With the slow elimination of the headphone jack, hardware companies are looking into various way to capitalize on the big change and selling Bluetooth headphones is the best way to do so. Lately everybody seems pre-occupied with true wireless buds (following the Apple AirPods craze), but have plenty of limitations so regular wireless earbuds will always have their market. We’ll now have a look at the Honor Sport Pro known as the (Honor xSport Pro in China) and see if they have what it takes to cut a slice of it.
At first glance, they appear to be pretty similar to the Huawei FreeLace buds but there are some key design differences setting the Sport Pro apart.
Design and ergonomics
Honor says designing the Sport Pro took a huge amount of resources and it shows. These buds don’t rely on the standard plugs – they have an AirPod-like design but with a silicone fitting on top. There are several sizes and shapes included in the box and quite the hassle if you want to swap them out because the silicone fitting is a bit too tight. Once you fit them properly, though, you will find them pretty comfortable.
Once you’ve selected the right size the fit is secure and the buds won’t pop out during exercise. You need to put them in and twist counterclockwise to fit them properly.
Not everyone would prefer this design choice over the standard fitting but we found it to be less stressful on the ear as it doesn’t require the buds to be inserted deep into your ear canal and you are still getting secure hold. On the other hands it doesn’t isolate the ambient noise as well as traditional designs.
The good news is that if you don’t dig the default “handle” design, you can swap the muffs for different ones that are included in the box.
Also, we really liked that the cables aren’t unnecessarily long and don’t get in the way when performing some of the exercises in the gym. They are the ideal length and much better than, say, OnePlus Bullets Wireless.
Speaking of the cables, they are braided, just like the Huawei FreeLace, which is always welcome. They don’t get tangled easily and this design tends to be more durable in the long run. And in terms of overall durability, the Sport Pro are IPX5 rated meaning splashes and sweat won’t damage them and this feature has become an industry standard for these types of products.
Another cool feature the Sport Pro borrows from the FreeLace is the button controls and the way the headphones charge. The buttons are placed on the right and the design allows you for an easy reach and it’s even easier to distinguish the volume buttons from the active key.
As for charging – pulling the top of the button module will reveal a USB-C connector, which can be directly plugged to a USB-C charger (or even your many phones) or you can use the included USB-C to USB-A dongle and any standard USB-A charging adapter.
Back to the controls, we can’t miss mentioning the magnetic snap feature. The thing is, it’s not the first time we see this one in earbuds – snapping them together will pause the current track and switch off the headphones, while splitting them up, will restart and reconnect them and resume playback on your phone. A problem with this design is that if you throw them in your bag or pocket and there’s other stuff inside, they are bound to split apart at some point, connect to your phone and start playing. It’s particularly annoying when you take a call and realize that you can’t hear anything because the call is forwarded to your earphones that are either in your bag or somewhere in your room.
Luckily, the Honor Sport Pro don’t suffer from this issue because once you are done listening, you can completely shut down the headphones by holding down the active button. A small change, on the surface of it, but makes a huge difference in many use cases.
First, let’s make sure we are on the same page, with the kind of drivers that fit in this form factor the sound quality will never be on par with on-ear and over-ear headphones so don’t expect miracles. But compared to even more expensive pairs of buds in the same size, the Honor Sport Pros are delivering solid sound.
Perhaps most of you would be interested in knowing how the 13mm drivers are handling the bass and fortunately, we can say they are doing a very good job. In fact, we can say that the bass is a bit too boosted at lower volumes and some of the vocals sound a bit muffled. Cranking up the volume will result in slight distortion in the highs and vocals but will definitely pop and make the bass sound more balanced.
Chances are you will find that the overall sound quality is comparable to considerably more expensive buds such as the OnePlus Bullet Wireless 2, for example. Still, OnePlus’ pair sound better at higher levels and the bass doesn’t sound as boosted.
On the other hand, if you are often listening to EDM, drum and bass or other sorts of bass-heavy electronic music, you will like the Sport Pro sound very much.
Keep in mind, though, that due to the variety of ear shapes, these buds will fit differently on different people so the sonic experience might vary somewhat. The earbuds will sound fuller with better soundstage in some ears and may lack in these departments in other ears due to the varying ability to isolate. That’s why we strongly recommend trying out all of the available fittings to see which ones work the best for you.
Battery life and charging
But audio quality isn’t the only forte of the Honor Sport Pro – battery life is another area where they shine. We didn’t quite hit the advertised 18 hours of music playback on a single charge but we got pretty close to that. We used the earphones at work, in the gym and when walking around the city and we found that they can last for a couple of days before being charged again.
And if you are a heavy user, the fast charging feature will surely come in handy as well. In just 5 minutes, you get 4 hours of music playback in return. With the added convenience that you can use your smartphone, tablet or PC as long as you they have a USB-C connector it’s really impressive.
The Honor Sport Pro is a great choice for a wide variety of users. The asking price isn’t steep too considering the set of features that these buds offer. Especially when considering the Huawei FreeLace’s price, which is around €10 higher. The Sport Pro basically makes the FreeLace obsolete.
Anyway, battery life is really good, sound quality is nice, although some may find it a bit bass-heavy and there’s noticeable distortion at higher volumes. The latter could be due to the physical limitations of the drivers so we can let that one slide. And keep in mind that the noise isolation from outside isn’t the best.
Ergonomics, though, are among the best we’ve tried so far. And the build quality feels like it would last. An easy recommend overall, that’s for sure.