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HUAWEI FreeBuds Pro 2 review: these are the ones you want

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FreeBuds Pro 2 case open Source: Pocketnow

Audio, in addition to imaging, are just two of the categories HUAWEI has been historically excelling at. The FreeBuds line-up has nicely matured over the years, with improvements added to every new version in every product family, but this time around, the FreeBuds Pro 2 bring in a heavy-weight to join the fight in their own corner.

French audio tech savant Devialet has been working with HUAWEI on their Sound, Sound X, and Sound Joy speakers, but with the FreeBuds Pro 2, the companies went all “small size, big sound”.

It baffles me how far the industry has evolved. When you come to think of all the technology crammed into a product that’s barely larger than a thumbnail, you can’t help but think about the old James Bond movies where all of this was science-fiction. But I digress…

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We’ve been using the FreeBuds Pro 2 for over a week now exclusively for all audio needs, and we’re happy to share our impressions with you, in our HUAWEI FreeBuds Pro 2 review below.

FreeBuds Pro and FreeBuds Pro 2
FreeBuds Pro on left, FreeBuds Pro 2 on right
Source: Pocketnow

Design

The overall design principles haven’t changed from the previous, original FreeBuds Pro, but the company made some very welcome, yet slight but relevant changes to the FreeBuds Pro 2. They reduced the overall weight and size both for the buds and for the charging case.

One bud now weighs about 6 grams, and, after wearing both of them for a couple of minutes, you stop noticing them at all. The stem-to-bud connection has been redrawn as well. Not only is the stem now shorter and thinner, it is a seamlessly integrated part of the bud, for a more industrial design look.

The charging case is 11 percent smaller and weighs about 55 grams. That means it’s more pocketable and conveys much better the feeling of a finely polished pebble in the palm of your hand.

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The FreeBuds Pro 2 come in three colors: Silver Blue, Silver Frost, and Ceramic White (which is what we’ve got in for review).

They’re still rather difficult to pull out from the charging case. However, HUAWEI either redesigned the case for better access, or used weaker magnets, because they’re definitely an improvement in this department over the OG version.

FreeBuds Pro 2 charging case Source: Pocketnow

Specs

We’ll start this segment with probably the number one selling point of the FreeBuds Pro 2. These are HUAWEI’s first Dual-Speaker earbuds. That means you’ve got two drivers in each bud: a dynamic driver, and a planar diaphragm, for improved sound, rated at 14 Hz to 48 kHz.

The 11mm dynamic driver contains four magnets for the first time, delivering up to 30 percent more punch, which translates to improved base response. Though rated at 14Hz, the human hearing can only go as low as 20Hz. Something to keep in mind when it comes to the difference between what you can actually hear, and lab test results.

The planar diaphragm also has four magnets, a voice coil, and an independent emission tube. For the non-audiophile among you this means a better treble reproduction, which, paired with the dynamic driver above, offers a rich, full, all around sound (see Experience segment below).

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FreeBuds Pro 2 in hand Source: Pocketnow

The other selling point, so much so that the product has been co-branded, is the collaboration with Devialet, a French acoustical engineering company. As mentioned in the intro, this is not the first collaboration between the two brands. Devialet is responsible for the fine-tuning of the FreeBuds Pro 2, so the listening experience is maximized to reflect every aspect and facet of the sound. “Surging bass and crystal sound quality, to reproduce the full emotional appeal of the original recording”, is what the description says on the official website.

Noise reduction capabilities have been improved not only by tweaking the AI element, but by the addition of a third microphone into the mix, to better pick-up all the noises surrounding you. These are not just simple earbuds for audiophile music listening. You can also, as you probably guessed, make or take calls.

In tandem with the three microphones, there’s also a fourth bone conduction microphone, and the HUAWEI-exclusive deep neural network (DNN) noise cancellation algorithm. This is the brains behind all the noise cancelling, and the company claims it “has learned over 100 million voice samples to cancel out all manner of distraction, from noisy subway cars to windy conditions”. We’ll touch on this in our segment below.

