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About this HUAWEI Matebook E review: I reviewed the Core i5, 16GB RAM model of the HUAWEI Matebook E, using it as my primary work laptop for four days. The unit was provided to Android Authority by HUAWEI for this review.
Update, April 2023: The HUAWEI Matebook E is now available in the EU and UK.
HUAWEI Matebook E W3831T (Intel Core i3, 8GB/128GB): €649.99
HUAWEI Matebook E W5821T (Intel Core i5, 8GB/256GB): TBC
HUAWEI Matebook E W5651T (Intel Core i5, 16GB/512GB): £999.99 / €1,199,99
HUAWEI Matebook E W7651T (Intel Core i7, 16GB/512GB): TBC
Check out: The best laptops you can buy
In typical HUAWEI fashion, the Matebook E supports the company’s proprietary Multi-screen Collaboration technology, allowing you to connect to and share files with other HUAWEI devices, such as a smartphone. HUAWEI’s Cast Plus protocol also supports low latency casting to its Mateview monitor for presentations and the like, should you own one.
The Matebook E is equipped with a 13MP rear camera and 8MP front-facing sensor, but the latter does not support Microsoft Hello facial recognition. This setup is paired with a quad microphone and speaker setup, so the tablet is perfectly serviceable for video calls. You’ll also find a 3.5mm headphone jack located on the left-side/top of the tablet if you’re still rocking a pair of wired headphones. Speaking of ports, there’s a single USB-C socket on the right/bottom of the tablet that supports Thunderbolt 4 and Display Port technologies.
HUAWEI includes a 65W Supercharge plug and USB-C to USB-C cable in the box. The tablet also supports USB Power Delivery plugs, but I could only obtain a lower 30W power level. The Matebook E also supports HUAWEI’s Smart Magnetic Keyboard which comes bundled with the tablet, as does the M-Pencil, on all but the cheapest Core i3 model. You can also grab these as separate purchases, should you need to.
HUAWEI hasn’t revealed exactly which models will go on sale, where, and at what times. We’ve spotted the Core i3 W3831T and Core i5 W5651T variants up for sale in some European countries, while only the £999 i5 model is available in the UK as of April 6. We reached out to HUAWEI for clarification on the price and availability of the other two models but it declined to provide any regional information. What we do know for sure is that it will almost certainly not go on sale in the US due to the fallout from the trade ban.
Top-notch performance and a fantastic display cover the bases for work and play.
The tablet’s OLED display is a wonder. Packing a crisp 2,560 x 1,600 resolution and punchy colors, this 600 nit panel is bright enough for daylight use and all your favorite content will look great no matter the environment. 12.6 inches is pretty much the sweet spot for use as both a tablet and a laptop — any larger would be unwieldy to hold as a tablet while smaller would be too tiny to work on when strapped to the keyboard. Even so, the 14.4:9 aspect ratio is not quite tall enough to make the most of multi-window multitasking. The Matebook E sports a P3 color gamut mode, which is a nice touch when photo editing and plays to the tablet’s creativity angle. The only minor drawback is that it’s a 60Hz panel that doesn’t support HDR. But that’s a perfectly fine compromise to have OLED at this price.
HUAWEI MateBook E
Work meets play
Designed for users on the go, HUAWEI’s Windows 11 2-in-1 laptop sports a stunning OLED screen, powerhouse performance, and stylus support.
See price at Huawei
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We answer your questions by explaining what each model offers and helping you decide if one of them is right for you.
Best in Show – See our MWC 2023 Award Winners!MateBook 13 vs 14 vs X Pro: Price & Availability
The MateBook 13, at least one version of it, was shown off at CES 2023 and goes on sale at the end of February. You can read our review here.
The model we’re comparing here, though, is the one that will be available in the UK and Europe and is slightly different because it includes Huawei Share 3.0, a handy feature which we’ll explain below. Huawei says it will be on sale by the end of February.
The 14 is brand new, and the X Pro is an updated version of the 2023 model, reviewed here. These two will be available in April.
UK pricing hasn’t been confirmed, but Huawei has now confirmed the following models and prices:MateBook 13
€999: i5 + 8GB + 256GB + Intel 620
€1099: i5 + 8GB + 256GB + MX150
€1199: i7 + 8GB + 512GB + Intel 620
€1399: i7 + 8GB + 512GB + MX150 + touchscreenMateBook 14
€1199: i5 + 8GB + 512GB + MX250
€1499: i7 + 16GB + 512GB + MX250 + touchscreenMateBook X Pro 2023
€1599: i5 + 8GB + 512GB + MX250 + touchscreen
€1999: i7 + 16GB + 1TB + MX250 + touchscreenMateBook 13 vs 14 vs X Pro: Specifications
The easiest way to see how these three compare is to watch the video at the top of this page, but we’ve also put together this helpful table of the key specs as well.
