised the pitch a little, making it easier to understand.

Noise and battery cancellation

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)
Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

Huawei’s active noise canceling technology has always worked very well and it would be no different with FreeBuds 4i. I have tested the feature in various situations and once again enjoyed the performance. The feature is very efficient when blocking everyday sounds, such as the noise of motorcycles and trucks. In the São Paulo subway, I noticed that the headphones were able to greatly reduce the voices of people who were in the car and even the intense noise of the station was reduced.

In the gym, during training, I could see that the 4i managed to effectively shield it from the loud music of the venue and some machines. The ambient mode, called “Perception Mode” by the company, was very useful while I was on the street to hear the noise around me, acting without problems.

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)
Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

On the battery, the autonomy went from 3 to 10 hours with the ANC turned off and 7 hours with the technology turned on. Around here, with active noise cancellation, I was able to listen to songs for 7:24h, a very good result. The company even says that a quick charge of 10 minutes can make the phones ring for 4 hours.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i: is it worth it?

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)
Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i is an active noise canceling Bluetooth headset that leaves me very torn. My first observation goes to the sound: in this area, it seems that the company has solved all the problems, now delivering a pleasant sound, with delicious bass and brilliant mids and highs, which captivate. It’s an accurate signature that we didn’t find in our predecessors. The second observation is the noise cancellation, which I already expected a good performance, considering that the previous FreeBuds always pleased in this regard.

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

Huawei Freebuds 4i (Image: Darlan Helder/Tecnoblog)

But connectivity issues, with the Huawei AI Life app, spoil the user experience. Forcing a person to download software onto their computer in order to use the application is a glaring error. Even worse is not making this clear to the consumer, causing them to get lost not knowing why the headphones do not connect. In addition, the company could deliver more features in Huawei AI Life in this new generation.

Still, I see that FreeBuds 4i can easily win over a lot of people due to the good sounding — on the main point it doesn’t fall short. Costing around R$600 in August 2021, when the review was published, this mid-range model is a strong rival to Realme Buds Air Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds+ , and could be worth it, especially when Huawei solves these little problems.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i Bluetooth Headset

pros

  • Earphone has light and comfortable design
  • Sound has improved considerably
  • Anyway, Huawei paid more attention to autonomy

cons

  • Application doesn’t work the first time and depends on external update
  • Huawei AI Life deserved new features and equalizer

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