When the OnePlus Buds, with a suggested retail price of € 89, were announced, the term AirPods competitor was immediately used. Not surprising, because for that price difference it would be fantastic if the earphones could pass as a worthy alternative. But is that also the case in practice?
Where I normally use my Apple AirPods 2 every day, I have been working with the OnePlus Buds for the past week and a half. All this to answer just one question: are the earphones a worthy alternative to Apple’s AirPods?
OnePlus Buds: the first true wireless earphones
The OnePlus Buds are the first true wireless earphones from OnePlus. That simply means that these are the company’s first fully wireless earphones. They are equipped with a charging case, offer 30 hours of battery life and are equipped with Envoiremental Noise cancellation. And all for the price of € 89. How good are the ears?
In order to draw that conclusion, I assess the earphones on the following four parts.
The design of the OnePlus Buds really appeals to me. Logical, because who is a fan of the Apple AirPods would also like these earphones. They are not in-ears and I personally think that is a big plus. They fit like a glove for me and I think they look beautiful too. I cannot say much more about that. In terms of build quality, it is good. The ears feel premium and sturdy. That is how they are in your ears. They are resistant to sweat and splash water, but they should also be left on during a workout. In that regard, I didn’t worry for a second while using the OnePlus Buds.
What I can say a lot about is the design of the charging box. This has an egg-shaped design and that does not look very sleek in my opinion. Certainly not, because the OnePlus Buds box is quite large. It weighs almost nothing, but is quite clumsy. In that respect, the box, unlike the ears, also feels quite cheap. I can imagine that the cover will become a bit lame over time.
There is some awkwardness in design. The OnePlus Buds are not always easy to take out of the box. Especially on hot days, when the hands are slightly sweatier than you would like, you hardly get the ears out of the box. In that respect it is piling until you drop. Unfortunately.
In terms of sound quality, the OnePlus Buds are very good. Bass tones are low enough and the volume can be loud enough. I listen to a lot of music and I like variety. One moment I turn Frank Sinatra completely gray, while the other moment I can appreciate a big load of house again. It is important in that respect that the OnePlus Buds can satisfy me in all areas. And the ears do that with all the ease of the world.
To be honest, I expected a big difference in sound quality between the AirPods and the OnePlus Buds. After all, it is a difference of almost € 100. I will go into this comparison a bit deeper later, but the difference is nil. Really nice.
The quality of the internal microphones is not as good as I had hoped. I especially noticed that when calling friends and family, sometimes the audio quality can be quite poor. Something that can also be heard when you record audio with the earphones. The sound is sometimes dull and background noise is not optimally filtered out. Not very important to me, but I can imagine that this could be a deal breaker for people.
The OnePlus Buds are 100% user-friendly. It is clear that you get the most out of the ears when you have a OnePlus phone. But when you use a different smartphone, in this case also an iPhone, the user-friendliness is more than acceptable.
If you take an ear out of your ear, the media being played will pause. Press the earpiece on the left twice to go back a number and tap on the right to continue a number. Press and hold the left earpiece for three seconds and the earphones will connect to the previous device that is connected. Example: You have linked your OnePlus Buds to your smartphone, but want to connect to your computer. Hold the ear for three seconds and the OnePlus Buds exchange the smartphone for the computer. It’s that simple.
A big plus for the OnePlus Buds for that matter!
During the unveiling, it was announced that users with the OnePlus Buds can expect a battery life of 30 hours. Each ear is able to provide 7 hours of battery life and by neatly putting them back in the box, they fully recharge. I can’t say much about that, what OnePlus says is true. You can really do a long time with the battery of the OnePlus Buds and I personally think that is a must.
When the earplugs are empty, charge the charging case with a USB-C cable. This is done at a rapid pace. After 10 minutes of charging, you can use it again for 10 hours. That is actually what you get and is, just like with the OnePlus phones, a big plus.
OnePlus Buds: Difference from the AirPods
At the moment you can hardly compare the OnePlus Buds with the Apple AirPods. The latter are easily the most popular wireless earphones on the market and rightly so as far as I am concerned. Only with a price tag of at least € 179 they are not for everyone. In that regard, the OnePlus Buds are a much better deal on paper. But I also tend to make such a statement in practice.
The big difference with the Apple AirPods is a premium feel. The ears feel a lot better on a qualitative level. Not only in the hand, but also in your ears. After a few hours of use, the OnePlus Buds, at least for me, start to hurt. I haven’t had that feeling with the Apple AirPods. The sound quality of the OnePlus Buds is remarkably high, but that of the AirPods is slightly higher. In that regard, the latter’s microphone also does a better job.
But if I compare those differences to the price difference, I would personally recommend the OnePlus Buds. Without a doubt.
OnePlus Buds: a worthy alternative
The answer to the question “are the OnePlus Buds a worthy alternative” is therefore clear. I personally won’t be disposing of my Apple AirPods anytime soon, but I’m happy with such an alternative on the market. The OnePlus Buds are highly recommended for people with an Android smartphone. For the price of € 89 you get user-friendly earphones with good sound quality and impressive battery life.
Let me put it this way: the OnePlus Buds are not the best true wireless earphones on the market, but without a doubt the very best deal in this area.