Announced late September in conjunction with FreeBuds Pro 2Huawei FreeBuds SE arrived on the Brazilian market with the proposal of bringing a good sound experience to its users without charging them too much.
But will the new headphones from the Chinese giant be able to keep this promise? You can find that and more in our full review below!
construction and design
Sold in two colours: white and blue-green, being only the first available in Brazil, Huawei’s new pair is housed in a good quality hard plastic finished case.
While the case only houses a battery and a pairing LED on the front, the earphones, completely white and discreet, do not shed any kind of light, and are finished in the same plastic as the case, reflecting – including – the good finish.
Lightweight and equipped with IPX4 protection against splashes of water and sweat, the FreeBuds SE have a design qualified by the brand as “semi-in-ear”. Thanks to this format, contrary to what we are used to, the headphones do not penetrate so deeply into the ear canal, unlike a common in-ear, and are very comfortable.
Accompanied by a charging cable and manuals, the product box also has two additional silicone tips for a better fit in the ears, totaling 3 different sizes – if we take into account the one already installed in the ears. listeners.
Equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 and a first pairing that can be done in a simple way, just by pressing the single button inside the case, the range of the FreeBuds SE is good, not losing packages even with walls and obstacles between it and the provenance.
Each side of the pair is equipped with a set of sensors that can directly influence the reading. In addition to the proximity sensor that pauses the music when the headphones are removed from the ears, capacitive sensors on the outside of the units can help with function control.
By default, double taps on either side will pause/start playback, but these controls can be changed through the app.
Thanks to Huawei AI Life, the user can, in addition to viewing the battery level on each side and the case, customize the operation of the “double presses” on each side of the pair, defining whether the gesture will follow the pattern , skip to next or previous song, wake up voice assistant or nothing.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to set a higher or lower number of rings. Therefore, the user will have to adapt the limitation to their needs, leaving one side to pause/start playback and the other to skip the song, for example.
But the reality of the app is a bit more complicated than that. Although it’s well-designed, with a good interface and simple operation, getting the phone to “talk” to the app can be a bit of a hassle – even more so if you have an iPhone.
Initially, AI Life was unable to recognize the phone on Android or iOS, despite pairing with both devices. But from our experience of previous reviews, we had a pretty good idea why.
On Android, the app had to be downloaded via the Huawei App Gallery, not the Play Store; and this step is sufficient to ensure that the phone is identified by the application in the robot system. But we can’t say the same for iOS.
In order for the phone to be recognized on the iPhone, it is necessary to update the firmware of the device first – and what is the only place where this update can be done? Exactly, on Android. In other words, for FreeBuds SE to be recognized by AI Life on Apple’s system, you will first have to take a quick look at Android. A step far from easy in the eyes of the average user.
At least AI Life is not a key element for the headphones to work on any platform and you will still be able to consume content using the device whether it is installed or not.
This only really becomes necessary when checking the exact battery level or when setting up “two touch” operation on either side of the pair. But other than that, it’s disposable.
HUAWEI AI Life
Developer: Huawei Device Co. LTD
Size: Varies by platform
Here, a hot spot within all this analysis. Equipped with a 410 mAh battery, in our tests the Huawei phone fulfilled what was promised by the Chinese giant, reaching the – estimated – mark of 6 hours of playback with the earphones out of the case.
Back in the case, the pair needed just over an hour to deliver another long playtime, which was repeated 3 more times, hitting the mark of just over 24 hours. use (between charges) until the battery is completely depleted. .
Although the metric is within the advertised limits, the result is not impressive. That’s because competing headphones were able to perform better, hitting marks close to 7 hours of playtime and 30 hours in total – still relying on resources not present here.
Anyway, with the battery drained, the complete set of FreeBuds SE was able to regain its autonomy in just over 2 hours thanks to the USB-C port present in the case. Mark which is also a bit long if we take into account even other headphones from Huawei itself.
But if the battery may disappoint those looking for a champion of autonomy, the same cannot be said for the playback quality. Here, we have a relatively balanced sound that does not distort even at the highest volumes.
Equipped with a 10mm dynamic driver, the FreeBuds SE profile brings more contained bass, accentuated vocals and boosted mids; which ends up making the experience pleasant for most musical styles, but which can disappoint those who favor the low tones of electronic music, for example.
Unfortunately, Huawei does not provide any type of equalizer in the app to be able to modify this playback profile. But we recognize that’s not a big hurdle, as most music streaming apps already have a built-in equalizer.
With a noise-canceling feature during calls, the pair’s built-in microphones are quite powerful, amplifying even the captured voice. The capture quality is excellent, both in height and in definition.
The only finding concerns the noise cancellation, which sometimes, in an attempt to cancel, ends up generating a certain hiss in the background of the recording; but nothing that bothers me.
Check the quality of the capture by playing the audio below. Audio was recorded directly into macOS Recorder with the system mic volume set to 50%.
Without a doubt, the Huawei FreeBuds SE is a very strong competitor within its market range, bringing more strengths than weaknesses. Here we have good sound quality, with balanced reproduction, good call handling, a nice finish and a product design that provides comfort to those who use it.
However, it is not perfect. In addition to being able to evoke its autonomy, satisfactory, but not impressive, we can say that the model ends up lacking and becoming complicated at times.
It wouldn’t hurt to see more advanced features here, like active noise cancellation and superior water certification. Also, easier pairing with the app, especially for iPhone users, would be more than welcome.
In any case, these points do not even subtract the brightness of the Huawei model. As said, it is a serious competitor to its direct rivals and can indeed be a great companion for those looking for quality and comfort without having to pay a lot.
Strengths and weaknesses
But and you, what did you think of the new Huawei model? Tell us here in the comments! As usual, the best prices for the Huawei FreeBuds SE, as well as other headphones from the brand, can be found in the listings below.