My buds will go on and on: Huawei wireless FreeBuds 4i offer titanic battery life

Huawei has introduced its latest wireless earbuds, the FreeBuds 4i, which boast class leading battery life – ten hours on a full charge – plus Active Noise Cancellation for everyday use. 

Alongside regulation Ceramic White and Carbon Crystal Black editions, there will also be a fashionable Honey Red model exclusively from the Huawei website.

When it comes to bang for buck, these new Bluetooth buds are mighty impressive. Huawei has made a number of refinements over their predecessor, the FreeBuds 3i.

The dual-mic system uses a re-positioned slit-duct design to reduce outdoor wind noise. AI noise reduction technology filters out unwanted hubbub. Beamforming technology allows the microphones to pick up the user’s voice accurately.

The noise cancellation algorithm comes in three strengths, adjusting for different listening environments, including public transport, offices and shopping.

There’s also an Awareness mode, allowing users to hear their surroundings without taking off the earbuds. By pressing and holding the earbud, the FreeBuds 4i will switch between Awareness Mode and Active Noise Cancellation Mode automatically.

When it comes to bang for buck, these new Bluetooth buds are impressive. Huawei has made a number of refinements over their predecessor, the FreeBuds 3i…

Huawei is putting increased emphasis on its audio gear, diversifying away from its core smartphone business.

“We’ve invested a lot in audio recently,” Huawei’s Alex Lee told The Luxe Review. “Over the last few years we’ve been building up our audio brand by investing in research and development, all over the world. We have R&D in Finland that work on audio algorithms for calling; in Germany, we have soundfield and loudspeaker technology. In Russia, we do artificial intelligence and the ANC algorithms for automatic noise cancellation, and in Japan we do acoustic audio technology innovation, for example, the diaphragm cells. It’s a global effort. ” 

Arguably, battery life is the big selling point this time around. That humongous 10 hour playback time, achieved with ANC off, is class leading at the price. It makes the 4i highly attractive to mobile gamers in particular. It’s a significant improvement over the FreeBuds 3i which ran out of juice after 3.5 hours. The earbuds boast a battery capacity of 55mAh, with the case at 410mAh.

With ANC On, battery life drops to a still impressive 7.5 hours. Together with the charging case, uses can achieve 22 hours of music playback .

“ANC has three different modes and it will automatically select which mode is most appropriate, based on how noisy the environment is,” says Lee. “So, for example, if you’re in a library, you don’t need very active noise cancellation as it’s already quiet. When you’re on an aeroplane, you’re going to need some pretty hefty noise cancellation, so then it will open it up to Ultra mode.” 

Huawei suggests its noise cancellation will shave up to 32dB off environmental noise. Quick charge technology provides 4 hours of audio from a 10-minute top-up.

Huawei FreeBuds4i sport big drivers – they look cool too

The buds sport large 10mm dynamic drivers with a PEEK+PU polymer composite ‘plasticized’ diaphragm, noted for bass and treble detail.  The wind noise reduction structure helps maintain clarity when out and about.

The buds support tactile gesture control for music playback, voice call, and ANC. When used with Huawei smartphones running EMUI 10.0 or above, they also support fast pairing with a pop-up notification. Of course, they work with regular Bluetooth pairing too, here in v5.2 guise. Latency has also been reduced to 189ms, making them more viable for mobile gaming and catch-up.

The Ceramic White and Carbon Crystal Black editions are available from March 26. The Honey Red edition launches mid-April. The FreeBuds 4i retail for £80.

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice, Ideal Home, The Luxe Review, Channel News and the i newspaper. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI, and contributor to industry trade magazine ERT. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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