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Huawei FreeBuds 4i vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs Apple Airpods Pro TWS comparison

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Huawei
We compare three differently priced True Wireless Earbuds to see which one is the better value. 
Huawei FreeBuds 4i vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs Apple Airpods Pro TWS comparison
Let's compare three drastically different priced true wireless earphones

True Wireless earphones have come so far in the past several years. We've seen massive growth in this segment and over the years true wireless earphones with Active Noise Cancelation have appeared in vastly different price points.

So in this article, we take a look at three very differently priced earphones to see which one is the better value. Are entry-level-priced ones good enough? Do we really need to pay a premium for the best experience? These are the question this article aims to answer.

Before we dive in, let's look at the three true wireless earphones that we are going to compare. 

First up is the Huawei FreeBuds 4i with 10mm drivers, Bluetooth 5.2, IP 54 and is priced at PHP 3,599. It is one of the few TWS with ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) under PHP 5K in the Philippines today.

Next up is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live with 12mm drivers, 6 microphones, Bluetooth 5.0, IPX4, and a mid-range price of PHP 8,990.

Lastly is the Apple AirPods Pro with custom High-excursion drivers, 6 microphones, Bluetooth 5.0, IPX4, and a wallet-busting price of PHP 14,990.

Let's dive in!

Build Quality/Design

All three TWS
All three TWS

All three True Wireless earphones we are looking at today are made of a combination of polycarbonate and metal. From afar, you wouldn't notice the difference in material. The FreeBuds 4i, AirPods Pro, and Buds Live are similar in their weight and the solid feeling build. All three models are fingerprint smudge magnets.
Front side
Front side

From the front, the Buds Live and the FreeBuds 4i have the logos printed. Only the AirPods Pro and the Huawei have the indicator light that is easy to see. The LED indicator of Buds Live's case is harder to see when placed on a table because of its make-up compact-like design. 
Backside
Backside

At the back are the hinges that connect the top and bottom parts of the case. Only the AirPods Pro has a metal outer hinge.

All three cases are easy to open and are easy to close but only the AirPods Pro and Buds Live can remain open if the user wishes it. Otherwise, all three models have solid, lightweight, and build with a unique and eye-catching design.
Topside
Topside
USB Type-C
USB Type-C

All three cases feature a USB-C port for charging. The AirPods Pro case and the Buds Live case also supports wireless charging.
Close up of the earbuds
Close up of the earbuds

Like the case, the earbuds of all three models are made of a combination of metal and polycarbonate. All three are solid and lightweight. Unfortunately, all three are also fingerprinted smudge magnets.

All three models support touch controls and have wear sensors. The FreeBuds 4i has a total of four microphones while the Buds Live and AirPods Pro have six microphones. These microphones also enable each earbud to have Active Noise Cancelation.

Comfort/Isolation

All three TWS and their cases
All three TWS and their cases

The Galaxy Buds Live uses a bean shape that easily fits the contours of the user's ear and it does not use a silicone ear cup. This results in a less sealed audio experience. It does have a silicone ring that wraps around the CPU contact that helps with the fit of the Buds to the user's ears.

Both the AirPods Pro and the FreeBuds 4i use replaceable ear cups that allow the user to switch differently sized cups to get a better seal. This should result in better audio quality and better noise cancellation. 

After several hours of use, we were starting to feel the fatigue from the seal of the ear cups and the weight from all three earbuds. This is a normal and expected drawback of prolonged use of any earphones or headphones.

Battery

Huawei FreeBuds 4i
Huawei FreeBuds 4i

Inside the FreeBuds 4i is a 55mAh battery on each earbud and a 215mAh battery inside the charging case. It charges via the USB-C and it has fast charging tech. Ten minutes of charge can offer up to 4 hours of audio playback. It takes 90 minutes to fully charge both the earbuds and the case.

Huawei rates the Freebuds 4i with up to 10 hours of continuous playback with ANC turned off. In our experience in daily use, the FreeBuds 4i is able to last for 8 hours of continuous use with Active Noise Cancellation turned on.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Inside the Galaxy Buds Live is a 60mAh battery on each earbud and a large 472mAh battery inside the case. It charges via the USB-C port and it supports wireless charging. It takes around 90 minutes to fully charge the buds and the case. It supports fast charging where 5 minutes of charge will offer 60 minutes of continuous playback.

In our experience we were getting around 5 to 6 hours of continuous use with Active Noise Cancelation turned on. This is consistent with Samsung's rating of 5.5 hours with ANC turned on.
Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Last up is the Apple AirPods Pro. It has a 49mAh battery in each earbud and has a large 519mAh battery inside the case. Like Buds Live, five minutes of charge yields 60 minutes of continuous playback. It takes around 90 minutes to charge fully.

In our experience, the AirPods Pro was able to yield 5 hours of continuous playback with Active Noise Cancelation turned on.

Only the Huawei FreeBuds 4i has actual fast charging. Five minutes of charge gives an hour of playback for both the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and AirPods Pro while ten minutes of charge gives the Huawei FreeBuds 4i 4 hours of continuous playback. 

As mentioned earlier, the AirPods Pro and the Buds Live case also support wireless charging.


