Huawei FreeBuds Lite true wireless earbuds were unveiled along with Huawei P30 and Huawei P30 Pro. To be honest, I was more interested in FreeLace, but it so happened that I had to test FreeBuds Lite. Were they able to change my mind about true wireless headsets? Yes – and no.
First – about its position on the market. FreeBuds Lite aren’t the most affordable Huawei wireless headphones, but they are the most wireless headphones among the affordables. The official price is about $100, but in general they can be found on sale for even lesser price. FreeBuds Lite is much more expensive than Honor xSport - my actual headset from Huawei, but slightly inferior in price to the flagship FreeBuds model. And of course, these headphones are much more affordable than AirPods, without any questions.
Huawei FreeBuds Lite package includes a black/white charging case, a black/white left/right earphone, and a microUSB short cable for charging the case, a set of interchangeable rubber nozzles (including caps with openings for air circulation), instructions and a guarantee.
The Huawei FreeBuds Lite charging case is small, fairly lightweight and fits in the palm of your hand. It’s made of matte plastic. It is divided into a base and a lid, which, when lifted, exhibits both headphones located in their respective containers, where they can be charged while in inactive mode.
On top, we have the Huawei logo, the back has a microUSB connector and a function button for resetting and enabling connection mode. And yes, no Type-C, like the older model. I’m not happy about it.
At the bottom there’s a plate with specifications. In front, next to the recess for opening the cover with a fingernail, is a multifunctional LED indicator.
The phones themselves completely repeat the flagship FreeBuds model. The same glossy plastic outside and matte inside, separated by a matte rubberized replacement nozzle around the perimeter of the case, two contacts for charging and elongated “legs” on which the Huawei logo is painted.
The near-invisible letters L and R, in honor of the LR-300 assault rifle, are hidden between the contacts for charging. Or maybe they are here to designate the left and right headphones. Most likely the latter, yes.
Near the letters are IR sensors. Inside the headphones we have an accelerometer, which is responsible for controlling the headphones by tapping on the case.
Case weight - 45.5 g, dimensions - 80.2 x 33.3 x 28.8 mm. The battery capacity of the case is 410 mAh. The weight of each earphone is 5.5 g, the battery capacity is 55 mAh per earphone. The drivers are 7 mm in size, the frequency range is from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and the sound is transmitted via Bluetooth 4.2. There is support for SBC and AAC codecs.
In order to connect Huawei FreeBuds Lite to the smartphone, you need to open the case, and without reaching the headphones, hold down the function button for 2 seconds. Next, go Bluetooth options and select FreeBuds Lite from the list of available devices.
If the headphones have already been paired with another smartphone/tablet, hold down the function button for 10 seconds and enjoy how the LED indicator shimmers with all the colors of the rainbow. When the rainbow is no more, we are back to factory settings.
If the case flashes red when opening or closing, it needs to be charged. In this case, you will not be able to pair Huawei FreeBuds Lite with a smartphone, but I managed to reset the settings. We charge the case for a couple of hours.
The management of FreeBuds Lite is simple - too simple, in facr. As soon as we open the case, the headphones are automatically connected to the last used smartphone/tablet. We take the earphones out of the case, insert them into the auricles, first left then right.
In terms of music management, Huawei FreeBuds Lite does not differ from the non-Lite version at all. Headphones are equipped with ... No, not touch panels or buttons, but IR-sensors and accelerometers, and you control everything by taps. Not touch, but double-tapping.
So a double-click on the left ear summons Google Assistant; double tap on the right ear is to Play/Pause. In addition, if you remove one phone from your ear (or if it fell out), the music stops playing. But, when you put it back, the playback does not automatically start, which is shameful, really shameful.
By the way, FreeBuds Lite program is used to update the firmware (link to Google Play
Huawei FreeBuds Lite sit tightly in your ears. They are fixed firmly in your ears. However, it all depends on your choice of bundled eartips. And yes, bundled, since they are the main problem of the headset. But more about that later.
