Huawei unveiled the FreeClip true wireless earphones with a unique design. Having spent a couple of weeks with a pair, we are now ready to share with you how well they actually work.
The Freeclip design is open-ear, and while it looks like a bone-conducting wearable, it actually plays audio directed towards the ear canal while it sits freely clipped around the helix of the ear.
The color of our variant is Black and they ship in a case that is matte light gray on the outside and dark gray on the inside. The earphones are actually Black, but their surface is reflective, meaning the color is not that prominent.
The case has a LED light on the outside to indicate the battery capacity, with three modes – Green for over 75%, Yellow between 25% and 75%, and Red below 25%. There is a button on the right-hand side for pairing, and the buds sit inside.
The FreeClip is the first open-ear audio wearable that does not differentiate between left and right earbuds. The clips read which side of the case they come out, and that’s how they adapt. For example, one of the buds sitting on the right side of the case will be the right channel.
However, if you switch ears without putting the buds back in the case, they won’t reset, and the channels will be inverted. It sounds complicated, but in practice we found no issue – rarely, you would need to actually unclip the buds, hold them in your palm, and then put them back randomly.
We use the verb “clip” although the truth is there is no actual clipping; the buds simply stay on the ear. It takes some time to get used to placing them correctly, but after the second or third try, the process comes naturally. We just pinched them by the C-bridge, put the Comfort Bean behind the ear, and the Acoustic Ball naturally faces the ear canal.
Huawei stated it based the fit design on studying 10,000+ different human ear shapes in its Huawei Labs. The goal was the buds to fit anyone’s ears.
The FreeClip does not have a single touch-sensitive area. There are three separate zones instead – one for each part of the earphone. There are no less than four microphones on each bud – two on the Acoustic Ball to listen to the speaker during calls and two more on the Bean to pick up and eliminate surrounding sounds and voices.
The buds pair just like any other Bluetooth audio device, but we recommend using the AI Life app for Android and Harmony OS devices. There are some customizations such as Sound effects, the gestures can be changed, and the app also handles software updates.
One feature Huawei has been implementing in its audio wearables is dual-device connections, and the FreeClip actually performed better than previous Freebuds we’ve tested. Our buds were constantly connected to a Windows computer and an Android smartphone and effortlessly switched from one source to another, provided only one played audio.
Each bud weighs just 5.6 grams, and often our reviewers forgot they even had them on. There is an IP54 certification for splash and dust resistance, which makes the FreeClip ideal for casual sports and gym activities.
Performance and audio quality
The big question everyone had at the launch was about sound leakage, and we can confirm it is there, and it is significant, especially when the music is loud. Using them in our open-space office was a burden for the reviewer’s deskmates, who always complained about the volume.
We recommend you don’t exceed 70-80% volume if you don’t want to be too bothersome to those around you.
The device is an engineering marvel, especially with the 9 wires in the C-bridge, linking the Bean and the Ball to become this impressive product. It is equal parts a fashion accessory and an audio wearable, but there’s no escaping the fact that sound is sub-par.
Lovers of crisp, loud music will not appreciate these earphones; they are for the casual podcast and music listener who would appreciate the futuristic look above sound quality.
The FreeClip earphones offer a low-latency mode, which can be enabled through the AI Life app. They also have wear sensors that detect when the buds are on the ear and pause the playback when you take them off, which is turned on by default.
Calls are stable, but given the fact the buds are open-ear, we do not recommend using them in crowded, noisy spaces, as the buds can often pick up the voices of random people, and this is not ideal for the person on the other side of the call.
The FreeClip earphones feature no ANC as it wouldn’t be very useful with the open-ear design.
The Huawei FreeClip’s case has 510 mAh capacity, and each bud has 55 mAh more, with Huawei promising up to 36 hours of listening on a single charge.
In reality, we got 32 hours over the span of three complete cycles, and that’s with occasional breaks where the buds sat in the case.
30+ hours of listening on one charge is still an impressive feat, and given how fast the FreeClip charges from 0 to 100% you will rarely find them without charge.
The earbuds alone are advertised to fill completely in 40 minutes, while the case needs 60 minutes on the wire. In real life testing we achieved a better result – the case with both clips recharged fully in 45 minutes! The case also supports wireless charging, and we got from 0 to 100% in about 2.5 hours, which is close to the advertised charging time.
The Huawei FreeClip practically has no competition on the market, as it aims to establish its own category. It is a stylish, innovative solution, but not directly comparable to any other TWS set. Fit is different and looks are subjective.
With that said, we must consider the £180/€200 price tag. Huawei often bundles gifts with its wearables, which lowers the effective price of the FreeClip a bit. Still, we wouldn’t recommend them to anybody who values audio quality.
The FreeClip is for a person who wants to look different and appreciates their extravagant fit. If you fall in the first category you might as well give a pair a try and see if you don’t also make the second one.
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