OnePlus Buds review
OnePlus is the latest company to join the TWS game. Surprisingly, OnePlus didn't use the Bullets branding for this product, which is simply called the "OnePlus Buds".
That's somewhat puzzling seeing how the Bullets lineup has quite a few dedicated fans, but OnePlus was seemingly very keen to underline that it's a completely different product. The company's latest pair of wireless earbuds don't hang around your neck, but they do still pack a punchy bass.
With the new Buds, OnePlus promises an elevated experience when paired with OnePlus smartphones. Outstanding sound and comfort are among the things promised with the Buds. Bass Boost, Super Low Latency, and 30 hours of battery life are all on the list of features, as well as "Environmental noise cancellation" which refers to the microphones for phone calls. We'll be testing all these claims.
OnePlus Buds specs:
- Hardware: Smooth matte plastic case, smooth glossy earbuds; NordBlue, Gray, and White; IPX4 splash/sweat resistant
- Dimensions: Earbud: (18.8 x 16.1 x 37.9 mm); Case: (52.2 x 59.6 x 37.9 mm)
- Driver: 13.4 mm dynamic; 97dB (+-) 3dB @ 1KHz sensitivity
- Microphones: 3X per Bud; Environmental noise cancellation for voice calls; -38 dB (+-) 2 dB sensitivity
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0; AAC (only)
- Frequency response range: 20Hz - 20 KHz
- Battery and charging: 35 mAh per Bud; 430 mAh for charging case; 10W USB-C fast charging (10-minute charge of the case = 10 hours of playback; 10 mins in the case = 100 minutes of music on Buds)
- Battery life: 7 hours (music); 4.3 hours (phone call); up to 30 hours with charging case
The OnePlus Buds don't support wireless charging out of the gate, which honestly is a shame considering the OnePlus 8 Pro has reverse wireless charging. However, with the of the OnePlus Buds price set to $79 ($109 CAD), it's much lower than the Pixel Buds and the entry-level AirPods. Perhaps this is a nice setup for OnePlus to later introduce a more premium set of Buds or simply a wireless charging case down the line. One the other hand even now they do come with fast charging over wire.
Let's look at what's in the box and get these things paired up with the OnePlus 8 Pro.
You get the charging case with the buds inside, and a document pack which includes warranty info, a quick start guide, and a short USB-A to C cable. You can use this cable on either a OnePlus Warp charger, or any other 10W charger to achieve the advertised 10-minute charge time for 10 hours of use.
The OnePlus Buds are undeniably inspired by Apple's Airpods: a small white charging case and Earpod-style tips with white stems. Even the charging case has a similar styling akin to a pack of dental floss. The distinct part of the Buds appearance is its exterior, which features the CD-accent also found on OnePlus' other Bullet headphones.
The case measures 52.2 x 59.6 x 37.9 mm while each buds comes in at 18.8 x 16.1 x 37.9 mm. The case is quite compact, but not compact enough to fit in a pair of jeans' coin pocket. I like that the case has a matte finish and the flip-up hinge design is very well-made. It has barely any play when wiggling it, so I'm confident that it can survive the thousands of actuations that it will endure through its lifetime.
There's a pin-hole at the front where an LED will indicate the battery life of the case and the Buds. It shows the amount of battery left in the case once you remove the Buds from it. At the bottom of the case is a USB-C port, and the back of the unit has a sync button that doubles as a way to check on the battery status of the Buds inside. The back of the hinge has a small silver metal plating that gives the white case a nice accent.
The Nord Blue OnePlus buds are the most playful of the three model colors (there's also a gray one). In person, this color is very much teal. The Buds and the case match while the interior of the case is green-tinted yellow, like the color of a construction worker's vest. The color scheme is playful and fun.
The only hint of branding on the Buds is "Designed by OnePlus" in laughably tiny letters. OnePlus could have opted to put a large "1+" logo somewhere on all the empty space of the case, but we appreciate it keeping the buds looking clean and classy.
Fit and comfort
Since the Buds don't have interchangeable tips, it might limit the number of people that would be able to use the Buds with a snug fit. Personally, when I use earbuds tips, I'm in between a medium and larger tip, so if you have small ear canals, these might be too large for you.
For me, the OnePlus Buds fit snugly and don't wiggle out. They are comfortable enough to wear for a few hours at a time, and I can even wear them when I got on long bike-rides without signs of slipping out of my ear.
Even in my hour-long yoga sessions, the Buds stay put and don't try to slide out before I'm don't with them. Again, this will depend on the size of your ear canals, so it yours are on the smaller side, you might want to look at something else.
Features and in-call quality
The Buds are a bit limited when it comes to the feature list. The CD-resembling pads on the Buds are actually touch pads. Each one is able to recognize a double-tap command, which can be customized if you have them paired to a OnePlus smartphone. Otherwise, the Buds double-tap action on each bud will only skip to the next song.
