Huawei FreeClip Review: Not For Everyone

Ever since we first encountered the Huawei FreeClip wireless earphones at a launch event in Dubai late last year, we were intrigued on multiple fronts by this latest wearable from the Chinese consumer electronics outfit.

For several years now we have reviewed, and enjoyed, the brand’s FreeBuds offerings, but with the FreeClip, the company has introduced a new form factor in what it calls an open-ear design thanks to the C-Bridge that connects the Comfort Bean that sits on the outside of the ear and the Acoustic Orb which is positioned close to the ear canal.

According to Huawei, this new design holds several benefits, with the primary one being comfort.

As the earphones don’t actually sit within or around the ear itself, it brings into question audio quality, as well as noise leakage.

It is with all this in mind that we spent the past couple of weeks reviewing the new Huawei FreeClip, trying to decipher the full benefits of its design, whether it is indeed better than the form factor we’re now used to from the brand, and if this is more gimmick than groundbreaking.

Here is what we discovered.

What is that?

Being in the fortunate position of reviewing new technology every week, we often get asked what a piece of kit is when out in public. This does not happen all the time when it comes to wireless earphones, however, as the design and function is always usually the same regardless of what brand it is.

The FreeClip are a wholly different prospect. When removing them from the charging case, or placing them, on our ears, the first question we are invariably asked by onlookers is, “what is that?”

When we explain that they are new wireless earphones, the next question is usually, “how do you put them on?”

And it is here that we start to see that the FreeClip is not for everyone. As mentioned the design of wireless earphones are fairly generic, with them either falling into the bean-shaped category of a Samsung Galaxy Buds or long-stemmed variants akin to Apple AirPods.

These new offerings from Huawei are in a completely different category, and while we’re not sure whether other manufacturers will emulate the C-Bridge, it certainly helps these wireless earphones stand out from the crowd.

As for the design itself, there is something quite futuristic about it, and the splitting of components into two core elements does make it seem like these earphones boast more features than others. In our experience, that is not the case, however, as the FreeClip work just like any other wireless earphones in terms of functionality, but we will get to that shortly.

In terms of putting a pair of these on, it is an “interesting” process to say the least.

There is not a right or wrong way to do things, but we find nestling the Comfort Bean behind the ear first to be the best method, and then placing the connecting bridge over either the helix or antihelical fold of the ear and positioning the Acoustic Ball by the scapha or antihelix for the best possible fit.

It is here when things can get confusing, or in our case, frustrating. Perhaps we just have fleshier ears than most, but we could not get the fit just right. After getting the FreeClip into a position that is deemed comfortable, when playing music we tried repositioning multiple times to get the right balance of acoustic volume and long-term comfort.

It means you’ll probably spend a lot of time getting things just right before hitting play on music or starting a video call.

Just to put our anxiety to rest, we asked a few other people with different ear shapes and sizes to put on the FreeClip (sanitising between each new person of course), and a similar fiddly, finicky, finger dance to reposition the earphones just right ensued.

In terms of being easier to setup and live with than regular wireless earphones then, the Huawei FreeClip is not going to be everyone’s taste.

Sprung a leak

Sticking with the setup process and we were quite frustrated by the Huawei AI Life app too, which is designed to open up more features and settings for the earphones, such as the sounds for notifications, or the touch-enabled gestures for the buds. Connectivity in particular was a problem, as after the initial pairing process and updating of software, re-establishing connectivity in the following days proved quite the task.

This may be a symptom of iOS (we were using an iPhone 15 Pro) not liking the Huawei AI Life app, but we eventually got so fed up we simply went into the operating system’s settings and paired via Bluetooth like that instead.

Now let’s talk about the audio experience. As mentioned trying to find the best positioning to deliver balanced sound can prove difficult, and in many instances did not deliver the rich or nuanced listening experience we have come to know from Huawei’s wireless earphones. In fact, because of the positioning in our use while reviewing, there was even some tinniness to the sound, which is again, something we do not associate with Huawei’s premium audio products.

Sound can be a little faint too, which brings up another issue – noise leakage. In order to fully enjoy music, or hear other people on voice and video calls, we often had to crank the volume well beyond the 65 percent mark. Because the Acoustic Orb is not sitting inside the ear, sound naturally leaks out, and can be heard by others around you, which is less than ideal.

Huawei FreeClip
Dimensions26.7mm x x 25.3mm (LxWxH)
Weight5.6g per earbud
Battery55mAh per earbud
Charging Case510mAh (40 minutes to charge earbuds)
DurabilityIP54-rated splash, water, dust-resistance
ColoursBlack, Purple
RRPR3 999

Huawei has tried to imbue the FreeClip with technology to specifically address this, but sound leakage is still very much an issue.

The same goes for the quality of our voice on calls, with it often sounding quite grainy and echoey, according to other people we were on calls with for testing purposes.

We put all of this down to poor position of the earphones on our own ears, and that is the real problem, as unlike traditional earphones, sound is delivered from around the same position for all wearers, and this is not the case on the FreeClip.

The only areas we cannot fault the wearable on is comfort, as the combination of Bean and Ball means little to know stress is place on the area by the ear canal, making long wearing sessions a breeze.

The same goes for battery life, as the native eight hours (up to) of music playback in conjunction with the fast charging case (up to 40 minutes for full charge) means you can handily go a few days if use without needing to charge. It makes the FreeClip a good option for travel, just in terms of its battery life.

The lack of active noise cancelling (something most FreeBuds have), however, will mean a lot of environmental noise will get in, leading you to crank up the volume, and once again have to deal with the noise leakage problem.

Final verdict

At R3 999 (RRP) the Huawei FreeClip wireless earphones are about on par in terms of pricing with other premium wireless earphones on the market, but unlike those other offerings, it does not feature an experimental design that will not appeal to all consumers, especially when trying to put them on.

As such, this new wearable is still a little too experimental at this stage for us to fully recommend, and a future iteration may address some of the issues we have noted in this review.

Thankfully, Huawei does have some more traditional wireless earphones in its lineup that we are more inclined to suggest to local consumers.



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