* Touchscreens on top-of-range models only.MateBook 13
The 13 in the name relates to the screen: it’s a 13in touchscreen with a resolution of 2160×1440. That’s just about enough, we think, for the size to avoid criticism and it’s certainly great quality.
Bezels are a bit thicker than on the MateBook X Pro, but the 88 percent screen-to-body ratio is more than respectable. Plus, it allows the webcam to go at the top where it belongs, rather than in the keyboard where you end up with unflattering views on Skype.
Specs are a little cut down to meet the price point: you can’t have more than 8GB of RAM and you can’t have the faster Nvidia MX250 graphics chip that you’ll find in higher models of the 14 and X Pro.
To clarify, the base model has the Core i5, Intel graphics and 256GB of storage, but there’s a step-up option with the MX150, a Core i7 and 512GB of storage.
Oddly, Huawei decided not to put a traditional USB port on the MateBook 13 which we think is a mistake: you’ll have to use an adaptor if you want to attach a USB flash drive.
The aluminium body and keyboard layout is similar to the other models, and it both looks and feels good. It’s also the lightest of the bunch – because it’s the smallest – and Huawei says you’ll still get 10 hours of battery life despite the 42Wh cell.
Huawei Share 3.0 is built-in, which means there’s an NFC chip which works with Huawei phones that are running EMUI 9.1 or later. Tap your phone on the chip and it launches the app which lets you transfer photos and other files via a direct Wi-Fi connection.
Among other features, Share 3.0 also gives you universal copy and paste, so you can copy some text on your phone and then paste it on your MateBook.MateBook 14
For many people this will be the pick of the bunch. It has most of the features of the X Pro, but will cost less.
It has – you guessed it – a 14in screen, but it shares the lower resolution of the 13in model, so has a pixel density of 185ppi. However, it’s still a great touchscreen with 100% sRGB coverage (so colours are vibrant) and wide viewing angles.
There are two standard USB ports, convenient for attaching a wired mouse or external hard drive, as well as the modern USB-C. Usefully for some, there’s a full-size HDMI port which neither of the other two models possess.
You have a choice, again, of a Core i5 or Core i7 and if you opt for the latter you get 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and the MX250 GPU. Performance, then, is just as good as the MateBook X Pro. The 14’s battery capacity is the same, too, so you’re only really sacrificing the higher resolution screen and a few other luxuries.
As with the other models, it has NFC for Huawei Share 3.0.MateBook X Pro
Externally, the 2023 X Pro is identical to the 2023 model. Upgrades are internal with 8th-gen Intel chips and the MX250 graphics chip rather than the MX150.
If you own the 2023 version, it isn’t going to be worth upgrading unless that 10-15 percent performance jump is really important.
But, for the other 99 percent of people who don’t already have the pleasure of owning one, the MateBook X Pro is a superb laptop which has gorgeous looks and great performance. It’s only slightly smaller and thinner than the MateBook 14, but the slimmer screen bezels and higher resolution display elevate it to premium status – and a premium price.
Fortunately, there’s still a USB-A port along with the pair of USB-Cs, and as this is the updated 2023 model, you also get Huawei Share 3.0. The Thunderbolt 3 port now runs at ‘full speed’ which means it’s twice as fast as the 2023 model and can now support 4K displays.
We’ll bring you reviews of all three shortly, but you can read our full review of the 2023 MateBook X Pro for more details about this model.
Until we’ve properly tested the new Surface Pro, we’ll reserve judgement on which 2-in-1 is the best.Best Prices Today: Microsoft Surface Pro (2023)
It’s been a pretty long wait, but the update to the Surface Pro 4 is here. Oddly, it’s not called the Surface Pro 5 but as you’ll see there are clear reasons for this.
Whether you’re thinking of upgrading from your Surface Pro 4 or trying to decide which device to buy as an upgrade from something else, our comparison of the two hybrids will help you make the right choice.
See our chart of the best hybrid laptop/tablets to buy.
You can pre-order the new Surface Pro now from Microsoft.What are the differences between Surface Pro 4 and the 2023 version?
Compare the key specifications (see our table below) and you could easily come to the conclusion that very little has changed.
The two tablets look the same, have the same 12.3in screen, selection of ports and – aside from very minor changes – the same chassis.
During the launch, Microsoft said the new tablet was thinner and lighter. However, that’s not exactly true. Its own website lists the same dimensions for the two and, depending in the configuration you choose, the new device is either a couple of grams lighter or heavier than the equivalent old model.
So it’s not thinner and no-one is going to notice that miniscule weight difference. Can you spot which is which?
Not everything remains the same, of course. The main difference is that the new Surface Pro includes the latest seventh-gen Intel Core processors, which also means upgraded integrated graphics.
Battery life is also improved from ‘up to 9 hours’ for the old model to ‘up to 13.5 hours’ from the new Surface Pro.
