Huawei Freebuds 5 continue the popular series of completely wireless earbuds, which at one time stood out among competitors with an active noise cancellation system and fairly high-quality sound for a model of this format. However, other manufacturers did not stand still, and before the release of the fifth series of Freebuds, the competition in this segment became very high, and users have an ambiguous attitude towards the Huawei brand. So Freebuds 5 will have a hard time winning over consumers. The earbuds “plan” to do this thanks to their non-standard design, specifications, and, of course, sound quality. To what extent they can do it, let’s find out in this review.
|Type of connection
|SBC, AAC, LDAC
|11-mm LCP-two-magnet dynamic driver
|16 – 40000 Г
|3 for each earpiece, noise reduction support
|Weight of the earbuds
|Weight of the case
|Protection against moisture
|up to 3.5 hours on one charge with noise reduction, up to 30 hours with a case
|Earbuds charging time
|Case charging time
|Recommended price in Ukraine
|5 999 UAH
The earbuds come in a small branded white box, in which, in addition to the device itself with a case, you can find silicone tips for better fixation and a USB Type-C cable.
Design and comfort
Previous generations of Freebuds followed the design that has become a classic for this TWS earbud format: with droplet-shaped speakers and a thin, rounded “leg”. However, in the new generation of the model, the designers decided to radically change the appearance of the earbuds.
Now, not only the speakers are made in the shape of a drop, but also the “leg” itself. The body seems to flow smoothly from one part to another. This effect is enhanced in the silver version, which has a polished, almost mirror-like surface, so in the ears, the Freebuds 5 look more like a piece of jewelry than earbuds.
The model also has a more restrained white and bright coral version, however, the colors do not greatly interrupt the overall design aesthetic, and the futuristic style of the earbuds will not appeal to everyone.
However, it is worth giving credit to the designers, they managed to come up with something new, although it would seem that there is no room left for such experiments in this category of earbuds.
At first glance, it may seem that the massive “leg” of Freebuds 5 creates an imbalance in weight, however, this is not the case, as the earbuds fit very comfortably. The weight of each of them is only 5.4 grams, and they are very comfortable to wear, so much so that you can forget about the earbuds inserted into your ears.
For the earbuds to hold better, the manufacturer provided complete silicone nozzles that compensate for the too-smooth surface of the housi, which could be a problem for some users. However, putting the silicone cap on the earphone is another quest, because it should “sit” as tightly as possible and not cover the speaker, microphones, and sensors. Therefore, it is better to guess your size right away, because you will not want to go through this procedure again.
Unlike the Freebuds 5 themselves, their case doesn’t offer the same futuristic design and differs little from past versions, except that it now opens from the other side. The hinge does a great job opening and closing the lid with a loud click. Those who like to annoy others will be satisfied.
Traditionally, on the right side of the case, there is a barely noticeable key that allows you to connect earbuds to new devices. And on its lower face, there is a USB Type-C port.
The earbuds offer a standard set of features for flagship TWS models. Users can count on a stable wireless connection via Bluetooth 5.2, simultaneous connection to two sound sources, and quick switching between them.
Thanks to an infrared sensor, the Freebuds 5 can detect wear and pause playback when the user removes one of the earbuds from the ear. In addition, a touch sensor on the outside of the model’s case allowed it to control some functions. You can set certain actions to swipe up or down, tap and hold, and double-tap the earbud. In this way, in particular, you can turn on the noise reduction system.
In the Freebuds line, from the very beginning, ANC support was implemented through the creation of anti-noise, when the frequency of external noise is extinguished by the same frequency created by the earbuds themselves. This made it possible to reduce unwanted ambient sounds, for example from cars on the street or a subway train. However, the stronger the noise had to be extinguished, the greater the pressure on the eardrums from the high frequency of anti-noise.
In Freebuds 5, the noise canceling system has been refined, it is now called ANC 3.0, and thanks to a neural network, and three microphones, as well as taking into account the fit, it promises to adapt to the environment and effectively block noise. I will not say anything about the work of the neural network, it probably does something, but in general, ANC in Freebuds 5 works less aggressively than it was in the first generations of the line. Earbuds no longer try to suppress as much noise as in-canal models, so the pressure on the eardrums here is not felt so strong as to create discomfort.
The user can adjust the level of ANC operation by choosing one of three options: dynamic, comfortable, and balanced. The latter, according to the description, is best suited for noisy places, but in practice, noise cancellation works better on the first on, which automatically reduces noise depending on its level. In practice, you will still hear the noise of the wheels from the car outside, but more distantly, which is generally normal for this format of earbuds and makes listening to music more comfortable.
Freebuds 5 will require Huawei’s AI Life app, which can be installed on Android and iOS, to set up and update the firmware. However, if you can simply download it from the App Store for iPhone, then for Android smartphones, you need to download it from the manufacturer’s website via the QR code on the box, the program is not available in Google Play. It is not very convenient, and not everyone is ready to install third-party software by downloading it through a browser.
Other AI Life settings for earbuds include managing the connection to different audio sources, the ability to apply preset equalizer settings, or creating your own and customizing gestures.
For active exercisers, the Freebuds 5 also offer IPX4 water resistance. It is difficult to say whether many people train in earbuds, which in principle hold worse in the ears than earphones. However, there is such an option here.
Freebuds 5 sound
The earbuds received an 11-mm LCP dual-magnet dynamic driver and are capable of reproducing a frequency range from 16 Hz to 40 kHz. The main feature of the model, like in the younger version of FreeBuds 5i, is support for Hi-Res Audio via the LDAC codec developed by Sony. If there is a suitable sound source that supports it, the earbuds will receive sound throug a 990 kbps channel with a frequency range of 96 kHz and a bit depth of 24 bits.
This is much more than the standard SBC codec can provide, but if the user listens to music from streaming services such as Spotify or simply watches videos on YouTube, then they will not hear much difference from LDAC. To better reveal wireless Hi-Res Audio, you will need a library of lossless music, or a subscription to services that support streaming audio of higher quality, for example, Apple Music. However, for compact in-ear earbuds, this does not make much sense. The difference will not be so great.
For their size, the Freebuds 5 play very well, providing a wide stage and decent detail. However, although the manufacturer talks about a 30% increase in bass, in reality, it is difficult to estimate, compact earbuds do not reach the level of reproduction of low frequencies of full-sized overhead headphones. Freebuds 5 is no exception here, you will not feel deep bass, at best a hint of it. This is a feature of the format.
Three microphones on each earbud ensure not only the operation of the ANC system but also allow you to use the Freebuds 5 as a headset for calls. In a room with a low noise level, your interlocutor is unlikely to feel that you are speaking through earbuds. On the street, the situation changes depending on what the noise reduction system is trying to filter. It does pretty well with predictable scenarios like road noise or a little wind, but worse if someone is talking, yelling, or a dog is barking nearby.
Each Freebuds 5 earphone has a built-in battery of 42 mAh, in this case, there is an additional 505 mAh. The battery life of the model generally corresponds to the indicators declared by the manufacturer and is 3.5 hours with the ANC system on and 5 hours without it. The case adds up to 30 more hours of charge without using noise canceling. To fully charge the earbuds, it is enough to stay in the case for only 20 minutes, and it is charged with a cable in 40 minutes. There is also wireless charging, but it takes up to 240 minutes, so this is only if you leave the case charging for the night.