Honor is now an independent brand that is free to launch its own products without the supervision of a parent company like Huawei.
We recently received their Earbuds 2 Lite for review and they came with plenty of promises – Active Noise Cancellation, 32-hour battery life and a low price.
We got the accessory in Glacier White color, tested all its main features, and are ready to report what impressed us and what didn’t.
The Honor Earbuds 2 Lite come with a rectangular case that has a USB-C port on the bottom and a physical key on the side, used for connecting to new devices. As expected, there is no wireless charging available, but Honor is providing 5V/3A cable within the retail box.
Taking the buds out of the case, we see they are quite similar to the Huawei Freebuds 4i, even though these companies are no longer together, at least in theory. After further investigation we found out they are not just lookalikes, they are exactly the same, down to the millimeter.
What Honor didn’t do as great is the way the earbuds fit within the case. Both companies have a magnet in place at the bottom to guide the stem in its slot, but Honor’s positioning feels unnatural with the bud facing the user while the stem is further away. We would’ve loved to see the earphones sit closer within the case but that would’ve compromised the internal design, allowing for the massive battery increase.
It would take heavy training and plenty of muscle memory to be adapted because there is no easy way to put the bud from the ear into the case with a single motion of the hand.
At least the Earbuds 2 Lite are extremely comfortable in the ear, of course when combined with the right pair of rubber tips. They have a touch sensor on the outside for gestures and plenty of microphones to ensure calls are effortless on both sides of the conversation.
There’s also a sensor within the inward-facing microphone that detects when one of the buds is taken off and pauses music or video.
The earbuds are a standard Bluetooth accessory, meaning they could be connected to virtually any other device. However, to get all the extra features, users need to download the Huawei AI Life app.
Since this is a fairly new product we found we needed the more recent app version found on Huawei’s AppGallery to make them work. But we suppose the app version on Google Play will soon catch up.
The difference the app brings to the Earbuds 2 Lite is control of the gestures – Double-Tap can be customized for any of the buds, while the other available shortcut is Touch & Hold which defaults to Noise control.
Speaking about noise control, this is where Honor did a great job – implementing the ANC. Users can cycle through “Awareness”, “Off”, and “Noise canceling”, and any of them can be removed from the list through the app.
While the first one is obvious – it activates the outward mics to assist users in navigating in short interactions, the second option “Off” is the default one. The noise cancellation does a great job and a major competitor to the Earbuds 2 Lite is its twin – the Freebuds 4i. We should point out that the ANC works if the bud is sitting comfortably in the ear canal – if it moves, it compromises the whole experience.
Another strong side of the Earbuds 2 Lite is the battery. Each bud holds a 55 mAh cell, while the case adds 410 mAh more. Honor calculates the total battery life of 32 hours of listening experience. This does not include the time it takes for the buds to recharge while in the case, of course. Charging the buds is really quick, and the case itself also can get juice fast, provided the cable is coupled with the appropriate adapter.
Continuous playback on a single charge is advertised at 10 hours with ANC off and volume at 50%. We do not support listening to music for such a long period of time, but did it, for the sake of this review. We were impressed the Earbuds 2 Lite matched the expectations on a non-Honor smartphone – nearly 10 hours.
Turning the ANC on and increasing the volume will result in lower battery life, with everything maxed out still giving us over 4 hours of audio fun. Recharging is also quick; our suggestion, based on experience and testing multiple TWS earphones, is to charge the case whenever there’s an opportunity, instead of using all the battery life until the last drop of power, and then struggling to find an outlet.
The big question about non-expensive earphones is always about sound quality. Honor Earbuds 2 Lite come with 10 mm dynamic coil drivers that bring a nicely put clear sound that matches the price category.
Casual music listeners, podcast enthusiasts, and workaholics on the go would love these buds because of the stable connection and satisfactory sound. Sadly, the AI Life does not provide any equalizer whatsoever, so the user has to rely on the built-in, provided the device has one. Speaking about stable connection, the Earbuds 2 Lite can connect to two different devices and can easily switch from one to another, depending on which is playing. This is thanks to the Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity that also enables easy set up from one user to another.
Even with the battery taking up most of the internals of the earbud, there’s enough hardware to provide good enough trebles and lows. And since we live in a pandemic, there’s always a mask in front of the mouth – the Earbuds 2 Lite still pick up everything, and the stem is not too long to be in the way of the mask’s straps.
We were already impressed with the Huawei Freebuds 4i, and the Honor Earbuds 2 Lite just solidified our verdict. These earphones are great because they provide a decent sound, one of the greatest ANC in this price category, and the battery life, along with the charging capabilities, are top-notch.
There’s only one major issue with the Earbuds 2 Lite, also sold as Earbuds 2 SE in China – their availability. Honor is still developing its independent sales network and we had a hard time finding the earbuds for sale online. Eventually, we found them in Malaysia for MYR299 (or MYR269 for the early birds), which translates to around $70, and that sounds like a fair price for what you get.