While we have no qualms about calling the Apple AirPods surprisingly good all-round sports headphones, it’s a stretch to say that they offer good value. The new AirPods 3 are £169 and even the older AirPods 2 are still £119.
If you want a set of open-fit headphones that work well for exercise and general use but can’t stomach those prices, the Huawei Freebuds 4 are an excellent alternative, especially since they have been reduced to well under £100 in Huawei’s early Black Friday sale.
The Freebuds 4 have an RRP of £129.99, but are usually available for around £110. The sale has cut the price down to £84.99 – that’s a very attractive price for a set of headphones that we rated highly when we reviewed them.
The overall sound quality impressed us. Open-fit buds tend to lack a little compared with in-ear or over-ear headphones, but the Freebuds 4 delivered powerful and clear sound. They can’t match the bass you get from in-ear buds, and in truth the AirPods 3 do sound better, but the Freebuds 4 still exceeded our expectations when listening to both music and podcasts.
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There are some shortcomings with the Freebuds 4. The battery life is just four hours on the headphones plus another 18 in the case – enough for exercise but not enough to cover a working day. Those numbers drop to just 2.5 hours and 11.5 hours if you use the active noise cancellation (ANC).
We were also unimpressed by the ANC. It filtered out very little in the way of external sounds during our testing, so we found that turning it off and saving battery was the better option.
Both the ceramic white and silver frost colours of the Freebuds 4 are reduced as part of Huawei’s early Black Friday sale, which has kicked into gear well ahead of Black Friday, which falls on 26th November in 2021. If you’re looking for headphones with an in-ear fit then both the Freebuds Pro and Freebuds 4i are also reduced in the sale, with the 4i offering the cheapest option at £49.99 down from their RRP of £79.99.
Buy from Huawei | £84.99 (RRP £129.99)
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.