July marked a significant change for OnePlus as a smartphone and, more importantly, a tech company. They launched the Nord, which was the first budget device from the company since the OnePlus X. The hype that came with this was second to none, with tech enthusiasts glued to their seats in anticipation of the pricing and the specifications of the same. But, in all the excitement, we skipped a product that debuted alongside the Nord.
The product in question is the OnePlus Buds, which is OnePlus’ first set of truly wireless earphones, coming in a long time after the Bullets series of earphones that were sold by OnePlus for a couple of years. The Buds, priced at Rs 4,999 at the time of launch were covered by the tech community but were looked over in all the excitement of the Nord, they got looked over by most.
Well, I have been using the OnePlus Buds ever since the week of its launch and, I will try to answer the question of whether the OnePlus Buds are the buds for you.
- OnePlus Buds
- Quick Start Guide
- Warranty Information
- Short Type-C cable in OnePlus colours
Design and Fit
At first glance, you might mistake the OnePlus Buds to be the Apple AirPods, especially if they are bought in the white hue. This mistake was committed in the US, where boxes of original OnePlus Buds (White) were seized with the belief that they were fake copies of Apple’s popular AirPods. If you wish to look unique, I suggest going for the Nord Blue variant that I have here and, if that is not your cup of tea, a stealthy Gray variant is also available for those who wish to buy something low-key.
The case too takes inspiration from elsewhere. The case appears to be a mashup of both the Pixel Buds (2nd Gen) and AirPods (2nd Gen), considering there is an egg-shell like case with a thicker finish that is like the AirPods. The one thing that does stand out here, as a major pro of the OnePlus Buds is the matte finish on the case. Being a bit of a klutz, I was quite happy that even after dropping these buds multiple times, the most amount of damage that I have seen is a tiny scratch.
The ear tips themselves are made of glossy plastic, but, with the Nord Blue variants, scratches are kept at bay. To add to the unique factor, the ear tips towards their side come with the unique CD design, a key feature of Bullets of years past. An easter egg (not so much) is the green accent that is present inside the ring, which is carried on from the interior of the case.
In terms of fit, similar to the AirPods, the OnePlus Buds feature a seal-free design, meaning the woes that come with the AirPods are applicable here too, but, do note that I did not face the issue of the Buds falling off my ears. The reason for this could be my slightly larger than average ears, considering that most people I have talked too who own the Buds say that if they have smaller ears, the Buds keep falling out, but, for those with large ears, they found the fit to be perfect.
I belong to the latter camp. They are quite comfy and do not give me the sense of blockage that I faced back in the day with the realme Buds Air. After 1-2 hours, the feeling of the Buds being on your ears begin to vanish, which is an added bonus.
Sound and Microphone
Sound is one of the standout features when it comes to the OnePlus Buds, with the soundstage being quite similar to that of the 1st gen AirPods. They might even be similar to the 2nd Gen AirPods, but, since I have not tried them on, I ought not to comment or make assumptions regarding the same.
As for the soundstage, it is quite balanced, with instrument separation being quite nicely carried out and bass being pretty obvious, but not overpowering. Songs such as Krsna’s Say my Name or the Movie Rockstar’s Sadda Haq have the bassy moments properly audible, but not overpowering in any way.
Sound cancellation is a feature that is printed on the Buds’ box, but it is far from good. During music playback the issue is not quite evident, but, in comparison to earphones that have a proper seal, they are far behind.
When it comes to the microphone, the Buds have a bad rep when it comes to calls, but, I faced poor sound quality when it comes to calls only once, with future instances having crisp audio and decent noise cancellation during calls. Call drops too are not present on the earphones, since having used them properly for over 5 months, I have not yet faced the same.
The best feature of them all, the OnePlus Buds have battery life second to none, at least in their segment. Advertised battery life is that of 7hrs, with the case providing a total battery life of 30hrs, but, in reality, I could squeeze 6.5 hours of battery life and a total use case of around 28 hours till the case eventually died. This battery life is actually pretty good and, even with calls involved, I get through half of my day, which consists of 4 hours of Zoom calls with music sessions involved.
In terms of charging, the Buds have quick charge support and, with rigorous testing involved, the OnePlus Buds can be fully charged, with both the case and earbuds at empty in just 58 mins (best case scenario) and 1hr 10 mins (worst case scenario) which is quite good, if not great for Buds that offer such amazing battery life.
Verdict: Are These the Buds for You?
The OnePlus Buds get a lot right, with major concerns being in only two regards, those two being a certain lack of character and the lack of a ear tips that create a seal. If one can overlook these two minor issues (read nitpicks), then the OnePlus Buds are a great pair of truly wireless earphones, especially considering they are also available at times for as less as Rs 4300 (with coupon applied)
Some alternatives include the Oppo Enco W51, which also have support for ANC and the realme Buds Air Pro, which also have ANC. If you liked what you’ve read about the OnePlus Buds, you might even consider the Buds Z, which are the Buds on a budget, with the major drop being in terms of battery life but, with the added benefit of an ear tip based design.