With a volume of 7/10, which is normal for me, you can get up to three hours of music. Then we put the headphones in the case and in less than an hour we get a full charge. The case itself charges somewhere for the same amount, and ideally is able to charge the headset four times fully, but in practice, expect three and a half, plus or minus.
You can monitor the battery status in the notification line. Unlike my main headphones, the charge display is perfectly reliable, and does not lie. But there are certain problems with case charge indication.
I compared the sound of Huawei FreeBuds Lite with Honor xSport (my main headset). Tests were conducted on Huawei P20, so the quality of TWS was not tested. Compared with xSport, the bass feels muffled and high frequencies feel sharp, even painful at high volume. The middles for both headphones are equally good. And here we come to a nuance that will be decisive for you.
Initially, I tested the sound of headphones on bundled eartips. They, paradoxically, are the main problem of FreeBuds Lite, because there wasn’t a single one that fit the size of my ears. And the ears of my colleague, too, and we both are simple average Homo Sapiens, nothing unordinary.
In order to somehow fix the situation, I commandeered bundled eartips from AWEI A880BL, which are significantly thicker and larger. And lo and behold! The bass became dense and juicy, and the high frequencies stopped hurting me!
The sound started to really improve, now it’s on par with Honor xSport; sound insulation was also better, and the maximum volume was even slightly higher than that of xSport.
The end? Not so fast: with new eartips, the headphones stopped fitting in the case, the cover was no longer able to close, and the earbuds couldn’t charge. To fix the situation, you have to remove the elastic bands, charge the headphones without them, and then put them on again. Of course, you can trim the silicone tips at the attachment point. But come on, do we really want to go that far?
The mic is okay. The voice is heard loud and clear, and the noise reducer worked fine even with AMD Wraith Max howling at all 3000 RPM. You could hear it in the background, but it did not interfere with the conversation in the least, and it was clearly more pleasant than the naked howls of a turbo cooler.
My voice was heard clear, but I had some problems. The voice of a person seemed to be jumping to the left, then to the right channel. What's strange is that I did not notice such problems with music and audio playback from YouTube.
Problems and issues
This is probably a nitpick: the accelerometer is a cool thing, but its sensitivity is too much. When I try touch the earpiece, I accidentally stop the song or, even worse, call the Google assistant. I do not use it at all, and I would be happy to be able to turn it off forever, but there is no such possibility in the software. Although, this is my personal problem; for example, this function should be useful for motorists. I also need to be able to switch songs and adjust the volume without getting the smartphone out of my pocket.
And with silicone nozzles issues, I become fearful. Huawei is constantly evolving and expanding, becoming a chthonic monolith in the electronics industry, and in 5G networks it is already a god. But the company is increasingly beginning to resemble Apple, copying the worst traits of the Cupertino giant.
With AirPods, however, the situation is several times worse: there the headphone either fit you (not even a vacuum nozzle, but an earphone in general), or you buy a silicone pad that doesn’t allow the headphones to fit in the case. Go Apple.
With FreeBuds Lite, the problem could be solved very simply by placing as large as possible rubber pads, as wide as possible, and literally expanding a bit of space in the case. That’s what I really would like to see in FreeBuds 2 Lite, or whatever they are called.
But, I repeat, with proper skill, you will be able to choose the right nozzles for yourself and trim them a little.
Let’s surmise: everything is complicated. Visually, FreeBuds Lite look fine. They charge up fast and are quite cheap for what they offer. They even have features from the flagship devices, like pausing the playback when you remove the earphone.
But there are lots of technical problems. MicroUSB has replaced Type-C. Okay, fine. You can’t change the track and volume. Okay, fine, even if you could fix this if you wanted too. But realistically bad eartips is a disaster. There really is no way around: bad eartips ruin your experience.
Sure, you might get lucky. Then you’ll get a lot of enjoyment from FreeBuds Lite. Just check if they fit you before you buy. Official Huawei stores should allow you to try before you buy.
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