Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 review: A compelling package

aa2020 recommended

The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 are a compelling proposition that adeptly balances design, hardware, and software. They’re clearly designed to take on the AirPods Pro, and succeed for the most part.

After a two-year break, Huawei is back with the second generation of its premium Freebuds Pro wireless earbuds. The Freebuds Pro 2 are packed with features and offer excellent sound quality, but the competition is stacked. Should you buy them? Find out in our Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 review.

What you need to know about the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

  • Huawei Freebuds Pro 2: £169 / €199 (~$207)

The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 build upon the strong foundation of the original Freebuds Pro, which we reviewed in 2020. Huawei polished the design — literally and figuratively — and improved the feature set while keeping the same great audio quality and active noise cancellation (ANC) we loved on the 2020 model.

Huawei teamed up with audio company Devialet to tune the sound of the Freebuds Pro 2, as reflected in the dual branding on the case. It’s hard to say how much of an impact this collaboration had, but there’s no denying the Freebuds Pro 2 sound excellent.

The active noise-cancelling (ANC) on the Freebuds Pro 2 performs admirably, helped by the silicone tips that seal out much of the external noise. Switching between several ANC modes lets you pick the most comfortable level, and you can easily toggle the noise cancellation with a pinch on the earbuds’ stems.

The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 build upon the strong foundation of the original Freebuds Pro.

The Freebuds Pro 2 are compatible with Android, iOS, and Windows devices, though feature parity between platforms is not perfect. Only Huawei phones running EMUI 12 or later get the complete feature set. Bluetooth connectivity through the high-resolution LDAC codec is available, though it will only be worth the battery trade-off if you listen from a high-resolution source.

Huawei claims a battery life of up to four hours when ANC is on (six and a half hours with ANC off) and up to 18 hours with ANC on (30 hours with ANC off) with the case included.

Available in white, gray, and blue color options, the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 retail for around £170 in the UK and €200 in Europe. They will also launch in India and other markets around the world, though it seems unlikely they’ll be available in the US due to the fallout from the ongoing trade ban. They’re going up against serious competition, including the AirPods Pro, the Sony WF-1000XM4, and the brand new Google Pixel Buds Pro.

What’s good?

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

The Freebuds Pro 2 look and feel premium. They are smooth and pleasantly rounded and feel very comfortable in the ear. You can choose from one of the three sizes of silicone ear tips. The largest set still felt a little small to me, but not to the point that they fell out of my ears. AI Life, Huawei’s companion app for audio products (Android, iOS), includes a “Tip fit test” feature that’s supposed to tell you which tip is best for the shape of your ear, but it was unreliable in my experience.

For this Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 review, I tested the minimalist Ceramic White version; the Silver Blue colorway will stand out more thanks to a color-shifting iridescent finish, while Silver Frost is a more stealthy and sober hue of gray.

Each earbud weighs about 6.1 grams, which is about the same as the AirPods Pro. Huawei claims to have moved the earbuds’ center of gravity to make them more stable in the ear. I was able to wear them for hours without discomfort. The charging case is smaller and lighter than the previous generation, and it’s more ergonomic too. I didn’t have issues removing and inserting the earbuds from the case as I did with the Freebuds Pro.

The Freebuds Pro 2 sound beautiful. On the tech side, Huawei talks about a long bevy of improvements and innovations centered on the dual driver. This comprises an 11mm quad-magnet driver for bass and other low notes and a planar diaphragm for the highs. The lows do get low — 14Hz, below the limit of human audibility, according to Huawei. Software equalizes the sound based on volume and the position of each earbud in the ear canal in real-time. The results are great — the sound is generally warm, the bass is satisfyingly deep, and vocals and mid-range complex layers of instruments come across clearly. Coupled with the effective insulation and ANC, it’s tough to fault the way the Freebuds Pro 2 sound.

The sound is generally warm, the bass is satisfyingly deep, and vocals and mid-range complex layers of instruments come across clearly.

Huawei says it’s improved the ANC on the Freebuds Pro 2 compared to the previous generation, and they now outperform the AirPods Pro in this area. In my experience, noise cancellation was highly effective without ever becoming a nuisance. When walking down a busy street or driving my car, I noticed a clear reduction in low humming noises, which let me enjoy my music at a lower volume. Having ANC on increases battery consumption, but the Freebuds Pro 2 mitigate this to some extent by adapting its intensity to the level of noise in the environment.

I liked the ability to control all the key functions of the Freebuds Pro 2 with gestures. You control the playback by pinching the earbuds’ stems, while pinching-and-holding cycles through the noise cancellation modes. You adjust the volume with swipes up and down the stems.

Calls sounded loud and clear on the Freebuds Pro 2. The person on the other end never had issues hearing me, even when I was driving in a car down the highway.

What’s not so good?

