Bluedio Hi Hurricane full review
Borrowing much from Apple’s AirPods design, Bluedio’s Hi Hurricane wireless earbuds are a far cheaper alternative from China. Obviously, they won’t offer quite the same experience as their far more expensive inspirations, but we see just how much a small amount of money will get you these days.
Price & Availability
As Bluedio is one of China’s more obscure brands, at least to Western eyes, you won’t find them in too many high street shops. However, you can currently buy them from Amazon UK for £14.49, on eBay at £11.99 or from Chinese specialist importer Gearbest for £22.27.
Design & Build Quality
Rather than adopting the more common in-ear design used by the likes of the Redmi AirDots, Bilikay HBQ-Q67 and many others in this price range, Bluedio goes down the AirPods route with two long stems jutting out of the bottom of the earbuds.
This allows the inclusion of multi-function control buttons on each bud, microphones that are nearer to your mouth than on the smaller type, plus a proximity sensor in the right bud that can tell when you remove the item from your ear.
This approach has pros and cons. The main pro is that this allows the control buttons on the stems to be used comfortably without pressing the buds further into your ear canal each time. This is something that we’ve struggled with on the in-ear models, while the primary con is that they look pretty damn ugly.
Think of the Apple AirPods (whose design is somewhat silly anyway thanks to the two stems dangling from your ears), then cheapen the materials used and make them even bulkier – that’s the Hi Hurriances.
It’s not just that the plastic looks and feels low-grade, it’s that the top segments juts out quite a bit, making the aesthetics a challenge. If you have long hair then it might not be an issue, but otherwise you’re going to have a substantial amount of bud sticking out of your ear as you walk down the street. Still, at least they’re black.
The Carry/Charging case could also do with losing a bit of weight due to its rotund exterior. Again, the plastic used in construction feels cheap and we wouldn’t be confident that it would survive many drops on hard surfaces.
Rather than using magnets to pull the headphones into position for charging, the case relies instead on clicking them into place. This is fine when putting them in but does make extracting them once more a bit of a fiddle. In the end we found twisting them slightly seemed to break the hold and released them a bit easier.
Sound Quality & Features
While the Hi Hurricanes might not be much to look at, the sound on offer is far more attractive. Listening to a variety of styles of music proved enjoyable, with a good amount of separation between instruments and a respectable delivery of bass. The latter can become a little undefined at times, especially on heavier tracks, but on the whole the tones are clean and well balanced.
Spoken word content is also impressive, with voices remaining clear and distinct, all with body and warmth. The only real issue comes with video. Watching YouTube and Netflix on a few different devices does reveal syncing issues. If this is the kind of thing that triggers you (as it does us) then these are probably not the headphones you’re looking for as the delay between image and sound is always noticeable.
Bluetooth 5 is used for the Hi Hurricanes, and connectivity is generally solid. There are two methods of pairing the buds: either turn them on when you remove them from the case or press the button on the case so they pair while still inside.
Once connected, we were able to walk to the other end of a large room without experiencing any drop-out. We could also go into another room, but it didn’t take long before the connection was lost. Moving back into the room usually saw the buds reconnecting automatically, although we did have to use the manual approach on a few occasions, so it’s not perfect but definitely acceptable at this price.
Due to the easy access of the buttons, Bluedio has gone to town with the commands you can use them to execute. When listening to audio apps you can click once (on either bud) to play or pause the track, double click the right bud to skip to the next one and the left one to skip backwards.
When a call comes in you can click once to accept the call or press and hold for a second or two to decline. The instructions that come with the buds stated that clicking four times would automatically redial the previous number, but we could never get it to work.
Call quality was good for the wearer, but our recipient said that although the audio was loud and clear it was also accompanied by hissing and background static at the beginning and ending of any speech.
The last control option is to press and hold either one until the voice assistant on the connected device is launched. While this worked for triggering the app, getting the AI to understand our commands was painful. That being said, if you use Siri regularly you’ll already be very familiar with this struggle.
One of the unusual features offered is Facial Recognition. Now, of course this isn’t the kind that maps the contours of your face and automatically logs you into a phone or PC, instead it’s more a proximity sensor that can tell when the right bud (as it’s the only one with the sensor) has been removed from your ear. Doing so results in the playback of content being paused. This can be useful if someone asks you a question and you just want to give them a quick answer without missing out on the crucial part of the song to which you’re listening.
In theory it’s useful, but the reality is very hit and miss. Removing the bud often did cause playback to stop, but this could be a few seconds later. It’s was also possible to accidentally start playback again by moving the bud in your hand. Sometimes it just felt like the control was completely random, causing it to quickly become frustrating.
Battery life is an essential element for wireless devices, and here the Hi Hurricanes performed better than many of the other buds we’ve tested. From a 100 percent charge we got an average of around five hours and twenty minutes, which is excellent. Recharging time was less impressive, with dead buds taking an hour to get back to 35 percent.
If you’re looking for long battery life, decent sound and easy access to controls, then the Hi Hurricanes have got you covered. But there are some significant drawbacks to consider. The design is ugly and cumbersome, while the materials used feel cheap and hardly what we’d call durable.
Video/Audio syncing issues make these useless if you want to quietly watch Netflix, while the hit and miss nature of the controls and microphone soon become frustrating.
Yes, they’re cheap, but there’s still better options out there at this price point. If it's just the wireless part you're looking for, then we'd suggest the Redmi Airdots for around the same money, otherwise it might be worth saving up for a real pair of Apple AirPods.
Bluedio Hi Hurricane: Specs
- Bluetooth 5
- Multi-function external controls
- Face/Proximity sensor on right bud
- 13mm speakers
- Dual microphones
- Earbud dimensions: 48 x 22.6 x 5mm
- Case dimensions: 95 x 95x 33mm
- USB-C charging port on case