OnePlus Buds Review
OnePlus recently introduced its first true wireless headphones. The brand relies on a well-known design and an attractive price-performance ratio. So what are these OnePlus Buds worth?
Presented at the same time as the OnePlus Nord, the OnePlus Buds are the brand’s first true wireless headphones. With a design strongly inspired by AirPods, a nice little case, a nice promise of autonomy, and above all, a reasonable price, these headphones have it all, especially for OnePlus fans. So let’s see if the brand can succeed in convincing a slightly larger audience.
- Price-quality ratio
- Its nice
- Compact housing
- Generous autonomy and fast charging
- Responsive controls …
- Design that won’t go to everyone’s ears
- Total lack of insulation
- No control without OnePlus phone
A WELL-KNOWN DESIGN, WITH ITS ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
Many manufacturers have taken the design from the stem of the famous AirPods, but OnePlus has gone all the way and offers so-called “open-fit” headphones: they do not fit into the ear canal but land in the ear. Ear conch. So, unlike in-ear headphones, the OnePlus Buds don’t cause this plugging effect, but it’s important to understand that this open-fit design doesn’t allow for any sound isolation. Some will see the advantage of not being cut off from the outside world (hearing cars arriving, for example). Others will be disappointed to hear their metro neighbors.
There is no question here of proving one argument or another right. Still, it is clear that it is quickly necessary to increase the volume to hear your music, and it is never good for the eardrums – do. Please don’t count on active noise reduction since OnePlus Buds don’t have it.
As a guide, setting the volume to 30% was enough for me to hear my music without problem in a house or other quiet place, but I count 50% of the volume in a quiet bus and 75% in a shopping street or metro. You can tell that pushing the volume up to this level is anything but ideal for the ears, but that’s not surprising for open-fit headphones. In short, the OnePlus Buds are not the best choice for outdoor use.
Like the AirPods, the OnePlus Buds play the universal shape card and therefore do not come with different sizes of tips: the headphones are supposed to fit the ears of as many people as possible. No problem on my side, they slide in easily and hold well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll fit everyone. The headphones each carry a total of three microphones, including one at the end of the rod: this design choice is therefore not purely aesthetic and should provide a reasonable call quality – answer a little further in this test.
Despite their affordable price, the OnePlus Buds do not ignore the quality of manufacture. The finishes may not be at the level of a high-end product, but they are still very neat and give a beautiful appearance to the headphones. Be careful, though. The shiny plastic coating seems to take shocks quite easily, especially since the headphones are relatively slippery in the hands, and it isn’t easy to take them out of the case.
Exactly, let’s talk about the latter. Shaped like a flattened egg, it’s reminiscent of the Pixel Buds, and that’s not a bad thing. Moreover, it is compact enough to be carried in a jeans pocket, making it very pleasant to use daily. On the other hand, the case hinge has no play and therefore seems resistant, which is not the case for all models tested. Finally, those crazy about the case know that its closure produces a satisfactory sound, but not up to that of AirPods.
A CONNECTION TO THE IOS
The good news, the OnePlus Buds are compatible with Google’s Fast Pair pairing. The first connection is thus very fast since it suffices to open the case next to a recent Android phone and wait for the small animation window to appear. It’s always nice to see Android manufacturers mimic the iOS experience – at least for connecting wireless headphones.
Afterward, the headphones automatically find the last device they were connected to when the case is opened. Just like Pixels Buds and other Fast Pair devices, Buds offer a native app. Present in the phone’s Bluetooth menu, the latter mainly allows you to know the battery of the headphones and the box by ten percent for the OnePlus Buds. It is also possible to ring each earpiece. This is useful if you have lost the headphones under the sofa, but you need to be connected to the Buds to take advantage of this option.
Also, be aware that thanks to this Fast Pair compatibility, the OnePlus Buds are visible in the “Find my device” application, alongside your phone, for example. At the moment, this app can only show the location of the last phone the OnePlus Buds were connected to and the time of that last connection. The display of the battery level and the possibility to make them ring should arrive soon.
Like most of their competitors, the OnePlus Buds are not compatible with the multipoint connection, but the brand makes it easier: a long press on the touch surface of one of the two headphones makes them understand that the user wants to change source – phone, computer… That’s always it.
