The OnePlus Buds are a logical consequence of the success of the Apple AirPods – every phone maker needs their own wireless earbuds now, so popular have the devices become, and so this year OnePlus launched the Buds alongside the OnePlus Nord mid-range phone.
They have the same sort of look as the AirPods, the same sort of charging case as the AirPods, and they connect up in a similar way too: open up the case and your phone should recognise them instantly via fast pairing, as long as it's running Android.
The OnePlus Buds can work with iPhones too, or indeed just about any device supporting a Bluetooth connection if you need them to, though you don't get the same fast pairing as you do on Android devices – instead they'll just appear as normal Bluetooth earbuds.
For best results, you want a OnePlus phone – only these handsets can update the Buds firmware, which seems a little odd. A OnePlus handset will also be able to give you a full reading of the current battery levels of the Buds and their accompanying charging case.
OnePlus Buds review: design and setup
In terms of styling, the OnePlus Buds match the existing Bullets Wireless earphones to some extent, with quite an angular look at the back of each earbud. Let's face it, there are only so many different ways that you can design a product like this, but the use of the oval shape with a stem and the little silver finish at the bottom has a distinctly Apple feel. They're not quite the best-looking wireless earbuds, but they're not the worst either.
Unlike competing products from the likes of Google and Samsung, these earbuds don't sit right down in your ear – in fact they stick out relatively far, though not so much that you're going to be attracting strange looks on your travels. During our testing, the OnePlus Buds fitted snugly in our ears, and felt stable and secure even with a bit of head movement in time to the music.
As we've already mentioned, setup couldn't really be easier. We tested the Buds with a OnePlus Nord phone, and if your phone is switched on then it'll recognise the earbuds as soon as you open up the charging case (which automatically puts it into pairing mode). The first time you connect, your OnePlus phone will look for a firmware update for the Buds as well.
Head into the Bluetooth menu on your OnePlus phone and you can see the battery levels of the left earbud, the right earbud and the charging case, update the firmware on the earbuds, and even get them to make a sound if you've lost them down the back of the sofa. With a OnePlus phone, you can also customise the touch controls (a double-tap skips tracks by default), and take advantage of the gaming mode to reduce the audio-visual latency between phone and earbuds.
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OnePlus Buds review: features and audio
The OnePlus Buds borrow a few tricks from the AirPods: they'll automatically stop the audio if you take one or both of them out of your ears for example, and this works really well. As soon as you pop the earbud(s) back in, the music carries on (at least during our testing with YouTube Music and a OnePlus Nord).
Music sounds really good through the OnePlus Buds. It's crisp and sharp and loud, and you can give your ears a good blasting in terms of volume without losing the details of the songs that you're listening to. They don't match up to some of the very best earbuds on the market, or to premium over-ear headphones of course, but they do a good impression of more expensive hardware (a lot like the OnePlus Nord, actually).
We only had one dropped connection during our hours of testing, and the Buds battery level only dropped by 10 percent or so with a couple of hours listening. We suspect that's a bit of a false reading – OnePlus says you can expect seven hours of music playback, with another 23 hours of recharging offered by the case. Fast charging is supported, that should give you 10 hours of music listening from just 10 minutes of charging, OnePlus says (that's earbuds and case combined).
There's no noise cancelling here, but you do get IPX4 water and sweat resistance, so they should be fine in the gym or in a rain shower. There is noise reduction on calls (three microphones are built into each earbud), and we found that other people came through loud and clear from the other end of the line. The OnePlus Buds offer solid, all-round performance, even if they won't blow you away with their quality.
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OnePlus Buds review: price and verdict
At a mere £79/$79, the OnePlus Buds are very affordable wireless earbuds, and overall you're probably getting slightly more than you pay for – good quality audio, impressive battery life, decent customisations, and a neat design. You don't get some of the top-end features like noise cancelling, but you wouldn't expect them at this price.
Yes there are better-sounding headphones and earphones out there, but few that offer this sort of value. Perhaps the biggest drawback of the OnePlus Buds is that you only get the most out of them if you've got a OnePlus phone, though they'll also do a perfectly respectable job for you on other Android phones as well.
Really, the verdict on the OnePlus Buds is a pretty simple one – if you've got a OnePlus phone then they're well worth getting, and will give you a rich and deep audio experience that also includes Dolby Atmos support. If you've not got a OnePlus phone then you can probably find a better option somewhere else, though it might not not come in at such a cheap price point.
You can pick up the OnePlus Buds now in White, Grey, or Nord Blue, and you get the earbuds, the charging case and a short USB charging cable in the box (USB-A to USB-C, which the case uses). While we think OnePlus has done a good job with the Buds, especially at this price, they don't do enough to stand out from the crowd.