Huawei Freebuds Pro 2: two-minute review
The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 are the newest true wireless earbuds from Huawei and the Chinese tech giant’s best shot at becoming a debutante in our best true wireless earbuds buying guide. The company released its inaugural pair of true wireless earbuds, the first-generation Freebuds, back in 2018. Since then, its audio offering has been getting stronger by the iteration and has followed a similar release structure to Apple’s – to nobody’s surprise whatsoever.
As you might expect, there are standard Freebuds models, and then in 2020, Huawei launched the Freebuds Pro. Like the Apple AirPods Pro, these are a more expensive version of the regular Freebuds with leveled-up features and that all important addition of noise-cancellation.
The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 are an evolution of the original Huawei Freebuds Pro. We rated these buds highly, commending them for their excellent active noise-cancellation (ANC) and good sound. The Pro 2 are similar in some ways but with substantial upgrades, including a new dual driver design and even better ANC. There’s also now a dedicated app for iOS, which the Pro buds lacked – great news for iPhone owners as it makes these Huawei buds a solid AirPods Pro rival.
Yes, the true wireless earbuds space is competitive. There are lots of fantastic buds available from brands such as Apple, Sony and Bose. There are also plenty of budget options, some of which even give the top brands a run for their money (and you should take a look at our best budget wireless earbuds guide for more) but the headline-grabber is that the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 buds stand up well against the competition.
Huawei’s new second-generation Pro-suffixed buds deliver a near-premium experience for mid-range money. We found they offered rich and balanced sound and good call quality, with fantastic ANC that might not be the very best on offer, but isn’t far off.
Their high-shine, mirrored finish won’t appeal to everyone, but we liked the design and found the buds light and comfortable to wear – though we had trouble keeping the right bud securely in place. Our main gripe was the battery life, but if you’re willing to accept four hours of playtime with ANC on, read on…
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2: price and release date
- Released on June 23, 2022
- £170 (around $205 / AU$349)
The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 were released on June 23, 2022 in European, Asian and Australian markets. However, it doesn’t look as if they’re headed to the US, which isn’t surprising given the original Freebuds Pro never made it to the States either.
They currently cost £169.99 in the UK, which works out at around $204 / AU$295 – although we’ve seen list prices of AU$349. Basically though, this is the same price as the original Huawei Freebuds Pro when they first launched.
While not exactly budget earbuds, the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 undercut the price of many competitors. A quick glance at the Apple AirPods Pro and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds reveals true wireless earbuds with similar features that cost nearly $100 / £100 more.
Perhaps the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro are the most similar in terms of price and specs, and these also make fantastic AirPods alternatives – especially for those with an Android phone who can’t take advantage of those Apple-specific features.
For an even more affordable option, check out our Earfun Air Pro, which cost only $80 / £70 / AU$120, and we called them “a mostly brilliant and sonically balanced set of budget buds”.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2: features
- App works with iOS and Android devices
- Simple, easy to use touch controls
- Active noise-cancellation can be tweaked in settings
The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 work with the Huawei AI Life app. This was previously only available for Android phones, so it’s great that iOS users can now get in on the action. Pairing is quick and simple. Press the button on the side of the charging case to connect the buds to your phone via Bluetooth.
To get started, open the app, and this is where you get to customise the buds with audio presets, which allow you to boost the bass or treble. You can also carry out a ‘tip fit test’, which ensures the silicone tips you’ve selected to use with your buds – you get a choice of three – are the best for you and your ears.
In the app, you’ll also find noise cancellation settings. You can choose ‘Dynamic’, which adjusts noise cancelling based on your surroundings thanks to external microphones. Or, you can select from ‘Cozy’ for places with no noise, ‘General’ for noisy surroundings and ‘Ultra’ for extremely noisy surroundings – think on a plane or crowded train. Huawei claims the buds can cancel up to 47 dB, which should cover most conversations, ambient sounds and some travelling noises, significantly dulling anything louder.
Each earbud has 11mm drivers inside – these convert electrical signals to sound, think of them as tiny loudspeakers in your ear – which are the same you’ll find in Apple’s AirPods Pro buds. However, there’s a secondary planar diaphragm driver here too, which means the Freebuds Pro 2 can reach a broader frequency range of 14Hz to 48kHz. To put that into context, most other true wireless earbuds can only deliver from a sonic spectrum of 20Hz to 20kHz.
As is now usual, you can control the sound of the buds either using your phone or the touch controls on the buds themselves. These took us a few days to get used to, but are relatively simple. Swipe the stem of the buds to turn the volume up or down (something we’ve long wished Apple could implement with its stemmed earbuds), and pinch to pause. You can customize these controls if they don’t work for you or you find yourself accidentally playing/pausing your music without meaning to.
One downside of these buds is their battery life. With ANC on, you can only expect about 4 hours from the buds and a further 18 hours from the case. With ANC off, that bumps up to 6.5 hours, according to Huawei, but we found it to be more like 5.5 hours to 6 hours, then 30 hours from the case.
These numbers aren’t exactly bad – and you’ll get a full charge in only about 45 minutes from the case – but they fall a few hours short of rivals such as the Sony WF-SP800N earbuds, which offer 9 hours, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, which boast 7 hours. However, they are similar to the Apple AirPods Pro at 5 hours and the same as the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro, which also offer a disappointing 4 hours with ANC on.
