Huawei has a headstart in the premium earbuds category for 2022 with its new FreeBuds Pro 2. How do they compare to Apple’s AirPods Pro?
The FreeBuds Pro 2 are Huawei’s newest top-of-the-line earbuds, and are expected to go head-to-head with the upcoming AirPods Pro 2, but how do they compare to the current AirPods Pro? Huawei’s earbuds are sold under the FreeBuds line and the FreeBuds Pro are its premium model. Huawei and Apple are rivals, particularly in China, and this can clearly be seen in several of their products which mirror each other. The MatePad is Huawei’s answer to the iPad, its MateBook line of Windows laptops are alternatives to Apple’s MacBooks, and its MateStation desktop computers are challengers to the iMac.
However, not all of Huawei’s products are designed to take on Apple’s devices. Huawei has a thriving smart TV line, an area Apple is yet to delve into. It has also launched a number of VR headsets and smart glasses while Apple hasn’t even announced its first VR / AR headset. Another area where Huawei has a headstart is in the automobile industry. Its HiCar software solution and its DriveONE all-in-one electric drive system already power multiple electric vehicles sold in China.
While there are earbuds that are clearly AirPods Pro knock-offs, the same cannot be said for the FreeBuds Pro 2. The only similarity between both earbuds in terms of their looks is the closed-fit design they both adopt. Huawei’s earbuds have a thick and straight stem compared to the slimmer and angled stems of the AirPods Pro. They are also of a superior build as their IP54 rating means they offer dust and sweat / water resistance, unlike the AirPods that are rated IPX4 for sweat and water resistance. Where the AirPods Pro have the advantage is with respect to weight. Each of Apple’s earbuds weigh 5.4 grams while the FreeBuds Pro 2 comes in at 6.1 grams per bud.
FreeBuds Pro 2 Are Cheaper Than The AirPods Pro
For the FreeBuds Pro 2, Huawei has partnered with Devialet, the French audio company that it worked with on its first smart speaker, the Sound X. The new earbuds now feature dual-speaker technology with a wider hearing range. Each earbud has an 11mm quad-magnet driver which Huawei says boosts audio quality by 30 percent compared to its predecessor. The AirPods Pro also have 11mm audio drivers, and like the FreeBuds Pro, support adaptive EQ which automatically tunes the audio quality in real-time based on the shape of the ears. The two pairs of earbuds have adaptive / dynamic Active Noise Cancelation that changes in real-time depending on the structure of the ear canals. They also have a transparency mode for letting ambient sounds in, such as when having a conversation or when at the airport. However, the FreeBuds Pro 2 should offer better noise cancelation as Huawei says it uses three microphones for noise cancelation in contrast to the AirPods Pro which have two mics for the same purpose.
Both earbuds have support for touch control, allowing users to pause / resume playback, change tracks, answer / end calls, and switch between noise cancelation modes. In addition, the FreeBuds Pro support volume control by swiping up or down on the stems to increase or reduce the volume respectively. The AirPods Pro do not have volume control but users can call on Siri (hands-free) to adjust the volume if they do not want to pull out their phone. Codec support is another key difference. The FreeBuds Pro 2 supports LDAC, AAC, and SBC and are certified by HWA and Hi-Res Audio Wireless. In contrast, the AirPods Pro support AAC and SBC codecs. In terms of battery life, the AirPods Pro 2 will last up to 4.5 hours on a single charge (50 percent volume with ANC on) and go up to a total of 24 hours with the MagSafe charging case. With ANC turned off, the AirPods Pro battery life increases to five hours.
On the other hand, the FreeBuds Pro 2 manage four hours of playback with ANC on and a total of 18 hours with the charging case which is disappointing. What’s surprising is that with ANC turned off, the FreeBuds Pro 2 last up to 6.5 hours on a charge and a total of 30 hours with the charging case. Both devices support wired and wireless charging. Huawei’s earbuds connect via Bluetooth 5.1 and support dual-device connection and they work with Android, iOS, and Windows. Furthermore, those using Huawei devices (phones, tablets, and computers) get even more control over connection settings. The AirPods Pro have Bluetooth 5.0, and while they can connect to any device over Bluetooth, key features such as multi-device support, automatic device switching, Audio Sharing, and Spatial Audio work only with Apple devices.
The FreeBuds Pro 2 are available in Europe for € 199 ($ 206), making them cheaper than the AirPods Pro which are priced at $ 249 in the US In addition, the FreeBuds Pro 2 are available in three colorways – Silver Frost, Ceramic White, and Silver Blue. In contrast, Apple has always only launched the AirPods in white, save for the AirPods Max which come in multiple colors. Huawei’s earbuds are cheaper and compatible with a wide range of devices including Apple’s own products. They also have better noise cancelation, longer battery life (without ANC), support more codecs, and come in more colors. On the other hand, the AirPods Pro are lighter, have better battery life with ANC, and work best with Apple products even though they can be connected to non-Apple products. However, considering that they are older than the FreeBuds Pro 2, it is understandable why they fall short in some areas. Unfortunately, the FreeBuds Pro 2 will not make it to the US but they may be released in Canada where Huawei still sells its products.
NEXT: AirPods Pro 2 Release Date: When Are They Expected To Come Out?
Source: Huawei, Apple
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