It began as a phone company, but OnePlus has now expanded into other areas of technology, such as audio. The OnePlus Buds Pro were released in the autumn, but Digital Trends never had an opportunity to review them.
To test them out further, I waited for OnePlus to release a new colour for the Buds Pro along with the OnePlus 10 Pro. My OnePlus 10 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra have both been used for the past four weeks.
I need to talk about this hue before we get into how the buds sound. Radiant Silver is an extremely gorgeous and very reflective (and a bit of a fingerprint/dirt magnet), but it also feels like clutching a bar of soap. Before these buds, I had never had an earbud case slide off my desk. The buds themselves have the same finish, which makes them slick and difficult to grip. It’s just that there’s no justification for it. This is the epitome of form over function, and it didn’t win me over right away.
Of course, this isn’t the only finish available for the buds. They’re also available in Matte Black and Glossy White. I’d suggest those. The Radiant Silver component of the buds does not make them uncomfortable, but they are slick to place in your ears. Because I have sausages for fingertips, your results may vary.
The buds are a close clone of the AirPods Pro, with stems that stick down from your ear and silicone tips for noise isolation. Active noise cancellation (ANC) and ambient sound are also included, allowing you to hear what’s going on around you. The silicone tips are excellent for isolating sound, and the ANC is adequate. It’s not the greatest I’ve used, and the ambient sound isn’t suitable for much more than a quick drive-through discussion.
Settings play hard to get
The earbuds are almost supernaturally connected to your OnePlus phone. When you open the case near a OnePlus phone, you’ll be asked to pair it. Following that, we encounter a minor blip that is both cool and unpleasant. The best thing is that when you use a OnePlus phone, the earbud settings are really part of the operating system. The buds do not have an app. The settings are accessed through the Bluetooth control panel on your phone.
The bad news is that this feature is virtually impossible to find anyplace. When they pair, you get a short pop-up, but that’s it. It isn’t on the box, on the phone, or even on the internet. I spent an hour Googling how to locate the settings. Finally, I just made a guess and found it.
If you don’t have a OnePlus phone, you’ll need to download the HeyMelody app. For those who are unfamiliar, this is a third-party app that headphone manufacturers can use instead of creating their own app. That’s reasonable. However, unless you’re knowledgeable enough with the audio environment to download it, it’s difficult to use, and for $150, a headphone manufacturer should definitely build its own app.
When you get into the OnePlus Buds Pro settings, you won’t be able to adjust some of the controls on the buds. You’re encouraged to set up actions for when you squeeze, double squeeze, triple squeeze, and squeeze and hold the stems on the buds when you first open the app, but you can only modify two of them. When you try to adjust the parameters for a single and double squeeze, a tiny dialogue informs you that such settings are locked. It doesn’t seem like it should even be an option?
The buds do allow you to create a sound profile that is specific to your ears. To determine your hearing threshold, the three-minute test plays a series of tones of varying volume into each of your ears. After that, it creates a sound profile for you, which fills in the sound on the earbuds. I’ll confess that I’m not an audiophile enough to detect much of a change in sound, but it’s a cool feature that every earphone should have but few have. Read more; 1More PistonBuds Pro review: Sweet Sound for Small Ears
All the needed features
When it comes to characteristics that every pair of earbuds should have, these buds have in-ear recognition, which instantly pauses your music when you take them out of your ears. It was here that I ran into problems on occasion. My podcasts would occasionally refuse to play until I pushed the play button on my phone. Sometimes the ANC might simply not activate. It took me a while to figure out that the earbuds weren’t registering my presence in my ears for some reason. They started operating again once I removed and reinstalled them. I’m not sure what the difference in placement was – they both felt the same — yet they occasionally decided they didn’t want to work. I quickly learned that if I squeezed the stem and heard a click, they were in the right spot. Otherwise, I’d have to try again.
In terms of sound, I listen to podcasts on my earbuds the majority of the time, and they sound great. The active noise cancellation is fantastic, and it helps me to reduce the volume of what I’m listening to greatly for improved hearing health. Noise cancellation is designed to accomplish this. The buds are fantastic for phone calls and Zoom/Team meetings, as well as podcasts and spoken word. We came through loud and clear, according to callers.
Price and Availability
Overall, the OnePlus buds are good true wireless earbuds. This would be great if almost every other company in the world didn’t also make true wireless earbuds. In this category, there is a lot of competition, and OnePlus’s attempt to stand out by integrating into the phone’s software actually hurts the user experience.
Plus, most people who use earbuds control them with taps and swipes, but OnePlus went with squeezes, which aren’t as good. In fact, OnePlus takes design and usability cues from iOS (squeezes instead of taps, putting settings into the operating system), but this is confusing on an Android phone. It’s up to each person to decide if these things are “better” or not.
The price is another thing. If these were closer to $100, it would be a good deal to buy them. At $150, there are just too many other options to take it seriously.