At the end of 2020, the Chinese manufacturer had given us a first iteration of its FreeBuds Pro which had made a strong impression on us. Apart from lagging noise reduction compared to its competitors, we had little to fault Huawei for.
For this second version, the Chinese firm is not content to serve us a reheated grub. No, Huawei is putting the dishes in the big ones to whet our ears’ appetite even more.
The most tempting dish on the menu? A new hybrid acoustic architecture developed hand in hand with Devialet. Although this association is not new, the two manufacturers collaborated in 2020 on the Sound X connected speaker and the Sound-Joy Bluetooth speaker. But this is a great first in true wireless headphones.
That’s not all we have to get our teeth into. Unlike its predecessors, the FreeBuds Pro 2 are now multipoint and support the LDAC codec, while the app AI Life is finally available on iOS. And to make our mouths water even more, Huawei confirms that noise reduction, the Achilles heel of the FreeBuds Pro 1, has been greatly improved. After more than three weeks of testing, let’s see right away if the mayonnaise takes.
FreeBuds Pro 2 price and availability
Available since July 2022 at a price of 219 euros, these headphones are available in three colors: white, dark gray and blue. It should be noted that Huawei increases its launch price by 20 euros compared to the previous version. A price position that brings them into direct competition with the recent Google Pixel Buds Pro, launched at the end of July at the same price.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 at the best price
Base price: €219
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Design and comfort: always a treat
Unsurprisingly, Huawei largely takes over the design and design of the previous version. Which in itself is excellent news as the first FreeBuds Pro of the name were a success on these levels.
We therefore find rounded headphones with an angular stem with a square finish. In this regard, this rod seems to have shortened by a few millimeters, while on their side, the headphones have gained in lightness, 5.9 g compared to 6.1 g in 2020.
With this well-thought-out semi-in-ear format, the headphones fit perfectly in the hollow of our ears without fitting in completely. The sensation is pleasant and the plug effect non-existent even during long listening sessions.
Good surprise, the case, too, gains in compactness (52 g against 60 g for the old one) and retains its rounded curves and its solid hinge.
Discreet, it slips easily into a pocket without giving the impression that you are carrying a large lego. Another reason for satisfaction, the ease of extraction. While on the previous model it was sometimes difficult to grab them, Huawei has designed wider slots here. Result, we remove the headphones and insert them now with disconcerting ease.
Finally, we have only one complaint to address to the FreeBuds Pro 2, the mirror effect brought to the design of the headphones and the case. For the retina, it’s frankly a success, the light is sometimes reflected on it and the whole has the merit of being differentiating. On the other hand, it is a calamity for fingerprints and dust. After barely half an hour of use, they were already dirty as sluts.
Audio: an additional badge
Last May we had Oppo with Dynaudio, now we have Huawei with Devialet. Working with an acoustics specialist seems to be a good way for a non-historical manufacturer to legitimize its know-how. Although the first FreeBuds Pro were far from lacking in this area, Huawei seems to want to set the bar even higher with this partnership. But in the end, who does what?
For the technical architecture, it’s Huawei. To orchestrate it through a very particular sound signature, it’s Devialet. These headphones are built around an 11mm dynamic driver for the bass and low mids and a planar transducer that takes care of the rest, from the mids to the highest treble frequencies.
At the start, we were a little afraid that it would turn into a marketing bluff. However, after several days of listening, it is clear that this cuisine inspired devialenne rises among the best tables of the moment.
First of all, we quickly recognize the acoustic touch of the French start-up. The sound is energetic, particularly in the extreme lows and low mids. Be careful, this does not mean that these headphones are vulgar bass brawlers, but rather that the material of these frequency ranges is both rich in detail and nuance. A real impression of incarnation of instruments and voices is felt on pop, electro and rap playlists.
On more complex styles of music, such as classical, rock or jazz, the reproduction is round, the headphones let the highs breathe in order to make them more natural. The high-mids are accentuated with subtlety according to the lyrical flights, which gives the spatialization a really pleasant depth and height.
On the other hand, on hard or piercing sounds, such as electric guitars or cymbals, the headphones are oddly set back. The level of detail is there, but the rendering sometimes lacks brilliance. A detail that can easily be adjusted with the equalizer within the application. This is also the only time we have touched the sound signature of the FreeBuds Pro 2, as the coloring of the headphones is just right and adapts to all musical styles.
