Highlights

  • Understand the effects of mobile phone radiation
  • Check out the review of the Huawei Freebuds 4i earbuds

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EJ Tech Show: Effects of mobile phone radiation | Huawei Freebuds 4i review

On this episode of the EJ Tech Show, we clear the air on whether mobile phone radiation can really kill you or not. Also on the show is our review of the Huawei Freebuds 4i TWS earbuds with active noise cancellation technology.

Is mobile phone radiation slowly killing you?

You would have heard a lot of things about the radiation coming from mobile phones. Some people say they cause cancer, cause memory loss, or that 5G towers will give you Covid. But what does medical research have to say on the matter? Is your mobile phone really killing you?

Short answer - not really. But there are some complex things to consider, so let’s dive in.

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What is radiation?

First, we need to understand what radiation is. According to the US CDC, radiation is energy that comes from a source and travels through space at the speed of light. There is a wide range of electromagnetic radiation present in nature, which can be represented on an electromagnetic spectrum. This can further be divided into ionizing and non-ionizing radiation

Visible light can be seen around the middle, while to the left of it is the non-ionising radiation, which is low frequency and low energy. It is emitted from things like TV’s, Wi-Fi, or even Microwaves.

On the other side is ionising radiation, which has been proven to be harmful to humans. This the kind of radiation that you might get from x-rays or cosmic rays, which can damage DNA, and cause changes to genes which increases the risk of cancer.

What kind of radiation do phones emit?

Before understanding the effects of cell phone radiation, let’s first understand what kind of radiation this is. According to the US National Cancer Institute, 2G, 3G, and 4G smartphones emit radio frequency in the range of 0.7 - 2.7 Ghz, while 5G phones could use the spectrum up to 80 Ghz. This places them squarely in the non-ionising radiation range of the spectrum.

The National Cancer Institute says there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk in humans.

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How does the body react to cell phones?

The human body does absorb the energy from devices that emit radio frequency radiation. The only thing that has consistently been observed as a result of this, is that places where you hold a mobile phone can heat up. This heating effect is also not sufficient to lead to a measurable change in body temperature.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there have been three large studies which examined a possible association between smartphone use and cancer. Now, these studies did show some mixed results, but overall, all three studies did not show any such association.

There have also been studies which checked the rate of brain cancer cases every year, since mobile phone use increased exponentially across the world. These also showed that across the past few decades, while mobile phone use has increased exponentially around the world, the rate of brain or nervous system cancers has not grown.

Are mobile phones completely safe?

So, are mobile phones completely safe? The US Food and Drug Administration puts it best: based on the evaluation of the currently available information the weight of scientific evidence has not linked exposure to radio frequency energy from mobile phone use with any health problems.

But this is an active field of study, and lots of research is still underway. In Europe, for example, a study called COSMOS will follow around 3 lakh mobile phone users for 20 to 30 years, to find out the possible long term effects of mobile users.

Which basically means, as far as we know right now, mobile phones do not cause cancer. But, as we continue to study the long term health effects of these devices, we will know more with time.

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Huawei Freebuds 4i TWS Earbuds Review

Priced at under ₹7,000, the Huawei Freebuds 4i earbuds offer some premium features like active noise cancellation, but are they the ones you should go for?

Design & Comfort

The Freebuds 4i have a rather unique design, and come in an egg-shaped matte-finish charging case, which is flat on one side to ensure it doesn't roll around on a table. Inside the case there's the two earbuds that feature a circular head and rather long stalks. In this Silver Frost colour variant, both the earbuds and charging case look and feel quite premium.

The buds themselves are quite lightweight, weighing around 5.5g each, and the case weighs around 36.5g. Overall, it's a very compact and handy package, and won't take too much space in your pocket.

The earbuds manage to fit in the ear quite well, but the default eartips were a bit tight for my ears. To this end, Huawei has provided extra eartips, which is handy. Once you've got the right fit, the earbuds sit fairly deep in the ear canal, enough to create a good passive seal against noise.

There's no IP rating for the buds, so I would advise against using them during sweaty workouts or in the rain.