Note that the two headphones are independent: it is possible to use only one at a time, leaving the other in the case, for example. In this case, the music automatically switches to mono mode, then instantly returns to stereo mode once the second earbud is inserted into the ear. These little details are important and make the difference.
After two weeks of use, I would set the connection to be stable. I only lament a few rare micro-cuts, which certainly slightly alter the experience, but which do not in any way slow down daily use. As for the range, it is similar to other models with Bluetooth 5.0. Understand that it is sufficient for classic uses – beware of thick walls indoors. Outdoors, you should not move more than 20 meters from your phone.
With its “Fnatic” game mode, OnePlus promises a latency of 103 ms on some mobile games – it works very well on Call of Duty Mobile. This experience is available for all the brand’s phones from the OnePlus 6. For the other phones, nothing particularly to report in terms of latency. The latter is noticeable on mobile games, and classic platforms like YouTube and Netflix compensate for the slight delay between headphones and sources.
NO ONEPLUS, NO CONTROL
Each earpiece offers a single action, triggered with a double tap on the touch surface. By default, the same action is configured on both headphones: a double press on the left or the right will start the next music. It is possible to change this, but on one condition: do it with a OnePlus phone. Yes, the brand has decided to prioritize its customers – or to put others at a disadvantage. Worse yet, the headphones can only be updated with a OnePlus phone.
Note that once configured with a OnePlus phone, the actions will continue to work with other phones. However, this remains impractical, and it does not solve the problem of updates. OnePlus could very well have offered these features on all Android phones, with a dedicated application. This choice is necessarily considered on the part of the brand, but it will not be surprisingly included in this test’s column of negative points.
A “OnePlus Buds” application is visible in the Play Store on OnePlus phones, but it is not possible to open it – it is also not present in the launcher next to the other applications. Instead, it simply allows OnePlus to offer more features, as explained directly in the Bluetooth menu. Also, the first time I connected the Buds to my OnePlus phone, I was not asked to download this app.
Whatever happens, each earpiece offers only one action, while other models offer two or even three – a press, a double press, and a long press, for example. Therefore, the controls are quite limited on these OnePlus Buds, but this has the merit of avoiding false manipulations: with action by the earpiece, we can not go wrong. I thus found the experience much more pleasant than on other models since I was less inclined to use my phone. Unfortunately, it is impossible to manage the volume from the headphones. It would help if you used your phone. For the curious, here is how I configured the controls (with a OnePlus, therefore): double-tap on the left earphone to switch to the next music, double tap on the other earpiece to pause the music.
The music is also automatically paused as soon as one of the headphones is removed from the ear. The presence of this feature, now essential for wireless headphones dedicated to daily use, is always welcome, especially when it is working. This is the case here, the headphones are not extremely responsive, but the delay is more than reasonable – allow a second for the music to pause or resume. Note that the music will be sent to the headphones if and only if they are inserted into the ears: restarting the music manually from the phone will not change this.
The headphones fit easily into the case and are positioned correctly in their slots. Please understand that it is not necessary to check if they are properly placed before closing the case. The magnetic connectors keep the headphones securely in place, and I was never surprised to see that they weren’t charged when taking them out of the case. This is an important point since having tested several models of wireless headphones, not being sure of the correct positioning of the headphones in their case is a real obstacle to use.
The Buds are not intended for sports use, but they still benefit from an IPX4 certification – enough to withstand light rain. No problem running behind the bus, but using headphones for your workout is not the best idea since they tend to slip out of the ears little by little. I, therefore, advise against using them for your sports sessions unless you take the time to reposition them after each sudden movement. But, again, it all depends on the shape of your ears.
Buds are the most pleasant to use daily. That’s good. They are made for that. The headphones are comfortable enough that you quickly forget them, but they do make you feel slightly after 2-3 hours of listening – just putting them back on was enough to stop the slight discomfort on my side.
SOUND WORTH ITS PRICE
The OnePlus Buds offer a sound that lives up to the price they charge. This is not the sound performance of the year, but we do not necessarily ask for more from this type of product. The target audience wants headphones capable of correctly transcribing any music. This is the case here. The overall rendering is then easily qualified as balanced.
