Co-engineered by Devialet, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are the Chinese brand’s latest flagship hearable. While Huawei certainly needs no introduction, Devialet might be unfamiliar to most—it’s a French audio technology company known for its speakers and amplifiers.
The FreeBuds Pro 2 is the successor of Huawei’s first truly wireless earbuds, the FreeBuds Pro, and they come with some significant upgrades. We had the opportunity to test them out, and here’s our verdict.
They’re quite the fashion statement
At first, I didn’t quite like the frosty blue shade of the silver blue set we received. It seemed very 2000s. I did like the slightly matte texture and short, rounded shape, though.
There’s also a small reflective panel on the back of the case that has Huawei and Devialet branded on it. While the panel can act as a little mirror, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly for aesthetics. The only issue is that the material is very susceptible to fingerprints.
The buds themselves are also reflective, not unlike this panel. Each earbud has a cool tone to it, with light purple-blue rubber tips, and pale lettering that reads “Huawei” and “L” or “R” corresponding to each side of the ear.
Paired with the silvery shade, the stemmed design makes the buds resemble a classy pair of earrings. It’s a little more resistant to fingerprints, though the material itself feels rather slick, and at times, oily (that could just be my fingers though).
With its Silver Blue colourway, I find the visuals of these buds to be quite unique. The only worry I had is whether they’re too attention-grabbing, especially when I’m walking around at night, but they’re actually not too shiny in the dark.
An app that maximises the earbuds’ features
Although the earbuds work without downloading the Huawei AI Life app, I do think it’s a pretty essential app considering you’d need it to keep track of the case and buds’ battery percentage.
The app itself is really easy to navigate. The pairing was also seamless, which surprised me as I had anticipated more challenges since I’m using an iPhone.
Via the app, I can check each bud’s battery level, as well as the case’s. The app also lets users toggle the noise control settings, which we’ll talk about more later.
Of course, you can adjust these settings directly via the buds too, but the app still comes in handy since it includes a section that shows all the gestures featured by the device.
Pinching the sides of the buds will answer or end calls, or play and pause your media. Pinching twice rejects calls as well as plays the next song. Pinching thrice will go to the previous song.
A pinch and hold will let you cycle through the noise control settings. Swiping up on the sides turns up the volume while swiping down lowers the volume. You can also edit some of the gestures within the app, but in my opinion, the default settings certainly make the most sense.
There’s a gentle click sound whenever you pinch the sides. It does take a level of force for the pinch to register, but I think that’s helpful as you wouldn’t be able to accidentally skip songs. The pinch method with two fingers also makes it more accident-proof too.
Users can conduct a tip fit test via the app, which plays a short audio clip to optimise the audio quality and noise cancelling capabilities based on the ear tips.
Then, the app will tell you to change the tips if it doesn’t sound right. The box comes with two other tip sizes—large and small.
You can also find your earphones and update your buds through the app.
The usual customisability options are present
Like most other pro earbuds, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 offers three noise control options—noise cancelling (i.e. ANC), off, and awareness.
Fitted with intelligent ANC 2.0, the noise cancellation on the FreeBuds Pro 2 works as marketed. It also features dual-speaker true sound and triple adaptive EQ.
But I personally loved the awareness function. It does a great job of filtering out the noises when I’m wearing the buds in our busy office setting.
I also often take the train, which is where I think each mode really shines. When it’s way too noisy and I want some peace, the ANC helps reduce the rowdiness.
You can also adjust the sound effects on the app, which includes the default effect, co-created with Devialet. These include a bass boost, treble boost, and “voices”.
On top of these presets, you can also create custom sound effects.
One of my colleagues, Joyce, noted that some high-pitched songs peak on the FreeBuds Pro 2, though it’s actually not noticeable to me.
Plus, I really liked the bass that the buds are capable of, especially with the bass-boosted setting.
It’s a feature that Huawei is particularly proud of, highlighting the bass capabilities of the FreeBuds Pro 2, which has an 11 mm quad-magnet dynamic driver unit that supposedly boosts driving force by 30% compared to its predecessor.
The buds also come with a bone conduction microphone, three additional microphones, and Huawei’s deep neural network noise cancellation algorithm, which has learnt over 100 million voice samples in order to cancel out various distractions.
The results of this learning check out.
My trusty AirPods (not even the Pro ones) have honestly worked well for me over the past few years. I don’t really need fancy things like ANC or an extremely long-lasting battery life… at least I didn’t think so, until I tried the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2.
Even the rubber tips that I disliked at first turned out to actually feel quite comfortable. The only thing was they tend to flip out when I pull the buds out of my ear, and they’re actually quite shallow so the fit of the tips to the buds themselves can be a little precarious.
With the charging case, it’s expected to give 30 hours of playback with ANC off, and 18 with it on. Just keep in mind that these numbers are based on the test results from Huawei’s lab, so it might be lesser IRL.
But from my experience, the battery life is definitely pretty solid. I used it for around four days (on and off, of course) with ANC off before I had to charge the case again.
The buds come with an IP54 rating for splash, water, and dust resistance, though it should be noted that the rating is given to the buds themselves, not the case.
While I’ve seen some commenters talk about how they were disappointed in the volume and wanted an even louder sound, it was honestly plenty loud for me (you know you’re not supposed to blast music directly into your ear canals, right?).
If I had to nitpick, then the main personal gripe I had with the buds was their connectivity—it’s too proactive. With my AirPods, when I leave them out of the case but don’t have them in my ears, my phone automatically plays from the speakers.
However, with the Freebuds Pro 2, they’re constantly trying to connect to my phone. Even when I manually change the output to my speakers, it will jump back to the Freebuds Pro 2 unless I properly store them back into their case.
Whenever I do fiddle with the case, my phone also automatically locks onto the buds, even though I haven’t even taken the actual buds out of the case. Perhaps it just means I need to start storing my earbuds properly.
Visuals and that connectivity bit aside, I do find these earbuds to have quite a remarkable performance.
While the pricing isn’t out yet (we will update the piece when the price is released), I do think it’s a worthy pair of true wireless earbuds to consider if you’re in the market for some.
|Beautiful, fashion-forward aesthetic||Fingerprint-prone material|
|Very user-friendly (both the app and the buds)||Overly proactive connectivity|
|IP54 rating for splash, water, and dust resistance|
|Accident proof controls|
VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.