Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 Review: The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 wireless in-ear headphones are my new favorite headphones with incredibly detailed treble and an extremely large stage! According to Huawei, the market-leading ANC has weaknesses and it is not the only one of the €200 headphones.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 Review
- Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2
- Technical specifications
|Surname||Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2|
|driver||11mm Dynamic Driver + Planar Driver|
|battery capacity||580 mAh in charging box; 55 mAh per earpiece|
|Weight||6g per earpiece; 52g battery box|
|Dimensions||29.1 x 21.8 x 23.7mm;|
|IP protection class||IP54|
|audio codec||SBC, AAC, LDAC|
Packaging & scope of delivery
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 come in an unspectacular box with the headphones shown in the corresponding color on the front. In addition to the headphones themselves, you will find a user manual, USB-C charging cable and a total of three pairs of ear pads.
Facelift design with recognition value
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 basically have a similar design to their predecessors. But they are less angular and come with rounded corners. In this way, Huawei retains the recognition value of its predecessors and refreshes the design.
While the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 will continue to be available in silver and white, there is also a new color with light blue. In return, the black that the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 1 is available in is gone, and the silver is now matt and no longer high-gloss chrome. In order to make the headphones interesting for sporting activities as well, they are equipped with an IP54 certification.
The Devialet logo is now emblazoned on the back of the charging case, which – at least in terms of shape – has only changed marginally. The earphones weigh around 6 g each , a rather above-average value, which hopefully does not affect the wearing comfort. They also have the dimensions of 29.1 x 21.8 x 23.7 mm.
The charging box measures 67.9 x 24.5 x 47.5 mm and weighs 52 g. This means that the handset and charging box are quite heavy together, which certainly makes them appear particularly high-quality for some.
In fact, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 look high quality to me too, and not because of their weight. Both the handset and the charging case are flawlessly processed. With an in-ear in this price range, this is to be expected.
The shape of the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 has hardly changed compared to its predecessor. Furthermore, the headphones are ergonomically shaped and hook into the ear canal so well, at least in my case.
Despite the slightly above average weight of the headphones, they stay in my ears so well and securely. They also don’t become uncomfortable after a long period of wearing, I only had to readjust a little. There is no general answer as to whether the headphones are also the right ones for exercise-intensive sports, but for me it is definitely possible.
Hybrid driver and Devialet tuning
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are each equipped with two drivers per earpiece . Although Huawei itself speaks of dual drivers, which for me implies that there are two drivers of the same type, they are two different types of speakers when looking at the data sheet. Huawei installs a dynamic driver with a membrane diameter of 11 mm and a planar membrane driver in each earpiece. It is therefore a hybrid in-ear driver, just like the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro.
As always, the dynamic driver with a large diaphragm is responsible for the bass and lower mid-range . The upper frequency ranges are reproduced by the planar membrane driver. If you have never heard of these, I would like to explain to you in a very, very simplified way how they work.
Inside the planar diaphragm driver is a very thin, magnetic metal strip surrounded by individually controllable magnets. As a result, the metal can be brought into motion very precisely and the corresponding tones can be generated. Because the magnetic metal in a planar membrane driver works in a similar way to a stringed instrument, this type of driver is said to provide a particularly detailed and faithful reproduction of stringed instruments such as violins or guitars.
The system was tuned by the audio specialists from the French manufacturer Devialet. Huawei has worked with this in the past, for example on the Huawei Sound X and the Huawei Sound Joy Bluetooth speaker.
Sound of the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2
As expected, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are significantly more detailed in the treble and upper midrange than their predecessors. Differences are also audible in the lower midrange and in the bass range. Because the dynamic driver is no longer responsible for the entire frequency spectrum, the FreeBuds Pro 2 is much better suited to overpowering bass and deep sub-bass – with appropriate adjustments in the equalizer settings.
Overall, the standard vote of the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2, which was created in cooperation with Devialet , is rather reserved and fairly neutral. The midrange is emphasized a little more than in most other standard tunings and the bass is hardly dominant.
A touch too calm for me personally, which actually made me a bit skeptical with this standard tuning during the first hours of listening. In my personal opinion , the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 sound a bit too unemotional, although the treble in particular is reproduced with enormous detail and extremely clearly .
