Huawei's open-ear wireless earbuds are like 80s punk rock ear cuffs – and I like it

A model stands next to a giant Huawei FreeClip bud
(Image credit: Huawei)

In the worlds of headphones and earbuds, there's a tendency for products to look alike. At the end of the day, there are only so many ways you can make an earbud without making it look really weird or feel really uncomfortable. 

That's particularly true in the case of over-ear buds, which usually adopt an over-ear hook to keep them in place like the best bone conduction headphones. But Huawei has a very different approach. Its new FreeClip earbuds are horseshoe-shaped and sit sideways around your ear cartilage.

If you think they look odd, they look even weirder in your ears. Instead of hooking over the top of your ear they come out sideways before clamping around the middle of your ear. The aim is to deliver better comfort for long-term use and a better option for anyone wearing glasses or sunglasses. 

How do the Huawei FreeClip earbuds stay in your ears?

An illustration of the Huawei FreeClip buds while being worn

(Image credit: Huawei)

The secret lives in the middle bit, which connects the horribly named Comfort Bean –the bit that sits at the back of your ear – and Acoustic Ball, which is where the speaker drivers live. Huawei calls that the C-bridge and says it's designed in such a way that the buds stay in place without pinching your ear. The design makes them reversible too, so there's no wrong way to put them in. Get them the other way around and they'll happily stay in place that way too.

It's all very clever, but of course audio quality is quite important too. By their nature, over-ear buds don't deliver the same passive noise cancelling or audio fidelity as the best over-ear headphones or even the best earbuds that sit inside your ear. But Huawei says it's thought of that too: there's a reverse sound wave system to help mask ambient audio, and a high sensitivity dual magnetic moving coil to push more power to the speakers.

In terms of features, you're getting all the usual specs that are increasingly become standard across wireless earbuds, including noise cancellation, an eight hour battery life that extends to 36 hours with the case, a waterproof and dust-proof IP54 rating and multi-point pairing.   

The Huawei FreeClip buds are available in a choice of black or light purple in the UK and in Europe with a price of €199, which is roughly £171. Huawei hasn't yet said whether it intends to launch these buds in the US too. 

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.