AudioHeadphonesHuawei FreeBuds Lipstick review: More than just a new coat of paint

Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick review: More than just a new coat of paint

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How many gadgets are there created specifically for women? Not a lot – the market is still dominated by gadgets with a neutral design, applicable to both men and women. But Huawei decided to please the latter with the release of the new FreeBuds Lipstick TWS earphones with a luxury design in the form of red lipstick.

The design, of course, attracted a lot of attention – the market has never seen anything like it. But is there more to this luxurious new look? We will try to answer this question in our review.

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Full specifications of the Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick

  • Type: TWS
  • Drivers: dynamic, 14.3 mm
  • Bluetooth version: 5.2
  • Audio codecs: SBC, AAC
  • ANC: 2.0
  • Controls: touch
  • Battery capacity: headphones – 30 mAh each, case – 410 mAh
  • Headphone battery life: listening to music – up to 4 hours without ANC, up to 2.5 hours with ANC enabled
  • Case working time: up to 22 hours without ANC or up to 14 hours with ANC
  • Charging: wired USB Type-C
  • Charging time: case – up to 1 hour (by cable, without headphones), headphones – up to 1 hour
  • Dimensions and weight of headphones: 41.4×16.8×18.55 mm, 4.1 g
  • Dimensions and weight of the case: 70.0×27.4×27.4 mm, 84.5 g
  • Water protection: IPX4 (headphones)

The cost

At the time of writing, there is very little data on the cost of the FreeBuds Lipstick. At the global event, which took place on October 21, a price of €249 was mentioned. However, according to Huawei’s official website, in early November in Italy the model with be €20 cheaper and cost around €229. As for the prices and date of release in other markets, little is known yet. But the main thing is that there is a price benchmark – “just” €249. That’s what we’ll start from.

What’s in the box

FreeBuds Lipstick

The Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick comes in a very presentable box made of black thick cardboard, on which there are metallic decorative elements, as well as the name of the headphone model. I have a pre-sale model, so the package contains only earbuds with a case and a charging cable. In the commercial version, the set will of course include instructions and a warranty card.

In addition, the box is scented to further emphasize the luxury feel of the device. Surprisingly, a light and subtle floral scent can be felt even through the packaging. Of course, over time it will fade completely, but when you unpack the brand new FreeBuds Lipstick, the sensations will certainly be even more vivid. Original move, Huawei.

Design and materials of the Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick

FreeBuds Lipstick

Of course, the design is one of the main highlights. When creating the headset, Huawei was inspired, which is quite obvious, by the red lipstick. And it does look like it, except perhaps for the size and weight: the dimensions of the case are 70.0 × 27.4 × 27.4 mm, and the weight with the earphones inside is almost 93 g.

The weight of the device depends primarily on the materials of the case – it is metal. The lid of the charging case is black and glossy, which is why fingerprints appear instantly on it, and the only decorative element here is a beveled golden corner, on which you can find the brand’s logo. In the best traditions of both TWS-buds and luxury cosmetics, the cover is securely fixed with magnets. But, unlike most fully wireless earbuds, the lid here is removable.

FreeBuds Lipstick

The charging connector (Type-C), the multifunctional button and the charge indicator are located at the bottom.

FreeBuds Lipstick

Remove the cover and you will see bright earphones in deep red color, placed on a golden “platform”, which combines both glossy and matte textures. There is an indicator in the middle between the buds.

FreeBuds Lipstick

The design of the earphones themselves is an exact copy of FreeBuds 4, the review of which can be found here. Only the colors are different. Identically, they share everything from size (41.40×16.80×18.55 mm) to weight, which in the case of the FreeBuds Lipstick is a modest 4.1 g.

FreeBuds Lipstick

So what is the first impression of the FreeBuds Lipstick? Of course, it is simply impossible not to note the packaging – both the idea and execution are very pleasing. The weight of the case, premium materials and a winning color combination leave no doubt that this is a luxury device.

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Ergonomics and comfort of use

FreeBuds Lipstick

Just like the FreeBuds 4, the FreeBuds Lipstick buds have the same nice ergonomics. For me, the Lipstick is pretty much ideal – they are weightless, sit well and do not fall out when you turn your head or change position. Spending a couple of hours with them watching a movie or listening to an audiobook is not a problem at all – there’s no fatigue or discomfort. It is worth noting the fact that, thanks to the rich red body and silver piping on the bottom, the buds attract attention and look like a full-fledged accessory, and not just a headset.

Connecting to a smartphone

FreeBuds Lipstick

Like any Huawei headset, the FreeBuds Lipstick can be connected directly via Bluetooth, or through the proprietary AI Life application. The first option probably shouldn’t raise questions, and if you are using a smartphone based on EMUI or HarmonyOS 2, then the connection will take just a few seconds. But if you use a phone from another brand, some issues might arise

To install AI Life, I used the link from the official website (by the way, the QR code should also be in the user manual), downloaded the apk file and installed it on my smartphone. In general, I followed the same path as in the case of the FreeBuds 4, since the app installed from the Play Market rarely gets updates.

But, even having connected the Lipstick through AI Life, I could not fully use it. The buds are connected, the “card” is displayed, on which the remaining charge of both each earphone and the case is visible, but it is impossible to use it. That is, when you click on the connected Lipsticks in the application, absolutely nothing happens. The change of region (and I went through a variety of options, including Italy, in which FreeBuds Lipstick is already on sale) did not bring me closer to success.

iOS:

‎HUAWEI AI Life
‎HUAWEI AI Life
Price: Free

Android:

HUAWEI AI Life
HUAWEI AI Life
Price: Free

If I had used a Huawei or Honor smartphone when testing, there would be no problem with that. But, alas, it didn’t happen to be at hand. On the other hand, very little time has passed since the launch event, and I’m sure that the app will be upgraded for smartphones from other brands, but a little later. However, this did not prevent me from evaluating the buds, which mostly worked anyway.