Application: we are almost satisfied
Let’s not sulk our pleasure, Huawei has made great efforts in terms of its dedicated application. First of all, it lands on the App Store, while still being available on HarmonyOS and Android. Although not directly for the latter, the app is not available on the Play Store, it will be necessary to install an APK file before you can use it. Fortunately, Huawei does the work for us thanks to a QR code present in the box of the headphones.
Next, AI Life brings together on paper everything you would expect from a high-end headphone app. The main functionalities are present: management of listening modes, commands and multipoint, battery status, insulation test of the tips, 10-band graphic equalizer (!), “search” function in case of loss… C ‘is complete. Especially since Huawei has revamped its app to make it more ergonomic. All options are accessible from a single window, it’s simple and clear.
Finally, difficult to be more complete in terms of connectivity. Bluetooth 5.2 does not suffer from any latency, there are many codecs (SBC, AAC, LHDC, LDAC), presence sensors to mute or restart the sound when removing an earphone work wonderfully and it is even possible to switch to mono mode if only one earbud is worn. Frankly, nothing to say.
As on the FreeBuds Pro 1, the AirPods Pro or the recent Enco X2 from Oppo, Huawei chooses the stems of the headphones as the control center. Quick pinch, long pinch, slides… If you don’t know the song, it will take you a while to get used to it.
Indeed, it is not the whole upper that is tactile, but only a part. Once the choreography is printed, the controls respond quite well. On the other hand, at the level of personalization of orders, it is the dry diet with bread and water. It is only possible to modify the long pinch by assigning the voice assistant to it. An astonishing frugality that clashes with the rest.
Active noise reduction: controlled seasoning
After the sound signature, here is the other big project that Huawei has tackled. To start, the manufacturer added a microphone per earpiece. Instead of two, we now find three. Then, to gain versatility, the FreeBuds Pro 2 come with four noise reduction modes:
- A “General” mode for noisy environments.
- A “Cosy” mode for places where noise is low or far away.
- An Ultra mode, for very noisy environments.
- Finally, a “Dynamic” mode, supposed to adjust the noise reduction according to the place
In most scenarios, the FreeBuds Pro 2 are definitely better than their predecessors. As far as low frequencies are concerned (car engines, metro noises, etc.), the attenuation is devilishly effective. It even reaches the level of the best students in the field, we think in particular of the WF-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort. That is to say. On the other hand, the “Dynamic” mode is a bit messy when moving from one environment to another quickly, for example while strolling in the metro. During our uses, we often preferred to manage the ANC manually.
Going up in the treble, the headphones slightly lose efficiency. The shrill urban noises and certain conversations in the surroundings sometimes manage to overflow. This difficulty in the high frequencies is found in the “Transparent” mode. Although effective, it allows us to hold a conversation in the office without any problem, our voice sometimes seems to lack brilliance, as if it were muffled on the pronunciation of our vowels.
Despite these two grievances, the copy made by Huawei in terms of noise reduction is clearly improving.
Autonomy and recharging: not cooked enough!
With a more compact format and a sound architecture designed around a double transducer, we fear in advance this end of meal. Already because Huawei announced to us in the preamble rather average figures for this price range: 6:30 hours without ANC and 4 hours with ANC, each time being in AAC codec.
Then because in fact, each time, the headphones lasted less. Namely 3h45 with active noise reduction (dynamic mode) and 6h without. And again, we weren’t using the LDAC codec… Among headphones billed above 200 euros, the FreeBuds Pro 2 are currently the least enduring.
Fortunately in terms of charging, Huawei does not miss its cooking. To fully charge the headphones, it takes about 25 minutes, knowing that a full case is able to provide, easily, three full recharges.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 at the best price
Base price: €219
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Our review of the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 wireless headphones
With the FreeBuds Pro 2 Huawei has improved, by touch or by ladle, its recipe for design, functionality and active noise reduction. In this regard, the copy remains perfectible, but it improves considerably.
Where Huawei strikes its greatest blow is above all in terms of sound. The choice of a double transducer architecture and the collaboration with Devialet bring a real acoustic identity to these headphones. Which, in itself, should be THE goal for any manufacturer, to be recognizable.
This ambitious technical choice has however a collateral damage on the autonomy. Far too average compared to the competition, the latter is the only regret of a good meal that could have ended in a feast.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2
design and conception
Application and ergonomics
Active noise reduction
- Top design and comfort
- A homogeneous and dynamic sound signature
- Almost complete application
- RBA effective at low frequencies
- A good price-performance ratio
We love less
- Headphones that take too many fingerprints
- Some weaknesses in treble reproduction
- Uncustomizable touch controls
- Too average autonomy