Building on Huawei’s ecosystem of audio products is the FreeLace Pro. It offers premium features such as active noise cancellation, an IP55 rating and up to 24 hours of battery life in a neckband style.
Design and build quality
With the FreeLace Pro, you get three colour options. Alongside traditional white and black options, there is a green option which is the one we have. Like any neckband style headphones, the FreeLace Pro is made up of a soft rubber material. This does not stick to your clothes or skin and in turn makes the headphones lightweight at just 34 g. Both the left and side of the neckband has a slightly thicker central portion. Sometimes, we see neckbands with only one such protrusion but it is nice that Huawei has stuck with uniformity here. The left size is just for aesthetics with Huawei branding whereas the right side houses the headphones’ controls.
Here, you find an LED status indicator, a function button, volume controls as well as a button to pause or skip a track. Additionally, pulling this end apart gives you access to the Type-C USB port for charging. We like the overall layout of these controls however we wish this portion had a matte finish as opposed to its current glossy one. Often times, fingerprints and smudges accumulate here for a not so pretty look. When not connected, the length of the neckband is also fairly long.
This allows you to easily place the earbuds without too much adjustment. The earbuds are comfortable reinforced by wingtips for a better fit. Out of the box, you also find small and large ear tip sizes to accommodate for different ear sizes but the pre-installed medium tips worked fine for us.
Connecting the FreeLace Pro is a simple processor. You have to hold down the function button for 4 seconds, which triggers it into pairing mode. You will see a white LED indicator in this case, at which stage you can go into your smartphone’s Bluetooth settings and connect. The earbuds too have a few extra features in-built which are nice to have.
Firstly, their magnetic exterior allows the FreeLace Pro to easily disconnect when the buds attach. This is a handy feature to save battery life and to also store the FreeLace Pro around your neck for extended sessions, which remained hassle free and comfortable. However, the earbuds’ gesture control is on the weaker side. You can use the left earbud to switch between active noise cancellation (ANC) on, Awareness mode and ANC off by holding the earbud for 3-4 seconds. This being a longer process than a typical tap makes it inconvenient.
Contrary to that, using multiple devices with the neckband is a nice feature. If you have paired the FreeLace Pro to two devices, a simple double-tap of the function button will change devices on the fly. This however does not work for more than two devices, with the feature just able to connect to the last paired device.
Sound quality and ANC
When listening to any form of media, the FreeLace Pro is loud thanks to its large 14.2 mm drivers. We found its latency to be around 120-150 ms which is not bad for music listening or watching movies. However, it is on the higher-end of the spectrum for gaming. The FreeLace Pro will not offer the sound quality for picky audiophiles. However, it is more than enough for a good sounding experience. We found it produced natural sounds with clear vocals and instrumental music. Listening to more upbeat tracks gave us the best experience, which we found to be helpful when working out. Frequency response, bass and treble was also great, capping off a pleasant overall experience. Even for calls, the in-built microphones on the FreeLace Pro is great, with no discernible difference in quality compared to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s in-built microphone.
The ANC experience on the FreeLace Pro is also good. Even with ANC off, the earbuds do well to mask a good amount of ambient noise. With Awareness mode, you can hear your surroundings without having to take off the earbuds. It is a convenient feature for having conversations or to quickly take in your surroundings. Lastly, with ANC, all of your external sound is minimised to a good extent.
We found that ANC worked best for recurring sounds like your fan or your computer’s idle sound. However, for chit-chat even farther away from your or for typing songs via my mechanical keyboard, it was not as effective. Via Huawei’s AI Life application, there is a way to further tune ANC between different modes. We found that both the ‘Cosy’ and ‘General’ modes were not that effective with the most effectiveness coming via the ‘Ultra’ mode. The application further allows you to quickly switch between ANC or Awareness mode, something we used much more than the earbuds’ slow gesture controls.
Throughout our usage, we found no Bluetooth connectivity issues and even received an update to improve audio via the AI Life application. Moreover, the neckband’s range was pretty impressive with its signal passing through multiple walls in my apartment. However, there was one feature we heavily missed. The earbuds do not come with wear detection, meaning pulling one out of your ear will not automatically pause or play a track. This is a minor convenience for an otherwise splendid package.
The battery life of the FreeLace Pro is impressive to say the least. According to Huawei, you can get 24 hours of playback, which is what is achievable at half volume. Using our pair with ANC on and at varying audio levels, the FreeLace Pro delivered 17 hours of audio playback. In theory, this should last you anywhere between 2-3 days of occasional usage. Recharging the neckband is easy with Huawei’s unique charging solution as well as a Type-A to Type-C USB adaptor provided out of the box. In our case, we used a 25W charger to recharge the neckband, which took approximately 50 minutes to fully charge.
For anyone on the lookout for a good and reliable pair of neckband style headphones, the Huawei FreeLace Pro is your answer. It blends comfort and sound in a package that is hard to beat especially at its Dh399 price point. The headphones may not satisfy a hardcore audiophile but barring this drawback, everything about the Huawei FreeLace Pro is great for any active user.