Honor Earbuds 2 Lite full review
The Earbuds 2 Lite are the latest in-ear wireless buds from Chinese tech brand Honor. Though they look a lot like Apple's AirPods, they’re much cheaper and have longer battery life.
The earphones go on sale in the UK on 7 August. And to help you decide if they're right for you, I’ve tested out their comfort, features and most importantly sound quality with ANC.
Design & Build Quality
The Honor Earbuds 2 Lite come in black or white. I was sent the white variant, which take clear inspiration from Apple’s AirPods. At a weight of 5.5g per bud, they're extremely lightweight. As everyone has different ears, there are three sizes of ear tips included in the box to get the perfect fit.
I found them very comfortable and reasonably secure once the best-fitting tips were attached. The buds don’t have any buttons, as everything is controlled via touchpads. You use different tap patterns to control ANC, pause/play audio and skip tracks, a familiar concept if you've already used true wireless earbuds.
The touch controls are very sensitive and sometimes this can be detrimental. As someone who has long hair, I found that music was accidentally paused on occasion because my low ponytail/braids had knocked against the earphones.
Sadly, these buds don’t come with an IP rating, so they don't (officially) offer any protected against rain or sweat. In practice, you'll probably find they'll shrug off a bit of moisture, but it's one of the reasons they're cheaper than certain rivals.
The Honor Earbuds 2 Lite come with an accompanying matte case which matches the colour of the buds. The case charges the earbuds' batteries and provides safe storage. It weighs around 41g, and measures 45.5 x 61.2 x 25.35mm – small enough to slip into a pocket should you wish.
It has a USB-C port on the bottom for charging, and you get an accompanying USB-C cable in the box. It doesn't support wireless charging.
The buds are equipped with 10mm 'customised' drivers, but there's no support for the higher-quality aptX codec when using Android phone or other devices. There's AAC for Apple devices, because there's no license fee to pay: ditching aptX makes the Earbuds 2 Lite cheaper.
However, the sound quality is great. There’s a good balance between highs, lows and mids, even when the volume is turned down low.
Bass levels aren’t quite as powerful and punchy as you’d find on the likes of the Sony WF-XB700. Nonetheless, listening to electronic or rock music is still an enjoyable experience. Personally, I find these buds best for listening to podcasts, or soft music such as lo-fi.
One of the big features, and one you wouldn't expect at this price is active noise cancelling. It's quite effective, too. When walking along a busy road, there’s a noticeable difference when ANC is on. Background noise is suitably dulled, and so you feel quite immersed in what you’re listening to. Of course, there's already a lot of noise isolation thanks to the silicone tips blocking.
You can turn off the ANC completely, and there's also a useful Awareness Mode which activates microphones on the outsides of the buds to allow noise to filter through. This is so you can hold conversations – like when you’re ordering coffee – without having to take an earphone out.
This works reasonably well if you’re listening to something like a podcast. However, if you’re listening to music, the volume really needs to be below 50% in order to hear what others are saying. It's best, of course, if you pause whatever you're listening to.
The instructions say the buds are compatible with Huawei’s AI Life app, but I couldn’t get them to pair with this app at all. That meant no way to tweak the EQ or change any other settings. We've seen this before with early samples, and by the time they launch, you should have no problem using them with the app.
The microphones work alongside a fancy-sounding DNN (Deep Neutral Network) and Dual Anti-Wind Technology. This is designed to optimise voice calls even when in harsher weather conditions. I took a call on a rainy and windy day and had no troubles with any lag or clarity whatsoever.
Specs & Features
The Honor EarBuds 2 Lite use Bluetooth 5.2, and support AAC and SBC. The latter is a bit disappointing as aptX would have improved sound quality a bit for Android users.
There's two microphones on each bud, used for ANC, phone calls and the Awareness Mode. Each bud contains a 55mAh lithium-ion battery. The case has a 410mAh battery. Honor claims that the Earbuds 2 Lite can last up to 32 hours, providing you’re using the case in between uses and not having ANC or Awareness Mode enabled all the time.
I found these figures to be relatively accurate. I used these buds for days on end whilst working, using both ANC and Awareness Mode, and even taking phone calls. As long as I put them back in the case after each use, they lasted. This is by far the most impressive feature on these budget buds.
They also charge very quickly – a full charge for the buds takes around an hour, and an hour and a half for the charging case, and just a ten-minute charge can give up to four hours' worth of use.
There's also wear detection, so your media will pause when you take an earbud out. This is a handy feature as it meant I didn’t have to worry about manually doing this – though if for some reason you want to take one bud in and out frequently, it may be annoying. You can disable it in the AI Life app, though.
Price & Availability
Currently there's only EU pricing available for the buds, which starts from €69.90 (price will vary from market to market). They launched globally on 5 August, and can be bought now from Ali Express. If you'd prefer to buy them from a UK seller, they will hit shelves on 7 August on the Honor website and Amazon UK.
These buds are the best-value that Honor has released thus far, and are very competitive in comparison to rivals. If you’re looking for similar options, there’s the OnePlus Buds Z which cost about the same, but have an IP55 rating, though touch controls are a little limited.
The Honor EarBuds 2 Lite are a solid choice for true wireless buds if you don’t want to splash the cash for ANC. The sound levels are good, they’re comfortable to wear, and most importantly the battery life is killer – longer than many flagship options.
The only downsides are the lack of IP rating, slightly sensitive touch controls and no support for aptX or HD codecs. However, at such a low price these are forgivable.
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