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Outstanding noise cancelling on a budget

Huawei has been releasing impressive earphones for years. The company’s latest entry is a mid-range pair of earbuds, the Huawei FreeBuds 6i, which I’m here to review. I’ve been using these earbuds for well over two weeks at this point, and I have to say… they’re good. The Huawei FreeBuds 6i earbuds are basically everything you’ll need in the audio aspect, as long as you’re not too demanding on the audio output front. I’m getting ahead of myself, though, of course. We’ll take things one step at a time, and check out the design of these earbuds first. We’ll follow that with the sound quality, and everything that entails, and so on. There’s plenty to talk about, of course, so let’s get down to it.

Table of contents

Huawei FreeBuds 6i Review: Hardware / Design

The Huawei FreeBuds 6i comes in three color options, Black, Purple, and White. I’ve had the chance to use the latter, the white model. All color variants are made out of plastic, but not all of them have the same finish. The white model I’ve used comes with a glossy plastic finish, which is not my favorite, to say the least. The fact that the case is white-colored does help, however, as it hides fingerprints really well. I believe the other two color options have a matte finish on the outside, at least as far as the case is concerned.

The charging case is small, and that’s great

With that being said, the build quality is really good. The case doesn’t feel cheap despite glossy plastic, and neither do the earbuds themselves. The lid is also well-made, nothing creaks, and everything feels solid. The case has an LED indicator on the outside which signalizes the battery level of the earbuds themselves, and the case. It’ll show you the level of the earbuds when they’re in, and the battery level of the case when they’re out. This is not only a carrying case, but a charging case too. Speaking of which, it’s very small, which is great. It is smaller than the case for Huawei’s flagship Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 earbuds.

You’ll be charging the charging case via the Type-C port at the bottom

The case also has a Type-C port at the bottom, for charging. It does not support wireless charging, however, so keep that in mind. It has a pebble shape, and I simply love that, and its size. The earbuds themselves, on the other hand, are smaller than the FreeBuds 5i. Noticeably smaller, actually, in terms of the stem. That’s great. They have a touchpad on the side, for music control, and it works great, but we’ll talk more about that later on. You also get several different sizes of silicone tips, in case the ones that come pre-installed don’t fit your ears. You can mix and match too if needed, of course.

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Both the earbuds and the case are quite light

Both the case and the earbuds themselves are very light. Each earbud weighs 0.3 grams, while the case weighs 1 gram. The case measures 48.2 x 61.8 x 27mm, while each of the two earbuds measures 31.4 x 21.3 x 23.7mm. All in all, the build quality is really good, there’s really not much to complain about here.

Huawei FreeBuds 6i Review: Sound & Call Quality

The Huawei FreeBuds 6i earbuds come with an 11mm quad-magnet dynamic driver. They have a frequency response range from 14Hz to 40Hz. The specs are not bad at all, and the sound is actually good overall, but… it’s not great. In other words, you’ll get what you pay for here, that’s for sure, but don’t expect these to compete with the premium offerings out there… like Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro 3, for example.

The music output is… not the best, but it’s not bad at all

What do I mean exactly? Well, the sound is a bit flat compared to the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3. That is my initial point of comparison, of course. Don’t take that the wrong way, though. It’s not bad, not at all, I’m just taking a point of reference. The vast majority of people will be happy with the output but don’t expect to get a ton of tiny details in songs. There’s also not much bass here. You can improve things via the AI Life app we’ll talk about, via dedicated sound profiles, but the difference is not that big. The bass preset didn’t really make much of a difference. I was able to boost the vocals that way, however.

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These earbuds have oustanding noise cancelling, and are great for listening to podcasts

The Huawei FreeBuds 6i are great for listening to podcasts, for example, but they’re not the best option for music. If you compare them to earbuds that are on the same price level, however, well, they become more viable in the songs department too. As I said, they’re not bad, at all, as long as you’re not nitpicky about audio, and you didn’t get used to a more premium sound experience.

Where they do shine is active noise cancellation. These earbuds can dynamically boost noise cancellation based on the environment you’re in. They did a fantastic job even when I was in a very noisy coffee shop, and near a very busy road. To be quite honest, I was a bit surprised in that regard. They did a better job in terms of ANC than some much more expensive earbuds I’ve used over the years.

They’re also great for voice calls

What about phone calls? This is another section in which these earbuds shine. The Huawei FreeBuds 6i earbuds have a triple microphone setup on them. They can also push out the noise in the background and focus on your voice thanks to some AI, and that worked really, really well. In most situations, they were able to push out the background noise and people I’ve talked to didn’t have any complaints. They work even better in quieter environments. I was also able to hear people I talked to clearly, and used ANC when I was in noisier environments, so there was no issue there, none whatsoever. These earbuds are fantastic for voice calls if you ask me.