When you listen to music with the FreeBuds Pro 2, you’re not alone. They listen to the same music as you do. The Intelligent Triple Adaptive EQ makes sure to tune, in real-time, the audio in order to sound best at the current volume. It takes into consideration your ear canal shape and size, as well as how you wear them. This sometimes results in a different sound when you move them to fix the fit inside your ear, something you might need to get used to.

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FreeBuds Pro 2 on laptop Source: Pocketnow

In terms of sound input, the FreeBuds Pro 2 support LDAC High Resolution codec, with up to 990 kbps transmission. This qualifies it as a Hi-Res Audio device that is also HWA compliant, but that is dependent on the device you are using, as well as the format and bitrates of the sound files you are playing back.

New on this model is also the addition of IP54 water resistance rating, which makes the FreeBuds Pro 2 compatible with sports use.

Last, but not least, is the battery life. For music listening, depending on whether ANC is on or off, you can get about 4 and 6 hours respectively. Throw in the charging case and that bumps it up to 18 and 30 hours respectively. For phone calls it’s slightly less. That’s because each bud has a 55mAh battery, and the charging case is rated 580mAh.

We tested out HUAWEI’s claims, and got more or less the same results, the only caveat being that we didn’t deplete everything in one sitting, and neither will you, probably.

Experience

Fit

There are three silicone tip sizes you can choose from, as usual with these types of products. Small, medium, and large, but rest assured you will find one that properly seals your ear canal.

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The fit is snug, and, these also being passive noise canceling earbuds on top of the active component (meaning the seal the ear canal from the outside world), even a tight and proper fit will cut out a lot of outside noise.

Being light weight, you sometimes forget you are wearing them. They are comfortable and even after long periods of time you won’t feel any discomfort or ear fatigue.

FreeBuds Pro 2 tip Source: HUAWEI

Pairing

The FreeBuds Pro 2 feature dual-device connection. Whether that’s a phone and a PC, a tablet and a smartwatch, or any other dual combination, you can pair them, and seamlessly switch between devices with ease.

Pairing is as simple as opening up the case, and if you own a HUAWEI product, they will pop up instantly. Furthermore, they can be added to a Super Device. You can read more on what that is and how it works in our feature here.

For non-HUAWEI devices, including Apple, you might have to go through the manual Bluetooth pairing route to get them connected.

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Features

The AI Life app is where you manage all the settings for the source device, ANC, EQ, notifications, firmware update, etc., and we’re glad to report that it’s now available for the iPhone as well. There’s even an tip fit test which tells you whether you got a proper seal from the silicone tips you chose to install on the buds.

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The FreeBuds Pro 2 feature gestures, so you don’t need to touch your source device. Pressing and holding on the stem cycles through the ANC modes. Swiping up and down turns the volume higher or lower. Last, but not least, pinching the stem once will trigger a play/pause action, or an answer/end call command.

Audio

We spent a lot of time listening to music on the FreeBuds Pro 2, both from our own library, and other sources. While it’s a matter of personal preference, we left the EQ off so that the sound is as close as possible to the one the artist intended to produce. If you’re more heavy on the base, or prefer to hear a more mild, vocal oriented reproduction, you can play around with the presets, or generate your own.

In general, the FreeBuds Pro 2 live up to the claim of being audiophile-grade. Sound is very rich across all frequencies, from lows to highs through mids. There’s no exaggeration in any frequency range, like with some base-oriented models. You clearly hear a distinction between the punch of the deep base, the orchestra, vocals, or instruments in the mid-range, and the highs of the percussion that trigger the tweeter.

If I had to nitpick, there’s only one thing that I personally can critique. To my taste, I wish there was just one tick for the volume to go just one level higher. Even with ANC on, when I listen to one of my favorite songs, I wish it was just a wee bit louder.