Features

Huawei FreeBuds 4i and AI Life app
Huawei FreeBuds 4i and AI Life app
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live with Wear app
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live with Wear app
AirPods Pro and Bluetooth settings page
AirPods Pro and Bluetooth settings page

All three True wireless earphones can be paired with any Android smartphone by directly connecting it via Bluetooth thru pairing mode.

To get additional control and features, you will need to download the Huawei AI Life app and the Samsung Wear app and pair the TWS with the app. Both apps let users customize the controls, update the firmware, and access more features. Unfortunately, the Apple AirPods Pro does not have an app for Android which limits the controls to the touch sensors on the stem of the AirPods Pro.

The Galaxy Buds Live and the Apple AirPods Pro use Bluetooth 5.0 which maintains a stable and seamless connection with the smartphone for a maximum of 10 feet. While the FreeBuds 4i uses Bluetooth 5.2 that has the same stable and seamless connection for around 10 feet.

Touch controls on the FreeBuds 4i and on the AirPods Pro are on the stems of each earbud. While the touch controls on the Buds Live are on the glossy part of the body of the bean-shaped buds. All three models have fast, accurate, and responsive touch sensors. They all detect and respond accordingly to the usual tap, double-tap, and tap-and-hold gestures without a hitch.

Audio

All three buds
All three buds

When listening to music the results of each earphone were surprisingly different. 

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i produced sound with good clarity, mids and highs. We just wish that it could provide stronger bass.

In video consumption, we recommend always playing at a higher volume to get the best audio quality.

When the Active Noise cancellation is turned on, it does a good job in almost all situations except for when an electric fan is in the area. The ANC produces a hissing sound whenever we are near an electric fan. Otherwise, the ANC on the FreeBuds 4i is very good for the price.

In fact, it performs around 70 to 80 percent of the AirPods Pro's ANC for nearly 1/5th of the price.

Up next is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. It produces passable sound quality but it pales in comparison to the sound produced by the much cheaper FreeBuds 4i and the much more expensive Apple AirPods Pro.

Human voices in videos are murky when compared to the other two. The Active Noise Cancellation of the Buds Live but like the sound quality, it pales by a huge margin when compared to the ANC of the FreeBuds 4i and the Apple AirPods Pro. We are incredibly disappointed. The FreeBuds 4i performed better in almost every aspect at half the price.

Last up is the Apple AirPods Pro. It produces good lows, mids, and highs while also producing clear and crispy sound. This is the same for when listening to the human voices in video. Lastly, the Active Noise Cancellation of the AirPods Pro is able to cancel out most of the environmental sound when activated.

The connection of all three models is also fast which is very apparent when watching videos on the phone's screen with the audio pumping out of the earphones. The Audio and the video are always in sync. When playing video games, the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Live have nearly identical latency but the FreeBuds 4i have a slight edge because of the faster Bluetooth 5.2 connection. To most people, the latency difference is minimal but can be very helpful when playing fast-paced games like Call Of Duty: Mobile and PUBG.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i advantages - Good mids and highs, Good ANC performance, Value for money, Price, Bluetooth 5.2
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live advantages - wireless charging, good battery life
Apple AirPods Pro advantages - Better audio quality and ANC, wireless charging

Huawei FreeBuds 4i vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs Apple AirPods Pro Specs Comparison


DeviceFreeBuds 4iBuds LiveAirPods Pro
CPUUndisclosedBCM 43015Apple H1 chip
Driver
10mm dynamic driver
12mm dynamic driverCustom high-excursion Apple drivers
Microphones Dual microphones with Active Noise Cancellation 6 Mics with Active Noise Cancellationdual beamforming microphones + inward-facing microphones
Battery 55mAh (per earbud), 215mAh (charging case) w/ fast charging 60mAh (per earbud), 472mAh (charging case) w/ wireless charging49mAh (per earbud), 519mAh (charging case) w/ wireless charging
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
Others: IP54 Water resistance, touch controls, USB-C, Colors: Red, Ceramic White, Carbon BlackIPX2 Water resistance, touch controls, USB-C, Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Blue, Mystic Black, and Mystic WhiteIPX4 Water resistance, touch controls, USB-C, Colors: White
Weight5.5 g (per earbud), 36.5 g (charging case)5.6 g (per earbud), 42.2 g (charging case)5.4 g (per earbud), 45.6 g (charging case)
Price PHP 3,599PHP 8,990PHP 14,990

Verdict

Box packaging
Box packaging

After testing each one side by side, we were surprised by the results.

At an SRP of PHP 14,990, the AirPods Pro offers great build quality, design, audio, battery, and active noise cancellation performance. It is expensive though. 

While the FreeBuds 4i can offer 80 percent of what the AirPods Pro can do at only PHP 3,599. The FreeBuds 4i also adds the faster and more stable Bluetooth 5.2 for low latency connections. Our only concern with the FreeBuds 4i is the hissing sound when near an electric fan and when ANC is turned on. It is a minor thing.

Lastly, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live may have a better battery life, but it falters in the Active Noise Cancellation and in the lack of a natural seal that an earcup provides. 

Overall, all three are good but it will depend on the user whether they are willing to spend nearly PHP 15K for the AirPods Pro or go for the FreeBuds 4i for the value option pick.

Do you agree with us?

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