First-party headphones are the thing now. Apple changed the headphone world with the AirPods, while Google has been building first-party buds like the Pixel Buds for a few years now. Last year’s OnePlus Buds offer a solid all-around experience for OnePlus users. Now, the company is back with a higher-end approach: The OnePlus Buds Pro.
Of course, it’s easy to see the parallels between OnePlus and Apple’s approaches. Start with the cheaper model and then release a so-called “Pro” model a year later. But the OnePlus Buds Pro are also a whole lot cheaper than the AirPods Pro, coming in at $150. With features like noise cancelation, wireless charging, and more, that could make them a great deal.
Do the OnePlus Buds actually perform? I’ve been using them for a few weeks to find out.
OnePlus Buds Pro design
The OnePlus Buds Pro don’t just take their naming from Apple — their overall design is pretty similar to the AirPods Pro as well. They have an angled design, with bulbous buds, and a relatively short stem that protrudes out of the bottom. Love or hate the look, it’s the trend right now.
The headphones are available in two colors — Matte Black, and Glossy White. We’re reviewing the Matte Black model, and it looks nice. Both color-schemes offer a metallic-looking stem, and a small hole on the face for noise cancelation. That stem also pulls features from the AirPods Pro — squeeze controls. This is a blatant rip-off from Apple, but I really like controlling headphones like that, so I was glad to see the feature here.
The headphones slot magnetically into the case, very easily. The charging case is relatively small and pocketable, which is always helpful. It’s a little larger than the AirPods Pro case, but should still easily fit into a pocket or bag. Unlike some other true wireless earbuds, the case’s face opens — rather than its top. On the back of the case can be found a USB-C charging port.
In the box, apart from the earbuds and the charging case, you’ll find a charging cable, and three different ear tip sizes. It’s a pretty basic selection of accessories, but you shouldn’t need much more.
OnePlus Buds Pro features and battery
The benefit to manufacturing headphones that connect to your own phones is that you can build extra features into them. These headphones are no exception.
That experience starts with pairing. Once you open up the lid on the headphones, you’ll see a card pop up on your OnePlus phone telling you that you can pair them with your device. Simply hit the pair button, and they’ll connect. Easy.
After the headphones are paired with your phone, when you take them out of the case, you’ll see another card pop up showing you the battery level of your headphones and charging case. Then, you can head to the settings and change other settings. You’ll be able to select what you use the headphones for. And, you can tweak what the controls on the different buds actually do. That can include playback control, digital assistant control, and so on.
There are a number of features that impact your overall listening experience. In the settings, you can choose whether you want noise cancelation or transparency mode on, and if you want noise cancelation, there are three modes to choose from. And, you can perform a kind of earbud test that tweaks the EQ depending on your hearing.
It’s a solid selection of features. The features are relatively easy to access through the Bluetooth menu in the Settings app, and they’re pretty in-depth. The only downside? That you can’t access these features on a non-OnePlus phone. The concept of ecosystem lock-in is alive and well in the headphone world, especially when it comes to these true wireless earbuds.
OnePlus Buds Pro comfort
The OnePlus Buds Pro have a similar overall design to the AirPods Pro, but they’re not quite as comfortable. That said, they’re still very comfortable for bud-style headphones, and excellent at staying in your ears.
The headphones come with three different ear tip sizes. I recommend experimenting with the different sizes, however the medium size fit best in my ears.
After a few hours of listening, I found that the headphones were still relatively comfortable. Most should be able to listen for hours on end without any comfort issues. And, they’re good at staying in your ears. These headphones aren’t necessarily built for sports use, and you probably shouldn’t buy them for that. But you’ll easily be able to walk around the house and take them on your commute without worrying about losing a bud down the drain.
OnePlus Buds Pro sound quality
Of course the most important thing to consider in this price range is audio quality — and the OnePlus Buds Pro sound great. These headphones offer a solid bass response, with enough detail in the high-end for most.
One of the things I liked about these buds is that they’re a little more natural-sounding than some others. There’s definitely a slight bass boost, which can help kick drums and bass guitars punch through a mix a little more. But it’s definitely not over the top, and serves the experience as a whole.
The mids are slightly tucked away, but again, not overly so. Vocals and guitars can still shine when needed, and without sounding shrill. The highs aren’t bad either — there’s decent clarity and detail, and while these headphones aren’t for audiophiles, most others will be perfectly fine with what’s on offer. A little more high-end extension would have been nice though. That’s to say, a bit more response in some of the higher high frequencies would have helped cymbals and other percussion shimmer a little more.
The noise cancelation tech on the headphones is fine at best. It can cut out a little outside noise, but even in Extreme mode it doesn’t do a whole lot. The noise cancelation on the AirPods Pro is quite a bit better. Of course, neither of these two options get close to a pair of noise-canceling over-ear headphones, like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or AirPods Max headphones.
The OnePlus Buds Pro aren’t quite the best true wireless buds out there, but in their price range, they get pretty close. They offer a solid fit, good audio quality, and a good battery life. And, if you have a OnePlus phone, they’re definitely the best option for those who don’t want to spend the $280 on a pair of Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds.
In this price range, competition isn’t as fierce as in the high end. If you’re not using a OnePlus phone, however, it’s worth considering the Jabra Elite Active 75t headphones, which are normally available for around $150. If you are willing to spend more cash, the Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones are still out top pick, and if you’re an Apple user, then it’s worth going for the AirPods Pro.
Should I buy the OnePlus Buds Pro?
Yes, but only if you’re a OnePlus user who has a budget of around $150.