Sep 11th, 2021

Another week, another pair of true wireless earbuds to buy. OnePlus has been casually playing in the Bluetooth audio space for a few years now, but the new OnePlus Buds Pro are the first pair to make a big enough splash that you should actually pay attention to.

The OnePlus Buds Pro are now available for $150, delivering a unique design (something that’s pretty hard to do these days) and a well-balanced experience when it comes to audio, noise cancellation, battery life, and comfort.

OnePlus Buds Pro Specification

  • 11 mm dynamic drivers
  • Frequency response 20Hz – 20,000Hz
  • 15dB to 40dB Active Noise Cancellation
  • IP55 (earbuds), IPX4 (charging case)
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • 10-meter wirelss range
  • Charging: USB C, Qi-certified wirelsss charging
  • 40 mAh battery (per bud), up to 5/7 hours with ANC on/off
  • 520 mAh (case) for 4.5 additional charges

Unlike the Nothing Ear 1 that shout “look at me!” as soon as you take them out of the box, the Oneplus Buds Pro buds and case are chic, yet understated. Available in Glossy White or Matte Black, both color options sport a two-tone finish with a chrome finish on the stems of the buds. While we’ve seen dozens of earbuds that replicate the AirPods looks, the two-tone finish of the OnePlus Buds Pro gives them a distinct look that we really haven’t seen yet.

The case that houses the buds is pebble-shaped with a matte finish on all sides. My favorite feature is the muted “clack” when shutting the lid which is substantially quieter than the loud click sounds you get from the cases of the Nothing Ear 1 and Sony WF-1000XM4. It may be a small detail, but you can actually hear that the engineers spent time on the sound the case makes, just like luxury car makers do with their doors.

I’d also like to point out the OnePlus has managed to make its case nearly as pocketable as that of the Pixel Buds. The small footprint and rounded body of the case allow you to easily slide it in and out of your pants pocket and you’ll likely even forget it’s there.

As for the buds themselves, OnePlus give you the option of choosing three different silicone tip sizes. The HeyMelody app comes with an Earbud Fit Test that will tell the quality of the fit. I settled on the small eartips which gave me a good seal and managed to lock the earbuds securely in place.

Personally, I usually have a hard time with earbuds staying in place if they don’t have a fin, like the Pixel Buds, to help them lock in place, but I didn’t have any issues with the Buds Pro, even while running. The right earbud does tend to wiggle out a little after a few minutes if I’m on a call or sing along to the music, but I’ve never had it fall out of my ear completely.

The OnePlus Buds Pro may share their name with the original OnePlus Buds, but that’s the only real similarity these two products have – especially when it comes to audio quality. When you pay $150 for a pair of buds, you expect good audio and that’s exactly what OnePlus delivers.

Unlike the hollow sound of the OnePlus Buds, the Buds Pro deliver a rich soundscape that brings your music to life. OnePlus still hasn’t mastered the audio experience as well as Sony has with its WF-1000XM4 buds, but I’m pretty impressed by how balanced the audio profile of the Buds Pro is while still delivering great bass and crisp highs when needed.

The OnePlus Audio ID also enables a customized audio profile for your specific ears using an audio test to determine which frequencies you can and cannot hear. It’s not an automatic test as HTC introduced with the HTC 10 back in the day, but the results can definitely be heard once you complete the 3-minute test.

As for active noise cancelation, the Buds Pro does a great job of reducing ambient noise. There are competing products from Sony and Jabra that do a better job of isolating certain frequencies and delivering a better experience, but those products typically cost at least $100 more. I used the Oneplus Buds Pro on a flight to New York a few weeks back and they did an amazing job of silencing all of the surrounding noise. I’ve also been using them in my office quite a bit, even while not listening to music, simply because they seem perfectly tuned to cancel out the noise from my window unit air conditioner that’s 3 feet from my desk.

If you want control over the noise cancelation, OnePlus has you covered with three different settings, along with a Transparency Mode if you want to force surrounding audio through the buds.

Like most modern true wireless buds, you get the usual selection of touch controls to answer a call, play/pause/skip a track or turn noise cancelation on or off without having to pick up your phone. This may sound inconsequential, but I’m a big fan of the touch control sounds which are a pleasant “tic” when you squeeze the metal stem on the buds. It’s honestly the small things that make a noticeable difference.

If you’re a fan of white noise, the OnePlus Buds Pro come with their own Zen Mode Air feature that offers five different white noise soundscapes. Form the app you can choose which one to sync to the buds and then activate it at any time with a 3-second pinch on the earbud’s stem. It’s another small feature that adds to the overall experience.

When it comes to battery life, the OnePlus Buds Pro certainly doesn’t disappoint. OnePlus advertises that the 40 mAh battery inside each bud can deliver up to 5 hours of music playback with ANC turned on or 7 hours when ANC is switched off. Factors like audio level and distance from the connected phone play a huge factor in overall battery life, but OnePlus was right on with their estimates, delivering 5 hours and 10 minutes of music and podcast playback time before needing to be recharged with ANC on.

The charging case, with its 520 mAh battery, managed to deliver an additional four full charges. If you listen to a lot of music, you might need to charge the case once or twice a week, but if you only use the buds a few hours a day, you could easily go 2-3 weeks between charges.

And since OnePlus included wireless charging for the case, you can quickly throw the case on a wireless charger for 10-15 minutes to top it off every few days or even use reverse wireless charging on your phone if the buds happen to die on you while you’re out and about.

Final thoughts

With so many options in the wireless earbuds segment, it might seem like it’s becoming harder and harder to choose the right option. The good news is that with so many options, we’re not getting more and more buds that are worth buying. If you’ve set your price at $150, the OnePlus Buds Pro is definitely worth the cash. Personally, I think the audio quality, battery life and ANC offered by these buds make them quite a bit more compelling that the $200 and $250 alternatives that are out there.

 

OnePlus Buds Pro Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_50 (4.3/5)

The Good

  • Battery life
  • Case size/design
  • Audio quality
  • Noise cancelation

The Bad

  • No customizable EQ
  • Some software features exclusive to OnePlus smartphones

 

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