The buds support multi-device connection. I found out that a long-press of either Bud disconnects them from the current device and connects to a previously-paired device. I like this feature. It lets me switch between my main smartphone and a laptop.
I wasn't able to adjust any of the double-tap settings, but an OTA update is planned for the end of the month for OnePlus phones. With this OTA, you'll be able to set either Bud to activate the following actions with a double-tap: Play/pause, skip forward, skip back, answer/end call, and activate voice assistant.
There's also a built-in "Find device" feature, so long as you're connected to a OnePlus device. This could come in handy if you happen to drop a Bud under some furniture and it is still freshly connected, but probably won't if you placed it down somewhere a day ago.
Although the OnePlus buds are compatible with all non-OnePlus Android phones as well as iOS devices, there is currently no companion app to go along with the OnePlus Buds. If OnePlus did release an app for its Buds (which it should) I would recommend that it adds EQ presets for its Buds. It would also allow non-OnePlus phones to change the double-tap action for each bud.
The Buds to have in-ear detection, so they'll automatically pause if you pull one out. If you put the Bud or Buds back in shortly after, the music will resume playing.
OnePlus mentioned that these earbuds feature "environmental noise cancellation" in the microphones which work well for phone calls. I placed a few calls using the Buds and although they could tell I was using a Bluetooth headset, my callers were able to hear me clearly, even with music playing at a moderate volume around me. Although they could hear there was music, they were unable to make it out.
On the other hand, I could hear my caller clearly, and since these Buds don't have noise isolating tips, I was able to hear myself speaking without the strange disorientation that I'd feel if my ears were otherwise plugged.
So how do they sound?
The short version is this: they have a lot of power, but they aren't tuned very well. The Buds have very powerful bass out of the gate and since the mids and higher tones are a bit mellow, the overall sounds is quite muddy. The bass overpowers everything else.
The average consumer that opens these Buds, pairs them, and throws music onto them will probably think they sounds great, but I think these buds could use brighter tones (treble tones like cymbals and background instruments) and the mids could be set higher so they can be easier to hear (like bongo drums, vocals, and rhythm guitar).
I was able to achieve very pleasing sound by tuning the Dolby Atmos EQ built in the OnePlus 8 Pro. Here is the scheme of the settings that I used to tune the Buds to my personal liking. Of course, this will depend on the genres of music that you listen to.
Preferred EQ settings out of the box
With my personal modification to the EQ, I really enjoyed the sound of these Buds. Bass is responsive and packs a punch in more bass-demanding tracks. I can make out most of the background instrumentations and rhythmic instruments in many tracks. Again, this depends on the type of music you listen to and heavy bass is a preference, but if you want it - it's there.
The OnePlus Buds are rated for 7 hours of music playback and 4.3 hours of voice calls on a single charge. When you add in the extra charging from the case you get 30 hours of playback.
Meanwhile, OnePlus says you can recharge the case for just 10 minutes on any 10W charger to yield an equivalent of 10 hours of listening. On that note, throwing the Buds into the case for 10 minutes should get you enough charge for about 100 minutes of listening.
Sadly, we didn't have enough time to fully test the real-life battery endurance of the OnePlus Buds. We'll update this section soon.
In its current state, the OnePlus Buds are missing some features - after all, they aren't available just yet. OnePlus has confirmed to us that a few new features and controls will be available on OnePlus devices starting late-July. As of now, OnePlus does not have a dedicated companion app for the Buds, but it has confirmed that one is in the works.
OnePlus 6, 7, and 8 smartphones will be updated on July 30, 29, and 28, respectively. This OTA update will enable features that I haven't had a chance to test yet. Dolby Atmos support is arriving exclusively for the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 7, and it will bring support for the Buds to receive periodic OTA updates.
The OnePlus Buds will be available in the US starting on July 27 for a competitive retail price of $79 in both White and Gray (White model first, Gray to arrive in August). Sadly, the Nord Blue will only be available in EU and India. Considering the features that will be available once the Buds officially launch, and the strong battery endurance of the Buds, OnePlus has a strong competitor in the TWS space.
These TWS earbuds have most of the features of the more expensive counterparts, but they lack active noise cancellation - which, frankly, doesn't even work well on small Bluetooth Buds like this. Wireless charging is absent as well, but it is easily overlooked for the price point and the Warp Charging support.
- Sleek and attractive design with solid hinge
- Loud, powerful sound
- Calls in noisy environments are not an issue
- Great battery endurance
- Warp Charge
- Competitive price
- Sound out of the box needs EQ tuning
- No wireless charging
- No companion app (yet)
- Only supports AAC codec
- 04 Nov 2022
Does it work well with iPhone ?
- 11 Sep 2020
It'd be great if you could give values for EQ setup, i followed you lead and it did improved overall experience. how about giving more details writeup on eq setup?
- 31 Aug 2020
Does it work well with iPhone ?