OnePlus has launched the OnePlus Nord Buds, making it the company’s first budget true wireless earphones. The company has been trying to make inroads in the budget segment in the Indian consumer technology space, trying to ride on its insanely high price-to-performance ratio provider reputation. However, their ratios have gotten worse, and it is evident here. There has been a lot of competition in the budget TWS market, with players like Realme and Oppo bringing their A-game to the table with every launch. So, to test where the OnePlus Nord Buds stand, we put these TWS earphones through their paces in our testing process. And the results were interesting, to say the least. Here’s what we found out.
OnePlus Nord Buds Review: Build, Design, and Fit
The OnePlus Nord Buds hold their ground when it comes to build quality. The outer case, which is made of glossy plastic, despite being prone to picking up scratches over time, does give the product a premium feel. OnePlus’ attention to detail with the seams and the overall fit of the buds themselves make the purchase feel worth it, at the first glance. Fingerprints were not a noticeable issue in our white review unit. The inlaid OnePlus logo rounds up the case design perfectly, stopping it from being a plain white box that this case is.
Talking about the boxy design of the case, it is not particularly easy to fit in the pocket. Despite having a narrow body, the height of the case makes it difficult to carry around in the pocket without drawing attention. The design can be a bit polarising, some of us in the test centre liked its unique look, while others didn’t fancy it too much.
The earbuds themselves are light and feature boxy stem that tends not to protrude out. The weight of the earbuds also makes wearing them for a longer period easy. Two silver concave touch-sensitive buttons add a tasteful bling to the rather mute buds’ design. We have nothing from OnePlus to pit these against, but in comparison to others at this price, the experience of wearing them even during long writing or exercise sessions is easy on the ears. The three different-sized ear tips included in the box let the user customise the fit of the buds to a certain extent.
OnePlus Nord Buds Review: Features
At the price at which the OnePlus Nord Buds slot in, one should not hold high expectations. Even the devices that are marketed to be feature-rich, lack proper implementation of the features, making the entire user experience lackluster. However, OnePlus with these earphones lives up to the quintessential OnePlus philosophy of the yesteryears. Doing less but doing it well.
There is no ANC, the range is decent, and there is no wireless charging. These are the features that one shouldn’t expect in this price range too. When we got to our testing though, all the remaining scoring slots took no time to be populated with what we can call decent numbers.
They come with an IP55 rating, which makes them fit to be worn during workout sessions. The controls are intuitive and responsive. The concave shape of the touch-sensitive area on the buds makes it very easy to locate the touch points. Controls can be modified to trigger various actions in the settings menu in select devices, while other users will have to download the HeyMelody app. This itself isn’t densely packed with features but has the essentials like custom and preset EQ settings and touch control modification menu. The battery level indicator in the app is a nice addition as it lets users gauge how much longer they can jam to their favourite tracks, before the juice runs out on these earphones.
OnePlus Nord Buds Review: Performance
In the earlier section, we were talking about jamming to the tunes on the OnePlus Nord Buds. So, let’s tell you what we found when we tested the audio performance of these earphones. On the spec sheet, things look impressive. They come equipped with 12.4 mm Titanium drivers that support Dolby Atmos. But the actual performance was underwhelming.
Uncompensated frequency response graph of OnePlus Nord Buds (Light Pink) vs Neutral (Dark Green)
We had set out with high expectations when we decided to play Hotel California on these earphones. It was not long before though that we were brought back to the reality that these are a budget pair of earphones. The sound that we got was laden with bass, with the highs and the mids missing the punch that one would expect a driver of the size that is there in this pair should have.
Uncompensated frequency response graph of OnePlus Nord Buds (Light Pink) vs Realme Buds Air 3 (Orange)
As we played different tracks one thing was apparent that these are meant for the bassheads. For anyone apart from this section that would love the OnePlus Nord Buds, the listening experience would be pretty underwhelming. They came out behind their direct competition on the market, the Realme Buds 3 in our testing process.
Tracks like Uptown Funk sounded fine, but as we moved to the tracks with higher instrument density and a wide soundstage, things got worse. For the price, it is acceptable. These are in no way the next Airpods killer, but OnePlus is also not the company that it used to be, making flagship killers in every segment that they explored. Noise isolation with a sung fitting tip was also decent.
Moving on to the performance of the microphone. This is where OnePlus Nord Buds redeemed themselves. The sound, although muddy at times was clear and even in the most challenging situations, the buds held their ground well. Ambient sounds were suppressed well during calls. Again, not to forget, this is when compared to other similarly priced devices. So, tune your expectations accordingly.
OnePlus markets support for Dolby Atmos with the Nord Buds. However, it is limited to certain high-end devices, and could not be found working with the Nord CE2 that we used during our testing. So, make sure to check the list of supported devices before making your purchase decision.
OnePlus Nord Buds Review: Battery Life
The OnePlus Nord Buds played music for six and a half hours straight during our testing, with the volume set to around 50 per cent. The case promises to provide another four full charges to the earbuds, which would push the overall battery life to around 30 hours. This is standard in TWS earphones these days, and the lack of ANC and transparency modes helps the OnePlus Nord Buds match the numbers mentioned on the spec sheets. With the additional Flash Charge capability baked in, as advertised you can get 5 hours of playback with just 10 minutes of charging.
OnePlus Nord Buds Review: Verdict
Priced at ₹2,799, the OnePlus Nord Buds are a good recommendation for anyone looking to buy a reliable pair of TWS earphones in the sub 3k price range. The sound quality is decent, and the best available for bass heads, and the battery performance is enough to get you through long calls. In terms of features, they are less but well done. Touch controls are intuitive and accurate, and the buds are IP55 rated, meaning that sweaty workout sessions shouldn’t affect these lightweight earbuds. While these earbuds are perfect for a basshead, you should look elsewhere if you are looking for a well-balanced sound.
If we were to sum up the verdict in a single sentence here, it would be – budget package, that punches well within its weight.