The last notable change is the new kick-stand hinge which now reclines to an almost-flat 165 degrees. This position is called ‘Studio mode’ and lets you use the Surface Pro like the Surface Studio – it’s a more comfortable angle to use for sketching and drawing.
Other minor improvements are better sound quality from the speakers and more rounded corners.
The Surface Pro 4’s stand allows it to tilt back to 150 degrees – the same as the Surface Pro 3. The extra 15 degrees sounds like a small change, but until we’ve properly tested the two devices, it’s hard to know if it really makes a difference or not.
As before, there’s a choice of ultra-low-power Core m3, i5 and i7 processors. The fanless Core m model is available from launch this time – it came later with the Surface Pro 4.
If you opt for the flagship model with 1TB of storage, that’s an NVMe SSD which should improve performance even more compared to the equivalent Surface Pro 4.
That covers the main tablet, but both the keyboard and Surface Pen have been updated for 2023 as well.
Like the recently announced Surface Laptop, the Type Cover keyboard is now skinned with Alcantara – a man-made suede-like material.
This costs £149 (US$159) and comes in three colours to match the new shades for the tablet: Cobalt Blue, Burgundy and Platinum. They go on sale 30 June, a couple of weeks after the Surface Pro.
The new Surface Pen comes in the same colours, plus black. It costs £99.99 (US$99.99) – yep, it’s not bundled in the box any more – but there’s no confirmed release date yet.
It’s longer than the old Surface Pen and does away with the clip. New is its ability to detect when you’re tilting the pen at an angle (similar to Apple’s Pencil) and can therefore more accurately reproduce the effect of that on screen.
Depending on the type of pen you’ve selected in an app, it could mean you get a thicker line the more you tilt.Which processors and storage can you get with the new Surface Pro?
The table below shows how the old and new Surface Pro models compare for their main specs.How do they compare on price?
The Surface Pro 4 has dropped in price now that the new version has been announced, and the Core i7 versions are no longer on sale in the US.
The Pro 4 comes with the older version of the Surface Pen (unless you go for the Core m3 model), so don’t forget to add £99.99 (or $99.99) to the price of the new Surface Pro if you know you’ll need a stylus.Surface Pro (2023):
Core m3, 4GB, 128GB: £799, US$799
Core i5, 4GB, 128GB: £979, US$999
Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £1249, US$1299
Core i7, 8GB, 256GB: £1549, US$1599
Core i7, 16GB, 512GB: £2149, US$2199
Core i7, 16GB, 1TB: £2699, US$2699Surface Pro 4 (UK):
Core m3, 4GB, 128GB: £636.65
Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £917.15
Core i7, 8GB, 256GB: £1104.15
Core i7, 16GB, 256GB: £1231.65
Core i7, 16GB, 512GB: £1529.15
Core i7, 16GB, 1TBGB: £1869.15Surface Pro 4 US models:
Core m3, 4GB, 128GB (no pen): US$699
Core i5, 4GB, 128GB: £979, US$849
Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £1249, US$999
Core i5, 16GB, 256GB: £1549, US$1399
Core i5, 8GB, 512GB: £2149, US$1399
Core i5, 16GB, 512GB: £2699, US$1799
Pre-order the Surface Pro 5 here.Should I buy the new Surface Pro?
It is, overall, very similar to its predecessor. That’s probably why it isn’t called the Surface Pro 5. The new processors mean better performance and battery life, but those are the significant two improvements.
Microsoft says the screen on the new tablet is better, but hasn’t yet specified how.
In the UK at least, the Core i7 versions of the Surface Pro 4 are significantly cheaper than the equivalents from the new range, and they’re even better value because they include a Surface Pen.
If you already own a Surface Pro 4, there’s no real incentive to upgrade unless you’re going from a low-powered model and are planning to buy a Core i7 version.Specs Microsoft Surface Pro (2023): Specs
Windows 10 Pro
12.3in PixelSense display, 2736×1824, 267ppi
Up to Intel Kaby Lake Core i7
Up to 16GB RAM
Up to 1TB storage
Micro-SD card reader
5Mp front camera
8Mp rear camera
The Huawei Watch Fit 2 is one of the latest smartwatches from Huawei with an emphasis on fashion as well as fitness.
It’s a little cheaper than Huawei’s own Watch GT 3 Pro and Watch GT Runner, but is also a bit pricier than the Fitbit Charge 5, and the recently-launched Huawei Band 7. It sits somewhere in the same price bracket as the running-centric Polar Pacer.
The Watch Fit 2 is therefore better suited towards people who are more interested in light exercise or who are just starting a Couch to 5K-type program, and/or people who want a smartwatch that’s something of a statement piece as well as an exercise aid.Design and build
Lightweight and low-profile
Single physical control
Different designs for fitness devotees and the fashion-conscious
Essentially a refresh of the first Watch Fit’s design
The Huawei Watch Fit 2’s design is simple yet stylish – it’s a rectangular case with rounded corners, and a single button on the side.
