Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 review: Almost the AirPods Pro killer

Huawei’s latest flagship true wireless earbuds – FreeBuds Pro 2 – might look no different from the original that was launched in 2020. However, it has been co-engineered with French premium audio brand Devialet. And it is packed with features that makes it well worth more than its price tag.

For a start, each earbud features a 11mm dynamic driver and a planar diaphragm driver when most of its competition only has a single driver. Huawei claims that this dual driver enables it to deliver a wider frequency range of 14Hz to 48kHz. In other words, it should be able to present sound details accurately.

  • PRICE: S$298, get it at Shopee and Lazada from Sept 1
  • CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth
  • WEIGHT: 6.1g (earbuds); 52g (charging case)

In addition, like any flagship true wireless earbuds, the FreeBuds Pro 2 comes with active noise cancellation (ANC). To be more specific, Huawei says it is equipped with Intelligent Dynamic ANC 2.0, which is supposed to accurately identify your current external sound field environment and selects a suitable noise cancelling mode.

This is what you get out of the box. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Not to mention, its Pure Voice call noise cancellation technology is supposed to allow your calls clearer and quieter. It comes with IP54 water splash resistance and also supports dual connection to two devices at the same time. Most importantly, it now supports iOS via the Huawei AI Life app. So, this might just be the AirPods Pro killer.

Superb audio qualityGlossy exterior is smudge magnet
Great noise cancellationIffy gesture controls
Sleek designBattery life can be better
Pairs up to two devices
Supports iOS

The FreeBuds Pro 2 is available in three colours of ceramic white, silver blue and silver frost. The review unit comes in silver frost, which looks more like silver grey to me. Regardless of colour, it has a shiny, almost mirror-like, exterior that looks really sleek and premium. But the flip side is the earbuds will always be a smudge and fingerprint magnet.

It looks sleek and premium. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

If you have used the original, you will know that the earbuds are a tad difficult to pry out of its charging case. Thankfully, it is much easier to do so with the FreeBuds Pro 2, as the slots holding the earbuds are slightly shallower.

Being a HarmonyOS device, the FreeBuds Pro 2 will have an “Apple-like” pairing when you bring the case with the earbuds inside near a supported Huawei smartphone like P50 Pro. However, for this review, I decided to test it exclusively with my Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. To pair, you have to do so via the Bluetooth menu instead of the Huawei AI Life app.

The Huawei AI Life app lets you update the earbuds and select the equaliser settings. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Open the lid of the charging case with the earbuds inside, you will see it appear on the Bluetooth menu, tap on it to finish pairing. Only then, you can use the app to update the earbuds, change the gestures, select the equaliser setting (EQ) or do a tip fit test.

Out of the box, the FreeBuds Pro 2 comes with three pairs of silicone tips of different sizes. I found the medium-size tips to fit my ear canals perfectly. And the app’s tip fit test proved it.

Use the app’s tip fit test to tell you if the tips are a good fit. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

You can select the EQ (the app called it Sound effects) in the app. By default, the EQ is the one tuned with Devialet. It is also my default EQ, as I found it to offer a very balanced soundscape with punchy bass, clear mids and solid highs. If you prefer your own customised EQ, you can also create your own in the Sound effects section of the app. This is something AirPods Pro cannot give you.

Regardless of the EQ you prefer, you will always be impressed by the superb audio quality the FreeBuds Pro 2 deliver. Whether it is BlackPink’s latest Pink Venom song or Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, the earbuds never disappoint as you can hear every thump of the drum and every strum of violins’ strings.

The FreeBuds Pro 2 is very comfortable to wear. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

In terms of ANC performance, the FreeBuds Pro 2 is right up there with the best. It is on par with AirPods Pro and probably just half a notch below the industry-leading Sony WF-1000XM4. I usually put the ANC mode at Ultra instead of Dynamic, so I can have a peace of mind. If I want to be aware of the surroundings, I will switch the noise control mode to Awareness that allows you to hear more ambient noise.

On the downside, I find the gesture controls to be a bit iffy. Its “pinch” gesture is a tad slow, at least one second, to register. As such, a triple-pinch to go back to previous song almost never materialises. Instead, it only registers it as two-pinch which move to the next song.

In addition, the battery life can be better. On a single charge with ANC turned on, the FreeBuds Pro 2 can only last for around 4 hours. This is average at best, comparable to that of AirPods Pro. Without ANC, you can get around 6.5 hours of play time.

VERDICT: The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 is a pair of true wireless earbuds with superb sound and solid active noise cancellation. Plus, it looks as good as it sounds, while being more friendly to your pocket at only S$298 (current promo price at S$268). It is almost the AirPods Pro killer, almost.