Huawei's Smart New Earbuds Can Charge From Your Phone

PARIS - While the big announcement at Huawei’s Paris event today was the P30, it had a surprise for us in the form of the FreeLace wireless in-ear headphones. Just as the new phone adds a host of new features, the FreeLaces build on Huawei’s existing headphones by adding creative new functions to an overall recogniseable design.

The headphones are made of flexible metal and silicone. Their surface is soft, but the metal means they have a surprisingly rigid structure. These aren’t going to get tangled up in your pocket, but rather will spring back to their original shape when you need them. With a little effort, you can bend them to change their form to one that’s more comfortable or useful for you. They’re water and dust resistant too, though the exact IP rating is yet to be confirmed.

The FreeLaces’ multifunction bar, from which you control volume and playback, can be pulled apart to reveal a USB-C connector. This is how you charge the headphones, including from your smartphone. The power is stored in the battery pod on the opposite side of the headphones, placed there for equal balance as Huawei also does on its Sport Headphones Lite.

Connecting them to your phone also lets you automatically pair the devices, rather than having to mess around with Bluetooth settings. It’s a nice bonus if you happen to already own a phone with a USB-C port, but if you don’t, the FreeLaces are by no means rendered useless and might still be worth your attention.

The battery gives you four hours of use from just 5 minutes of charging, and in total holds enough juice for 18 hours of playback or 12 hours of phonecalls.

Huawei are promising that the FreeLaces are packed with clever technology to make them sound good, even with large amounts of external noise. It uses large dynamic drivers to produce its tones, and a combination of software algorithms and a ‘dual-channel cavity’ structure to cancel wind noise and other unwanted sound.

Sadly the versions we got a look at weren’t able to play music as the software was still undergoing final revisions, but check our site again soon for a full review, which will cover sound quality.

It’s not uncommon to see wireless headphones like the FreeLaces have magnets on the buds themselves, to keep them around your neck when you need them. Huawei has made this quality of life feature an actual control method with the FreeLaces, letting you pause and play music by attaching or parting the magnets. The same applies with answering and ending calls too.

The FreeLaces are available in four colors - graphite black, amber sunrise (pictured), emerald green and moonlight silver. There’s currently no price or availability information, but when we have it, we’ll let you know.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.