The watch case measures 46 x 33.5 x 10.8mm, and while that’s not as flush to your wrist as, say, the Fitbit Charge 5, the profile is still pretty low, meaning most long-sleeved garments ought to slide nicely over the top.
Like the original Watch Fit, it looks more like a miniaturised phone than the likes of the Huawei Watch GT Runner or Polar Grit X Pro, whose circular displays and chunky straps mimic traditional watch designs.
There are three versions of the Huawei Watch Fit 2, Active, Classic, and Elegant Editions, and it’s easy to tell who these are all aimed at.
The Active models are made from plastic, feature silicone straps, and are clearly geared more towards people who aren’t likely to mind if their watch gets rained on, or caked in a bit of mud.
The Classic version features an aluminium body and a leather strap, and is a bit pricier, while the Elegant watches are pricier still, but feature a very fetching Milanese mesh strap which fastens with a magnetic strip instead of the typical buckle.
Thomas Newton / Foundry
The version I was sent was a silver Elegant model, and the magnetic clasp was very nifty indeed. Having said that, the mesh strap did often move around on my wrist a bit during runs in the park. While I never felt that the thing would fall off, it did make me wonder if the accuracy of the heart rate monitor would be compromised.
Regardless of which version you opt for, the internal components and functions are the same.
Thomas Newton / FoundryDisplay and audio
1.74in AMOLED display is vibrant and responsive
336 x 480 pixels, 336ppi
Internal mic supports voice calls over Bluetooth
Skip music tracks, answer calls, and pick up phone notifications
The Watch Fit 2’s display is bright, detailed, and responsive, all of which makes it easy for you to read messages and action commands whether you’re mid-exercise or in the middle of a meeting. The speaker’s also loud enough for you to be able to easily hear encouragements from the virtual coach when working out, and the speaker combined with the internal mic lets you answer and take calls via Bluetooth.
Huawei doesn’t list the maximum brightness of the AMOLED display, but I can confirm that it’s more than bright enough for you to be able to check your pace, distance, time and the rest when outside on a sunny afternoon.
The 9-axis IMU sensor, comprising an accelerometer, gyroscope, and geomagnetic sensor is clever enough to detect when you’re raising your arm in order to check on your vitals, powering on the display so that you can get a quick look at things. As with the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro, there’s no way to adjust the sensitivity of this tilt-to-wake feature, but it’s good enough as it is.
Even if you’ve worked up a sweat, actually using the Watch Fit 2 is rarely a hassle, although more physical controls might have made this easier.
Thomas Newton / FoundrySoftware and features
Interface can be customised – to a point
No NFC support, so Huawei Wallet doesn’t work
The Huawei Watch Fit 2 runs on HarmonyOS 2.1, and offers a user experience similar to what you get on watches like the Watch 3 and Watch GT 3 series.
The responsiveness of the display is complemented well by a reasonably logical layout which affords you a degree of customisation, although there are limits to what you can do.
Swipe right from the home screen and you’ll move through a series of panels, or ‘cards’ as Huawei calls them. These are things like shortcuts to the SpO2 (Pulse Oximetry) reader tool, heart rate monitor, call log, and weather widget, all useful stuff that you’d likely want to have close to hand when exercising.
But you can’t, for example, pin controls for basic functions, like volume, or brightness, as cards. And while you can add a shortcut to training plans you create on the Huawei Health mobile app, you also can’t add a shortcut to any specific workout routines.
It’s nice to be able to customise things like the appearance – I added a fancy art deco-type background to mine – but the customisation feels skin deep.
Other useful features include the Ringing tool, which causes your phone to ring if you’ve lost it, but also emits a voice which says ‘I’m heeeere’ in a way that’s not at all creepy. Music controls are simple, but effective, and whenever a text message comes through, you’re given the option of replying with a number of pre-set responses, or swiping the message away.
Frustratingly, given that the Watch Fit 2 doesn’t feature an NFC sensor – and therefore doesn’t support NFC payments – there’s still a Huawei Wallet icon on the Watch Fit 2’s menu. You can launch the app, but all it’ll do is prompt you to complete the set-up process on the Huawei Health mobile app. Which you won’t be able to complete, because… the Watch Fit 2 doesn’t feature an NFC sensor.
Thomas Newton / FoundryFitness and tracking
97 workout modes
Plan and manage routines with the Huawei Health mobile app
Takes about a minute for the GPS to lock
Exercise records can be exported as GPX, TCX, and KML files
Huawei has added a wide range of workout guides to the Watch Fit 2, mostly centred around running, walking, cycling, and swimming, but there are also programs designed to track your efforts on cross trainers and rowing machines. While there’s no program specifically for things like yoga or lifting weights, you can still record exercise times and your heart rate as a generic ‘other’ workout routine.
For the most part, you’ll likely be recording workouts on an ad-hoc basis, or picking from a number of pre-set courses, ranging from the gentle ‘Run/Walk-Primary’ to the more intense ‘HIIT Run’.
You can plan out longer routines in greater detail via the Huawei Health apps (iOS, Android). These have simple layouts, and are easy to navigate. As well as acting as a dashboard from which you can look up daily step counts, and drill down into things like sleep data.
The Huawei Health app lets you share results of your efforts, either in the form of a JPEG, which is good for social media bragging, or in the form of GPX and KML files, should you wish to share your routes with other people on platforms which can accept these files. You can also offload heart rate, calories burned, and cadence in the form of TCX files, if you want to use this data elsewhere.
Thomas Newton / FoundryBattery
Magnetic charging cable is fiddly
Huawei says that you’ll get between 7-10 days’ worth of power off of a single charge, and based on my observations, I’d say that’s an accurate estimate.
It depends greatly on what you’re doing. If you’re working out every other day, you’re likely to need to reach for the charging cable sooner, but if you’re not exercising as frequently, you’ll be able to go further on a single charge.
For example, after 8 days, including a full working week, 1 workout, and 1 stag weekend, I was on 9% battery.
The supplied USB-A charging cable is a little fiddly to connect to the underside of the Watch Fit 2, and doesn’t easily stay in place. As is typical of most smartwatches, there’s no mains adapter in the box, just the cable.
Using a 2013 MacBook Pro’s USB port, I was able to get to 55% charged in half an hour, and 97% in an hour, taking about an hour and ten minutes to fully charge up.
Using a Huawei SuperCharge 22.5W mains adapter scavenged from an old Huawei P20 Pro review unit, I was able to go from empty to 87% full in half an hour, taking 53 minutes in total to charge up from flat.
Thomas Newton / FoundryPrice and availability
The Huawei Watch Fit 2 is available to buy now, directly from Huawei.
On Huawei’s UK site, the Active Edition is priced at £130, while the Classic Edition models are £160. The most expensive Elegant Edition models cost £190.
You can also pick up Active Edition and Classic Edition models from Amazon UK, which is selling them for £129 and £159, respectively. There’s also currently a deal on at Amazon which sees you getting either version of the watch with some Huawei FreeBuds 4i bundled in, for £189.98, and £219.98 each.
Currently, only the Active Edition versions of the Watch Fit 2 are listed on Huawei’s Australian site, but it’s not possible to buy directly.
Instead, buyers should head to Auptimal, which is selling the Active Edition Watch Fit 2’s for AU$299, and the Classic Edition with the white leather strap later in the year, or MobileCiti, which has stock of Active Editions only, for AU$298.
Amazon Australia lists both Active Edition and Classic Edition versions of the Watch Fit 2, but was out of stock at the time of writing.
U.S. pricing and availability information was not available at the time of writing.Verdict
The Huawei Watch Fit 2 is a great-looking and easy-to-use smartwatch that’s geared towards health tracking, and comes with some useful extra features, such as the phone locator and Bluetooth calling. With the most expensive option priced at under £200, it’s more affordable than some competitors.
While there are a lot of options, you have less control over the fitness data than you would with other smartwatches, which might frustrate some, but those after a smartwatch which looks great and can help people kick start a new fitness regime, it’s a very compelling offer.Specs
Dimensions: 46 x 33.5 x 10.8 mm
Water resistance: 50m (5ATM water-resistant)
Display: 1.74in AMOLED
Resolution 336×480, 336ppi
Case: Polymer and metal, with plastic, leather or Milanese mesh straps
Connectivity: A-GPS;Bluetooth 5.2 and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE);
Charging: Magnetic charging Type-A USB cable;
OS: HarmonyOS 2.1
App support: Huawei Health app supports iOS 9.0 or above, Android 4.4 or above
Comfortable & IPX4
ANC could be better
No wireless chargingOur Verdict
Huawei’s new generation of affordable wireless earbuds are back with new active noise cancelling modes that very few brands can offer in this price range. In addition, it adds the IPX4 certification for fitness use and Hi-Res Audio support.
The price of wireless earbuds has plummeted in the last year due to the sheer number of options on the market. So much so that it is difficult to find the most interesting price point where, due to the specifications, they are also attractive.
In the case of the new FreeBuds 5i, Huawei seems to have it clear by presenting a cut-down version of the Freebuds Pro 2 (the flagship model) but maintaining key aspects such as active noise cancellation and high-quality codec support.
They come in at just £89.99/€99, fully competing with the Ear (Stick) from Nothing or the Galaxy Buds 2 from Samsung, to name two examples.Design & Build
lighter than before
They admit pressure controls
No wireless charging
At the design level, little has changed compared to the previous generation FreeBuds 4i. They use a very similar egg-shaped case format in which the earphones slide in and out easily. A flat part means it remains stable when on a table.
There is a greater variety of finishes to choose from this time. I received the blue ones, but you can also buy them in black or white. Instead of providing a uniform color, Huawei sprays certain textures in the form of emerald gray to give them a differentiating finish.
It is a great step forward that is very necessary if you want to use them for sport and prevent sweat or splashes of water
The case has powerful magnets, so it is unlikely that as a result of a fall, the earbuds will fall out. In any case, we still have the search function if we use the mobile app.
Regarding the dynamic drivers of the headphones, they are again 10mm with a frequency response between 20 Hz and 40 KHz, which improves the range. They’re also lighter, weighing in at 4.9g versus 5.5g for the FreeBuds 4i.
Alfonso Casas / Foundry
I have personally verified that the earbuds fit perfectly in the ear, with the possibility of interchanging the silicone tips of different sizes and better adapting to each user. In essence, they are comfortable to wear for long periods of use.
A single LED indicator allows you to visually identify how the headphone case is charging. There is the typical button to enable synchronization with devices, and at the bottom, the USB-C charging port is located.
As seems evident in this price range, there is no wireless charging. Where there is an evolution is in resistance to water and dust, since the FreeBuds 5i take a step forward and includes IPX4 certification compared to the previous ones that did not have any rating.
It is a great step forward that is very necessary if you want to use them for sport and prevent sweat or splashes of water that can put them out of play at the first use.Sound Quality & ANC
Different ANC modes
Noise cancellation on calls
Hi-Res Audio support
The sound quality the FreeBuds 5i offer is very well-rounded, whether you’re listening to music from your favorite streaming service or you’re communicating with someone through a voice or video call.
Huawei points out that these headphones have a DNN algorithm that works on the two microphones in order to activate noise cancellation automatically when you answer a call in a noisy place. It’s something I didn’t particularly notice, although it’s the receiver who will get a clearer signal of your voice.
The bass frequencies are well presented, without being boomy when you raise the volume above average. For most styles of music, the mid and high frequencies also sound good without that metallic feel, offering a pleasant experience.
Alfonso Casas / Foundry
Not to forget, the Freebuds 5i feature LDAC Hi-Res Audio capabilities – a rare find on even more expensive earbuds. Within the Android or iOS application, we can access the equalizer settings, where the bass and treble are amplified, or you can leave the settings in default mode.
Depending on your musical style, you may find an improved fit. With the bass turned up, I tried playing Taylor Swift’s ‘Willow’ and it allowed me to appreciate the guitar plucks and vocal twists in all their glory.
As It Was by Harry Styles sounds with good bass, as well as LLYLM by Rosalía, which has the handicap and the complication of making the artist’s flamenco voice sound along with the musical pop rhythm, with good tones in both situations.
ANC Ultra mode is my favorite option for any situation
We can have noise cancellation activated, deactivated, or set the attention mode in which the cancellation is slightly attenuated so as not to miss anything that may happen around you, ideal if you are walking through busy streets with traffic.
Alfonso Casas / Foundry
Huawei defines three different modes: comfortable, general or ultra. The ‘ultra’ mode is designed to be able to isolate yourself in more extreme high-decibel situations, such as traveling by plane, or riding a crowded subway car.
For the most part, it is the one I liked the most, regardless of whether I was on the street or working from home. It’s not extreme cancellation, as even if someone knocks on your door, you’ll still be able to hear the sound.
For example, the Freebuds Pro 2 raise this active noise cancellation up to 47dB, handling the same modes of use as those mentioned here. Technically, they also have a flat diaphragm that provides improvements in this section.App & Features
Touch and swipe operation
Interaction with Android
Regarding the interaction supported by the Freebuds 5i, I have to say that it is possible to use them to a large extent by touching and swiping on the earphones themselves. It’s the typical functions of playback, track skipping or noise cancellation, all at your fingertips.
In general, they respond well to interactions and failures only occurred on a few occasions. What I would have liked is to get an improved response time, since it is difficult to get used to pressing and waiting a few moments for the action to take place.
Compared to the more professional headphone models, I have missed the possibility of using gestures or pinches that seem more intuitive movements, but who knows, it’s maybe an improvement that Huawei saves for the next generation.
By default, it is possible to slide up or down to change the volume. The good news is that all of these movements can be customized through the Huawei AI Life companion app, which you won’t find in the Google Play Store.
Alfonso Casas / Foundry
You will have no problem downloading it, either through the Huawei AppGallery store, or directly from the company’s website. In it, you will find all the devices of the brand if it turns out that you already have an ecosystem.
In order to ensure a fast and easy connection experience between your devices, the Freebuds 5i support Bluetooth 5.3, and they can be simultaneously connected to two devices at the same time. Taking it out of your ear and stopping playback also works well.
During my test period, the connections were quite stable, with the typical connection animation shown on the smartphone screen appearing immediately when you open the cover of the case, in my case the Huawei P40 Pro.Battery Life & Charging
Earbuds last 5.5 hours
Maximum total of 28 hours
2 hour charging time
No wireless charging
For battery life, there is an improvement compared to the previous Freebuds. Now up to five and a half hours of continuous playback with ANC in normal mode.
