Huawei has significantly scaled back its consumer electronics business in Europe due to sanctions, but continues to actively produce accessories such as fully wireless earbuds. For many years, this segment has been important for the manufacturer to build its own ecosystem of products, so they managed to develop a good expertise in it. Here it is worth mentioning the rather good models FreeBuds 4 and FreeBuds 4i, the latter of which received an update in the form of FreeBuds 5i – new completely wireless headphones that just went on sale in Ukraine. The model promises good sound quality, support for wireless Hi-Res Audio through the LDAC codec, and finally touch control. In fact, these are now one of the most affordable earbuds with Hi-Res Audio support on the Ukrainian market, so it was interesting to see what they are capable of.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i specifications

Type vacuum
Connection True Wireless
Compatibility Android, iOS
Bluetooth version 5.2
Range 20 metres
Codec support SBC, AAC, LDAC
Driver 10 mm dynamic driver
Acoustic design closed-back
Frequency range 20 – 40000 Hz
Control touch
Volume control +
Microphones 2 for each earpiece, noise reduction support
Earbuds weight 4.9 g
Weight of the case without earbuds 33.9 g
Splash, water, and dust resistant IP54
Battery life up to 6 hours on one charge with noise reduction, up to 28 hours with a case
Charging connector USB Type-C
Earbuds charging time 60 minutes
Case charging time 2 hours
Recommended price in Ukraine 2 999 UAH

In the box

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

In the box with the headphones, the user will find two additional pairs of ear pads of different sizes and a short USB Type-C charging cable.

Design and comfort

The earbuds are available in three colors: white, black, and blue. The last two options offer a matte coating of the case and have small splashes of a different color, which should give the user associations with sea pebbles.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

At the same time, the earbuds themselves are made in the same color as the case, but without splashes, and with a glossy coating that is quite slippery. It would be much more convenient if their case was matte.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

FreeBuds 5i have drop-shaped drivers that smoothly flow into a small “leg” with microphones. The headphones provide an in-canal fit and have replaceable silicone ear pads. The fit itself is quite comfortable, the weight of each earphone is only 4.9 grams, and they are almost unfelt in the ears.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

The case of the FreeBuds 5i has an oval shape with a flat back wall, due to which it does not wobble on the table.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

It is easy to use and feels good in the hand, and the only thing that shows this model is more affordable compared to more expensive ones is the case cover, which is quite light and has a small backlash.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

It does not affect the use in any way, but people who are used to constantly clicking the lid of the case of the earbuds will find this sound quite loud. And all because of the weight of the cover, which is compensated, apparently, by a spring.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

The weight of the case without headphones is 33.9 grams, it has typical dimensions for such models and is convenient to carry around.

FreeBuds 5i headphones have protection against dust and moisture according to the IP54 standard, which allows you to use them for sports. Drops of sweat should not affect the operation of the device.


To connect the FreeBuds 5i, the Bluetooth 5.2 module is used, and the AI Life application can be installed on the smartphone. It is available in the App Store for iPhone, but it is not in Google Play, and the manufacturer offers to install the program directly from its website for Android smartphones, which, of course, is not very convenient.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

In AI Life, you can change the settings of the earbuds and update the software. The program offers an opportunity to choose the degree of noise reduction, it can be comfortable, balanced, or maximum.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

In the latter case, the FreeBuds 5i try to “suppress” the noise as much as possible, and this can cause a little discomfort in the ears. After all, let me remind you that noise-canceling earbuds use a built-in microphone to analyze the surrounding sound waves and generate opposite sound waves to reduce the surrounding noise.

In general, noise reduction in all three modes allows you to reduce ambient noise and listen to music or podcasts more comfortably. For me, the most convenient was the “balanced” mode, which cuts off extraneous sounds quite well, but at the same time does not put much pressure on the ears.

