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OnePlus Nord Buds hands-on: Unbeatable at first glance

NextPit OnePlus Nord Buds Camila
© NextPit

The new OnePlus Nord Buds has just been announced and we had the chance to test this TWS earbud for 24 hours. Considering that these earbuds hit the market costing just over 1/4 the value of the Apple AirPods 3rd Gen, my first impression of the OnePlus Nord Buds couldn't be better.

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OnePlus Nord Buds in a nutshell

The OnePlus Nord Buds were released on May 19, but pre-order starts only on May 31 in the US, and only through the official OnePlus store. The starting price of these earbuds is $39, which is really competitive when we look at the quality-to-price ratio.

The Nord Buds follows the philosophy of the Nord smartphone series, namely to offer as much as possible at super affordable prices. So, according to OnePlus, these wireless headphones are built with some of the brand's most popular features, such as 12.4mm titanium dynamic drivers, Dolby Atmos support, and 30 hours of combined playback on a single charge.

With an original look that makes a good impression from the moment of unboxing the headphones, this $39 device does not lag behind many of the more expensive options available on the market. In addition, battery life and audio quality are highlights here.

In Europe, the OnePlus Nord Buds will go on sale starting May 24, 2022. Pre-orders can be placed from OnePlus.com and on local Amazon sites starting May 19, 2022.

OnePlus Nord Buds charging case
With an original design, the charging case and earbuds set makes a great impression right from the start / © NextPit

Sleek look and comfortable experience

The Nord Buds are available in Black Slate color and have a metallic look, this is thanks to the non-conductive vacuum metallization according to the manufacturer-just like we have on the OnePlus Buds Pro. Weighing only 4.82 grams, the headphones are super discreet as well. In addition, they offer an IP55 rating against water and sweat, with a hydrophobic, sweat-resistant nano-coating that protects against corrosion.

With ergonomic design, the OnePlus Nord Buds are really comfortable. There are few headphones that do not cause pain in my ears within the first few days of use, and the Nord Buds are on that select list. Even wearing the headphones for hours on end, I didn't notice any discomfort. In addition, they feel quite stable and secure in the ears, unlike the model I was previously using, the Honor Earbuds 2 Lite, which uses a design quite similar to Apple's AirPods.


What I liked:

  • Original design-not everything is AirPods!
  • IP55 certification and protection against corrosion by sweat.
  • Size and weight.
  • Super secure in the ears.

What I didn't like:

  • -

OnePlus Nord Buds on the table
Design is subjective, but the Nord Buds should fall to OnePlus fans' taste for visual design / © NextPit

Besides the intermediate tip (M) that comes installed on the headphones, we have two other tip sizes in the box-small (S) and large (L). Fortunately, I didn't have to remove the standard tip, but if you want to change, it is very simple to remove and add each of the size options.

The charging case is also discreet, even though it is more rectangular in size than my Honor ANC headset which is more square. It is 67.9 x 35.5 x 28.68 mm from the OnePlus versus 45.5 x 61.2 x 25.35 mm from the Honor, but it still fits very well in my fanny pack.

OnePlus Nord Buds charging case closed on the table
The charging case is rectangular, but it still fits perfectly in small bags / © NextPit

Controls that are easy to remember

To control the OnePlus Nord Buds is pretty simple, we have three touch options that work on either side of the earbuds. There are no physical buttons here, just touch sensitive ones. In the table that follows you check out what each of the actions offers:

  Single tap Double Tap Triple Tap Hold
By default Play/Pause Next Previous -
Optional - Play/Pause | Previous | Next | Wake up voice assistant Previous | Next | Wake up voice assistant -
Call control   Answer/End - Reject (3s)

You can customize each of the touch functions of any of the earbuds on your phone to use different commands. However, this only works for OnePlus devices. In my test with an iPhone, it was not possible to do this.

Connectivity and Latency

As far as connectivity goes, the OnePlus Nord Buds are Bluetooth 5.2 equipped, and according to the manufacturer feature an ultra-low latency mode that decreases delays to 94ms when paired with OnePlus devices with the Pro Gamer mode enabled. Honestly, during the time I spent with the headphones, latency was nothing I had to worry about.

And for those already using a OnePlus smartphone-for OnePlus 6 or later-the OnePlus Fast Pair function is available. Android users interested in the Nord Buds can download the HeyMelody app from the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, I was not able to add the headphones to the HeyMelody app on iOS, even though it is available for download from the Apple App Store.

Good audio experience

On paper, the OnePlus Nord Buds feature 12.4 mm titanium dynamic drivers designed for "rich bass response and razor-sharp highs." Added to that, the Nord Buds are equipped with 4 microphones to filter out unwanted background noise during phone calls and feature AI-powered noise cancellation algorithms.