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FreeBuds Pro 2 on phone Source: Pocketnow

Phone and other calls

I used the FreeBuds Pro 2 for phone calls, WhatsApp calls, and even our in-house meetings on Google. I can report that the sound was loud and clear (depending of course on the limitations of the service you use), with voices being crystal clear on HD-voice enabled services.

Those on the other end of the line reported the same, and were surprised to find out I was walking down a busy boulevard. With noise canceling blocking out traffic and your usual urban jungle sounds, they reported hearing me like I was in a library.

FreeBuds Pro 2 noise canceling Source: Pocketnow

Active noise canceling

Which brings us to ANC. Of all the wireless earbuds I’ve used, the FreeBuds Pro 2 is right there at the top with the best of them. Regular sounds like a fan or an air conditioner disappear instantly and completely.

Traffic sounds on a busy street are about 90 percent cut off, which is in and of itself already too dangerous, and I would not recommend if you’re a pedestrian. Other usage scenarios include cutting off the humm of an airplane engine (no, we didn’t fly for this one) but we took an Uber downtown and it felt like I was sitting in the armchair of my quiet living room.

Conclusion

The original FreeBuds Pro was, for a long time, my favorite pair of wireless earbuds. For wired audio I use something more sophisticated, but nothing beats the convenience of being wireless.

I said it was, for a long time, and I meant exactly until I started using the FreeBuds Pro 2. To be honest, I didn’t think, at the time, HUAWEI can do a lot, if at all, to improve the original model, and I’m happy to report I was wrong.

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HUAWEI FreeBuds Pro 2 Source: HUAWEI

Smaller, lighter, better ANC, better audio, longer battery life (depending on how you use them), extra drivers, extra microphones, what else can you ask for?

Depending on your region, and where available, they will cost you €199/£170/$200, which isn’t cheap, but on one hand, you get an excellent, audiophile-grade pair of ANC earbuds, and on the other hand, they’re still a tad cheaper than the competing Apple AirPods Pro or Bose QC.

I’m going to say the exact same thing I said about the predecessor, and I hope HUAWEI will prove me wrong once again: while not perfect, it will be difficult for the company to do one better with the third generation, but HUAWEI has definitely proven me wrong before.

If you’re looking for a pair of excellent wireless ANC earbuds that work with both Android and iOS, Windows and Mac, priced decently under the competing flagship alternatives, with great sound and features, we definitely recommend you take a serious look at the HUAWEI FreeBuds Pro 2.

HUAWEI FreeBuds Pro 2

HUAWEI FreeBuds Pro 2

Smaller, lighter, better ANC, better audio, longer battery life (depending on how you use them), extra drivers, extra microphones, what else can you ask for?

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Wearable Technology Can Change Autistic People’s Lives – if They’re Involved in Designing It

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Many autistic people experience difficulties in expressing their emotions. This can result in increased anxiety, depression, anger and physical health problems. Research shows autistic adults are significantly more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their peers.

Imagine a future, where technology could help people regulate their emotions and alert them to sensory overload before they became overwhelmed.

An increasing number of technological solutions, that aim to help people regulate their emotions are being developed for autistic people. And some autistic people are adapting technology such as digital heart rate monitors to try and track their stress levels.

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Many studies have explored autistic people’s use of wearable technology, such as smartwatches, virtual reality (VR) or brain-computer interfaces (BCI) to regulate their emotions.

BCIs are a direct communication pathway between the brain’s electrical activity and an external device, commonly a computer or robotic limb.

Speaking to the community

But before our study, no one asked the autistic community for their views on how useful the technology is.

Poor usability is a longstanding problem for autistic users of this technology because developers lack of awareness of their needs.

A recent study found only 10 per cent of wearable technologies for autistic people addressed their needs and 90 per cent viewed autistic traits as shortcomings that need correcting.

Our recent study explored the autistic community’s thoughts on any technology they had previously used to help them regulate their emotions and their views on what they need from technology.

