In a market flooded with both flagship and budget devices, each review is a journey into the unknown. Every once in a while, a product comes along that exceeds expectations, leaving an indelible mark.
Recently, I had the privilege of testing what could potentially be the prime contender for the best budget Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) headphones available—the Oraimo FreePods Pro.
This review delves into every facet of this remarkable audio accessory, aiming to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of its features, design, audio quality, and more.
Unboxing the FreePods Pro
The FreePods Pro come in a slick matte black box with glossy green accents. The packaging screams premium before you even peek inside.
Sliding off the outer sleeve reveals two compartments – a top section housing the earbuds themselves, and a lower deck packed with accessories. Here’s what you’ll find inside:
- The FreePods Pro earbuds in a mirrored charging case
- 3 sizes of silicone eartips
- A short USB-C charging cable
- A protective silicone skin for the case
- Quick start guides and warranty info
Overall, it’s a nicely presented unboxing experience. The included eartips are a big plus, ensuring you can get a comfortable fit. Flipping the box reveals key specifications, highlighting noise cancellation, transparency mode, clear voice calls, and extended playtime.
Design and Build Quality
Popping open the lid revealed the FreePods Pro earbuds neatly embedded in their magnetic charging docks. Their angular shape immediately caught my eye – so different from the ubiquitous AirPods-style teardrop design.
The earbuds have an athletic, almost futuristic look about them. Glossy touch panels adorn each earbud, accented by an eye-catching triple dot. I however found the stems of the FreePods Pro a bit too long for my liking.
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Fit and finish is fantastic, with no uneven seams or gaps to be found. The muted chrome color scheme oozes class. Oraimo nailed it on aesthetics here – the FreePods Pro look like they should cost 2-3x more.
Beyond killer styling, the FreePods Pro deliver impressive ergonomics too. They fit my ears perfectly right out of the box, with no need to swap eartips. The angled nozzles tucked neatly into my ear canal, while the smooth oval shape avoided any hotspots or pressure points.
During my testing, I wore the FreePods Pro for extended periods of up to a couple hours at a time and barely noticed them in my ears. This exceptional comfort is a testament to their ergonomic in-ear design that creates a secure yet lightweight fit.
The FreePods Pro effectively disappear once placed in the ear canal, allowing you to focus completely on your audio or calls without distractions or fatigue. The snug but gentle seal the earbuds form results in long-wearing comfort that sets them apart from other in-ear models.
The FreePods Pro also passed my head shake test easily, not budging or dislodging during rapid side-to-side movements.
Connectivity and Pairing
Pairing the Oraimo FreePods Pro with my Android phone was a piece of cake. The earbuds support Google Fast Pair, so when I opened the lid, a popup automatically appeared asking to connect them. One tap later, I was paired and ready to jam.
Apple users don’t get the same popup, but the FreePods Pro still appear instantly in the iPhone’s Bluetooth menu. Connecting takes just a couple of seconds – super quick and painless either way.
Once paired, the earbuds automatically turn on and connect to your device as soon as you remove them from the case. Music starts playing right away, no button presses required.
The FreePods Pro use touch controls to handle playback, volume, calls, and more. I must admit, it took me a couple of days to get the various taps and holds. Here are the touch control gestures:
- Tap either earbud once to play/pause music.
- Double tap either side to skip tracks.
- Touch and hold the right earbud to activate your phone’s voice assistant.
- Touch and hold the left earbud to cycle between ANC modes.
Responsiveness is excellent – the FreePods Pro recognize taps and holds right away. I also love how clearly the voice prompts announce the active noise cancelling mode.
However, I found it a bit disappointing that the Oraimo FreePods Pro are not supported by Oraimo’s Sound app. Integration with the app would have provided some nice additional features.
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For example, it could display the current ANC mode right on your phone screen, removing the need to remember tap gestures and listen for audio prompts.
The app could have also shown the charging case’s battery level at a glance. As is, the only way to check remaining charge is by peering at the tiny LEDs on the front of the case. A battery widget in the app would be much more convenient.
While not dealbreakers, app support and on-screen charge status would have made useful additions. Their absence means you miss out on some of the intuitiveness and visibility you get with higher-end earbuds and their companion apps.
Kicking things off with my favorite test track (City Boys – Burna Boy 😁 ), I was immediately impressed by the expansive soundstage and sparkling detail. The FreePods Pro deliver an energetic, exciting sound profile that’s engaging to listen to.