Hardware & Touch Controls

When it comes to specs, the Freebuds 4i house 10mm large drivers, that are tuned in quite a balanced manner. There's also Bluetooth v5.2 here, which ensures the very best connection quality, and gave me no problems throughout my usage.

The Freebuds 4i get touch controls on the very top of the stalks, which double-tap and touch-and-hold functions. There's no single tap, which I think is a good idea, because it can get triggered accidentally when you're trying to adjust the earbuds.

The touch controls can be used to toggle the active noise cancellation and transparency modes, play, pause or change tracks and also to wake the voice assistant. It is worth noting however, that you can't use touch to change volume with either earbud.

What you can do without touch controls is use the in-ear detection feature to pause content playback when you remove the earbud and resume it once you pop them back in.

Active Noise Cancellation

The Freebuds 4i come with active noise cancellation technology, which is good to see in this price range.

Now since the earbuds block noise quite well without the ANC itself, the experience is only improved when you turn the feature on. With ANC on, barely any sounds make it through, and when we used them in an office setting, we could barely hear any ambient noise with music playing at around 50% volume.

The transparency mode is useful too, and helps you keep an ear out without having to remove one of the earbuds. It can be toggled using the touch controls, or the Huawei AI Life App.

Music & Video

Sound quality for everyday music-listening is quite enjoyable on the Freebuds 4i, and they get fairly loud. The sound profile is surprisingly balanced, and doesn't favour bass as most earbuds at this price point do. Details come through quite clearly as well, whether it's while watching films or listening to podcasts.

However, it's worth noting that there's no Equaliser settings, even if you pair the earbuds with the compatible app. This can be remedied by adjusting the EQ settings on music-listening apps, but for apps like YouTube, Netflix and others, you're stuck with the default sound profile.

There's also support for the SBC codec, and the AAC codec as well, which is good to see.

It's worth noting that we did not experience any lag in the audio transmission while watching videos on YouTube or Netflix.

Gaming

When it comes to gaming, there's no low latency mode available on the Freebuds 4i, and that translates to a bit of lag. It's not to the extent that titles like COD mobile are unplayable, but it certainly doesn't make for an ideal gaming experience either.

Calling Quality

Now thanks to those extra-long stalks and a dual-mic system, call quality on the Freebuds 4i is fantastic. Beamforming technology and AI noise reduction combined with the hardware help reduce background noise around you quite well, and people we spoke to using the earbuds, said they could hear us clearly.

Moreover, their voices were crisp, and not muffled like it usually tends to happen with in-ear buds.

Battery Life

The Freebuds 4i sport 55mAh battery in each earbud, which translates to a claimed 7.5 hours of music playback with ANC on, and 10 hours with ANC off. In our testing, we got well over 5 hours with ANC on while listening to music, watching a few TV shows and taking a couple of long calls. You'll definitely be able to stretch that battery life if you turn ANC off, but if you do need a quick top-up, the charging case holds a respectable 200mAh.

The case sports a USB-C charging port, but there's no wireless charging, which is offered by its competitors at this price point.

Huawei AI Life App

Now Huawei's AI Life App that's available on the Google Play Store hasn't been updated since August last year, but if you do still download it, you'll see there's no support for the Freebuds 4i. However, the app will automatically inform you that you can update to the latest version using the Huawei App Gallery, which you can sideload on Android smartphones.

The updated AI Life app supports pairing with the Freebuds 4i, and gives you the ability to view battery information, update the firmware, and customise touch controls.

However, we do wish that the app had an option to customise the sound profile and equaliser settings.

It's worth noting that the iOS App Store version of the app gave us no trouble with pairing the earbuds, and offered all the same functions as the updated app from the Huawei App gallery.

Verdict

At ₹6,990, there's a fair bit on offer here. Despite missing out on Equaliser settings and wireless charging, the earbuds do provide a balanced sound profile, excellent noise cancellation, and great sound quality. If you are looking for in-ear true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation at this price point, the Huawei Freebuds 4i are a compelling choice.

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