Review unit provided by Huawei
The Huawei FreeBuds SE are budget friendly wireless earphones for those looking for the best bang for your buck.
Official retail price is SGD 88 and the price during the launch promotion is SGD 48. These will be available on Shopee SG from 1 Sept 2022, Lazada SG from 15 Sept, and from Huawei Authorised Stores at 313@Somerset and Westgate.
FYI, Huawei has also launched a more premium model called the FreeBuds Pro 2 at SGD 298 (promo SGD 268). You can find the specs for that earphones here.
The items included in the box are the earphones and case, USB-C to USB-A charging cable, 2 extra sets of ear tips (S and L) and the quick start guide.
The Huawei FreeBuds SE is available in either white or blue. The review unit I received is the blue one and it's a light minty blue.
The design is a nice friendly looking design.
The earphones use Bluetooth 5.2. For pairing, you have to have the earphones in the case, press and hold the small button on the case for 2 seconds. Pairing is very fast.
Below are some key specifications for the earphones. You can find the full specs here.
- Weight of one earbud: 5.1g
- Weight of empty case: 35.6 g
- Battery life: 4 - 6 hrs for voice calls and music, 16 - 24 hours total with case
- Charging time for earphones: 1.5 hr
- Charing time for case: 2 hr
- Sensor: G-sensor, Hall effect sensor, Infrared sensor
- Driver: 10mm
- IPX4 against splashing water
- Audio code: SBC, AAC
- Controls: tap twice
- Noise cancelling: Call noise cancellation
To keep the price this low, many features are not included. There's no Active Noise Cancelling, no EQ with the app, limited touch controls and a lack of better audio codecs such as LDAC, LHDC, aptX.
The earphones are housed in the case in a way that they are upside down when you take them out, so you have to rotate them upright before you can wear them. For me, I just rotate the case upside down so that I don't have to rotate the two earphones.
The design looks simple and simple is fine. I like how lightweight these are at just 5.1g each.
The black dot is a proximity sensor that will auto-pause the media you're playing when you take the earphones off.
I don't find the earphones to fit my (small) ears well. Even with the largest silicone ear tips installed, it doesn't feel tight. Having said that, the fit is good enough and due to how light the earphones are, there is minimal chance of the earphones dislodging even with active movement.
The Huawei AI Life app can be used to customise the touch controls which are default to double tap to play/pause or call/end calls. And you can check the battery life with the app. There are no EQ settings with the app.
These are the options available for touch controls:
- Next song
- Previous song
- Wake voice assistant
There's no volume control.
These earphones sound good, slightly warm and with a slight emphasis on base. Spatial separation of the voice and instruments is fine for budget earphones standard but can't compared to more high end earphones.
Voice sounds great. I enjoyed vocal songs more than the purely instrumental music where spatial separation can be discerned.
Due to the lack of Active Noise Cancelling, these are best used in quiet environment, e.g. at home, gym or maybe in the office. People who commute or are outdoors often may want to consider earphones with ANC instead.
I'll probably rate the audio quality of these earphones 3 out of 5 stars. Even the best wireless earphones nowadays only get 4/5 stars from me so 3/5 stars for budget earphones is pretty good.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Decent audio quality at this price range
- No EQ with app
- No active noise cancelling
- Even the big ear tip is small, and affects sealing
- Limited touch controls
- Only SBC and AAC codec
Are these worth the money?
Overall, I enjoy listening to music with these earphones. I just wished the silicone ear tips could be firmer to provide more grip and better sealing considering there's no ANC.
If you can get these at the promotional price of SGD 48, that's a terrific deal especially for those who just want a simple pair of wireless earphones with no frills. One advantage of budget earphones is even if you lose them, you won't feel a huge loss.