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 vs Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro
Like the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2, the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro are hybrid in-ear drivers with a dedicated BA driver for the treble and a dynamic driver for the bass. So far, the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro have been my “daily driver”, i.e. my personal favorite headphones that I use every day. Above all, the performance in the treble, with particularly sharp and detailed sounds paired with a very voluminous bass, has done it to me.
As already mentioned, the Devialet standard tuning didn’t “kick” me that much, with a few small adjustments in the integrated equalizer of the Huawei AI-Life app, the bass can be raised to a similar level as I did with the Liberty 3 Pro am used to. I also slightly raised the treble frequencies, which is what I liked best about the sound in the test.
After the equalizer adjustment, I compared the sound of the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 with a wide variety of music genres with the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro. To my own astonishment, I like the sound of the Huawei headphones in the test much better than the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro. This is mainly due to the fact that in a direct comparison it is noticeable that the FreeBuds Pro 2 sound audibly more detailed in the upper midrange and also in the lower high frequencies and offer a larger stage here.
Sound conclusion – Huawei delivers the best sound
The direct comparison between Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro and Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 actually triggered a small aha experience in me. I would not have thought that the differences between the two in-ears would be so great and certainly not that the frequency range covered by the Huawei headphones could be so much larger, especially in the treble.
Is active noise cancellation really the market leader?
Huawei promises improved noise reduction, which is said to reduce ambient noise by up to 47 dB. The accompanying press release talks about “setting new industry standards”, which to me means that they want to have developed the best ANC on the market.
This is again a hybrid ANC with a total of three microphones per earpiece, with two on the outside and one on the inside of the earpiece. The microphones come with AI support, which also helps to block out background noise during phone calls.
The ANC can be used in four different modes, these are:
- Dynamic – automatically adapts to the environment
- Cozy – for quiet environments
- Balanced – for noisy environments
- Ultra – for very noisy environments
In the test, I found the built-in noise suppression to be very good, but I wouldn’t call it market leader. It should be said that the noise suppression can of course be perceived better or worse depending on the ear and fit, regardless of the built-in technology. In the test, in Ultra mode, the strongest ANC level, there is unfortunately a background noise that cannot be ignored, which spoils the good impression.
In the comparison test, however, the ANC of the Sony WF-1000 XM4 remains better in my opinion. Sony manages to isolate high-frequency ambient noise better. Huawei delivers a good ANC here, but unfortunately there is some noise in the strongest mode and unfortunately it does not work as well as Sony’s noise canceling in high-frequency sounds.
Making calls with the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2
Huawei has already proven in the past that they can build good microphone concepts. Not only in the high-end models, but also in the middle class with the Huawei FreeBuds 4i. Which I have recently recommended as the “best in-ear for making calls up to €50”.
The new Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 also shine in the test with good microphone quality ; Depending on the intensity of the ambient noise, these are easily audible, but your own voice remains dominant so that you can easily concentrate on it. In my opinion, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are also suitable for longer and/or business calls.
Touch operation & mobile app
Like its predecessor, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are equipped with touch controls. In parts, this is very similar to the Apple AirPods Pro. There are no simple touch gestures here, as you know them from 99% of wireless in-ears, but the receiver sticks have to be pressed together. This works as a squeeze once, twice, three times and hold gesture. In addition, the volume can be adjusted by swiping up or down on the front touch sensor .
Thus, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are equipped with an above-average number of gestures, especially compared to other high-end in-ears. In addition, some of the functions of the gestures in the app can also be customized. As a result, the FreeBuds Pro 2 shine with comprehensive operation with wearer detection – strong!
Mobile app for Android not in PlayStore
The Huawei AI Life app is unfortunately not available in the Google PlayStore due to the Google ban, or the version in the PlayStore has not been updated for some time. The current version, with which the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 also work, is therefore only available for Android as an .apk or from the Huawei AppGallery. Apple users can download the latest version of the app from the AppStore as usual.
A somewhat bland aftertaste with a €200 headphone that a workaround for the app is necessary here, but the Huawei-Google topic will probably not change in the near future. However, once the current Android app has been installed, it can be updated from within the app.
Features Of The App
- Select recently connected devices
- Customize ANC/Transparent Mode
- Select equalizer preset/create your own
- Smart HD Audio (enable LDAC or L2HC codec)
- Turn on/off HD calls
- Customize touch gestures
- find headphones
- Ear pad fit test
- install updates
- Turn on/off carry detection
- Turn on/off low latency mode
In the test there is nothing to complain about in the app functions, everything works as expected. In my opinion, the app can also be operated more intuitively than, for example, the counterpart from Sony. The Android and iOS app are basically the same, under Android it is also possible to switch the LDAC codec on/off under sound effects.
