LG will be hoping that the Tone Free FN7 continues a successful transition into the true wireless market. It follows on from last year’s Tone Free FN6, notable for a charging case that could clean the earbuds with an integrated UV light — the FN7 model lacks this feature, but with additions like active noise cancellation (ANC) is intended as an upgrade.
Battery life (rated): 5 hours with ANC on (10 hours with charging case), 7 hours with ANC off (14 hours with charging case)
Size: 0.64 x 1.29 x 1.05 inches (per bud); 2.15 x 2.15 x 1.08 inches (charging case)
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.38 ounces (charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
After several days of testing, I can confirm that this pair of earbuds represents a step forwards for the series, though there are some performance issues that keep it out of the best wireless earbuds conversation. Also, the exclusion of LG’s signature UVnano cleaning technology to clean the buds while charging is a major letdown. That isn’t to say it's not worth a look, because as this LG Tone Free FN7 review will show, there's plenty of functionality available to enjoy some solid audio performance.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: Price and availability
At its original price, the Tone Free FN7 is reasonably priced for a pair of noise-cancelling wireless earbuds, and an enticing purchase when on sale. This is cheaper than category leaders like the AirPods Pro and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, though the price point places LG’s latest flagship buds in competition with feature-heavy models like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and the Jabra Elite Active 75t. Keep in mind that the AirPods Pro has also been dropping to around $200 recently.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: Design and comfort
In terms of design, there's barely any difference between this version and the previous Tone Free earbuds. The only noticeable change is the little bump at the top that acts as the touch sensor. All other details remain unchanged, from the protruding sound port to the smooth finish. There's nothing too appealing about the long-stem design, but the all-black color scheme certainly gives these buds some cool points over the AirPods Pro’s plain porcelain appearance.
The Tone Free FN7’s plastic casing is durable, and the dark exterior helps hide damage much better than the FN6 or AirPods Pro; scuffs or scratches don’t draw as much attention. IPX4 water resistance protects these buds, meaning you can wear them in splashy environments or for exercising without worrying about moisture damage. Keep in mind, though, that the rating does not protect the buds from water submersion. The three sets of hypoallergenic silicone tips that come bundled with the purchase are a nice touch too.
But the most aesthetically pleasing thing about the Tone Free FN7 is the compact charging case. It’s conveniently small, incredibly light, and has a sharp-looking design that resembles a hockey puck. The matte finish feels nice, inviting you to hold and caress the case as if it were a fidget spinner. A pairing button is located on the left side to help establish connections quicker with known devices (more on that later), while a USB-C charging port hides discretely in the back. My one complaint with it, which you will read about a few times in this review, is the lack of UVnano cleaning technology to clean the buds during charging.
How do these buds feel in your ears? Moderately comfy. The angled port allows for seamless insertion into the ears and molds well onto the concha. Those with a sensitive pain threshold may notice some discomfort after wearing the buds for more than an hour straight, as the port applies unwanted pressure the longer you wear them. Others probably won’t experience any fatigue until about the 3-hour mark. The fit is secure is well. The tips create a tight seal that strengthens on-ear stability, reassuring you that these buds won’t fall out when jogging outdoors or on a treadmill.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: Touch controls and digital assistant
LG’s touch controls have drastically improved. Not only are they more responsive to tap and hold gestures, but the on-ear detection is also more accurate at automatically pausing playback whenever you remove the buds from your ears. Placing them back on resumes playback, too.
I attribute this improvement to the new touch sensors; that tiny bump seems to make all the difference with input. I’ll let you in on a secret as well: the Tone Free FN7 registers swipe gestures, which I found work better for executing commands.
Siri and Google Assistant support come part of the package. Firing up either AI bot is simple, though I found the results were 50/50 when shouting out voice commands. Google Assistant often misinterpreted basic requests like “show me my next event” or “open Spotify,” while Siri had latency issues whenever I tried performing back-to-back requests.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: Active noise cancellation
This is my first taste of LG’s noise-cancelling technology and I liked what I heard, for the most part. Does that make the Tone Free FN7 a worthy competitor to heavyweights like the QuietComfort Earbuds or AirPods Pro? No way. However, I would put them up against the Galaxy Buds Pro or Jabra Elite 85t, as they do a fine job of minimizing high-frequency noises.
Wearing the buds around my newborn was rewarding, as his cries didn’t sound as blaring as they did with other ANC wireless earbuds. Don’t get me wrong, they were still audible, but the Tone Free FN7’s ANC brought loudness down a few notches, so I could at least hear music without feeling too distracted when holding him. I also liked how well the earbuds silenced other common ambient noises around the house like door buzzers, family chatter, and TVs.
There were some noises that came through the mics, which caught me a bit off guard considering how strong noise cancellation is. Running faucets sounded very transparent in ANC mode. Wind was another obstacle that the Tone Free FN7 couldn’t overcome; heavy drafts and whisking cars made their way onto the soundstage.
As for the Transparency Mode, it’s OK. I preferred using it indoors to keep tabs on my baby boy in the opposite room and communicate with my wife. Turning it on outdoors will increase awareness of your surroundings, though. Make sure the wind isn’t too rough out there or else you’ll be on the receiving end of some unpleasant whooshing sounds.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: Audio quality
Audio on the Tone Free FN7 has been enhanced, giving you the same airy, detailed sound as the FN6, only with better bass response. LG re-engineered its drivers to produce a fuller soundstage that doesn’t cheat you out of boomy resonances.
