Huawei Freebuds 5i Review vs Freebuds Pro 2

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Huawei Freebuds 5i Review Rating

Summary

For £89.99, I don’t think there are many earbuds that will outperform the Huawei Freebuds 5i

Overall
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  • Overall - 95%
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I reviewed the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 a few months ago, and I loved them and still use them today. I was already a big fan of the original FreeBuds Pro, so the Pro 2 were inevitably going to be good earbuds.

I didn’t review the Freebuds 4i, but I did review the Freebuds 4 and the Freebuds 3i. The Freebuds 4 may be good earbuds, but the open-fit design is not for me personally. I liked the Freebuds 3i, they were good for the price, but if I am honest, they didn’t quite meet my own standards for earbuds.

I expected the Huawei Freebuds 5i to follow a similar trend. Good for the money, but not to my standards. I was wrong.

Specification

  • Driver: 10mm dynamic driver
  • Sensors: Wear detection sensor
  • ANC: Yes, 42dB
  • Connectivity: BT 5.2
  • IP Rating: IP54
  • Battery:
    • Music playback on 1 charge: 6.0 hours (with ANC enabled)
    • Music playback on 1 charge: 7.5 hours (with ANC disabled)
    • Music playback with charging case: 18.5 hours (with ANC enabled)
    • Music playback with charging case: 28 hours (with ANC disabled)
  • Dimensions: 41.4mm (h) x 16.8 mm (w) x 18.5 mm (d)
  • Weight: 4.9g per earbud

Design and Fit

Huawei seems to have designed these to look like the affordable clone of the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2. There are a lot of similarities between both the case and the earbud design.

The FreeBuds Pro 2 has lots of metallic-looking elements to it, whereas the Freebuds 5i has a matte-coloured case then plasticy earbuds. The colour I was sent is attractive, and in general, I don’t put much value on the way a pair of earbuds look.

Similar to the FreeBuds Pro 2, these have a stem design with quite a bulbous earpiece. You then get three silicon tips with them. This design works well for me, the earbuds fit nicely in my ear with a good seal and no movement when I move around.

I have worn these on a 9-mile run, and I didn’t find that I needed to adjust them throughout the run.

With these being more affordable than the Pro model, they lack some of the fancy features, including the various sensors and wireless charging. However, they have the same IP54 rating, so you can confidently use them for exercise.

Sound Quality

Just like the Freebuds Pro 2, these support the higher resolution LDAC codec. However, to use this, you need to use the AI Life app. You can’t just switch it within the Bluetooth settings. You need to go to sound quality within AI Life and then toggle to prefer sound quality. On this page, you also have some basic EQ options allowing you to boost the bass or treble. These do favour bass, like most mainstream earbuds, so if you prefer something more neutral, you may want to boost that treble.

I find the overall sound quality to be excellent, up there with some of the best sub £100 earbuds I have tried. Audiophiles may want to give them a miss due to the bass-forward nature, but I don’t find it overwhelming and it doesn’t bleed into the other frequencies. In general, I find them quite balanced, the trebles are well-controlled with no harshness across any genre I tried.

Noise Cancellation

While the traditionally popular ANC earbud brands make no claims about ANC, Huawei likes to state the dB reduction figure. It is a bit of an ambiguous number, but Huawei claims this data comes from Huawei labs, and test models were designed based on human hearing.

I am not convinced these numbers are accurate, or at least accurate when comparing against other brands, but I’d say it is roughly correct when you look at the number in comparison to other Huawei ANC earbuds.

This claims to do 42dB while the FreeBuds Pro 2 are 47 dB, the original Freebuds Pro at 40 dB, and the open-fit FreeBuds 4 are 25 dB. I’d say that is a roughly accurate representation of performance.

For a pair of sub-£100 earbuds, the ANC is superb. Switching it on in any environment, there is a noticeable reduction in background noise. Using my normal aeroplane cabin noise test, these eliminate most of the low end, leaving some mid, and quite a bit of high. The performance is not far off the FreeBuds Pro 2.

Battery Life

The battery life is a key selling point for me with these. I love the Freebuds Pro 2, and at first, I thought the battery life was acceptable but not great. However, if I leave the ANC on, I find that they die for to quickly for my liking. If I put them on as I leave the house on the way to the gym, they will be dead before I get home (3 hours-ish). ANC and LDAC both affect performance, so you can extend things.

I have not timed these, but they haven’t died on me while in use. With LDAC and ANC, I’d say I am getting over 4 hours.

Price and Alternative Options

Preview Product Rating Price
HUAWEI FreeBuds 5i Wireless Earbuds - Noise Cancelling... HUAWEI FreeBuds 5i Wireless Earbuds - Noise Cancelling... No ratings yet £89.00

The Huawei Freebuds 5i has launched for £89.99 and is currently available directly from Huawei.

The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are sold by Huawei for £169.99, but they are on Amazon for £125 for the pair in white.

Preview Product Rating Price
HUAWEI FreeBuds 4i - Wireless In-Ear Bluetooth Earphones... HUAWEI FreeBuds 4i - Wireless In-Ear Bluetooth Earphones... No ratings yet £57.58

The Huawei Freebuds 4i are on Amazon for £70.

Overall

In recent years, a lot of good earbuds have been launched for under £100, so it shouldn’t really be that surprising that these are good. Yet, I am shocked at how good they are. I have found myself quite happily picking them up over the more expensive Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2.

I am not going to try and argue that these are better, but they are good enough that I don’t think twice about using them over the Pro 2. One reason why I often select the 5i over the Pro 2, is the battery is noticeably better. I do love the Pro 2, but the battery is rubbish and will often die before I get home from the gym.

The sound quality of the Huawei Freebuds 5i is excellent, albeit a mainstream bass-forward sound profile, and the ANC is surprisingly good at this price point.

Overall, I’d say these are the best sub £100 earbuds I have used.

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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