The OnePlus Buds Z are the second wireless headphones from the Sino-Finnish brand. After a successful first test, this new version seeks to offer a high-end experience for only 59 euros. Could OnePlus offer the best quality / price ratio on the market with this product?
So-called “True Wireless” wireless headphones are becoming more and more numerous on the market. The first were presented by Apple, the famous AirPods. The Cupertino manufacturer was quickly followed by the competition, such as Samsung with its Buds, Microsoft with Surface Earbuds and other brands such as Jabra.
In 2020, OnePlus stepped into the breach with the OnePlus Buds. A few months later, the brand unveiled the Buds Z at the same time as its OnePlus 8T. More compact, resistant to water and promising a great autonomy, they are sold at 59 euros on the official website. Great promises on paper, but what about in use? Do the OnePlus Buds Z hold up? Are they a must have in the OnePlus catalog? This is what we will see in this test.
Price and availability
The OnePlus Buds Z are available on the OnePlus website. If the manufacturer mentions two colors, one white and one special, only the immaculate version can now be purchased online.
The product is sold for 59 euros, a very reasonable price considering the current market. The first OnePlus Buds were sold for 89 euros. For comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live are priced at 199 euros while Apple AirPods cost 179 euros and AirPods Pro are priced at 279 euros. OnePlus therefore offers a very attractive price that could appeal to owners of OnePlus, but not only. For that price, we still suspect that concessions have been made.
On paper, the technical sheet of the OnePlus Buds Z is very attractive. They are presented as wireless headphones to store in a case. These connect to your terminal via Bluetooth 5.0 and have a range of 10 meters. The box is recharged via a 20 centimeter USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable provided in the box.
The headphones are 4 grams each and are fitted with 10mm transducers. No active noise reduction in the program, but water and sweat tightness since they are IP55 certified. Autonomy side, we are promised until 5 o’clock to listen to music without placing the headphones in the case (40 mAh by Buds).
Read also – Huawei Freebuds Pro review: rich bass sound coupled with effective noise reduction
Using the said box (450 mAh), it is possible to get 20 hours of total battery life without going near a socket. The manufacturer also promises a fast 10-minute charge for three hours of listening.
For this new version, OnePlus has redesigned its design, focusing on small size as well as minimalism. The first models of OnePlus Buds were inspired by Apple AirPods, so much so that US customs even mistook them for counterfeits. With the Buds Z, OnePlus is trying to find its own personality and has relied on simplicity to achieve this.
The white plastic case emphasizes sobriety. With rounded shapes, it adopts dimensions of 7.5 x 5.6 x 3 cm. A very small object that weighs only 41 grams on the scale (with headphones). In effect, this means that it is easy to store it in your pocket for transport. Practical in everyday life.
The design of this large white bean is marked by several elements, such as the mention “OnePlus” printed on the plastic of the hood. At the back we find a port USB Type-C for charge and an association button. On the front, a small LED that can turn green, orange, red depending on the battery level or even white if the product is being paired via Bluetooth.
In the box we find a short wire of 20 centimeters to recharge the box. It’s a bit short, but it will be enough to connect it to a PC. No charger supplied, but it is quite possible to use a smartphone charger to power the Buds on.
On the case, we notice a notch which opens the top cover to access the headphones. These are arranged in small hollows perfectly matching their shapes. Note that the R (right / droit) and L (left / gauche) words are printed so as not to be mistaken when putting them on. Expected, but still useful.
By removing them, we notice metal branches that are used to recharge them. The headphones as well as the case are magnetized, which allows them to be easily placed in their notches. Very practical not to drop them if you want to put them away while you are in the street.
The Buds themselves aren’t very original, very reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods. Note a slightly long body, but convenient to grip them, as well as the presence of a rubber tip that holds very well on the product. In the box we find two more pairs of these tips: a smaller one and a bigger one, depending on your ear size.
Finally, there are some interesting details on the body of the headphones, such as the presence of the L or R mention, which is logical, located at the bottom of the stem. At the base of the latter, we notice a small hole, which is actually a microphone for telephone conversations.
Finally, the outer part of the headphones is completely flat and slightly gray compared to the rest. This is an area used for gesture navigation, we’ll come back to that.
In short, these wireless headphones don’t reinvent the wheel. However, they are very practical in use, in particular thanks to the magnetic tips and their long stems, although visually unsightly. We also appreciate the very small size of the case which does not take up space in a pocket and can therefore be taken anywhere without worry.