The AI Life program also allows you to change the equalizer settings in the FreeBuds 5i, but it is quite simple here, you can basically either increase the low frequencies or increase the high frequencies.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

In addition, the application can be used to search for earbuds, nothing extraordinary here, they will simply play a sound signal.

FreeBuds 5i also has touch control. Every earbud has a small touch-sensitive area on the outside of the “leg”. A double tap starts and stops playback, a press and hold turns noise canceling on or off, and a swipe lets you adjust the volume. Double tap and hold can be set to a different action, but swipe can only be turned off. In general, gestures work well, there are almost no accidental clicks.

The earbuds themselves have a sensor that detects whether they are in your ears, and if you take one out while playing music, it will pause. In addition, FreeBuds 5i support simultaneous connection to two devices and instantly switch between them. This is convenient when listening to music from a laptop, but need to accept an incoming call from a smartphone.


The earbuds feature 10mm dynamic drivers and a polymer composite diaphragm, and sound really, really good, especially considering the price. They provide sound with a wide stage, where the mids and highs are well defined, you can hear the instruments and imagine their placement, and they have a good bass level. The latter is not too deep and sometimes its artificial amplification is felt, but you should not expect more from such compact earbuds.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

The FreeBuds 5i show themselves best when connected via the LDAC codec developed by Sony, which is responsible for Hi-Res Audio on wireless headphones.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

Its special feature is that it can transmit sound via Bluetooth with a speed of 990 kbps, a frequency range and a bit depth of 96 kHz/24 bits. In comparison, the SBC codec standard for Bluetooth supports 328 kbps at 44.1 kHz/16 bits. In this way, LDAC can reproduce higher-quality audio.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

However, I must note that using LDAC can be a challenge. For example, Samsung’s new flagships have this codec, but the company uses its own SSC (Samsung Seamless Codec) codec by default. To enable LDAC I had to go into the developer menu and switch manually, but before that I had to turn off the dual connection option and select LDAC in the Bluetooth settings. Was it worth bothering so much?

In general, yes. The FreeBuds 5i sound even better through LDAC, adding volume and detail. But only if you manage to find a source of quality sound. Here you will have to either get your own FLAC collection or try Apple Music or Amazon Music, which support Hi-Res Audio for some tracks. Unfortunately, Spotify and the more accessible YouTube Music haven’t yet added higher-quality audio, so you won’t hear much of a difference between LDAC and AAC or SBC codecs there.

Speaking about the higher sound quality of FreeBuds 5i with LDAC, it is worth noting that the earbuds will not reveal the full potential of Hi-Res Audio simply due to physical limitations. Small speakers are not capable of transmitting the entire array of information that is included in high-quality audio files. Still, it’s a significant step forward for compact, fully wireless earbuds.


Each earpiece is equipped with an array of three microphones, but one is used in the noise cancellation system, and the other two are involved in the transmission of the user’s voice. In a quiet or moderately noisy environment, the microphones provide good sound quality. The voice sounds a little muffled, but in general, the interlocutor will have no problem hearing and understanding the words.

Another situation is when the surrounding noise is quite strong, for example, you are on the subway or walking next to a busy road. In this case, the built-in noise cancellation system will try to “extinguish” them, cutting off parts of the user’s voice along with them. Therefore, the interlocutor will hear not only a muffled, but also a “metallic” voice, which will be more difficult to distinguish.

Battery life

Each FreeBuds 5i has a built-in 55 mAh battery, while the case has a 410 mAh battery. This is enough for 6 hours of listening to music with active noise cancellation and nearly 8 hours when it is turned off. Together with the case, the battery life of the earbuds reaches 18 hours with noise cancellation. These are generally good numbers for a completely wireless model.

Huawei FreeBuds 5i wireless earbuds review

It will take 60 minutes to fully charge the FreeBuds 5i in the case, the case itself without headphones is charged via the cable for almost 2 hours. There is also support for fast charging, 15 minutes in the case add 4 hours of listening to the headphones.