Bluetooth chip with LDAC codec & dual device connection
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are equipped with a Bluetooth 5.2 module and, as already mentioned, are Hi-Res certified. In addition to AAC and SBC standard audio codec, the module also supports the high-resolution LDAC codec. In addition, the Bluetooth chip allows a dual-device connection, for example with a smartphone and laptop.
What is unusual is that the dual-device connection is also possible here using the LDAC codec and one device can also be connected via the AAC codec and another via the LDAC codec. Other headphone manufacturers such as Soundcore or Sony itself (from which the LDAC codec comes) forbid dual-device connection under the LDAC codec and you have to switch to the AAC codec.
I could imagine that other manufacturers have this lock for reasons of energy efficiency. Depending on the mode and connected devices, you can practically watch the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 discharging.
Battery life highly dependent on usage
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are each equipped with a 55 mAh battery per earpiece , a standard value. There is also a 580 mAh battery in the charging box, which is also a common size.
With ANC switched on, Huawei promises a runtime of 6.5 hours. That’s more than its predecessor, which only had 5 hours of runtime with ANC. However, there is also a value where “only” a running time of 4 hours is mentioned. This will be runtime with ANC on when using the less power efficient LDAC codec.
In the test with ANC switched on and using the AAC codec , I was able to achieve a runtime of about 5.5 hours at a mixed volume of 50% – 70% . A value that is okay at best by today’s standards, but is no longer really good. The runtime is reduced even more when using the LDAC codec.
Depending on the volume, the test lasted only 3.5 – 4 hoursrunning time inside. This is due to the poorer energy efficiency due to the sending of larger amounts of data in favor of the audio quality. If you then connect the headphones to several devices at the same time, the batteries will drain even faster.
In my opinion, the battery life is okay, but Huawei does not cover itself with glory. On the one hand, I think it’s good that Huawei also allows dual-device connection with the more energy-intensive LDAC codec, on the other hand, you run the risk of the battery unintentionally running low. As a user, you really have to be careful here.
Especially when you are on the road for a long time, there is nothing more annoying than in-ear batteries that are unexpectedly empty. You are forced to take very active care of which codec you are currently using and which devices the headphones are currently connected to. But if you keep that in mind, you can get along with the given battery life.
The headphones are charged via USB-C interface or wirelessly, but this usually involves a significantly longer charging time. With the charging box it is possible to recharge the handset about 3.5 times .
Conclusion – best sound but not free of errors
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro have been on the market for a really long time and it was really time for a successor. In my opinion, Huawei has succeeded in giving the headphones a fresh design that differs from their predecessors, on the one hand, and on the other hand there is also a recognition value between the generations – very good! The processing is according to the price at the highest level.
In terms of sound, Huawei not only convinced me with the new hybrid driver concept consisting of dynamic and planar drivers, but also surprised me. Although the Devialet sound design is a bit too flat for me personally, with a few adjustments in the in-app equalizer, the built-in, high-quality drivers can fulfill all wishes.
In my opinion, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 deliver a few more details in the upper midrange and lower treble frequencies in the test and an overall larger stage than the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro. So the Soundcore headphones have lost their place at my personal top and I will certainly use the FreeBuds Pro 2 more often in the future. Well done Huawei well done!
- Best sound in the test so far
- LDAC codec
- Dual device connection
- Full service
- Slight noise in ANC Ultra mode
- Battery life below average depending on usage
- Android mobile app only via detours
Buy Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2?
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 Review: Unfortunately, with so much praise for the sound, Huawei also leaves a lot of room for criticism. Then of course there would be the price. At least the regular price of €199 is pretty steep for in-ear headphones. Especially when you consider that Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro or EDIFIER NeoBuds Pro are often available for around €100. The fact that you get Sony WF-1000 XM4 for the same money, which are not as detailed in the treble, but offer market-leading ANC, does not necessarily make the Huawei headphones more attractive.
In addition, there is the only average to below-average runtime, an app that is only available as an apk for Android and the clearly audible noise in ANC Ultra mode. But if you reduce the headphones to the essentials, they are the wireless in-ear headphones with the best sound that I have been able to try so far. So if you want the best sound at any price and have access to high-resolution music, I can only recommend the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2. Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 Review video below;