The voices are well transcribed, and the bass is felt but without madness. However, be careful not to push the volume beyond 80% since the hearing discomfort will be felt more quickly. Precisely, the rendering is sometimes a little messier with music loaded with instruments. Rock songs are therefore not the most pleasant to listen to: the guitar, for example, tends to tire too quickly. Too bad, especially since the lack of real passive isolation forces us to increase the volume to cover ambient noise.
Keep in mind that if you are already used to the sound offered by wireless headphones, you will not be disoriented with the OnePlus Buds. They do the job for homework use.
Finally, let’s move on to the call quality offered by the Buds, which is neither brilliant nor particularly bad. The behavior remains (not surprisingly) similar to the competitors in this price bracket: my interlocutor can hear me perfectly in a quiet place and more difficult outside. We expected a little more, especially with a microphone under the stem of the headphones. To name a few, AirPods offer much clearer and more defined voice reproduction during calls – but are sold at the double the price.
On its site, OnePlus says that its headphones are equipped with a “unique noise cancellation algorithm” during calls, enough to remain audible in the presence of wind, for example. Failed, at least according to the “But are you in the water or what?” From my dear mother.
GREAT PERFORMANCE IN AUTONOMY
OnePlus promises up to 7 hours of battery life for its headphones and up to 30 hours with the case. This 7-hour figure has been tested with a volume of 50%, depending on the brand. For my part, I did the test with 30% and 75% volume. The first corresponds, as explained previously, to use made in a very quiet place, and the second in a noisy place – metro, street with a lot of traffic.
So at 30% volume, it took 6 hours and 37 minutes for the first earphone to turn off. The second resisted 20 minutes more, bringing the score closer to the announced autonomy. However, the difference is not obvious at 75% of the volume since the first earbud to switch off did so after 6 hours and 10 minutes. The autonomy offered by the OnePlus Buds is therefore at the top of the basket, easily exceeding the majority of its competitors.
Especially on the recharge speed, we expect OnePlus, which has been offering very fast charging on its phones for several years – now called Warp Charge. The brand announces that a 10-minute charge offers 2 hours of listening. So I waited until the Buds were completely discharged before putting them all stacked for 10 minutes in their case. They then went from 0% to 30% and took 2 hours and 5 minutes to discharge fully, with a volume of 75%. The case lost a little more than 10% during this rapid recharge of the headphones.
Also, according to my tests, it only takes 40 minutes for the headphones to charge fully. So once the headphones and the case are completely discharged, allow just 1 hour and 20 minutes to change everything. The good news, the headphones go to sleep fairly quickly, which helps conserve battery power when not in their case. I performed several tests, and after 3, 5, or even 15 hours, the OnePlus Buds remained within the ten percentages they were in before disconnection – if there is any loss, then it is minimal.
Finally, note that it is not uncommon to see a battery difference between the two headphones. In my case, the left earpiece often discharged a little faster than its friend. This difference was generally around 10%, but this is common for this type of product.
In short, the autonomy offered by the Buds and their speed of recharging is great selling points. In addition, you have a few listening sessions in front of you before you have to charge the box—a nice point marked by OnePlus.
ONE LOW PRICE AND THREE COLORS
The OnePlus Buds are sold for 89 euros on the official website, La Fnac, and Gearbest as I write these lines – they are also often out of stock. Three colors are available for the headphones and the case: white, blue, and black.
The OnePlus Buds are one of the few Android headphones that take the design of the AirPods … and which are just as similar to the AirPods experience: ease of use, compact housing, good listening comfort, decent sound, all with great autonomy. Be careful, though, with the shape of these headphones, which are not suitable for all ears and do not allow any real sound isolation.
Offered at less than 90 euros, these OnePlus Buds finally have a very good experience-price ratio, at least accompanied by a phone from the brand. Without it, it’s impossible to update the headphones and set up touch controls – already very limited. In short, if you have a OnePlus phone and are looking for non-in-ear wireless headphones, the Buds are the go-to lightweight solution. For others, we advise you to continue your research.