In practice, the sound quality is good, respecting bass and highs, and offers good performance in different music genres. In short, it is really enjoyable to listen to music with this headset. However, we do not have any kind of noise cancellation here, so depending on the volume setting, expect interference from the surrounding environment.


What I liked:

  • Above-average sound performance for low-cost TWS headphones.
  • Precise volume.
  • Support for equalization app on Android/OnePlus.

Dislikes:

  • Poor microphone audio in noisy environments.

OnePlus Nord Buds speakers detailed
The speakers are even quite powerful for a $50 headset / © NextPit

By way of comparison, the Honor Earbuds 2 Lite uses 10mm drivers, and despite the Honor buds being more expensive and relying on ANC, the Nord Buds' audio experience pleases me more. Also, set to volume zero, the Nord Buds goes completely silent, which Honor's device does not offer, even though it costs twice as much in Germany, where I live.

We also have Dolby Atmos spatial audio technology here for a surround audio experience. OnePlus offers support for the SBC and AAC codecs whose frequency range is from 20 to 20,000 Hz. As you might expect, we don't have any high-quality codecs on board. However, using the companion app HeyMelody it is possible to play around with different equalization options.

Screenshots displaying the app companion features
Using HeyMelody is possible to EQ your tracks / © NextPit

OnePlus highlights the 4 microphones present in the Nord Buds, as well as noise cancellation algorithms powered by the company's AI, however, the quality here is questionable. Indoors and in low-noise environments, audio recording proved to be good, however, when we are outside, with wind, even voice messages on WhatsApp proved to be a challenge.

Battery life: 30h on a single charge

According to OnePlus, the Nord Buds provide up to 30 hours of combined audio playback on a single charge , that's counting the charging case. On their own, the earbuds offer 7 hours of playback on a single charge. In addition, thanks to OnePlus' Flash Charge technology, we get 5 hours of audio playback with just 10 minutes of charging time.

Unfortunately, with only one day of use, it is difficult to express an opinion about this, however, I can say that the power consumption was quite stable. A USB-C charging cable is included in the box, however, as my MacBook Pro has no USB-A port, it was of little use to me. Therefore, any USB-C cable will work in this case.


What I liked:

  • 7 hours of playback on a single charge.
  • Flash Charge.

What I didn't like:

  • USB-C/USB-A charging cable is outdated.

OnePlus Nord Buds charging case open with the earbuds inside
Combining earbuds and charging case, we get 30h of battery life according to OnePlus / © NextPit

OnePlus Nord Buds technical specifications

  Technical specifications
Product
Illustration OnePlus Nord Buds
Design In earbud weight: 4.82 g (per earpiece) / 41.7 g (housing) | port detection | touch controls
Audio 12.4 mm dynamic drivers | 102 dB ± 3 bB @ 1 kHz | Microphones: 4 (2 per earbud)
Frequency response
  • Bluetooth: 20-20,000 Hz
Special Features
  • Dolby Atmos support | Sound Master Equalizer | Compatibility with HeyMelody app | AI noise cancellation calls
Bluetooth

5.2 | SBC, AAC codecs | Wireless range 10 meters | OnePlus Fast Pair

Battery life
  • 7h Playback | 3.5h Calls
  • 30h Playback with the box
  • Fast Recharge 10 min = 5h autonomy (charging case + earbuds combined)
  • Battery capacity: 41 mAh (per earbud) + 480 mAh (charging case)
Price $39

Should I buy the OnePlus Nord Buds?

It is still early to give a verdict on the Nord Buds from OnePlus, but thinking about the quality-to-price ratio this TWS model seems unbeatable. OnePlus managed to develop a headset with an original design, comfortable, and with good audio quality at $39. And that is a great achievement.

For those who already use a smartphone from the brand, such as the recently announced OnePlus Nord 2T, getting these headphones will be a sure choice. This is because both devices share the same philosophy of getting the most for the least possible price. For those who don't have a budget above $40, the Nord Buds are also a good option at first glance.

I dare to say that for many Android smartphone users on a tight budget, investing in this model may be a good option, given that it can be used in conjunction with OnePlus' companion app for a personalized audio experience. However, if you use an iPhone and want more control over audio equalization and customization of control actions, this may not be the low-budget TWS headset for you.

OnePlus Nord Buds
Good, beautiful, and cheap, the Nord Buds become part of the OnePlus Nord family portfolio starting today / © NextPit

I will be testing the OnePlus Nord Buds in the coming days in conjunction with OnePlus smartphones and other Android models, and in a few weeks we will publish the full review of these super affordable wireless headphones. Until then, I'd like to know what you thought of the new member of the OnePlus' Nord portfolio: Is this a device you would buy? Why would you?

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