Huawei has a quirky new idea for wireless earphones, and I’m into it. The company’s new FreeLace neckbuds can be disconnected from one another, exposing a USB-C plug that can be jacked into your Huawei phone to facilitate seamless Bluetooth pairing or simply charge up the buds. This eliminates the need for a separate charging cable, and it sidesteps one of the biggest pain points with wireless audio. The Huawei FreeLace are rated to last for 18 hours of music or 12 hours of calls on a single charge, and they can be fast-charged to run for four hours off of five minutes of being plugged in.
The look, shape, and function of the FreeLace are super reminiscent of OnePlus’ Bullets Wireless. The design is IPX5-certified for water and sweat resistance, and it’s balanced in weight, with two elongated modules housing batteries and the in-line volume and playback controls. Huawei has done a terrific job of creating chunky, clicky buttons that are a pleasure to use with the FreeLace. I tried out these earphones for myself, and my lingering impression is all about the joy of those buttons. I won’t comment much on the FreeLace sound yet, other than to say that it’s rich on bass and tuned to generate excitement. The audio driver inside of each bud measures 9.2 mm in diameter.
Announced alongside the launch of the P30 Pro and P30 Android smartphones, Huawei’s FreeLace will only do their automatic pairing magic with devices running Huawei’s latest EMUI 9.1. For everything else, you’ll be going through the standard Bluetooth pairing process. The neckbuds will charge off any phone capable of outputting power from its USB-C port, which is the vast majority of them. It worked with my Pixel 3 XL, in any case.
Huawei is releasing the FreeLace for a price of €99 in a choice of colors that matches its new flagship phone color options.
Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge