I quite liked the Huawei FreeBuds Pro wireless earbuds when they were released in 2020. At the time, Huawei’s audio products were hit or miss for me, but the FreeBuds Pro was the best of the lot. Now that its successor, the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2, is out, I’ve been curious to see if it has maintained the same high quality.
To give a quick spoiler, the answer is yes. But the earbuds are now competing in an even more competitive market, with more available options than before. So, that begs the question, is it still worth buying?
Don’t change what isn’t broken. That is what Huawei has gone for the design for the second generation of the Pro. It retains the curved rectangular shape, similar to the AirPods Pro. The size is also small enough to fit comfortably in most pockets.
Ceramic White (the version I received) is among three colour options for the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 but is probably the least aesthetically pleasing one. While it is alright, it looks rather bland, and the glossy finish does not look and feel as good as the Silver Frost and Silver Blue variants, which have a matte finish. So go for either of those two instead if you care about looks.
For the previous generations FreeBuds Pro, I didn’t like that the magnets in the case made it hard to take out the earbuds. Thankfully, this isn’t the case here. The earbuds can easily be pulled out, and the magnets are still strong enough to hold them in place when placed back. Glad that Huawei has finally found a balance.
Like the case, the earbuds aren’t any different from their predecessor, save for more rounded edges at the bottom. The default tips also fit comfortably for my ears, but they also include ear tips of varying sizes to accommodate in case they aren’t your fitting. I’ve also used them during runs and cycling, and the earbuds have stayed in my ears without issue, so they are very much suitable for sports.
The big thing about the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 is that it has partnered with Devialet. If you aren’t familiar with that company, they make those oddly shaped speakers that cost an arm and a leg, but the audio performance justifies it. That name certainly means something, as evidenced by Huawei featuring it right on the Pro 2’s case.
Each earbud is equipped with an 11mm quad-magnet dynamic driver and UHF planar diaphragm driver to bring a Dual-Speaker for its sound. Huawei says this enables a greater hearing range of 14 Hz to 48 kHz, ensuring that sound, texture, and detail are of high quality.
It should be no surprise then that the earbuds sound very good. The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 produces a punchy bass performance, but the vocals don’t get muddled. In fact, the midrange remains crisp and clear on listening, which is great for songs with a focus on vocals.
The Pro 2 also offers ANC as part of the package. The standard level of noise cancellation does cancel out some noise, but probably less than I would like. I was still getting environmental noise leaking when using the earbuds at slightly crowded locations.
Luckily, there is a more substantial ‘Ultra’ mode available, but iPhone users will miss out as it is only offered through the Huawei AI Life app that is only on Android. However, if you have an Android device, the ‘Ultra’ noise cancelling option is excellent! It cancels out a decent amount of sound even if I am in a particularly noisy environment, like the roaring screech from an incoming train at a station.
There is also an awareness mode that you can toggle to let in environmental noise. For situations where I needed to hear the outside, the mode did its job; I could hear and understand everything that came through clearly.
The unique pinch system is back for the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2, and they still work the same way. Pinching once plays or pauses your media, squeezing twice and thrice skips and goes back to the previous track respectively, and a long pinch changes between the modes.
As with its predecessor, I’m still not the biggest fan of it. It can be a little finicky as sometimes you may not pinch in the right area, but even if you get it right, the pinch itself feels unsatisfying as there is no feedback to it, with only a soft click indicating that you have done it correctly.
The same goes for the swipe gesture. Swiping along the stems in an upwards or downward motion helps to increase and decrease the volume, but it sometimes only detects your swipes. So again, you have to be very deliberate with your finger movements.
One feature that works better is the dual-device connection. It connects to two devices simultaneously, and whenever I want to switch over and listen to my other device, the earbuds seamlessly transition the audio over.
Besides the features available out of the box, Huawei’s AI Life app brings more functionality to the FreeBuds Pro 2. As mentioned, the app allows you to modify the noise cancellation level for the earbuds and show the battery levels that the earbuds and case have left.
But one thing new on the app with the FreeBuds Pro 2 is that now there are equaliser settings that you can utilise. Called ‘Sound Effects’, there are four modes — a default mode that has been engineered by Dievialet, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, and Clear Vocals. If these aren’t your fancy, you can also customise your equaliser profile.
In addition to the EQ profiles, ‘Sound Effects’ also has a Smart HD feature that upscales the song to a higher-res codec. Theoretically, this should mean that the track should sound better, but I couldn’t discern any noticeable difference. I must admit, though, I’m not an audiophile, so if you are sensitive to the higher bit rates, you could try this setting. On the other hand, toggling this mode does drain the battery faster, so it may be something you should use sparingly.
Lastly, HD Voice is another option you can use in the settings. It works similarly to Smart HD in that it enhances the voice quality for calls, but it also hurts the battery more quickly if you use it.
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 lasts a respectable amount of time in terms of battery life. While using noise cancelling, the earbuds lasted for about three and a half hours which is more than long enough for my trips to the city and back.
You can turn off noise cancellation for even more battery life, giving you around six hours of use. The earbuds usually could last me half the week before needing to be charged again.
And thankfully, charging takes little time too. Usually, an hour’s wait is all needed to charge your device fully.
Huawei has produced another solid wireless earbud in the FreeBuds Pro 2, with its top sound performance, decent noise cancellation, and excellent battery life; many users will enjoy these features. The pinch implementation may leave some wanting, but the Pro 2 is a great product overall.
With many cheaper earbuds on the market, the FreeBuds Pro 2 may seem like an unnecessary luxury, but I believe that they are well worth the cost.
Photos by Russell Loh of the DANAMIC Team.