Huawei released the FreeBuds 5i in China back in June. And since then, many users have been hoping for a worldwide release. Last year, on December 20th, Huawei officially confirmed this and now we are a few days away from the launch. For an RRP of only around $109, Huawei wants to compete with the significantly more expensive Apple AirPods Pro 2. Considering the feature list, that might actually work.
The main selling point of the Huawei FreeBuds 5i is the Hi-Res Audio support, which comes via Sony’s built-in LDAC codec. This allows high-resolution audio files to be streamed at up to 24-bit/96 kHz. Up to 990 kbps come via Bluetooth. In addition, there are Huawei’s “advanced algorithms”, which are intended to reproduce the sound as true to the original as possible.
The Huawei FreeBuds 5i each work with a dynamic 10 mm speaker. There are also multi-EQ effects that can be configured via the AI Life app. For example, the treble or the bass can be fine-tuned, a feature that we missed in our Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro review. The FreeBuds 5i even feature Bluetooth multipoint connectivity, so you can connect to multiple devices at the same time.
Huawei FreeBuds 5i with hybrid ANC
Of course, to really stand up to the Apple AirPods, you need the right noise cancellation. Huawei has integrated a hybrid ANC into the FreeBuds 5i. It uses the buds’ outward and inward-facing microphones to detect not only external noise, but noise in the channel as well. This allows the Huawei buds to suppress noise levels of up to 42 dB.
There are three different ANC modes – Ultra, General and Cozy. Depending on the situation, these offer the appropriate noise cancellation, depending on whether you are on the phone or listening to music and how loud the ambient noise is. In combination with the neural network’s AI algorithm, the FreeBuds 5i can distinguish your own voice from external noise sources. According to Huawei, the other side also benefits from a loud and clear sound.
The battery life of the Huawei FreeBuds 5i is up to six hours including ANC switched on. With the included charging case, the runtime is extended to a total of up to 28 hours. Huawei has also integrated a quick charge function that gives you up to four hours of battery life with just 15 minutes of charging. In addition, the buds are dust and waterproof according to IP54 and are therefore protected against splash water.