OnePlus Buds: Coming to terms with the first true wireless headphones from OnePlus


Launched alongside OnePlus Nord on Tuesday 21 July, the OnePlus Buds are the brand’s first true wireless headphones. Sold for €89 ($103), they are specially positioned to kick ass in the heavily saturated 100% wireless headphones market with great bass performance.

Good

✓Ultra-fast pairing on a OnePlus smartphone
✓Solid battery life
✓Very powerful bass
✓IPX4
✓Reasonable price

Bad

✕The open fit design does not provide a very good fit.
✕No ANC
✕No HD audio codecs supported
✕No wireless charging capability
✕No equaliser

OnePlus Buds release date and price

The OnePlus Buds are available for pre-order today for €89 ($103). They are available in two colours: North Blue, White and Black.

As with OnePlus Nord, this article is only a preview, and not a complete review. All the observations I will make are based on a few days’ of use and are by no means definitive. Here ends the disclaimer. Let’s talk about the OnePlus Buds in greater detail now.

These happen to be the first true wireless headphones from the brand. Previously, OnePlus already produced wireless neckband earphones: the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 1, 2, and then Z. The manufacturer is therefore not starting from scratch in the audio market and its Bullets are generally considered to be good value-for-money wireless headphones

Sold for €89 ($103), the OnePlus Buds are true wireless earbuds without carrying any kind of pretension. We find an open-fit design and not in-ear. There is no active noise reduction, but an “environmental” reduction for calls. You will not find any HD audio codecs either but simple AAC support.

In short, the OnePlus Buds are competitively priced with consumer features that aren’t really meant for the dedicated audiophile: which translates to delivering huge bass and having a solid battery life. The ease of pairing it within the OnePlus ecosystem is also one of its main selling points.

 

The OnePlus Buds gave me a good first impression for…
… The ease of pairing it to a OnePlus smartphone

To get started, I used the OnePlus Buds on the OnePlus Nord. Logically, the pairing is ultra-fast and is done without a hitch.
The OnePlus detects the Buds as soon as you open their case. You don’t have access to a lot of settings, but the battery levels of each earpiece and case are clearly visible in the settings, which is a good thing.

The advertised range of 10 meters seems to be maintained, and I have experienced almost no interference or other connectivity issues, which is via Bluetooth 5.0, by the way. The OnePlus Buds do not support HD audio codecs such as aptX, aptX HD or LDAC. You’ll have to make do with classic AAC.

Logically, pairing OnePlus Buds on a OnePlus smartphone is very fast / © NextPIT
… Their really, really powerful bass

I must reiterate, the OnePlus Buds are not meant to be audiophile-standard headphones. We’re talking about a consumer product. This is reflected in the sound quality, as I will explain below.

I don’t define myself as an audiophile anyway. So I logically appreciated the bass boost that the OnePlus Buds provide. A bass boost that isn’t really natural, but it’s perfectly in line with the trend of the general public’s listening habits.

Except that the OnePlus Buds really pushes this aspect to the limit. For me, I am one who listens to a lot of rap and therefore very low pitched sounds. I was pleasantly surprised with the audio output in the very first song itself with the OnePlus Buds in my ears.

The bass is very, very punchy, perhaps even borderline stunning. It’s enough to make you feel like you’re in a testosterone-fueled action movie when you’re a harmless city dweller stuck in the subway. It’s pretty cool in terms of how it feels at first, but I have no doubt that it can be tiring after a long listening experience.

I will have to check all this after spending more time with it, which I will tell you about in my full review.

… Their solid battery life

The OnePlus Buds have a 35 mAh battery in each earpiece and 430 mAh for the charging box. The manufacturer claims to deliver up to 7 hours listening time, 4.5 hours on call and a total of 30 hours with the box, which is capable of three full recharges before needing to be plugged into a USB-C port.

Thanks to Warp Charge technology, a short ten-minute charge of the OnePlus Buds in their case provides up to ten hours of listening time, while a full charge provides up to 30 hours of music playback.