The Mids are crisp and articulate, letting vocals shine through. Highs are nicely extended, adding airiness without getting harsh. And the bass…the bass bumps hard! Activating the “Heavy Bass” mode elevates low-end thump and impact drastically.
Bass heads will love how deep and powerful the FreePods Pro can rumble on tracks like hip-hop Afrobeats and EDM. I’m more a fan of balanced sound, but even I appreciated the bass boost for certain genres.
Across rock, pop, classical, and jazz, the FreePods Pro held their own. Their lively, dynamic presentation breathes energy into any style of music.
Compared to more expensive earbuds, the Oraimos aren’t as wide or natural sounding. But for under Ksh 10,000, their fun, impactful sound competes with brands like Anker and JBL. Honestly, I was blown away by how good they sound for the price.
Making Calls Loud and Clear
Moving on from music playback, I checked call quality by phoning a friend outdoors. He reported my voice coming through clearly with minimal background noise. In turn, his voice sounded detailed and easy to understand on my end.
Here’s a voice recording I did with the Pods Pro with ANC turned on:
The FreePods Pro use a series of mics and environmental noise cancelling to filter out external sounds for clearer calls. Based on my tests, this system works very effectively. Oraimo’s tuning emphasizes voice pickup and intelligibility during calls – another win for the FreePods Pro!
Noise Cancelling That Defies the Price Point
All right, time for the big feature – active noise cancellation! Budget ANC earbuds often struggle here, so I was eager to see how well Oraimo’s performed.
Finding a busy café, I slipped the FreePods Pro in and cycled to the ANC On mode. Immediately, the hum of blenders and hiss of steaming wands faded away. Higher frequency noise like voices were muted noticeably as well.
The reduction isn’t at Bose or Sony’s level, but it’s definitely impressive for the price. Oraimo claims the hybrid ANC system can cut ambient noise by 35 decibels – after my tests, I believe it.
Low rumbles like bus engines get blocked less, but the FreePods Pro still take the edge off. For budget noise cancelling earbuds, they are remarkably effective at blocking distractions.
Transparency Mode Not That Good
The one feature where the FreePods Pro stumble a bit is transparency mode. This mode uses the external microphones to pipe in sounds from your surroundings, allowing you to hear what’s happening around you without removing the earbuds.
Unfortunately, I found the execution lacking on the Oraimos. Switching to transparency mode didn’t make voices or ambient noises any clearer to my ears. The environmental passthrough sounded nearly identical whether transparency was on or off.
If having a functional transparency mode is important to you, the FreePods Pro will disappoint. The microphones don’t seem sensitive enough to deliver meaningful ambient amplification. This makes the feature feel tacked-on rather than useful.
Battery Life That Goes the Distance
With great sound, call quality, and noise cancelling capability covered, I had just one more area to test – battery life.
Oraimo rates these at 9 hours of playback per charge with ANC on, extending to 30 additional hours via the charging case. I don’t have the patience to run them down that many times, but I can confirm the FreePods Pro last and last.
After two weeks of mixed use – music, calls, gaming – I’ve only had to charge the case twice so far. For budget wireless earbuds, that’s impressive staying power! The case also recharges quickly via USB-C when required.
Between the long runtimes and speedy charging, battery life joins the list of wins for the Oraimo FreePods Pro.
Oraimo FreePods Pro Availability & Pricing
The Oraimo FreePods Pro typically have a recommended retail price of Ksh 9,600. However, at the time I wrote this review, Oraimo was selling them for 50% off direct through their website, making them an incredible value at just Ksh 4,800.
For shoppers able to take advantage of this limited-time discount, the FreePods Pro become a very compelling option given the impressive sound, comfort and features they deliver at half the normal cost. This temporary deal makes these high-end earbuds highly accessible for budget-conscious buyers.
The Verdict: A Budget Champion
After two weeks of thorough testing, I’m seriously impressed by what Oraimo has achieved with the FreePods Pro. Their combination of sound quality, features, and design punches far above their budget-friendly price point.
While they compete with pricier alternatives in terms of performance, their affordability sets them apart. For those seeking the ANC experience without breaking the bank, the FreePods Pro are a highly recommended choice.
Oraimo FreePods Pro
- Really good ANC for the price
- Excellent battery life
- In-ear fitment is great
- No app support
- The transparency could be better
- The long stems could be deal breaker for some