If you’re looking for a sporty pair of wireless earbuds, or you simply don’t want to take your premium headphones or earphones to the gym, HUAWEI has got you covered. The company has a product portfolio that offers something for everyone, for every taste, and basically every wallet.
Today we’re looking at the HUAWEI FreeLace Pro, which has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. Not only is it wireless, but it also offers active noise cancellation, an IP55 rating, and whopping 24-hour battery life.
We’re looking at all of that, in our HUAWEI FreeLace Pro review below.
Design, materials, and fit
There are three color options to choose from: Obsidian Black, Dawn White, and the Spruce Green we’re using for this review. HUAWEI chose the neckband style for the FreeLace Pro, which means that you’re wearing the base around your neck, with the two earbuds being connected to the band by a cable each.
They weigh 34 grams, and, except for the two metal portions in the middle (housing the batteries and other tech), they have a nice rubbery feel to them.
The controls (volume up, volume down, play/pause) reside on the right metal portion, together with the power button. This is also where you charge them: you can pull off the bottom portion of the metal part to reveal a USB-Type C connector. You can plug it into a USB-C charger or use the cable adapter provided inside the box.
If you have a recent HUAWEI smartphone, plugging the earbuds directly into the smartphone will not only charge the FreeLace Pro but will also pair it to the phone, should you choose to do so.
Small, Medium and Large are the three bud sizes provided with the FreeLace Pro. Once you identify the right size for your ear, it’s a perfect fit, which is not only snug, but it will stay inside your ears when doing any activity without a problem. They won’t fall out unless you manually pull them out.
There’s an additional way to control the FreeLace Pro: the left earbud’s exterior doubles as a touch surface. Touching and holding it cycles through HUAWEI’s proprietary active noise cancelation modes: ANC on/Awareness/ANC off.
I’ll be completely honest, I love the sound of the FreeBuds Pro. I think they’re the best sounding ANC-enabled true wireless earbuds. That’s until I started listening to the FreeLace Pro. No wonder they sound that good (more on sound in a segment below), as HUAWEI crammed in a pair of 14.2mm dynamic drivers, opposed to the 11mm ones in the FreeBuds Pro.
With a total length of 862.4mm you might think they are a tad too long, but we don’t think it should worry you as it doesn’t interfere with your activity or movements.
They also pack two microphones for Active Noise Cancellation, and in-call noise cancellation is handled by a triple-mic system.
That 24 hour playback time is possible thanks to the rather large, 150mAh battery, which takes more or less about an hour to fully charge.
As previously mentioned, if you’re rocking a relatively recent HUAWEI smartphone model (on EMUI 9.1 and above), you will also benefit from HUAWEI HiPair and its quick charging.
The Bluetooth radio is compatible with BT 5.0 standard, and the entire system is rated IP55 for splash, water, and dust resistance.
We’ve used the HUAWEI FreeLace Pro paired both to a HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro and an iPhone 12 Pro Max. We didn’t find any differences in the experience, except for the fact that when paired to a HUAWEI smartphone, the entire UX is seamless. This, of course, should come as no surprise.
Pairing with the Mate 40 Pro was as easy as plugging them into the phone’s USB Type-C charging port. EMUI 11 detects the earbuds automatically and asks you whether you want to pair them or not. Once paired, you have access to the settings and firmware updates, which we’ve received during our review period: 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206.
Pairing with the iPhone (or even a computer) is as easy as putting the FreeLace Pro in pairing mode (pressing and holding the power button), and, once it pops up in your iPhone’s Bluetooth menu as a discovered device, simply tap on it to pair.
While it comes with some juice out of the box, we plugged them in to make sure we have 100 percent battery life on our first run.
HUAWEI advertises all-day battery life, which is something we obviously couldn’t test out on a single run. We’ve used it for around 3 hours on a daily basis for an entire week, and we still have some battery left on it.
If you own a modern HUAWEI phone, you can simply rely on it to charge the FreeLace Pro, by plugging it in directly to the device’s USB Type-C port.
If you don’t, you can plug it into a USB Type-C charger directly, and if you don’t have that, HUAWEI is bundling a USB Type-C to Type-A cable so you can easily charge your earphones using any charger that you have handy.
Another great feature is the magnetic back of the earbuds. Not only holds the two earbuds in place, preventing them from dangling around, but it also disconnects from your device’s Bluetooth when they’re magnetically connected together, and reconnects once you take them apart. You can save battery without the need to press the power button on the neckband.
Phone calls and audio quality
With in-call noise cancellation, thanks to the multiple microphones on the FreeLace Pro, people on the other end will hear your voice loud and clear, without any background noise, irrespective of where you are. You can be outdoor and the traffic noise won’t go through, or you can be indoor with fans on or air conditioning, the other party won’t hear any distractions.
On the other hand, you will hear the interlocutor loud and clear, thanks to the rather large dynamic drivers powering the FreeLace Pro. If your carrier supports HD voice, or you’re on a WhatsApp/Facebook/Face Time call, you will hear crystal clear voices.
When it comes to music, as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it is my personal opinion that the FreeLace Pro sounds a tad better than the FreeBuds Pro. That’s not to say the latter sounds bad. They both sound great, with the FreeLace Pro having a richer, ampler, and somewhat louder sound. That’s due to larger drivers on one hand, and an independent low-frequency sound tube on the other hand.
You can hear tones on the entire spectrum, from rich lows to punchy mids and crystal clear highs. Irrespective of the type and genre of music that you prefer, as long as it’s a high-quality stream or encoding, you will be able to enjoy your music at a premium-grade listening experience and audio quality.
There’s an outward-facing microphone that picks up external noise (and actively counters it with equal anti-noise sound), and there’s an inward-facing microphone that picks up the in-ear noise (and generates additional anti-noise sound to eliminate it).
Just like on any modern HUAWEI earbuds or headphones (FreeBuds Studio), the company is bringing its proprietary and innovative noise canceling system. It has three stages. When off, you will still get some passive noise cancellation due to the fact that the FreeLace Pro adopts an in-ear canal design. By this alone, some of the noise will be physically blocked from entering your ears.
Switching active noise cancellation on will take advantage of those two microphones per bud to intelligently measure and cancel out noise detected, so you can enjoy your audio content without any distractions, regardless if you’re outdoor, commuting, in a car, or on a plane/train.
There’s also a special mode called Awareness, which blocks out all the noise except for the frequencies on which we human beings communicate when speaking. It not only lets voices get through, but it also amplifies them, acting as a hearing aid in a sense. This is useful if you want to have a conversation without removing the earbuds, or if you’re at the airport and you’re waiting for that particular flight announcement.
There’s no way we can’t recommend the FreeLace Pro. It’s got everything working for it, from great battery life to stellar audio quality, good fit, active noise cancellation, and IP55 rating. If you’re the active type of person, these should definitely be on your shortlist.
Normally going for €119, they’re currently priced at €99,00 in Germany. In the Netherlands, they go for €129,99, but you get a free HUAWEI Band 4 Pro Pink Gold valued at €80. In the UK they regularly set you back £119,99, but now you can grab them for £99.99, and also get a free HUAWEI Band 4 Sakura Pink valued at £40.
Pros and cons
+ excellent battery life
+ great sound quality
+ convenient charging (if you have a modern HUAWEI phone)
+ active noise cancellation
+ IP55 rating
– color options might not be for every taste
– lack of wear detection