OnePlus Nord Buds review: a compact and affordable TWS


When OnePlus introduced the Nord in 2020, it was the company’s first smartphone outside of its mainline line and was priced considerably lower than its main production models. The Nord line of smartphones has grown significantly since then and has now expanded into audio products. Among the company’s many recent launches is the OnePlus Nord Buds true wireless headphones.

Officially priced at Rs. 2,999, but available for Rs. 2,799 at the time of this review, the OnePlus Nord Buds are currently the company’s most affordable true wireless headphones. As with Nord-branded smartphones, this is also an affordable and more basic true wireless headset than the better-equipped OnePlus Buds Z2 and OnePlus Buds Pro. There aren’t any fancy features like active noise cancellation, but this pair of true wireless earbuds promise good sound and long battery life. Are these the best true wireless headphones under Rs. 3,000 you can buy right now? Find out in this review.

The OnePlus Nord Buds earbuds have a new design, with large tactile touch areas for controls

Interesting new design, fast charging on OnePlus Nord Buds

OnePlus’ design language for its true wireless earbuds has been pretty consistent so far, with curves around the earbuds; rounded, slender stems; and charging cases devoid of sharp lines. The OnePlus Nord Buds go in a completely different direction with significantly larger stems on the ear cups and large separate touch zones for controls. The charging case is also more square, with sharp edges and flat surfaces for the bottom and top.

Coming in two colors, Black Slate and White Marble, the OnePlus Nord Buds look quite unique, with the mirror-like touch areas on each earbud catching the most attention. The earphones have an in-channel fit, customizable using replaceable silicone tips of different sizes. Although the headphones have a glossy finish, they look neat and the white unit I had didn’t attract much dirt or dust.

Three pairs of ear tips of different sizes are included in the box, along with a short USB Type-A to Type-C charging cable. The headphones are rated IP55 for dust and water resistance. The charging case has a large OnePlus logo on the top while the USB Type-C port for charging and the pairing button are on the back. There is a single LED indicator on the front. I found the shape and size of the case made it a bit awkward to keep comfortably in my pocket.

The touch controls of the OnePlus Nord Buds are quite convenient and easy to use, thanks to the large tactile touch areas on the ear cups. These are customizable via the HeyMelody app, and it’s possible to control playback, invoke the default voice assistant on your smartphone, and quickly switch between the last two paired devices, all with touch gestures. The app also displays the battery levels of the headphones and charging case, and lets you switch between four equalizer presets and update the headphones’ firmware.

At the time of my review, only the HeyMelody app on Android supported the OnePlus Nord Buds; the iOS version did not detect these headphones even when paired. The Nord Buds are said to support OnePlus Fast Pair, and you should be able to see all of the earphone settings and customization options right in the Bluetooth menu on supported OnePlus smartphones, without the need for the app. However, it didn’t work on my OnePlus 9 (test). I had to pair the headphones normally, and the Bluetooth menu only showed basic pairing options, as with any regular Bluetooth headphones. Hopefully this will be fixed with a software update.

oneplus nord single OnePlus bud test

There’s no ANC on the OnePlus Nord Buds, but the in-channel fit offers decent passive noise isolation

The OnePlus Nord Buds have 12.4mm dynamic drivers and support Dolby Atmos audio on select OnePlus devices (OnePlus 7 or higher, but not the Nord series). For connectivity, the headphones use Bluetooth 5.2 with support for SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. There are two microphones per earbud and there’s AI noise reduction for better voice clarity on calls.

The battery life of the OnePlus Nord Buds is very good for the price, with the earbuds operating for around five hours on a single charge at moderate volume levels and the case providing just over three additional charges for full battery life. 20 to 21 hours per charge cycle. Fast charging means you should get five hours of listening time from 10 minutes of charging, and it took around 25 minutes to fully charge the case and earbuds.

Good sound, quick switch mode useful on OnePlus Nord Buds

Although many consider the OnePlus Buds Z2 to be the successor to the OnePlus Buds Z, the OnePlus Nord Buds fit that role better. While there are features like fast charging and Dolby Atmos support, the core experience is focused on delivering good sound quality, and for its price, I think OnePlus gets it right.

Starting with Hot Like Dimes from Pretty Lights, the big Nord Buds drivers immediately showcased impressive volume capabilities. Even at around 50% volume level, these headphones offered a sonic and immersive listening experience, helped by the in-channel fit which offered good noise isolation. The bass-friendly sound signature created a lot of pop and oomph in this electronic sample-based track, especially the start of the track which had an awesome atmospheric feel.

Despite the aggressive bass, the OnePlus Nord Buds never pushed too hard, thanks to careful tuning that improves on what the similarly positioned OnePlus Buds Z offered. That said, the midrange and highs did feel a little restrained compared to the lows. Listening to Wherever You Go by The Avalanches, the vocals and soft elements were clean and pleasant to listen to, but the heavy bass in the beats in the middle of the track definitely caught my attention more than anything else.

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Battery life on the OnePlus Nord Buds is very good, and there’s fast charging too

The OnePlus Nord Buds lack a bit of detail. Although the sound is fully comfortable and easy to listen to even at low volumes, it is not as revealing and consistent as the Oppo Enco Air 2 Pro which costs a little more at Rs. 3,499 and also has a active noise cancellation. The Nord Buds will do well in popular genres, but buyers looking for a little more nuance and tonality in the sound won’t be particularly impressed.

Dolby Atmos support on OnePlus smartphones seemed to make a small difference in the soundstage when playing supported tracks in Apple Music, but the effect was a bit artificial and I preferred the sound without it . The Quick Switch feature worked well when I needed to switch between my iPhone and the OnePlus 9 or laptop. It works almost as well as multipoint connectivity, if you can manage a wait of about three seconds to complete each switch.

Connectivity on the OnePlus Nord Buds was stable and hassle-free in my experience, with the headphones working smoothly at distances of up to 4m from the source device. Call quality was also decent both indoors and out, but I found that I had to turn the volume up a bit when receiving or making calls and then had to quickly turn it down again. volume for music.

Verdict

OnePlus has successfully established its Nord sub-brand with affordable, value-for-money smartphones, and the first Nord-branded audio product sticks to that ethos. The OnePlus Nord Buds headphones offer reasonable performance for less than Rs. 3,000, including good design, decent sound quality, and useful features like fast charging and fast switching.

That said, the lack of active noise cancellation on the OnePlus Nord Buds puts it at a disadvantage against the competition, especially the very good Oppo Enco Air 2 Pro which retails for just a bit more at Rs. 3,499. If you are a OnePlus fan or want a punchy and fun pair of headphones for under Rs. 3,000 and can handle no ANC, this is a worthy choice.


Tech

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