Huawei FreeBuds and FreeLace

Huawei just announced their FreeBuds, which look exactly like Apple’s AirPods, and they also sport a very similar feature set. There are two notable differences however: The addition of IPX4 water resistance, something Apple has so far chosen not to offer on the AirPods, and the availability of black as a color choice.Features include Auto pairing when you open the charging case after an initial Bluetooth setup; IR sensors for detecting when an earbud is removed, EQ adjustment and Voice assistant access via a double-tap on the left earbud.

Battery life is not great. Huawei claims only a tiny 3 hours of playing time on a single charge, and 10 hours from the charger, which is among the shortest durations for truly wireless earbuds. For comparison, Apple’s latest version of the AirPods last 5 hours per charge. The charging case is capable of wireless charging,Huawei also announced an around-the-neck set of wireless earbuds, called FreeLace ($111 USD). Available in four different colors, the FreeLace is only noteworthy for its unusual Bluetooth pairing process: Detaching the cable from one of the earbuds reveals a USB-C tip, which you then plug into your Huawei phone. Thus commences the company’s automatic pairing process it calls HiPair. You charge the FreeLace via the same connection, both from a standard USB adapter, as well as via a Huawei phone if it’s compatible with reverse-charging. When the earpieces are magnetically attached, the FreeLace goes into power-saving mode.With 18 hours of battery life, a fast charge feature that grabs 4 hours of playback time in just 5 minutes, and an IPX5 rating for decent water resistance, the FreeLace looks like it will be a good, if not great option for those who aren’t interested in a fully wireless design. The aluminum finish does give it an upscale look, and we’re intrigued by Huawei’s description of the cable. It calls it “memory metal,” which is apparently a mix of nickel-titanium alloy and liquid silicon designed to feel smooth and contour to your neck.