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Thirty-four autistic individuals and their allies (family, health and social care professionals and college staff) took part in focus groups.

We presented information on how emotional regulation technology could be used. For example, smartwatches that detect physiological stress signals and prompt users to start coping techniques.

We found the autistic community was keen to use technology to help regulate their emotions but it often costs too much, was difficult to use without training and wasn’t well adapted to their needs.

Our focus group results showed wearable technologies could be uniquely beneficial to autistic people, if they are involved in the design process.

Life with autism

One participant shared how their daughter deals with emotional challenges: “She looks perfectly fine and she’s behaving perfectly fine. Except she’s not. She hides it so well, the anxiety and everything that – we haven’t got a clue! Sometimes the prodding can lead to a big explosion.” Meanwhile, care staff spoke about how important it was to understand how autistic people are feeling: “You want to get in before the behaviour starts. Before it escalates. We could go in before to offer reassurance, a distraction. For other people it’s withdrawal. give them their own space.” Another care worker said: “We know there might be a pattern but we just can’t see it.” Participants told us technology could make all the difference. A relative of an autistic person said: “I’d like something … that he can self regulate, tell people how he’s feeling. Something that’s an app that somehow connects with a colour, so he can pick a picture that says how he’s feeling and people know without it being a big song and dance.” Some autistic participants felt there is a shortfall of support for those with higher IQ.

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One told us: “You feel like you kind of walk between the two worlds almost. You’re not quite severe. So you’re not at that point on the spectrum where you need a lot of support that you’d get if you were.” Help me, don’t fix me Most research has been based on out-of-date theories about autism, such as the idea it is a medical illness that can be cured or treated.

Recent breakthroughs in the neuro-diversity movement triggered a call for autism research to focus on empowering autistic people and their unique communication styles instead of trying to “fix” them.

Autistic participants agreed technological designs should promote independence, rather than try to mask autism.

Many participants were reluctant to use technology due to a lack of confidence in their ability to use it, especially within community care settings. Other barriers included cost or lack of awareness about existing technology.

Our study results emphasised the importance of strategies that take an individual’s life goals into consideration.

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Although a lot of money is spent on developing new technologies, both researchers and healthcare organisations often fail to consider how it will be implemented in practice.

As one autistic person, said: “If you’re going to make something for someone ask them what they want. Don’t just spit out something and go here’s what I made. The amount of papers where people claimed to have made something for learning disabilities. Have you ever had it tested? Have you ever used it with anyone?” Technology companies must create their products alongside the autistic community. And products should aim to adapt to the environment according to individual needs, rather than trying to change the person.

Autism is simply a different way of seeing the world. Not only would this new approach help develop useful technology-based support strategies, it would help to create more inclusive environments for everyone.


What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Fitbit to Discontinue Support for Music Transfer From Computers This Fall

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Fitbit is putting an end to Fitbit Connect app, soon leaving the users unable to transfer music from their computer to a Fitbit device. The Fitbit owners will soon lose the company’s service to transfer music files to their Fitbit device.

In their statement on the Help page, Fitbit stated that they are discontinuing their Fitbit Connect app on October 13. However, the company has also given two options to users to download music to their devices. “You can continue to play personal music stored on your watch and transfer music to your watch with the Deezer app and Pandora app,” the statement read.

In the FAQs related to the discontinuation of the Fitbit Connect app, the company has elaborated that users can undertake a 90-day trial of Deezer or Pandora before subscribing to their paid services for downloading music to their Fitbit devices in the future.

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The Fitbit Ionic, Fitbit Sense, and Fitbit Versa users can download the Deezer playlists and Flow directly to their watches. However, this feature is not available for Fitbit Versa Lite Edition.

Meanwhile, Fitbit users in the US can download the Pandora app to listen to music. The feature is supported in the Fitbit Ionic, Fitbit Sense, and Fitbit Versa series (except Fitbit Versa Lite Edition). To download music from the app, one will need a paid subscription and a working Wi-Fi connection.

