We love it, but we don’t buy it. This is a review of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2.
Fit and Comfort
We’re gonna have to start with the worst things about these buds – the fit and the comfort. Usually we have one of two scenarios – the buds are comfortable – no pain, but a bit loose in the ear OR the fit is great, things are penetrating, gripping, never falling out but causing discomfort. Well – the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 are weird. They’re neither comfortable, nor do they have a secure fit. And we’re not sure why – but this was also the case with the first generation for us. Maybe it’s the rather chunky plastic or our super svelte ears, but whatever be the reason – we had to point this out. It’s a real shame because these buds are great for many other reasons. So if you have medium or small ears – we’re not sure we’d recommend these earbuds.
While we’re on the build, let’s just say that we really like the slim case. There’s a single Apple-style LED that breathes a color for battery status. OnePlus was also one of the earliest buds to have water resistance on the case and this generation is no different – IPX4. The buds themselves are even better with dust resistance at IP55. In addition to being pocketable, we really like the color choices. The Obsidian Black color we have here reminds us a lot of the OG OnePlus One phone’s Sandstone Black. The texture isn’t grippy and rough as that was, but it’s a nice color nonetheless.
The biggest bummer on these buds is the fact that the battery life isn’t rated very highly. It’s rated at 6 hours with ANC on with an additional 19 hours from the case. But – and this is a big but – that rating is using the AAC codec at 50% volume. But of course these earbuds utilise another high quality codec which we’ll come to in the sound section. When we tested these earbuds using THAT codec WITHOUT noise cancelling at 50% volume we lost 30% battery in 2 hours. If your math aint’ great, what we’re saying is that you’re actually looking more at 6 hours WITHOUT ANC.
Oh a quick sidenote – we DID NOT receive these buds from OnePlus OR test these with a OnePlus phone, but other devices.
All right – battery life isn’t great – but that’s probably because of the killer noise cancelling, right? Well…
ANC / Transparency
…We were kinda hoping for more on the ANC and Transparency guys! And you know what – it does very well with low end sounds, but when lower frequencies like engine hum are cancelled out, the mid and higher frequencies can end up sounding more prominent due to having no competition. And that unfortunately seems to be the case here. Every time I used ANC in a real-life situation where there were voices – a cafe, a bus or an office it felt like the voices were clearly audible – which is a bigger distraction than the constant hum of an AC unit. So don’t expect to buy these and not hear anything. But to be fair, this has more to do with expectations. If you’re someone who’s never used ANC before, or you’re going to always play music or you just want to drown out the bus engine – you’re going to be fine. Overall, we’d put the ANC at the start of Tier B.
When it comes to transparency – it’s definitely on the usable side, but voices still felt a bit muffled overall. Interestingly the lower end sounds do get reduced a bit. To give it a relative rating, we put it in Tier A, but towards the end of Tier A. It’s not as good as the Sennheiser Momentum 3 or Sony’s LinkBuds S for transparency, but better than the Oppo Enco X 2. Interestingly, you can get very comparable transparency performance on a much cheaper product – the EarFun Air Pro 3. Check out our full review here for details on that great product! So overall, not AMAZING transparency, but very usable in a pinch.
And a pinch is literally how you control these buds. With the squeeze on the stem. We are massively disappointed that OnePlus deemed us unworthy of stroking its stems to control our volume. It’s quite disappointing that there’s no volume controls on these buds. You’re basically just getting media controls and ANC control. The customisation is also very limited with only Game Mode and Voice assistants that you can configure. Probably the most limited control scheme we’ve used recently and it feels like OnePlus is holding back for some reason here.
And when it comes to sound… eeeehh…. Umm…. Well we wanted to love it? It’s just that…. These were super BORING! Ok – let’s back up a bit here. First off – these come with a 11mm + 6mm driver design that utilizes liquid crystal polymer diaphragms. What does that mean? Ok, moving on to the software side of it, these are best used with the latest LHDC codec. Luckily for us, we have a Nothing Phone (1) that supports LHDC so we’re covered there. Weirdly it used LHDC v3 instead of a higher version even though the phone supports v5. Anyway – let’s talk about the basics: these sound quite underwhelming at lower volumes. I mean look at these two graphs – very similar right? Busy music sounds all mushed up together at lower volumes. I really wish these took into account the Fletcher Munson curve better to compensate for frequencies at lower volumes.