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Touch controls work as intended

Each of the two earbuds has a touch section on them which reacts to finger taps. That way you can control the music that is playing on your phone, or whatever else you’re listening to. By default, you can double-tap to play or pause, on either earbud. Triple tapping will move you to the next song, and that also goes for both earbuds. If you press and hold, you’ll be able to cycle through noise control options. So you can choose between normal, noise canceling, and awareness modes. Swiping across the touch pads controls the volume, you can increase or decrease it.

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Now, do note that you can change most of those actions in the AI Life app. You can set the left earbud, for example, to go back a song when you triple-tap it, instead of moving you forward. What you can’t change is the press and hold and swipe options, those are set in stone, basically.

You are probably wondering if the touch pads work as intended, though. The answer to that question is… yes, very much so. They’re very responsive, so that’s not an issue whatsoever. All you need is to tap on the upper portion of the earbud step, and you’ll get the action you want. That was an issue on some models in the past, but it no longer is. I was able to get it right basically every time, which is great. So, no complaints here, none whatsoever.

Huawei FreeBuds 6i Review: Battery

There is a 55mAh battery included in each of these two earbuds. The charging case has a 5,100mAh battery on the inside. You can get about four full charges out of the case, which is not bad at all. What is not the best, however, is the battery life of the earbuds themselves, unfortunately. I left the dynamic ANC mode on for a full cycle, and that provided me with 4 hours of battery life. Needless to say, that’s not the best. I’ve used earbuds with worse ANC battery life, of course, but this is definitely not the best considering the competition. If you do turn off ANC, you can go up to around 6 hours. Though it will all depend of course. Realistically, if you use ANC only sometimes, you can get 5 hours of battery life, that’s not a problem.

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The battery life is not the best, but it’ll likely be more than enough for most of you

Now, this may not seem the best on paper, but truth be said, it doesn’t matter all that much. Why? Well, chances are that the vast majority of you won’t use these earbuds with ANC on for over 4 hours straight. If that is the case, then I understand the problem. However, the vast majority of you will not, and that makes it a non-issue, basically. They can fully charge in around 40 minutes in the charging case, by the way, which is not slow at all. The charging case itself takes around an hour to fully charge. By the way, it charges via a Type-C cable, wireless charging is not supported.

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Huawei FreeBuds 6i Review: Software

It’s worth saying that you don’t need to install Huawei’s app in order to use these earbuds. We strongly recommend you do that, however. Why? Well, you can’t customize the touch gestures without the app, and the same goes for audio output modes. The AI Life app does give you the ability to do that. If you use a non-Huawei smartphone, you’ll need to get the AppGallery from the official website, and once it installs, you’ll be able to get the AI Life app from it. AI Life is not available in the Google Play Store. You can, alternatively, sideload the APK from an APK repository, of course.

Touch controls are customizable

I’ve already talked about touch controls earlier in the article. Well, this APK allows you to customize the vast majority of them. You should use these, as they work exceptionally well, so adjusting them to fit your usage is a smart move. Using audio modes is also not a bad idea, as some of them will do a good job of adjusting the output. These are not the best-sounding earbuds out there, so you can improve the audio output this way. Some will work better than others, but still, the app gives you the ability to access them and play around with them. Some additional settings are also available, of course.

Huawei FreeBuds 6i: Should you buy it?

Are the Huawei FreeBuds 6i earbuds a good purchase at their price tag? Well, yes, but they’re not for everyone, of course. These earbuds are class-leading as far as active noise cancellation (ANC) goes. What I mean by that is you likely won’t find a pair of earbuds with a similar price tag to have such great noise canceling. They’re also great for podcasts, and voice calling. The music playback is not the best, though it’s not bad, just don’t expect a flagship-like performance. The battery life could also be better, but chances are this will be more than enough for most of you. As long as you’re not planning on using these earbuds for more than 4 hours with ANC on you’ll be good to go. They have a great design and a very compact charging case. I can easily recommend them, to be quite honest, as even the tradeoffs made here are not that big. As long as you’re not an audiophile, chances are you’ll be happy with what they have to offer.

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You should buy the Huawei FreeBuds 6i if you:

…are on a budget, and can’t get the top-end pair
…need great active noise cancelling
…don’t like large carrying/charging cases for earbuds
…listen to a lot of podcasts, and like to talk via your earbuds
…use touch gestures a lot

You shouldn’t buy the Huawei FreeBuds 6i if you:

…want the absolute best battery life earbuds can provide
…are used to outstanding music playback

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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