Simple, but limited use
The OnePlus Buds Z show up very pleasant when worn in the ear. Their shape is designed for optimal comfort. The same goes for the tips. Even if you’re not a fan of in-ear headphones, we like their design that adapts perfectly to the ear. We must also salute their maintenance. Even when moving in all directions during sports sessions, the headphones remain securely attached. An excellent point. Speaking of sports, the headphones are designed for with their IP55 certification. They can therefore withstand sweat, a little rain and dust, but not prolonged immersion in water (so forget swimming). A good thing, especially since even under these conditions, they stay well attached to the ear.
Their long stems also allow them to be easily picked up, but this little feature isn’t to be liked by everyone. The various manufacturers are indeed trying to reduce this rod on their True Wireless headphones, or even completely remove it like Samsung with its Galaxy Buds Live. OnePlus has chosen to keep them and the thing is handy to remove them easily. Afterwards, it’s a matter of taste.
Regarding the software part of these headphones, it is very simple and reduced to the strict minimum. Here, no application to download, everything is done naturally. Buds Z can be managed in the settings if you have a OnePlus smartphone. This menu is still very limited and can be used to make the headphones ring if you have misplaced them or to locate them geographically. On other smartphones from OnePlus, this menu is not present, but it is possible to use an application such as HeyMelody for the same result. However, we regret that gesture navigation cannot be personalized.
Indeed, the OnePlus Buds offers only one interaction. With headphones in your ears, you can double-tap (right or left, whatever) to skip to the next song. Tapping once has no effect here and does not pause, too bad. We note, however, that the music automatically cuts off when you remove one of the headphones and resumes when you put it back on. Convenient.
Using Buds Z is focused on simplicity. When you use them for the first time, you must pair it with your phone by pressing and holding the button on the back of the case for two seconds (the LED will then flash white). Once done, a pop-up window will appear on your smartphone. It must be selected to connect the two devices. Then, a window will automatically appear at the top of the screen, showing the battery level of each earpiece and the box.
When you’re done, you put the headphones back in the charging case and when you feel like it again, you put them back in your ear. In doing so, the headphones automatically reconnect to your smartphone (the pop-up window reappears to signal this) and you can enjoy your music again.
On our test smartphone, the OnePlus 8T, the operation is smooth in addition to being efficient. In contrast, the thing is less obvious on other Android devices. We have indeed tried the operation on a Galaxy S20, a Motorola Edge or even a Z Fold 2. When we paired the Buds to smartphones, we were able to use them without worry. But things got complicated afterwards. After putting them away, we reused them later. They were still paired and functional, but untimely blackouts ruined the experience, as if the connection was struggling to re-establish. To correct this problem, we had to pair the Buds again. An operation which certainly only takes a few seconds, but which is a bit painful in the long run. A concern that we did not find on the 8T, or even on a PC connected via Bluetooth.
Last point to remember, and which is a bit of a shame, the OnePlus Buds Z are not compatible with multipoint Bluetooth and therefore cannot be connected to several devices at the same time. It will have to be reconnected if necessary.
A sound that leaves something to be desired
On the sound side, the headphones don’t sparkle. They are focused on mids and low mids, completely abandoning the highs. If things work out when listening to rap, classical or rock music, it gets complicated when we play more aggressive music, like metal or electro. The lyrics are completely drowned and listening far from pleasant. We will also note a distortion well present at high volume which taint this table. In fact, the sound is passable for a 60 euro object, and we are clearly not here at the level of other high-end headphones on the market, which is disappointing, but logical.
We must also point out the absence of active noise reduction (his presence would have been surprising on this rate). If the maximum volume allows good insulation, you will never be completely isolated. A lack that will disappoint some, but which is not really harmful to this product. Finally, the headphones can be used to make phone calls. Here, the Buds Z prove their effectiveness by delivering clear sound in conversation. The microphone also works very well, your interlocutor can hear you perfectly, despite a slight veil in the voice. This part uses appreciable noise reduction which makes calls very clear.
Average headphones on this point, but who still fulfill their contract without shining. We’re nowhere near the sound quality of AirPods or Galaxy Buds, for example, but these are also much more expensive.
On battery life, OnePlus promises up to 5 hours of listening to music through earphones. In fact, this promise is kept, since through our various tests, we measured 4 hours and 46 minutes on average in music playback before you need to put the headphones back into the case for charging.
These can recharge the headphones three times before needing recharging. The 20-hour promise is therefore practically achieved. We have here an autonomy which is certainly not exceptional, but which is shown to be very correct. It will therefore be possible to hold out for a week, or even two depending on your use, before recharging the box. This unit, in fact, recharges slowly, since we have calculated a recharge from 0 to 100% in just under two hours.