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Controls

FreeBuds Lipstick

The FreeBuds Lipstick is exactly the same manner as the FreeBuds 4. Double tap for Play/Pause, or to accept or end a call. The position sensors in the FreeBuds Lipstick have not been forgotten either, so when one headphone is removed, playback is automatically paused and resumed when the headphone is returned to its place. Long hold can turn ANC on and off, and reject a call. With a swipe along the “leg” the volume can be adjusted.

In the FreeBuds 4 review, I complained that the volume control was not implemented very conveniently – each swipe is responsible for decreasing or increasing the volume by only one division. Therefore, significantly increasing or decreasing the volume gets exhausting. In this regard, my opinion has not changed and I still use either a smartphone or a smart watch to control the volume.

For me, a big plus is the fact that the buds do not react to a single press. Thanks to this, you can easily adjust them without fear of activating something. By the way, the AI Life app allows you to change actions for some gestures. For example, a double tap to switch to the next and previous track instead of accepting and rejecting the call. Relevant for those who will mostly use headphones for listening, not conversations.

Sound and noise control

FreeBuds Lipstick

To be honest, I was pretty sure that since FreeBuds Lipstick and FreeBuds 4 are the same in many respects, the sound in them should also be identical. But the Lipstick, in my opinion, sounds better. Unfortunately, I have no opportunity to compare both models together, so I will rely on my earlier impressions.

I remember connecting FreeBuds 4 via Bluetooth, and the sound, to put it mildly, did not impress me. Only after connecting through the app I managed to get the most of the pair. In the case of the FreeBuds Lipstick, everything was great from the get-go.

FreeBuds Lipstick

After some adjustments, the sound of the FreeBuds 4 seemed quite high-quality and pleasant, but not spectacular. The FreeBuds Lipstick impressed me right away – they just have some kind of panoramic sound, detailed, clear and multifaceted. Listening to music in FreeBuds Lipstick, the track can be disassembled by sounds like a jigsaw puzzle; you can even determine the “location” of each instrument. And the more complex the “musical pattern”, the more interesting it sounds.

Here, by default, you get boomy bass, clean “mids” and restrained “highs”, which behave great even at high volumes. While both models use 14.3mm dynamic drivers, lipstick-looking buds sound much more juicy. Hence the price difference — it’s just about the looks!

Noise control in the FreeBuds Lipstick is also implemented better than in the FreeBuds 4 – in the latter, ANC performance was less pronounced. In the case of the FreeBuds Lipstick, it seems to me that a wider range of low-frequency noise is leveled, although there is no specific data on this. Of course, it is impossible to cut off all the noise due to the format itself, but ANC in the Lipstick is quite capable.

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Headset function

The headphones do an excellent job with conversations. Good audibility in both directions. But, if you are in a noisy place, your interlocutor can hear you a little quieter and as if further away – this is a “side effect” of ANC.

By the way, the FreeBuds Lipstick can be used for voice recording. And with a sampling rate of 48 kHz. This option is available in AI Life for select Huawei smartphones (including the Mate 40 and P40 line) and is compatible with audio recording, short video recording and live streaming apps. For those who actively blog on social networks and own a top-end Huawei smartphone, the feature is quite interesting.

Connection and latency

FreeBuds Lipstick

I can’t complain about the quality of the connection, as well as about latency. In this regard, everything is stable. During testing, I noticed a signal interruption only when I first connected the buds to a laptop (the FreeBuds Lipstick maintains a connection with two devices), and then switched between sound sources. But this was only once, afterwards, when switching between devices, everything was fine.

Battery life

FreeBuds Lipstick

As for the battery capacity, everything is exactly the same as in the FreeBuds 4 – each earphone has 30 mAh, in the case there is another 410 mAh. The specifications state that the buds will last up to 4 hours of listening without ANC and up to 2.5 hours with noise control on (at medium volume). The charging case, in turn, will provide up to 22 hours of battery life without ANC, or up to 14 hours if using ANC.

As a result, an hour of listening to music at high volume (90-100%) with the ANC turned off eats up 35% of the charge, and in this case, the earbuds will last a little less than 3 hours. Therefore, if the volume is reduced by a half, then you can fully count on 4 hours. The buds can be charged in the case in about an hour, and the case will need the same amount to charge over the wire without the buds inside.

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Verdict

After getting to know the FreeBuds Lipstick, I came to the conclusion that Huawei’s new TWS headset is not just about good looks. And it’s not just a re-release of the FreeBuds 4 with a new design, although it is clear that the buds are very similar.

The colors and high-end materials are the main attraction. But the sound is just as good. Excellent, even. One of the best in class. Add to this solid ANC, high-quality microphones for conversations, reliable connection and convenient touch controls. And if you remember how the FreeBuds 4 absolutely destroyed Apple AirPods in all respects, you’ll get the general idea. Perhaps the only drawback is the price. But deluxe is deluxe – it’s expensive, but worth it.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Design
10
Materials
10
Ergonomics
10
Battery life
8
Controls
9
Sound
10
After getting to know the FreeBuds Lipstick, I came to the conclusion that Huawei's new TWS headset is not just about good looks. And it's not just a re-release of the FreeBuds 4 with a new design, although it is clear that the buds are very similar. The colors and high-end materials are the main attraction. But the sound is just as good. Excellent, even. One of the best in class. Add to this solid ANC, high-quality microphones for conversations, reliable connection and convenient touch controls. And if you remember how the FreeBuds 4 absolutely destroyed Apple AirPods in all respects, you'll get the general idea. Perhaps the only drawback is the price. But deluxe is deluxe - it's expensive, but worth it.
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