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

I found the Freebuds Pro 2 battery life adequate for my needs, but they lag direct competitors in this regard. They are rated for four hours of listening with ANC, which is average (or slightly below) in 2022. For comparison, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are rated for up to eight hours of playback with ANC on, the Galaxy Buds Pro hit five hours, and the AirPods Pro four and a half hours. Even the original Freebuds Pro lasted longer, at five hours. On the bright side, the Freebuds Pro 2 charge very quickly — it only takes about 10 minutes to go from 0% to 50% (earbuds charging in the case), so at least you can go back to listening quickly.

Freebuds Pro 2 battery life is adequate, but it lags direct competitors in this regard

As with other Huawei headphones, you’ll only benefit from the Freebuds 2 Pro’s complete set of features if you use them with select Huawei phones, tablets, or PCs. The key functionality is available cross-platform, but check the “fine print” if there’s a particular feature you’re after.

Finally, I noticed some minor but annoying interruptions in playback when using the Freebuds Pro 2 with my laptop, but never with my phone. It’s hard to tell which device was to blame, but it’s something to be wary of if you plan on solely using them with a laptop.

Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 specs

Huawei FreeBuds 2

Size

Earbuds: 29.1 x 21.8 x 23.7mm
Case: 67.9 x 24.5 x 47.5mm

Weight

Earbuds: 6.1g
Case: 52g

Connectivity

Bluetooth 5.2
Dual device connection
Pop-up pair (on supported Huawei devices)
LDAC/AAC/SBC

Sensors

Touch: Pinch, swipe
Bone sensor/Accelerometer/Gyroscope sensor/Infrared sensor

Batteries

Per earbud: 55mAh
Charging case: 580mAh

4h of music playback per charge (ANC on)
6.5h of music playback per charge (ANC off)

30h of music playback with case included (ANC off)
18h of music playback with case included (ANC on)

Charging

USB-C, wireless charging (2W)
Charging time – earbuds in case: ~40 minutes
Charging time – case (no earbuds): ~1h

Speaker

11mm quad-magnet dynamic driver
planar diaphragm drive
14Hz ~ 48Hz

Audio

Active noise cancelling
Call noise cancelling

Water resistance

IP54

Colors

Silver Blue, Silver Frost, Ceramic White

Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 review: The verdict

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 are a well-rounded package designed to please a wide userbase, and we say that as a compliment. They sound superb, they’re packed with features, and have decent battery life. They may not excel in any one area, but they are a compelling proposition that adeptly balances design, hardware, and software.

The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 sound superb, they’re packed with features, and have decent battery life

Huawei clearly set its sights on Apple and the AirPods Pro (£239) when it designed the Freebuds Pro 2. Feature for feature, the Freebuds are on par with the AirPods Pro while undercutting them in price by £70. If you’re okay with the platform-related limitations, the Freebuds Pro 2 look like the better choice for that reason alone, with the caveat that the AirPods Pro 2 (coming this fall) could change the terms of the equation.

If you want the best battery life, you should pass on the Freebuds Pro 2 and look instead at the Sony WF-1000XM4 (£250), Google Pixel Buds Pro (£179), or Bose Quietcomfort Earbuds (£249). That doesn’t mean the Freebuds Pro 2 have poor battery life — they should still be more than enough for most users. Also, Huawei’s earbuds are lighter and more discreet than these alternatives.

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Finally, it’s worth taking a look at the original Huawei Freebuds Pro. They’re currently available for as little as £80 and have slightly battery life. The ANC and sound improvements on the Freebuds Pro 2 may not be worth double the money.

Huawei Freebuds Pro 2

Excellent sound quality • Feature-rich • Lightweight and comfortable

A great pair of premium earbuds that undercuts the competition

Thanks to their great sound quality, effective active noise cancellation, and multitude of features, the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 stand out in a crowded competitive field.

Top Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 questions and answers

The Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 are not waterproof, but they are water resistant. More accurately, the earbuds are rated IP54 or “splash resistant,” meaning they should handle the average rainy day or workout, but not full submersion or contact with a strong water jet. The case is not water resistant at all. Huawei warns that the water resistance on the Freebuds Pro 2 will decrease over time.

Yes, you can use the Freebuds Pro 2 with iPhones and iPads, as well as Mac computers. They will work like any Bluetooth headphones, but on iOS, they will not support all the features advertised by Huawei. Check the official product page for details.

The Freebuds Pro 2 support the LDAC, AAC, and SBC codecs. Using the AI Life app, you can toggle between LDAC (highest definition, highest battery consumption) and AAC. Most users will not notice the benefit of LDAC, so we recommend leaving the setting to AAC (standard definition). Check out this article for an explanation of the differences between codecs.

You can control the Freebuds Pro 2 by pinching the earbuds’ stem (one pinch: stop/play; two pinches: next track; three pinches: previous track); by pinching-and-holding (switch between ANC on, ANC off, and Awareness mode); and by swiping on the stems (volume up/down).

Yes, but it’s not called Transparency, which is Apple’s feature. Instead, it’s called Awareness mode, and it selectively pipes in voices and other sounds from the outside. This lets you chat or listen to announcements without removing your earphones.

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