For a price of below a hundred bucks nowadays, you can get a wide range of different wireless audio products from a variety of brands and manufacturers. With that being said though, one compromise that comes with low prices is that product quality tends to suffer, and a majority of the devices on offer are usually from less-than-trustworthy brands.
As such, the budget audio market is what OnePlus is targeting with the Nords Buds 2. Priced at just $69.99, the earbuds are admittedly a very tempting offer, especially when compared to most other competing products on the market right now, which hover around the 90-120 dollar price range.
So does this low price mean that you’re settling with the OnePlus Nord Buds 2, or is it a case of “bang-for-your-buck” with these earbuds? Let’s take a look.
What’s in the Box?
For the asking price that we’ve just mentioned, OnePlus has included your standard suite of accessories in addition to the earbuds themselves. The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 come alongside some paperwork and instructions, some extra ear tips, as well as a OnePlus-themed USB-C charging cable. It’s a pretty complete package, and with the exception of a charging brick you can use the earbuds from the get-go.
Looking at the design, the Nord Buds 2 come in a compact charging case, which you could say is the “standard” size for most wireless earbuds cases. On the rear of the case is a pairing button and USB-C port, while on the front we get an LED charging indicator. Our review unit is the “Lightning White” variant, although you can also get it in a darker color.
The earbuds themselves are pretty small. They come with a short stem which features a touch panel, although to be honest I do prefer my earbuds without a tail or stem whenever possible. With that being said however they have a discreet look about them, and won’t stick out too much when in use. They are also IP55 certified, so they will be safe for use in light rain and workouts.
Set-Up and App
Setting up the earbuds is pretty simple – holding down the pairing button behind the case lets you sync the Nord Buds 2 with your smart device, and once you’ve paired both devices together you’re pretty much good to go. I use a Pixel 7a as my main smartphone, and connecting it to the earbuds was simple and efficient. You can further customize the earbuds using the Hey Melody app which is available on the Google Playstore.
There’s a decent amount of sound options on the app itself, and I was even able to update the earbuds to a newer firmware version after setting them up with my phone. You can use the app to adjust the noise cancellation modes, switch between different EQ profiles, and even customize the touch controls on the earbuds themselves. Overall it’s a pretty functional app, and there’s not much to complain about here.
Sound Quality and Usage
So far, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 sound great, although I did have a bit of issue with them after my initial setup. Prior to the firmware update, there was some audible hiss when listening to music, which almost made made the tracks sound like low-quality MP3 downloads from the early 2000s. Fortunately however, the firmware update seemed to fix this issue, and I had a much better listening experience afterwards.
The Nord Buds 2 are powered by 12.4mm drivers, and I was pleased with the overall sound quality – songs had a nice mix of highs and lows, and tracks like Styles of Beyond’s “Here We Go” sounded immaculate on the earbuds, especially with the bass so audible in the mix. Meanwhile, using the default “bass” mode with songs like Metallica’s “Blackened” somewhat improved the song’s overall feel, which is infamous for the weak bass track in its mix.
The active noise cancellation is mostly decent at keeping out unwanted sounds as well, although I would say that it’s not on the same level of ANC quality that you’d get on something like the Pixel Buds Pro. In addition to ANC, there’s also a transparency mode available, which will be useful if you’re in a busy or noisy environment like a roadside or somewhere similar.
Like I mentioned before, the earbuds feature touch controls and these come in handy a lot of the time. Unfortunately though, they lack wear detection, which is a missed opportunity given the feature’s widespread use by other manufacturers. The Nord Buds 2 also feature built-in microphones; calls sound good on the earbuds, and I was able to use them for voice and video calls, which mostly sounded clear.
In terms of battery life, the earbuds (each powered by 41 mAh batteries) can last you around 4-5 hours with ANC turned on, and you can bring this up to 7 hours if you disable ANC. Topping up on the charging case (itself packing a 480 mAh battery) can get you up to 27 hours with ANC on, and up to 36 hours with ANC off. They’re certainly ideal for long trips and commutes, although we would have loved to see wireless charging included in the case.
So are the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 worth your $69? For a price of less than a hundred bucks, you get good battery life, decent noise-cancelling, good sound quality, and a bit of water resistance. They’re also pretty comfortable, which is something to consider as well.
On the other hand, the lack of wear detection and wireless charging are factors to consider, but again we go back to the relatively-low asking price, which does somewhat justify these omissions. Overall though you can’t go wrong with the OnePlus Nord Buds 2, and they’re worth checking out for folks on a budget.