OnePlus Buds, hands on: Best for OnePlus phone users

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When OnePlus launched its affordable 5G Nord handset, it also unveiled its first attempt at true wireless earbuds. While OnePlus has been fairly hot on accessories with things like backpacks and T shirts on offer, and also has a small range of handset cases available too, it hasn't done a lot on the earphones front. But now we have the true wireless OnePlus Buds, which cost £79 (inc. VAT) or $79.

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OnePlus Buds, in their case with the OnePlus Nord phone.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The OnePlus Buds come in a case that provides carrying protection and a battery to charge them when you're out and about. OnePlus says you'll get up to 7 hours of music playback from the buds alone, and the case will add a further 23 hours, giving 30 hours of listening in total. Moreover, the case supports fast charging, and OnePlus says that 10 minutes of charge will provide 10 hours of playback (combining the fast-charge capacity of both buds and case). Essentially, then, a burst of power while getting ready in the morning, and you're probably set for the day.

The buds themselves are IPX4 rated to provide resistance against water splashed from any direction. They are nondescript in design. Mine were white, and there are also black and what OnePlus calls Nord Blue versions available. OnePlus talks up the "half-in-ear design", which it says ensures a snug fit. I'm not so sure: I use other wireless buds day to day, which lack a 'leg' and have silicon tips, and I can wear these all day without fear they'll drop out. The OnePlus Buds never felt as stable or secure in my ears, although I must admit they didn't actually fall out. But all ears are different, and other people may find the OnePlus Buds feel snug and secure.

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The control panel for the OnePlus Buds.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Pairing with a OnePlus phone is simplicity itself: I paired with the Nord and simply needed to open the case's lid and tap the alert on the phone's screen. There's a nice little control panel you can access in the Bluetooth settings that shows battery power for each bud and the case, and lets you decide what the buds can be used for.

There's a touch-responsive circle on each bud that you tap for play management, and preferences can be set in this control panel too, with a double tap on either right or left bud catering for play/pause, voice assistant, previous track or next track.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
 
Meanwhile, tap 'find device' in the control panel and you can 'ring' the left or right bud, which will emit a fairly quiet 'ding'. If it's in the same room you are, you might locate the lost bud using this method, but the 'ding' is too quiet to carry very far.

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None of these controls are available to non-OnePlus handset users, and accessing them isn't as easy as it is via an app.

Sound quality is variable. I like a lot of bass when listening to rock music, and there's plenty of that here. But I felt solo singing, orchestral and chamber music didn't quite benefit from the same fullness of sound. Music playback stops when you take either bud out of an ear, so it's possible to chat to someone and then return to whatever you were listening to. That's pretty much a standard feature, and it would be notable if absent here. 

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OnePlus Buds: good value at £/$79, especially for OnePlus handset owners.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

Overall the OnePlus Buds deliver a decent audio experience with plenty of bass tones, have pretty good battery life, and come with an all-important water-resistance rating. They're going to appeal to OnePlus handset owners most because of the on-phone controls. Owners of other phones might want to shop around before taking the plunge.

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