If you opt for the Ultra mode of noise cancellation, the times are reduced because the headphones have to work harder getting rid of the unwanted sound.
In any case, they are also longer lasting with the support of the Freebuds 5i case, which now allows you to reach 28 hours of use without ANC activated.
Alfonso Casas / Foundry
Playing music occasionally, such as using them on the go for at least an hour, I verified that the charge level remains high, around 82%, which indicates that they are efficient.
There’s no wireless charging support for the case, but it’s an extra you’d normally expect on higher-priced models. In any case, a full charge of the case and earbuds took me almost two hours on a typical 33W charger.
Huawei includes only the USB C charging cable in the box, along with different sized ear tips for your ears.Price
I’ve already mention the affordable price at the top, but nevertheless, the suggested retail price of £89.99/€99 seems very much in line with everything we’ve seen so far, supporting different ANC cancellation modes and integrating equalization.
The Freebuds 5i can be purchased through the Huawei website, where you can find offers associated with other products, such as the possibility of purchasing other Huawei devices at reduced prices.
You can also buy them from Amazon, Currys, Argos, AO and Very.
If what you are looking for is the highest sound quality, do not settle for the new Freebuds 5i and bet on the Freebuds Pro 2, which you can purchase for an extra £80.
Take a look at our guide to he best budget wireless earbuds as well as the best wireless earbuds.Verdict
Offering ANC active noise cancellation as standard with different modes of use, as well as support for different codecs such as LDAC usually results in a high price, but it’s something Huawei’s Freebuds 5i offer at a budget cost.
I like how comfortable they are for daily use, mainly due to the lightweight design. The quality and finishes of the case can be improved if we want to get away from the appearance of the cheapest models, but that will be the next challenge for Huawei.
At this point, there aren’t many rivals that can offer the same set of features. Alternatives include the Nothing Ear (1), Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC and Xiaomi Redmi Buds 4 Pro.
Obviously, there is room for improvement in the type of ANC that is applied, as well as in the sound quality. But the incorporation of IPX4 type water resistance is a great step forward for all those users (and there are many), who use them for fitness and sport.Specs
10mm aluminum alloy dynamic driver
2 x microphones per unit
Supported codecs: Sony LDAC, AAC and SBC
surround sound mode
Simultaneous multi-device connectivity
Headphone weight: 4.9g
Case weight: 34g
Up to 6 hours of battery life
Up to 28 hours with the case
Mostly premium design
Simple to useCons
Squiffy sleep tracking
No durability commitments
Can’t interact with notificationsOur Verdict
The Huawei Band 7 is a smart band that gets a lot right. With a big display, a nice design, simple software and reliable exercise tracking, it nails the essentials for a relatively low price.
Huawei has regrouped. It was once on its way to become smartphone ruler of the west but following political problems it has now set its sights elsewhere, and aims to become a best-selling smart device brand.
The Huawei Band 7 is the company’s latest attempt to claim a seat at the top, focussing on fashion and fitness at a pleasing price point. But in a sea of competition, and with a slightly tarnished name, stealing a march is no easy task. Does the Band 7 have what it takes, no matter how low the price, to stand above the rest and help revive a flagging brand?Design and build
Slim attractive design
Decent strap colour options
In the decade since the launch of the first ever smartwatches, we have seen several distinct product ‘types’ arise. Of these, by far the most ubiquitous is the smart band’, aka the activity tracker. Often costing under $50/£50, they offer durability and rudimentary features primarily geared toward fitness and little else. Manufacturers of almost all stripes have tried their hand in this bracket, with many trying different tricks in the process.
With the Band 7, Huawei has produced something that is cheap but not bargain-bucket, premium without being pricey – and design is a key part of that.
It’s available in pink, red, black and green, with my review unit in the latter shade. It’s good to have a little more choice compared to much of the cheaper competition, which generally only offer generic black bands.
The device itself is constructed from a nice sturdy feeling matt plastic, with a single button on the right side and various sensors underneath. At 16g (without the strap) it is light on the wrist, and at 9.9mm thick it should fit easily under most shirt sleeves, while the strap is a relatively breathable plastic/rubber composite.
With regards to durability, though no great claims are made for impact resistance or scratch resistance, the Band 7 is rated for 5 ATM of water resistance. This should theoretically mean it will withstand a swim, even if it might need to be babied a little in general use to avoid damage.
Screen quality is the key to success of any fitness tracker. Any display used needs to remain legible in any lighting condition, be big enough to show necessary information and sharp enough to read without squinting.
By these highly scientific metrics, the display used in the Band 7 is of good quality. That is to say that it gets dim enough to be used at night, but quite bright enough to combat a particularly strong summer sun. It is sufficiently big (1.47in) as to be able to show a host of information without feeling crowded, and though it won’t win awards for sharpness it is highly legible for the most part. As an OLED screen it offers inky blacks and nice contrast, though it doesn’t quite challenge the best on this point.