I can’t make a definitive statement on this as I need to subject the OnePlus Buds to a more prolonged use. But during my few days of taking it in hand, they held up to 3 days’ worth of performance very easily (with the box) within the confines of a mixed-use setting (long hours of listening on an office day interspersed with short voice and video calls).

So this is a rather positive first impression on the battery life of these OnePlus Buds.

The OnePlus Buds made me feel bad about…
… Their open-fit design

It’s a totally subjective criterion, I must admit.
Many users find in-ear headphones too intrusive and uncomfortable. The open-fit design, which simply sits in the concha of the ear without burrowing itself into the ear canal, is therefore very popular.

The open-fit design of OnePlus Buds is comfortable but does not provide a good fit / © NextPIT

But it’s really not to my liking. I’m just too afraid to lose the OnePlus Buds at the slightest sudden movement, or by taking off my protective mask for example. I am ABSOLUTELY not athletic, but I can’t see these earphones being suitable for active use, despite their IPX4 splash and sweat resistant certification.

For the rest, they are really light and are quickly forgotten once in your ears. OnePlus has a weight of 4.7 grams per earphone and 37 grams for the case, which is also very compact and has a rather strong magnetic hinged flap.

… The absence of active noise reduction

On this point, OnePlus creatively expands the meaning of these words. In the reviewer’s guide and press releases I have received, it explained that the OnePlus Buds offer “Environmental noise cancellation”.

It’s a whole lot of wordplay. The brand itself confirmed to me that noise reduction is not active, but passive. This environmental reduction only affects the sound of your microphones during a call, and not the sound that the headphones produce to keep your ears entertained. 

OnePlus explains that it has integrated a trio of microphones into each earphone to isolate your voice and attenuate ambient noise. I can’t comment on this point as my review continues. However, I was able to make several calls and meetings via Google Meet without my callers complaining about the quality of my voice.

Again, I will have to test this function further. But OnePlus Buds certainly don’t offer active noise reduction when it comes to listening.

… Too much bass

No, I’m not being a turncoat here. Unlike many reviewers, I am not an audiophile. So I totally appreciate that the headphones offer a very bass-driven sound.

But I have to say that this claim is not all that accurate. Let’s take a look at the Buds specifications sheet. They offer a frequency range from 20 to 20,000 Hz. This is simply the basic theoretical range of what the human ear is capable of perceiving.

OnePlus Buds are true wireless consumer earphones, but not for an audiophile / © NextPIT

20 Hz is not very low. It is therefore understandable that the bass boost is artificial, that these frequencies are simply amplified at the volume level. This sound signature is therefore not very faithful and the absence of an equaliser does not allow one to attenuate the bass.

However when it involves streaming music on Spotify, even though those tunes are compressed, they’re more than enough. It also boasts of 3D stereo sound capability thanks to Dolby Atmos technology. Again, I’ll have to verify this claim by watching movies or movie series and after listening to music for a longer period of time.

First Impressions – Conclusion

The OnePlus Buds don’t do more than they promise, and who can blame them? This first attempt at the true wireless headphone market is not meant to be perfect. This is again a tentative opinion and I will only share my final verdict in my future full review.

But what’s clear is this: OnePlus wanted to launch a pair of consumer earphones, which is accessible just like their new mid-range smartphone, the OnePlus Nord.

The OnePlus Buds are therefore not earphones for audiophiles, but they don’t pretend to be. Huge bass performance, adapted to the popular music of the moment, and solid battery life are their two main selling points.

It’s also interesting to see OnePlus expand its product ecosystem. All I have to do now is to test these 100% wireless headphones further to see if they have any latency when playing videos or video games, for example.

Battery life also deserves more precise measurements, as does the issue of “environmental” noise reduction, which is supposed to improve voice quality during calls. In any case, at €89 ($103), which is less than what its main competitors charge on the market, makes the OnePlus Buds worth looking at.

OnePlus Buds
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