These buds also make the most of Meridian's Headphone Spatial Processing technology, which LG says “delivers vocals with pristine clarity.” LG isn't lying because the Tone Free FN7 handles singing performances with finesse, as exhibited on vocal masterpieces like Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” It’s impossible to not feel the passion and power in her empowering crescendo, as her belting chords are beautifully reproduced. Watching her iconic live performance of the record during the ’93 Billboard Awards was even more rewarding, showcasing how well the buds handle audio on the video end.
Moving onto something bouncier, I pulled up the recently-released Nipsey Hussle and Jay-Z collaboration, “What it Feels Like,” which fed my ears inspirational horns, kicks, and snares. These elements were impactful, sentiments that would not have been shared had I given the record a spin on FN6. To get bass at its maximum peak, you will want to listen in ANC mode, which makes percussive instruments sound slightly more impactful.
While the low end was satisfying, though, I can tell you that the Galaxy Buds Pro and Elite 85t are better engineered for bass lovers. In addition, I wish the Tone Free FN7’s volume was higher, something I feel could have elevated bass performance.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: App and special features
The LG Tone Free app is one of the more underappreciated companion apps out there. It looks clean, is easy to navigate, and offers several ways to customize the listening experience. LG even programmed it to sort features and settings by analyzing your usage patterns (hit the Intelligent Sorting toggle all the way at the bottom).
Most of your time will be spent playing with the EQ, which has four presets available (Immersive, Bass Boost, Natural, Treble Boost) and two custom presets to create your own audio profiles. Each of these are programmed extremely well and pair nicely with the right music genre or video content; selecting any of the main EQs will offer suggestions via pop-up message.
Like Samsung, LG is experimenting with new features, which here are accessed in the Tone Free Lab section. Admittedly there's only one feature available at the moment: Connection Priority Mode, which prioritizes connectivity to hear music “with minimal sound interruption.” It isn’t much, but it’s something, and the odds of newer features being introduced in the coming months are pretty high.
Scrolling further down introduces toggle controls for Notifications, Touchpad Lock and the listening modes. Then there's firmware updates, a volume slider, a user manual, and touchpad settings to customize the control scheme. The latter is extremely useful, letting you assign individual commands to each bud for full functionality with just the touch of your finger.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: Battery life and charging case
Battery life on the Tone Free FN7 is rated at 5 hours with ANC on, which is really about 4.5 hours when also factoring in high volume and streaming. This places it in the same exclusive company as the AirPods Pro, which also lasted 4.5 hours with ANC.
I say that with the utmost sarcasm because that is below standard. Other ANC models like the Sony WF-1000XM3 (6 hours) and even budget models like the $99 JLAB Epic Air Sport ANC (11 hours) offer longer playtimes with ANC on. You can extend playtimes to 7 hours, but it comes at the cost of disabling ANC.
At least you have the wireless charging case. Right? I guess. It only gets you 14 hours with ANC on and 21 with ANC off, which on both counts is less than what the AirPods Pro case holds (24 hours). At least placing the case atop of any Qi-compatible wireless charging pad will juice up the buds quickly, thanks to fast charging, which is pretty powerful on the Tone Free FN7. A 5-minute charge will generate 1 hour of playtime, the same as the AirPods Pro.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: Call quality and connectivity
As a calling headset, the Tone Free FN7 isn’t much to brag about. My wife complained about how muffled I sounded, both indoors and outdoors. She could also hear wind blowing by me during walks, which, again, demonstrated the buds poor wind resistance. Clarity was better on video chats, but volume was still lower than I would have liked.
You can expect decent connectivity out of these buds. Bluetooth 5.0 should get you about 35 feet of wireless listening, though there were times where I managed to achieve 40 feet before any stuttering occurred. The Tone Free FN7 supports Google Fast Pair to immediately connect to any Android smartphone when opening the charging case.
Unfortunately, I stumbled upon a bug when using the feature for the initial pairing process; it would only pair to one bud. When trying to get the second bud paired, Fast Pair would recognize it as a second device and transfer the connection over, still leaving me with only one bud working. To fix this, I removed both Tone Free FN7 listings from my Bluetooth settings and manually paired the buds by holding the button of the charging case till the LED in front turned red.
LG Tone Free FN7 review: Verdict
If you’re in the market for great-sounding wireless earbuds with ANC capabilities and serviceable features, then the Tone Free FN7 is a quality option…when on sale. The improved controls are a highlight, along with the handsome tiny charging case that is fun to carry around and supports wireless charging, should you not want to be tethered to any cables. And though you can count the number of aesthetic changes on one hand, they are enough to make these buds the more attractive in-ear dangler than the AirPods Pro.
While the positives do outweigh the negatives on the Tone Free F7, those flaws are significant. To lose such a killer feature like UVnano cleaning technology definitely hurts, but it's more so the mediocre battery life and software bugs that holds this set of buds back from being a top competitor in its class.
For those who are on a budget and want something relatively affordable that isn’t the AirPods Pro, then the Tone Free FN7 should suffice. Otherwise, you can scrape together a few more dollars and consider other noise-cancelling solutions when they’re on sale, such as the WF-1000XM3 or Elite Active 75t.