In addition to that, the stock tuning is nothing spectacular. But where these really start to shine are at higher volumes. Once we crossed like 30-40%, these REALLY open up! The features for sound like custom ear scanning, called Golden Sound work quite well. This is the same ‘HeyMelody’ app as the Oppo Enco X 2 remember and we really like the choices and flexibility it gives you, shady permissions notwithstanding. And what about the Dynaudio presets? Well… not a major fan. However, unlike on the Oppo Enco X2, what you do get is a custom 5 Band EQ and the ‘basswave’ slider that lets you adjust the bassiness of the presets.
There’s a good amount of sub-bass and the mids sounded good, even though they were a bit recessed. The upper treble sounds a bit on the sharper side, but it isn’t really sibilant. So overall – it sounds very good – except for that problem at lower volumes we mentioned. Another strange thing we noticed on the Samsung phone with AAC was that adjusting volume at one point, just suddenly jumped. So at one volume stop you’re at low volume and the next one is WAY louder. Nothing in between. Weird. I found this annoying enough to ditch using these buds for music. Maybe it’s an issue with our specific model – the Z Flip 4. But we thought we’d mention it anyway. So yeah – in ‘general’ these buds can and do sound good, but we had a few issues with them.
Well everyone wants to build on the open internet and use all the standards that were developed to make money. But when it’s their turn, they’ll happily build their own little ecosystems and fiefdoms. And OnePlus is getting into the action as well, with OnePlus specific features like 54ms low latency and spatial audio, which are exclusively supported on the OnePlus 11 at launch. We understand why companies want to do this, but… yeah not great for us as consumers who want to buy the best device for the job. But you know what – you at least get ‘zen air mode’. Because that’s what you really need. And ‘neck health’ reminders.
All right, moving on…
Alright folks – let’s take those three mics on each earbud and all the AI magic to make the popsicles pop, icicles ice. Full mic samples are in the video above.
What did you guys think? We thought the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 held its own in both the noisy as well as the windy conditions. In the noisy environment you could hear the cars creating a sort of whooshing sound, but Rohan’s voice was still audible and loud. In the windy test, you could hear a bit of the wind but again the voice was loud and clear. These seem like a good pick for phone calls.
And speaking of call controls, the vakman would be a bit disappointed with these earbuds. It’s REALLLY basic – answer and hang up is all you get. No customisation, but luckily you CAN change noise cancelling mode while in a call, which is great. Vakman out.
In the connectivity department, the OnePlus supports Google Fast Pair and you can connect to two devices at the same time. It worked well, and we tested it with a Samsung phone, a Nothing Phone and a MacBook. Just pause on one device, and play on another. There were no weird stutters. The app also shows you the two devices you’re currently connected to, but it’s just a list. You can’t interact with the list in any way to disconnect or reconnect. For that you’re going to have to use the button on the case.
But the best part is that if you’ve paired with more than two devices, you can simply pull connection from a previously paired device. An invaluable option for those of us who use more than just two devices on the daily.
Oh – and these buds automatically pause or play music based on whether they’re in your ear or not and it works well. But weirdly… there’s no way to disable the wear sensor.
To buy or not to buy
And after all that, is the OnePlus the One to Add to your collection? Is it worth your hard earned dough?
Reasons TO buy the OnePlus Buds Pro 2
So, objectively – yes these are solid earbuds. There are many reasons to buy them in 30 seconds:
- A very capable app (if you can get used to those permissions)
- Decent ANC and Transparency
- A very sleek and pocketable case
- Great connectivity options with dual device and the ability to pull connections
- Great sound at medium to higher volumes
- Phone calls work well in noisy and windy environments
Not to buy
But wireless earbuds are such personal devices that actually touch your body at all times – they need to fit well and unfortunately that wasn’t the case for us. In addition the not great battery life, limited touch controls, codecs, features locked to a OnePlus phone and average performance at lower volume levels means the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 just aren’t our cup of chai. You might love it – I mean heck we love it – but we just won’t buy it. I mean, we did buy it… but…it was for the review..
It’s not you, it’s US. And we’ve been DHRME. Namaste.