Huawei is back with another pair of solid headphones. This time we’re looking at the Huawei FreeLace Pro, the company’s sporty neckband-style wireless earbuds.
The Huawei FreeLace Pro are only available in China right now, where they sell for the attractive price of 600 yuan ($87). Details about international availability should come out later this week, when Huawei is scheduled to hold its Developer Conference.
After spending a few days with the product, the FreeLace Pro look like great value for money. Here’s what you need to know about them.
Huawei FreeLace Pro specs and tech
- Total length: 862.4mm
- Weight: 34 grams
- Colors: Obsidian Black, Spruce Green, Dawn White
- Speaker: 14.2mm moving coil
- Battery: 150mAh
- Battery life: up to 24 hours
- Charging time: about 60 minutes
- Water and dust resistance: IP55
- ANC: dual ANC, three microphones for call noise reduction
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C
- Controls: touch (left earbud only), physical keys
What are the FreeLace Pro like?
The FreeLace Pro feature a “neckband” design – they go around your neck and just hang there like a necklace when you don’t use them. The earbuds’ backs are magnetic, so they stick together when you connect them, which prevents excessive dangling and also automatically disconnects the earbuds from your phone or PC.
My first impression of the FreeLace Pro was that they were a bit too long, but I quickly got used to it. The length is, in fact, necessary to be able to comfortably sport the neckband even when wearing jackets or other bulkier clothing. At 34 grams, the FreeLace Pro are light enough for extended use.
I tried the Spruce Green model, which looks great in real life. Black and cream models are also available. The earbuds are mostly made of a rubbery material, with two metal sections housing the controls and batteries.
Unless you have tiny ears, the non-detachable wingtips will probably be too small to serve their purpose. I didn’t find this to be a major issue though, as the FreeLace fitted my ears quite well.
Also read: Best headphones under $100 of 2020
Do the FreeLace Pro feature noise cancelation?
Yes! The main upgrade compared to the 2019 FreeLace is the addition of active noise cancelling (ANC). “Active” means the earbuds generate noises that overlap with and cancel out certain noises coming from the outside. The effect is most noticeable with low-frequency, constant noises like the humming of a vacuum cleaner or a car engine.
The FreeLace Pro feature in-ear designs. The silicone earbuds plug into your ears, ensuring excellent insulation. Combined with the active noise cancelation, this means you can enjoy your music even in noisy environments.
The ANC worked great for me on the FreeLace Pro. I was able to listen to my bossa nova playlist on Spotify at a not-too-high level, while my wife was using our noisy vacuum cleaner just feet away.
What’s the sound quality like on the FreeLace Pro?
Considering their price, I was expecting the FreeLace Pro to sound mediocre. I was pleasantly surprised that they actually offer great sound, that’s further enhanced by the presence of ANC.
The FreeLace Pro are definitely more bass-heavy compared to last year’s FreeBuds 3. They are more similar in this regard to the FreeBuds 3i I recently reviewed. The passive insulation, which doesn’t let sound leak out, may have something to do with this. Despite this, I didn’t find the FreeLace Pro’s bass to be overbearing. Sound in the low-end of the spectrum never masked vocals, like it happened occasionally on the FreeBuds 3i.
I am not super picky about my earphones. With that said, I didn’t find much to complain about the FreeLace Pro’s sound.
How about battery life?
I didn’t have time to properly test the battery life on the FreeLace Pro. I will update this FreeLace Pro hands-on once I am able to gather more data.
On paper, the FreeLace Pro are a great performer – Huawei claims they can work for up to 24 hours on a single charge. That’s more than the FreeBuds 3 for instance, which is rated for 20h with the charging case, despite having a much larger battery (150mAh vs 470mAh total).
The best part is you don’t need to carry a case around; when the battery dies out, you can easily charge the earbuds with the built-in USB-C connector, from any USB-C charger, PC, or even phone supporting USB-C OTG.
What I like about the FreeLace Pro
- Sturdy, practical design: The FreeLace Pro are not minimalistic, and they don’t look particularly futuristic. But they get the job done and coming from true wireless earbuds, they’re refreshingly fuss-free.
- Good sound quality and ANC: The passive isolation and the ANC help drown out the outside world, allowing the speakers to do their thing. I like how the FreeLace Pro sound quite a lot.
- Quick connection: The earbuds connected to my PC or phone in the couple of seconds it took me to pry the magnetic earbuds apart and stick them in my ears. That made it easy and fun to switch between headphones and device speakers.
What I don’t like about the FreeLace Pro
- The touch controls: To cycle through the ANC modes (on, transparency, and off), you need to long-tap the left earbud. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but this gesture was a bit hard to get right from the first try.
- No wear detection: If you take the earbuds off and don’t stick them together, playback continues. I would’ve liked to see automatic wear detection.
Should you buy the FreeLace Pro?
The FreeLace Pro are a great choice for those who want the comfort and ease of use of wireless earbuds, but also want more battery life, portability, and ruggedness compared to what typical true wireless earphones afford.
They’re ideal for outdoorsy folk and athletes, given their IP55 rating and up to 24h of battery life. But I have no problem recommending the FreeLace Pro for regular users who want great ANC and sound quality in an affordable package.
Alternatives to the FreeLace Pro include the Plantronics BackBeat Go 410, the RHA T20 Wireless, and the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2. For a more in-depth look at options in this category, check out the roundup put together by our sister site SoundGuys.
We’ll make sure to update this FreeLace Pro hands-on review with international availability details. Keep it tuned.