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OnePlus Buds Z2 review: Can OnePlus take on Nothing?

In recent years, the competition around true wireless headphones has seriously heated up. Apple has been leading the way with the AirPods and AirPods Pro, but companies like Nothing, Sony, and more, have all released excellent options. OnePlus is another company that has been building great first-party options — and now, the company’s back with the new OnePlus Buds Z2 true wireless earbuds.

The previous-generation OnePlus Buds Z were considered solid earbuds, especially in their price range. The OnePlus Buds Z2, however, raise the price and aim to build on the originals. These new buds, for example, add noise cancellation, support for Dolby Atmos, and more — features often reserved for more expensive earbuds. But at $99, are the headphones worth buying?

OnePlus Buds Z2 design

If you’re familiar with the last OnePlus Buds Z, then you’ll be familiar with the overall design of the Buds Z2. The earbuds have a longer stem with the main bud at the top of the stem, and a flat touch sensor on the side of each bud. They have an IP55 water resistance, so they should survive sweat and rain if you get caught in the rain outside.

OnePlus Buds Z2 DesignImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The touch controls are pretty easy to get used to. By default, you’ll touch once to play and pause audio, tap twice to skip to the next track, and more. Unfortunately, you can’t control volume by default.

The earbuds and the charging case are built from plastic. While it’s not the most premium-feeling material out there, they don’t necessarily feel bad. We’re reviewing the black model.

On the back of the charging case, you’ll find a USB-C port for charging, and a button for pairing. Unlike some more expensive earbuds, the case does not support wireless charging, so you’ll need to charge through a cable.

The earbuds aren’t badly-designed, and they’re easy to put in your ears when you wear them. Again, the build material isn’t the most premium. But at this price range, it’s hard to see that as a huge issue.

OnePlus Buds Z2 features and battery

The original OneBlus Buds Z earbuds were a little bare-bones, but these buds step things up a little when it comes to features. You’ll get noise cancellation, along with support for Dolby Atmos — however, only on supported OnePlus phones. Of course, again, you wouldn’t expect too many features on a pair of earbuds in this price range.

OnePlus Buds Z2 Charging PortImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

If you use a supported phone, you’ll get access to things like quick pairing and the ability to change the touch controls. You’ll need a OnePlus device, or the HeyMelody app to tweak features.

The battery life on these headphones comes in at a very impressive 38 hours with noise cancellation turned off. During a single use, you’ll get up to 7 hours with ANC turned off, or 5 hours with it on — which is pretty good. It’s not the best out there, but it’s above average.

OnePlus Buds Z2 comfort

The OnePlus Buds Z2 earbuds have a comfortable fit. The slightly larger buds are shaped in a way that ensures that they remain comfortable for even longer periods of listening.

OnePlus Buds Z2 ComfortImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

I found that the buds were very good at remaining in the ears too. These aren’t necessarily built for working out or heavy movement. But, even with moderate movement, you’ll find that the earbuds stay in place.

OnePlus Buds Z2 sound

The original OnePlus Buds were hailed for offering a decent sound in their price range. The OnePlus Buds Z2 earbuds, thankfully, retain that. The earbuds offer a decent amount of clarity and detail, ensuring that they sound good while listening to music, podcasts, and more. Of course, don’t expect the most detailed sound out there.

The bass response, for starters, is decently strong. The headphones prioritize heavy bass over tons of clarity. The result is that kick drums offer a nice thump, while bass guitars are smooth and heavy.

The mids are well-tuned, offering some warmth in the low mids, and slightly laid-back high mids. It’s a defined sound, and one that works well here.

OnePlus Buds Z2 In CaseImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The highs are a bit tucked away, and overshadowed by the lows, but the highs that are there sound good. You’ll get a nice sizzle to cymbals, and enough sibilance in vocals to ensure they sound relatively natural.

While the frequency response on offer here is pretty good, the noise cancellation isn’t great. We wouldn’t expect the same level of noise cancellation as headphones like the AirPods Pro or Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds, and you won’t get it. If you want a pair of headphones that prioritize noise cancellation, it’s a good idea to keep looking.

Conclusions

The OnePlus Buds Z2 have a lot going for them. The earbuds are comfortable, offering a deep frequency response, and even come with noise cancellation. But in the $99 price range, they come up against a serious competitor — and from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, no less. The Nothing Ear (1) earbuds are still better than the Oneplus Buds Z2, and the way to go if you’re looking for a great pair of headphones under $100.

The competition

The biggest competition comes from the Nothing Ear (1) earbuds, which also offer an excellent fit, along with a flatter frequency response and better noise cancellation.

Should I buy the OnePlus Buds Z2?

No. You should get thing Nothing Ear (1) earbuds instead.

OnePlus Buds Z2 True Wireless Earbud Headphones-Touch Control with Charging Case,Active Noise C… List Price:$99.99 Price:$87.29 You Save:$12.70 (13%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Christian de Looper was born in Canberra, Australia, where he lived until the age of 14. After his father got a job in Paris, France, Christian lived there for five years, after which he moved to Minnesota for college. During college, Christian developed a passion for consumer technology by writing for tech blogs. Christian now lives in sunny Santa Cruz, California.