Almost two years ago, we took a look at the Huawei Freebuds Pro and honestly they were outstanding. The Freebuds Pro 2 have been in my bag for a couple of weeks now and there’s a lot to say after a couple of years of evolution on them.
When compared to the original, the Freebuds 2 Pro just feel a lot more polished. The case is really slick, in fact, the improvements on the case result in it being a perfect size to fit in a coin pocket in your jeans. After all, who carries money now right? The other improvement in the case and storage of the buds is that they’re a lot easier to retrieve from the earbuds from the case storage than the previous generation.
The buds themselves are smaller lighter and better balanced and the experience is just that bit better. As part of the reduction in size, I had concerns that Huawei may have messed with the winning formula when it comes to fit. I was thankfully very wrong and that the comfort levels have been maintained and the fit is excellent. As someone who prefers over-ear headphones as I’ve had issues with in-ear comfort, I found that the tips fitted out of the box were remarkably comfortable.
When you add in the smart technology which can automatically adjust not just the ANC to your environment, but also automatically pauses media playback, this is excellent. During the day, I’ve actually had a number of times where I’ve not had to worry about removing them from my ears as the awareness feature is good enough to carry on a conversation with those around you.
Like the previous generation, there are three options for noise cancelling: ANC on, ANC off and Awareness. I’m happy to report though, that the development has also taken the Freebuds Pro 2 away from the Airpods clone and has developed a personality of its own.
Setup and Use
To make the most of the Freebuds Pro 2, you’ll have to install the AI Life App via the Huawei App gallery. The app provides you with one-touch controls for your earbuds, including the ability to change between your connected devices; yes, plural. The addition of controls for multi-point Bluetooth connection is very welcome as it allows a huge amount of flexibility. I’ve got my phone set up as the primary connection point, and my tablet, laptop and even PC paired for when I need that closed audio loop.
Interestingly, the touch controls are quite comprehensive, intuitive and easy to learn for users. To alter the volume, sliding your finger up or down on the stem reacts accordingly. Squeezing the stem once will play or pause, a double tap/squeeze of the stem will advance a track and a triple tap go back one. If you’re looking to manually adjust the ANC it’s as easy as a long squeeze of the stem to cycle through ANC, off and awareness modes.
The battery life of headphones is very important to users, not enough is clearly a deal breaker. In this case, it’s not an issue because on a day to day basis you’ll get about 4 hours (ANC use) or 6.5 (no ANC use) from the buds on a single charge and 18 hours with ANC or about 30 without or extra hours from the case provided it’s fully charged. I’ve consistently got reliable playback times through a number of weeks of use, often getting through a full week without the need to charge the buds and case.
Charging the case isn’t the fastest device I’ve ever seen but provided you charge little and often that won’t be an issue.
Audio and Noise Cancelling
Noise cancelling for in-ear listening has come a very long way over the last couple of years. Previously, you’d have dealt with a sensation of pressure in your ears and below par — at least in comparison to over-ear options like Bose, Sennheiser and Sony — noise cancelling capabilities. As I write this section of the review, I’m sitting on a plane returning from Sydney following Made by Google. While I’m aware of the plane noise around me, the noise cancelling has removed much of the background noise of the plane to a point where domestic travel is really pleasant. If I were travelling internationally though, I would take my preferred, over-ear option for comfort and increased battery life.
The audio has taken a small, but — when listened to side by side — noticeable step forward. The audio depth and clarity are really good, with crisp mids for vocal reproduction, clean highs even at high volume and, providing your ear tips fit well, a genuinely surprising amount of bass. When you turn the volume up, there’s good power behind the audio too; it doesn’t feel like the buds are being pushed too hard which can happen with low-quality audio devices and can cause flat or muddy audio.
My listening is very eclectic often branching from classical and orchestral scores to some of the heaviest listening options. So to cover such a broad range of listening without any noticeable audio balance issues is, to put it bluntly, impressive. This extends to the use of the earbuds during phone calls too with the noise cancelling making the user’s experience excellent, and the callers just as good due to the microphones reducing noise at the other end.
Should you buy them?
If you’re after some high-end in-ear audio and don’t want to go with, what is clearly the intended competitor, Apple’s Airpods Pro 2; yes, these should certainly be on your shopping list. But that’s the caveat, that you need to be looking at something pretty high-end because $347.00 isn’t a cheap set of earbuds. Interestingly, this is also a small price jump from the previous generation at launch.
As the second generation of the Freebuds Pro range from Huawei, they’ve addressed the issues from the first generation really well. They’ve also improved in a lot of areas with the lighter weight, balance and feel of the earbuds. What really impressed me was the capability of the noise cancelling, making recent air travel quite pleasant although, were I travelling internationally — as earlier mentioned — I’d likely take my over-ear headset for the longer-term comfort, battery life and the step up in noise cancelling from the bigger headset.
I’d say yes, they’re very good and worth looking into; but keep your eyes out during Christmas and New Year sales, because if they drop under $300.00 I’d happily recommend buying them. You’ll be able to pick a pair up at one of the Huawei Experience stores, or if you can head online to grab a pair and ship them to your preferred address.