OnePlus has been in the audio game for a while now, with its advent coming in the form of the OnePlus JBL E1+ in 2014. Since then, we’ve seen a litany of wired and wireless earphones from the company, with their most recent being the OnePlus Buds Z. OnePlus were kind to send us a pair, and I reviewed the original OnePlus Buds over on XDA-Developers. The OnePlus Buds Z are nearly as good, a fair bit cheaper, and may even be preferable to some. They’re a perfect pairing to go with a OnePlus smartphone, such as the OnePlus 8 that we reviewed earlier this year!
About this review: OnePlus sent us the OnePlus Buds Z for review at the end of October. They did not have any input in the contents of this review.
The OnePlus Buds Z have fantastic audio
Just like the OnePlus Buds, the OnePlus Buds Z offers fantastic audio on a budget. They’re mostly balanced across the lows, mids, and highs, though they are slightly low-end focused, and bass comes through slightly stronger than the Buds. Part of this is certainly due to the silicon tips that create a seal in-ear, but the earphones themselves are certainly tuned as well to favour the low-end.
I’ve been enjoying this playlist for the past month whilst testing them out, and I’m greatly impressed by the audio quality on offer. The bass is a little bit heavier than what I’m used to and what I enjoy, but I’m a bit of an audio snob. I think these are tuned well for what most people enjoy, with punchy, vibrant sound. While I prefer the regular OnePlus Buds (for what I think is a slightly superior audio experience), many will prefer the OnePlus Buds Z instead thanks to the in-ear seal that the silicon tips create. They’re also much better at noise isolation and are better for use on public transport and in other loud situations than the regular OnePlus Buds. I’ve admittedly not gotten to actually use them much on public transport considering the current ongoing situation, but the point still stands that they are significantly better at noise isolation than the regular OnePlus Buds.
I am a huge fan of the OnePlus Buds Z, and I’ve been enjoying using them a lot. However, when it comes to audio, the OnePlus Buds I have found have a slight edge in actual quality. Because of their more “open” design, bass comes through just right, and it’s an overally more balanced-feeling sound signature. That’s not take away from the OnePlus Buds Z – in fact, a lot of reviewers actually preferred the Z model thanks to their in-ear seal and more powerful bass! It’s just not for me though, and I realise that I am certainly in the minority. Even then, the Buds Z are cheaper than the regular Buds as well, and a far lower price point for slightly inferior audio (in my eyes… or, well, ears) is something that many may consider.
As for call quality, the other person can hear me clearly, and I can hear the other person clearly too. You may run into issues if there’s a lot of noise happening around you, but that’s generally the case with TWS earphones in general. This is because the microphone is located in your ear, and they may struggle to discern and select your voice over everything else that’s happening around you.
The OnePlus Buds Z are comfortable and convenient, though they’re not perfect
So look, I’m sure all of us have had a really good pair of earphones or headphones that we just couldn’t wear for longer periods of time. They start to hurt or become uncomfortable and you need to take them off to give your ears a rest. Thankfully, I have not run into that problem with the OnePlus Buds Z. In fact, I’ve been able to use them for nearly their entire rated battery life (5 hours) without a single issue. The soft tips actually provide a lot of comfort in-ear, and the stems don’t press too hard against your outer ear. The case that they go into is small as well, so I wouldn’t worry about that being a bulky addition to your bag, or to your pockets alongside a smartphone. The base of the case is flat and will sit snugly in your pocket, as the top of the case is rounded out.
As for convenience, the pairing process is simple and easy. Simply open them up, hold down the pair button, and a notification will show up on nearby smartphones to connect to them. This is Google’s Fast Pair and is something that the OnePlus Buds debuted with as well. It makes setting them up a breeze, and a much more convenient process than most Bluetooth earphones. In terms of battery life, you’ll get 5 hours of usage off of a single charge, with an additional 15 hours of usage that you can get from recharging them in the case. From our testing, this appears to be a more or less accurate claim. Putting the earphones back in the case for ten minutes while charging will net you three hours of playtime.
The only major issue that I’ve noticed is that the additional features such as gesture controls can only be modified using an app installed from the Google Play Store if you don’t own a OnePlus device. This app is not available on the iPhone, so you’ll need an Android smartphone to modify the gestures if you care about that. One “gesture” that I find incredibly useful is the automatic ear detection, as they’ll automatically pause or play the content that is currently playing based on you removing an earphone or putting it back in. This can be disabled if you think it might get annoying.
One other feature that I found missing was that there is not AptX support. AptX support is a proprietary audio codec used on smartphones with Qualcomm chipsets, and it may offer a superior audio experience in some situations. It’s not a big deal that it’s been omitted, but again, something that may bother some people more than others.
The OnePlus Buds Z are cost-effective
Interested in picking up a pair of the OnePlus Buds Z for Christmas? You can head on over to the OnePlus store to order them now, as they’re currently in stock. At a price of €59.99, they’re currently €30 cheaper than the regular OnePlus Buds but offer more or less the same experience. Many would go so far as to say that they are better than the original Buds, and while I disagree personally, I can definitely see why one might say that. Check out the link below to go to the OnePlus store and purchase a pair for yourself!