OnePlus Nord Buds Review: Impressively competent

I’ve been using the OnePlus Buds Pro pretty much since they were released, I swap them out with my Soundcore frames, but when I need earbuds, the ones I reach for are the OnePlus Buds Pro, but at £140 they’re pretty pricey even if I think they’re worth it. The OnePlus Buds Z2 were a disappointment in many ways due to their price, so how do the Nord Buds from OnePlus stand up? Thankfully, very well.

OnePlus nord Buds
+ FOR
  • Great Audio
  • Stellar battery life
  • Impressive comfort level
  • Ergonomic controls
- AGAINST
  • Case ergonomics SUCK
  • Only comes in Black?

Buy from OnePlus

Disclaimer

OnePlus PR sent the Nord Buds to me for the purposes of review, no money has changed hands between either entity and OnePlus is not seeing this review before it goes live.

OnePlus Nord Buds Review

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Overview

The Nord Buds are OnePlus’ first Nord branded audio product, these are an inexpensive set of TWS earbuds at just £50, and whilst they don’t have full active noise cancelling, I think they work better as headphones than many £50 TWS buds that also have active noise cancelling as the extra cost has instead gone on the drivers, which are pretty huge at 12.4mm. The first thing I want to applaud OnePlus is the size and shape of the buds themselves, the bud is small, but instead of a thin and long stem, OnePlus has a short bud wide flat stem with a metallic disc at the top that is slightly concave, this acts as your controls for the buds. It is a different material and the concavity makes it easy to find by touch, and the size of the stems makes it easy to reposition them and insert/remove them, nice.

Sadly, I cannot extend the same accolades to the case, because I actually kind of hate the case the Nord Buds come in, first off, it is much larger than it needs to be, it is 68mm wide, 35mm deep and 28.5mm thick/tall, worst of all on top of that only the left and right are curved, the front, rear, top and bottom are all flat, making this appear larger in your hands and more importantly pocket. One of the reasons I pick up the OnePlus Buds Pro so much is the great ergonomics of the case, they slip into my jeans pocket easily, and if I have to hold them they’re curved enough, without being too much that it fits in my palm nicely, the Nord Buds fail hard here.

OnePlus Nord Buds Review

To charge the Nord buds there is a USB-C port on the rear of the case and you charge up at 5v1a, so 5w. OnePlus say this flash charge is capable of giving you 5 hours of use from a 10-minute charge, and despite using these nearly every day for the last 3 weeks since I got them, I haven’t had to recharge the case yet, I’m only at 22%, the Nord Buds’ longevity is really something to behold I think. A fully charged set of Nord Buds should last you 7 hours in one go, and when you add the case in that jumps to 30 hours, I’ve been happy with the charging of the buds, as I haven’t had to think about it. Also on the rear is a pairing button which makes the device visible to other devices in pairing mode, or if you have a OnePlus Device, the fast pair mode.

If you aren’t aware of Fast Pair, if you have a OnePlus Phone and you open the Nord Buds case a dialogue will show up of the Nord buds in their case spinning around asking if you want to connect to them, and once you click yes, every time after that when you open the case it shows the battery status of each bud and the case itself, it’s pretty neat. Not just this though because these are OnePlus phones and OnePlus earbuds in the Bluetooth settings you can get more features for customising the buds and updating the firmware. However, if you aren’t running a OnePlus device, you aren’t S.O.L, the App “HeyMelody” gives you the deep configuration options and it worked just fine on my Honor Magic 4 Pro, Pixel 4a and my Infinix Note 12.

Spec Sheet

  • 12.4mm Titanium coated dynamic drivers
  • 98dB max volume (102 in India)
  • 20Hz-20Khz frequency response
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • 480mAh battery (case)
  • 41mAh battery (each bud)
  • 41g (case)
  • 4.8g (buds)
  • 4 microphones (2 per bud) 

Audio & Use

I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting much when it came to the audio experience here, and in a way, I’m glad I underestimated these because I was pretty blown away. First, off they didn’t have the over present bass like most cheap buds (and the Buds Z2) had which is much less jarring to my ears, but because of the shape of the casing that goes in your ear, these particular buds seal very well in my ears, meaning that whilst these don’t have active noise cancelling, they software trickery they do, plus that very good seal makes a big difference, I don’t even feel the need to try to get some comply foam tips for these, and that’s saying something!

The 12.4mm titanium-coated dynamic drivers are larger than the 11mm drivers in the pro that I have been using a lot over the last year, and whilst I still personally prefer the soundstage and frequency response of the Buds Pro, for almost a third of the cost, the Nord Buds are no slouch. With the stock EQ you are going to want to listen to more pop music than instrumentals or operatic stuff, the high ends on these just feel a bit shrill even at about 60% volume, this might just be my pair though.

OnePlus Nord Buds Review

Something that I found really fun to listen to these on though was actually techno music or early 2000s EDM, I can’t really explain why, but something about these buds and some early Daft Punk for example just made me shiver, it just felt right, and so much of music is a feeling, so finding the genre of music that really resonates (heh) with your buds is great, especially when it is a genre of music you’re a fan of. Of course, pop music sounds good, acoustic sounds, punk stuff (the new MCR track absolutely slaps) they all work well, but something about EDM/techno just clicks here.

Final Thoughts

The OnePlus Nord Buds are impressively competent for their price, they sound really good, and have great battery, I never had any communication issues between any of the devices I used, even Windows PCs! (although, to be fair I used it on my Qualcomm powered PC which seems to have a much better Bluetooth stack than x86 Windows does). But that bloody case, it’s annoyingly large, and It makes me not want to pick them up.

OnePlus Nord Buds Review

But, if you don’t care too much about the case, for £50 these are an absolute steal, and if you already own a OnePlus phone, the software ties make it even easier and more convenient to use. I don’t miss active noise cancellation on these as much as I expected too, the software trickery is very neat, and that great seal the buds make really helped me. OnePlus has a banger on their hands here.

About Domenico Lamberti

Technology has been a big part of my life for years, whether it be ripping the family computer apart to see how it worked, playing with the new phones that Dad brought home from work. Senior Reviewer for MTT.

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