To sum up this OnePlus Nord Buds review: these are a pair of true wireless earbuds that barely cost a thing and that sound quite superb considering - in fact, I would go as far as to say that they’re some of the best budget wireless earbuds you can buy.
OnePlus isn’t usually known for its headphones, you might recognise the name ‘Nord’ as its super successful budget smartphone series including the OnePlus Nord 2, the OnePlus Nord 2T and the OnePlus Nord CE2.
By name, the OnePlus Nord Buds are joined up to those devices which immediately implies top-notch performance at a low price, and to cut a long story short, that’s exactly what you get.
Because they’re so reasonably priced, you can’t expect loads of advanced features but you can expect these to do exactly what you need them to and that’s to deliver spot-on sound.
OnePlus Nord Buds review: price and availability
Available to buy now from the OnePlus site (opens in new tab), the OnePlus Nord Buds will set you back $40 in the US, £49 in the UK and AU$75 in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page to find out more about where you can buy them.
OnePlus Nord Buds review: design and fit
What I like about the OnePlus Nord Buds is that they look a little different to most true wireless earbuds. The matte black stem is flat and wide with a mirrored circle touchpad towards the top while the inside of the bud is glossy with a silicone ear tip. Each one slots into the matching charging case which looks almost like a little jewellery box.
The case feels a little flimsy in comparison to more expensive options, but the buds themselves actually feel pretty sturdy. They’re also IP55 water and dust-resistant which means that they’ll survive splashes and small amounts of dirt, although admittedly they may not be able to cope with being submerged.
To help you find the right fit, the OnePlus Nord Buds come with three sizes of silicone ear tips included in the box. I found them to be pretty comfortable, and they’re lightweight too, weighing 4.82g each. I was able to use these for all sorts of activities day-to-day because they stayed securely in place no matter what, even when I was jumping around during a high-energy workout.
The touch controls towards the top of each stem let you pause or play the music with one tap, skip to the next track with a double tap and a triple tap will skip backwards. You can adjust these settings through the HeyMelody smartphone app, which lets you add a gesture to summon your voice assistant and switch to game mode although you will have to sacrifice something else.
Every time you tap the controls, you’ll hear a small click in the earbuds so you know how many presses have been registered, I actually found that really useful.
The battery life is solid, but nothing to write home about. You get 7 hours of music at a time from the earbuds, and the case provides a total of 30 hours. What that means is you won’t need to charge these too often, and when you do, a quick 10 minutes plugged in can give you up to 5 hours of use. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging option.
OnePlus Nord Buds review: performance and features
As I mentioned in the intro, the OnePlus Nord Buds do one thing really well, and that’s sound quality. When I put these in, I was very pleasantly surprised with what they could do. The sound is clear and balanced with a decent amount of bass and little to no muddying.
Considering just how cheap these are, you wouldn’t expect to get such a wide soundstage either. There’s tonnes of depth to the audio, offering up plenty of detail so you can hear everything relatively equally from the sharp jazzy sound of a saxophone to the beat of a drum in the background. It’s energetic without being too overwhelming. I'd describe it as a very people-pleasing sound that most will get on well with.
Naturally, you won’t be totally blown away by them as you would be by some of the very best true wireless earbuds that have a high-end price tag to match their top-quality sound, but I was still really impressed at what they can do.
What’s great is that, despite these being so affordable, you still get manual equaliser settings through the smartphone app, HeyMelody. That's something a lot of headphones at this price can’t offer. You can either pick from 4 preset sound modes or create your own custom settings along a detailed 6-band equaliser.
The app also allows for over-air firmware updates, like a recent one which added a new game mode with low latency. You can also use it to check the battery level of each bud and adjust the touch control settings.
Call quality is another big plus point here as well thanks to the four microphones and AI noise reduction software built-in. You can hear the person on the other end clearly and vice versa without too much distracting background noise.
Thanks to Bluetooth 5.2, I found the OnePlus Nord Buds to have reliable connectivity. They paired with my phone quickly and they stayed hooked up even when I wandered away into another room.
OnePlus Nord Buds review: verdict
If it’s value for money you’re after, then you won’t find much better than the OnePlus Nord Buds. Considering just how cheap they are, I was actually really surprised by how well they performed even if they do lack some more advanced features like wireless charging and ANC.
It’s also great to see a pair of budget earbuds that don’t use that tacky, glossy plastic build. I liked the slightly unusual design of the stem and found the touch controls to be reliable as well. Another big plus point is the call quality, which again, isn’t something you’d expect to say about a pair of true wireless earbuds that cost less than £50.
OnePlus Nord Buds review: also consider
Another super affordable pair of in-ear headphones to consider are the Sony WF-C500. Like these, they lack some extra features including noise cancellation but they make up for that with really good sound, and they come in a few fun colours too.
If ANC is a must-have for you then take a look at the Mobvoi Earbuds ANC instead. Unlike the OnePlus Nord Buds, the audio quality is a little underwhelming but they do block out distracting sounds and they have plenty of other useful features including hands-free control through voice control. They’re dead cheap too.