The case is charged via USB-C but also supports wireless charging.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2: design
- Not ideal for wearers with smaller ear canals
- Light 6.1g earpieces
- Glossy finish options in blue, silver and white
The first thing you’ll notice about the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 is that they’re shiny. They come in three colours, Silver Blue, Silver Frost and Ceramic White. In non-tech marketing terms, that’s shiny pale blue, shiny grey and a slightly more matte white. We reviewed the Silver Blue version. The accompanying charging case is a similar color but has a pearl-like finish.
This mirrored finish does make the buds stand out, and although we love that about this design, it’s certainly not going to please everybody. It can show up fingerprint smudges as soon as you handle them, and some people we showed them off to actually thought the shiny finish, paired with their plastic body, made them feel a little cheap.
Although the buds are striking, once they’re in your ears they’re compact and unobtrusive. They don’t jut out too far and although the stems are noticeable, they’re fairly short and their sleek design means they look good when you’re wearing them.
There’s a choice of three silicone tips, which you can check against the in-app ‘tip fit test’ to ensure you’ve selected the right ones. We struggled to get a good fit in the right bud at first. We’re dealing with quite small ear canals and probably could have done with a smaller silicone tip option, but there wasn’t one. Eventually, we had to twist them in a little more than usual and do that again every so often.
They’re light at 6.1g per bud – the Apple AirPods Pro are only 5.4g, but plenty of buds are heavier, like the Bose QuietComfort buds, at 8.5g. The design and the weight meant they were comfortable to wear for long periods, although that pesky right bud did become loose a couple of times while navigating a busy supermarket and doing some household chores. Luckily it didn’t slip out, but it did loosen that all-important seal that makes ANC work properly. However, you shouldn’t experience this issue if you have even slightly larger ear canals.
Although not explicitly designed for exercise, the Freebuds Pro 2 should fare well for light to moderate workouts. With an IP54 splash resistant rating, they can handle a bit of sweat and light rain, and we did try them on an exercise bike where they stayed put. Sadly, during a yoga session with some bending and twisting that right bud didn’t want to stay secure.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2: sound quality
- Good dynamic ANC
- Extra ounce of detail and clarity unearthed at the level
- Rich and full-bodied sound
When we reviewed the first generation Freebuds, we said the sound was “good, but not class-leading”. What you need to know is that there’s been a significant improvement this time around, which is partly because the buds have been engineered in collaboration with audio tech specialists, Devialet.
Thanks to the dual driver set-up, there’s power and breadth across the frequencies. The result is most impressive through the bass, especially for such a small, light pair of true wireless buds.
But don’t misunderstand us, the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 offer a well-balanced sound. We mean that the bass, mid and high tones across the whole frequency range were crisp and clear. This was the case whether we were listening to Queens of the Stone Age’s Sick, Sick, Sick – with excellent bass and crisp vocals – through to Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Joker movie score. We could appreciate the haunting strings afresh and notice the tremendous detail and individual elements of each track.
Despite how much we enjoyed using these buds, you’re likely to find sound quality that’s just that little bit better from more high-end buds, including the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. But unless you’re after audiophile-grade listening, most people would feel happy about the performance on offer here – and even notice details about their favourite tracks they’ve not been able to hear before, as we did.
If you’re listening on a device that supports it, you’ll get support for LDAC – a premium high-res audio format created by Sony. We were testing the buds with an iPhone, which doesn’t support this format, but the music we tested was lossless audio through Apple Music – and the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 celebrated the nuance and zeal in everything we threw at it.
We rated the ANC highly when we tested the original Huawei Freebuds Pro, and it’s even better this time round. We could almost completely drown out sounds during travel on the train, as well as loud conversations in a coffee shop.
Voice calling sounds clear with the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2, thanks to additional external and internal microphones. There’s also an HD call feature to toggle on and off that improved the performance considerably – but also used more battery life.
There are different noise cancellation settings, and you can select them in the app. You can also switch on ‘dynamic’ noise cancellation, which means the buds use the external microphones to listen to what’s happening and adjust the sound inside accordingly. We found this shift between the different levels of ANC to be effective. We could hear the difference going from a crowded street with lots of traffic to a completely silent bookshop.
There’s also an ‘awareness’ mode, which switches off ANC and lets you hear what’s going on outside your buds more clearly. This was ideal for listening to announcements on a busy train, letting just enough noise in that we felt connected to the world at large.
There’s an auto-pause feature, which pauses your music when you take out the buds. We found this worked most of the time, but sometimes it just kept playing.
There are presets within the app and a custom sound effect feature, which works like an equalizer, allowing you to adjust the levels of different frequency bands manually. These presets were fun to play around with and great news if you’re picky about how your music sounds.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2: value
- High-end sound for mid-range money
- ANC is excellent for the level
- You can find better battery life for less
The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 earbuds feel high-end in many respects. The sound is rich and balanced, ANC is fantastic, and the design is (mostly) wearable all day. For that reason, we think they’re excellent value and rival buds that are at least $100 / £100 more expensive.
Granted, the fit isn’t ideal. But we think that has more to do with personal ear size than design. Some people may think the glossy finish and light feel cheapens them a little, but that’ll also be different from person to person.
The only major drawback in this Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 review is the battery life, which isn’t bad but stops these buds from blowing the competition out of the water.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2: should you buy them?
|Features||Great ANC and perks that belie their price-point||4/5|
|Design||Light earpieces, but some may find fit an issue – and does that finish make them look cheap?||3.5/5|
|Sound quality||Rich, textured, expansive and detailed across the frequencies||5/5|
|Value||Forgive the disappointing battery life and the Freebuds Pro 2 are still very good value for money||4.5/5|
Buy them if…
Don’t buy them if…
If our Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 review has you considering other true wireless earbuds, then take a look at these three noise-cancelling earbuds alternatives.