An added plus at the price point is the presence of an always on display, which does drain the battery considerably but is a considerable quality of life improvement. It allows the Band 7 to act more as a watch replacement than might otherwise be possible, and is more than the likes of the Apple Watch SE can offer at roughly five times the price.Software and features
Huawei’s own software
Works with Android and iOS
As a smart band rather than a smartwatch, the expectations from a software perspective are rather lower for the Band 7 than they might be for the likes of an Apple Watch. Whereas the latter should be able to function almost as a mini-smartphone, a smartband’s primary purpose is to track health information and show the time.
It is a pleasant surprise to see then that not only does the Band 7 offer quite a few software features for the price, but that they are mostly well thought through and fleshed out.
The Band 7 runs a custom operating system from Huawei. It isn’t like options from Apple and other companies that allow apps to be installed, but instead has a set of options that can only be expanded via a software update direct from the company itself.
Luckily, for the most part this isn’t an issue, as the provided software is relatively fully fleshed out. In addition to the expected suite of fitness and health tracking options there is a torch option, the ability to ping your phone if it is lost, alarms and more. Though the likes of the Apple Watch offer options for music control and more, this is a device focussed only on the essentials, with a few extras thrown in for good measure.
Notifications can also be received on the Band 7, and given the size of the screen they are easy enough to read although they cannot be interacted with in any meaningful way. I tested the watch with iOS and with Android, and found no issues or bugs when interacting with either.
Interactions with the device are solely made through the medium of the touchscreen and the side button. The button wakes the device and opens various menu options, while everything else is handled by swipes on the display. There are obvious drawbacks to this approach, offering physical controls allows more of the display to remain usable while you are looking at it, however in practice I quickly got used to this control scheme finding it not to be an issue.
Changing watch faces and the like is handled through the Huawei Health app, which is mostly well-featured though I was dismayed to see a proliferation of paid watch faces available. If you are giving this to a child or teenager as a gift, this might be something to watch (no pun intended).Performance and fitness
96 sport tracking options
Good for runners
In general operation, the software on the Band 7 works well and smoothly. I didn’t experience many delays in swiping through the interface, though opening certain features (i.e. the alarm function) in general caused a slight delay – though this is to be expected given the price point. It was never an impediment to usage.
With respect to fitness, the Band 7 can monitor heart rate, SpO2 levels, can track sleep, offers assisted-GPS for runs (meaning it has to link to your phone to plot your route) and has 96 separate workout options, covering at least all of the basics. An important caveat to the above is that while it can perform measurements, these will never be as accurate as a true medical device and as such any readings must be taken with a grain of salt.
This is particularly true of those data areas that are a little more difficult to build an accurate picture of. I found that sleep tracking for instance was a little skew-whiff, reporting excellent sleep at times where this was patently untrue.
Thankfully, outdoor tracking proved to be quite accurate, closely following our route on various long walks through areas of patchy countryside connectivity. As a consequence, this is a band that will suit avid runners well in particular.
Though this isn’t a device that can offer the same high level of precision in tracking and monitoring as some of the higher end competition, it also comes in at a fraction of the price. As such, it will certainly be sufficient for people interested in fitness, if not elite athletes.
Sean CameronBattery life
Two week claim
Realistically just four days
Charge cable in box
Of all the claims that Huawei makes regarding the Band 7, its quoted battery life is among the grandest. According to the firm, it is possible to get up to two weeks of usage without too much effort.
This may certainly be possible if the device is left in a drawer with nothing to do for that length of time, but the figure was definitely not reflective of our experiences. With the always-on-display active and notifications incoming, I found that I could get through a solid 3 days of usage before it was time to plug in. By deactivating these (and therefore removing functionality from the device) I could stretch another 3 to 4 days on average.
Whether you will want to deactivate a lot of these features for battery gain will be a matter of personal choice, however we suspect that most will be able to find a balance that suits their needs.Price and availability
The Huawei Band 7 is available now directly from Huawei in the UK for prices beginning at £49.99. Four colour options are available: Wilderness Green, Graphite Black, Nebula Pink and Flame Red.
You can buy it from Huawei, Argos, Amazon, and Currys.Verdict
There are a lot of different smart band options on the market today, from small scale Chinese manufacturers through to big names like Garmin and Fitbit, everyone wants a slice of the pie. Against this tough competition, the Huawei Band 7 offers more than enough to stand out.
With good looks, sturdy construction, a big display, decent battery life, solid exercise tracking (for the most part) and simple software it makes a great first impression. Lacking any kind of scratch or drop resistance, slightly squiffy sleep tracking and a few other niggles keep it from true greatness, but for the price it is more than good enough. If you are looking for a good value smart band today, the Huawei Band 7 should be near the top of your list.Specs
Huawei Health app
1.47in OLED display
96 fitness/sports tracked
Heart rate monitor
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