AirPods alternative with noise canceling and larger battery

TWS earbuds are the most attractive smartphone accessory. Let’s go without numbers, if your wired ones fail, you will at least think about switching to a Bluetooth headset. If you already have them, and you are thinking about buying new ones, you will pay attention to devices of a different brand or the same line, but a different model, as is the case with users of the Apple ecosystem and AirPods.

Fresh headphones are always an abundance of pleasant emotions and a new user experience. In addition, they are improving every year – gesture control is improving, the noise reduction system is being brought to perfection. This time I got Huawei FreeBuds 4. The company understands like no one that people are actively switching to wireless headphones, so it offers TWS models in almost all price categories. Let’s analyze her new model.

Design: yes it’s AirPods

The earbuds are a charging case and earbuds. The charging case is round, size – 58 x 21.2 mm (diameter, height). It fits nicely in your hand, and the lid can be opened with one finger. So, by the way, the cover can be used as an anti-stress device, like a windproof lighter, if it doesn’t infuriate anyone nearby.

The weight of one earphone is 4.1 g, the weight of the case is 38 g. This is a progress against the background of FreeBuds 3 (4.5 and 48 g, respectively). The earplugs are almost not felt when worn and do not create pressure, I think, thanks to the combination of light weight and comfortable gesture control, this is an application for the title of the most ergonomic headphones in the world.

The only thing that will not make a headset suitable for everyone is the open type of plugs. Without silicone tips, they cannot be adjusted to the structure of the ear of a particular person, either they suit you right away, or never. I’m lucky, and I love this type of headphone.

Last week I got ready on a plane to Samara. I took these headphones with me. I was in them on the metro, aeroexpress and the airport and on the plane, then I put it in a case for recharging and in them I rode around a new city for myself. This is about 3.5 hours of audio playback with one break, and the ears are not tired at all, while a headset with silicone eartips would create discomfort due to the resulting vacuum and, as a result, pressure on the ear canal. And in general, headphones are not universal, it all depends on the physiology and previous experience of using the headsets. So the open type of earbuds cannot be called a minus.

The cover and headphones differ in color – the first are matte, the second are glossy. This decision seems to me to be correct. A matte case is a practical solution. It comes into contact with the fabric of clothes and bags, other items if stored in one pocket or compartment of the backpack. The matte finish is less demanding and the case has bypassed the Apple AirTag issue.

We treat the plugs more carefully – they are stored mainly in the case, so their coating can be made less practical, but more effective, even with glossy metal they will remain presentable many times longer than the charging case.

Controls: gestures you will like

The earbuds are better than their predecessors Freebuds 3. They perform four types of actions: control of music playback, call control, enable / disable noise canceling and microphone. The previous generation only allowed two – music playback control and call control.

The gestures are as follows:

  • Double tap – answer / reject a call; music on / off
  • Swipe up and down – volume control
  • Press and hold – turn on / off the noise canceling system

Another plus of the headphones against the background of their predecessors is the simultaneous connection to two devices. You can pair them with your phone and tablet or your phone and laptop. You don’t need to reconnect them every time, you just need to select the desired device in the Huawei AI Life app.

The process of pairing headphones with a smartphone in the Huawei AI Life app

Headphone status and setting display

The disadvantage of headphones is the limitation of this feature. Connecting to the two ecosystem devices is only available within the Huawei ecosystem. We tried to connect them simultaneously to the iPhone and MacBook, but it didn’t work – as soon as the headset was connected to the laptop, the connection with the smartphone was interrupted.

By the way about the application. Huawei AI Life provides information on the battery status of the earbuds and allows you to update them. You will find out the battery charge level, the availability of updates, you can manage them, for example, enable and disable active noise cancellation.

Sound: noise reduction and open type of headphones – ideal

The new generation of Huawei headphones has become the best in the FreeBuds lineup in three ways at once: the lowest audio latency, the only headphones with the ability to connect to two devices, and the most advanced Bluetooth standard – 5.2.

Audio latency is only 90ms, compared to 190ms for FreeBuds 3 and 4i. The headphones do not reach the gaming headphone, where this value is equal to 30-40 ms, but for TWS this is an extremely decent indicator. We noticed the result – playing PUBG is more comfortable: you notice the steps and shots of your opponents faster, there is no feeling that the sound does not keep up with the picture.

Open gag and active noise cancellation is my favorite combination. With such a headset, there is no pressure on the ear canal due to the vacuum created by the silicone tips, while the sound from it is in the foreground, while external noise is drowned out.

I like to take these headphones on long journeys on public transport or in a car, not driving. These are conditions where you cannot put on a full-size headset, here you cannot isolate one hundred percent from the external environment, you need to control the situation, and at the same time, the headphones should not bother you. The FreeBuds 4 do not exert any pressure at all, so I wear them until they run out. Firstly, at home with a laptop, and secondly, on a trip to Samara, I did not take them off while I was traveling by trolleybus, ferry and taxi, which is about two hours.

As for the sound, its quality is an ephemeral quantity that cannot be conveyed in numbers. It seems to me high – the sound is surround, the bass is penetrating. Huawei is encouraging with impressive performance: the speaker diameter is 14.3 mm and the frequency range is 20Hz-40kHz. For comparison, the FreeBuds 4i have 10mm and 20Hz-20kHz, while the FreeBuds 3 have 14mm and 20Hz-20kHz.

Sound recording got better too. Unlike FreeBuds 3 and 4i, each headphone has a system of two microphones, and sound is recorded in HD 48 kHz. In practice, catchy characteristics justify themselves – the interlocutor hears you well, dictating voices in messengers is also convenient.

Autonomy: twice as good as AirPods

Huawei claims the following parameters:

  • 4 hours of audio playback on a full charge
  • 22 hours of continuous audio playback when fully charged case
  • 2.5 hours of audio playback after 15 minutes of fast charging
In practice, the case needs to be charged twice a week. Four hours of autonomy without a charging case is again a plus for those who are actively traveling. You do not need to pull out the headphones during a long trip, they will not sit down. In Samara, I simply did not think about this parameter of the accessory. Probably, this is the best compliment to the device during its work without recharging – the battery does not make itself felt when it is discharged, and does not make the case heavier.


Huawei FreeBuds 4 are great everyday headphones for use in the city, in transport and at work. High-quality sound, convenient form factor and effective noise cancellation system – all this makes them extremely convenient and comfortable to use.

In the hierarchy of Huawei, the FreeBuds 4 model is a pre-flagship or golden mean, combining a decent set of parameters and characteristics, as well as an optimal price (12,990 rubles). There are fewer gestures than FreeBuds Pro, but more than FreeBuds 4. Pros are generally the most advanced headphone model from the company. But FreeBuds 4 can respond with a form factor – open-type plugs still do not press. In general, if they do not fly out of your ears, you can safely take it.

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