Fitbit Connect is a companion app for Mac and Windows computers that lets you sync fitness data between devices and transfer music to legacy Fitbit devices. The phasing out of the software on desktop is also evident from the fact that the company no longer recommends Fitbit Connect on its setup page.


Are affordable smartwatches worth it? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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LG Tone Free T90, T60 With 9 Hours of Battery Life, ANC Unveiled: All Details

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LG Tone Free earbuds 2022 lineup has been unveiled along with some specifications by the South Korean company. The lineup includes Tone Free T90, T60, TF7, and TF8. The true wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds are going to be rolled out starting late-August, according to LG Electronics. The Tone Free T90 TWS earbuds are this year’s flagship earphones from the company, and they feature up to 9 hours of battery life with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) off and a IPX4 rating for water and sweat resistance.

The South Korean tech giant, LG Electronics, has not revealed the prices for any of the above mentioned four TWS earbuds so far. Although the company is yet to reveal a definite launch timeline, it has announced that it will start rolling out the TWS earbuds in major markets globally in late-August. As previously mentioned, the company revealed some specifications of the LG Tone Free T90, T60, TF7, and TF8 earbuds.

LG Tone Free T90, T60, TF7, TF8 specifications

According to the company, the LG Tone Free T90 will be 2022’s flagship TWS earbuds offering from LG Electronics. It features a new internal structure with larger dynamic driver to help the earphones generate deeper and more satisfying bass, according to LG Electronics. The Tone Free T90 uses graphene, a material that is said to reduce vibrations. The earbuds also use Meridian Headphone Spatial Processing (HSP). The technology is said to enable the Tone Free T90 to offer a consistent tonal balance at a given volume.

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LG Tone Free T90 TWS earbuds also feature Dolby Atmos with support for Dolby Head Tracking technology across all content. The company claims that the Tone Free T90 earbuds are the first wireless earbuds to feature an audio virtualiser designed by Dolby. They also support the Snapdragon Sound Technology Suite 1. It is said to offer 24-bit/96kHz resolution audio. The ANC technology on the Tone Free T90 gets the Double Step ANC Algorithm and Real Time ANC Optimiser. The Tone Free T90 feature a three mic + VPU setup. The eabuds support wireless charging. Both, Tone Free T90 and T60, feature IPX4 rating for water resistance.

The design of the upcoming earbuds’ has been created by LG Electronics in collaboration with POSTECH Ergonomic Design Technology Lab. The four TWS earbuds are said to be smaller and lighter in weight. The company said that the “Performance Fit” ensures the right positioning of the earbuds inside wearer’s ears. LG Tone Free T90 and T60 get the UVnano charging case, which offer a wider coverage by sterilising all parts of the ear gels. They also sport the Plug and Wireless feature that is said to enable the charging case to also work as a Bluetooth transmitter. The package will include a USB Type-C and an auxiliary cable as well.

LG Tone Free T90 and T60 are claimed to offer up to 9 hours of battery life with the ANC off. The charging cases of the two are claimed to come with up to 20 hours of battery life with ANC off. The quick charge feature on the Tone Free T90 and T60 TWS earbuds enables them to be completely charged after about an hour in the UVnano charging case.

Meanwhile, LG Tone Free Fit TF7 and TF8 feature a three-microphone setup. They also get the Median Sound technology and ANC. Both these earbuds models will also get UVnano charging cases. The earbuds are said to be designed for active lifestyles, and hence, they feature the SwivelGrip technology.

The Tone Free Fit earbuds also support fast charging. The Tone Free Fit TF8 and TF7 are claimed to offer up to 10 hours of battery life with ANC off, and the charging cases are said to come with up to 20 hours of battery life with ANC off. Both the TWS earbuds models from LG Electronics get a IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. The Tone Free Fit TF8 TWS earbuds also feature Plug and Wireless technology.


What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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