When OnePlus started out in India, it disrupted the entire smartphone market by offering flagship smartphones at a very competitive price. Now the brand is trying to adopt the same strategy with its TWS range. The challenge here is the fact that the TWS market is already quite ‘disrupted’, and there are different TWS from brands floating in pretty much every price segment. Unlike the smartphone market, where OnePlus stood out without any real challenge, things are rather different in the TWS world. But even with all this competition, OnePlus has managed to carve a niche for itself in the TWS crowd.

oneplus buds z2 review

Its OnePlus Buds Z was a runaway success in 2020, and the brand has now launched its successor, the OnePlus Buds Z2. The OnePlus Buds Z2 come with a number of new features as compared to their predecessors. They have larger 11mm dynamic drivers, active noise cancellation, Dolby Atmos support, and battery life. But will these new Buds turn out to be bestsellers too?

Speaking the same design language as the Z

In terms of appearance, the OnePlus Buds Z2 largely follow the same design language as their predecessors. They come in a pill-shaped case that has a glossy exterior. We received the Obsidian Black unit, which has the OnePlus logo in grey right on top. The front side has a small LED light that indicates pairing and battery status when connected to a power source, while the back has a USB Type-C port and a small button for pairing purposes. The base is flat. The case has a flip-open top, which reveals the buds nestled inside when flipped.

Very small, almost invisible ‘R’ and ‘L’ markings highlight which earbud has to go in which ear. The buds also have a similar shape as the Buds Z. The head of the all-black buds has a rubber ear tip as these earbuds are designed to go all the way in your ear canals like the AirPods Pro and not just hang in your ears like the AirPods. The bulbous head has a touch-sensitive flat circular back while a small stem extends down. At 4.6 grams each, the earbuds are quite light to use for prolonged periods. The whole package weighs around 49.50 grams, which is light enough to be carried in one’s pocket.

Plastic, but they do not fall out

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The in-ear design of the OnePlus Buds Z2 makes them stay firmly in place in our ears even during a hectic workout session. That said, this design often causes a bit of pain in the insides of our ears after a few hours. It is not the fault of the OnePlus Buds Z2; it is actually a problem with such tight fit, in-ear earbuds anyway. It is just the price one has to pay for wireless earbuds that stay in place and do not fall down with a simple nod.

Both earbuds and the case have a plastic build, and OnePlus has made no attempts to hide it. The plastic used for the case feels a little cheap and not very premium. The glossy exteriors also make the case prone to fingerprints and scratches. The earbuds feel slightly more sturdy as compared to the case but have the same plasticky feel to them. That said, the OnePlus Buds Z2 do come with an IP55 rating which makes them dust and water-resistant, a much-needed backing to their otherwise not -so-premium feeling build quality. They are not bad-looking but are unlikely to stand out in a crowd either.

No pairing blues

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The pairing process of the OnePlus Buds Z2 is quite easy and uncomplicated. You have to flip the case open and press the tiny button on its back. Now you simultaneously have to bring your device, with Bluetooth turned on, near the case. In the Bluetooth settings of your device, find the OnePlus Buds Z2. Once you spot the OnePlus Buds Z2 in the Bluetooth list, you simply have to tap on the name, and the buds will get paired to your device.

To reconnect the device with the paired phone, you simply have to flip open the case near the paired device and take the OnePlus Buds Z2 out, and the earbuds will get connected to the device. In case you wish to pair your OnePlus Buds Z2 to a new device, you have to first unpair the Buds Z2 from the previously paired device and then follow the same pairing process.

Surprisingly good touch controls, handy-ish app

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The earbuds come with a touch-sensitive flat circular panel, which can be used to carry out different functions when tapped. A single tap will pair/ pause music or will pick up a call if you are getting one. A double-tap will move to the next song, while triple-tapping the left bud will play the previous song. Long pressing the right earbud will turn off the earbuds, while long pressing the left earbud will turn ANC on/off.

While we dislike touch controls on most TWS, using them on the OnePlus Buds, Z2 is actually easier as your taps are followed by a small click sound highlighting the command you have made. You can also do more with the buds through the Hey Melody app. It is not the best audio app we have seen from a brand in terms of the interface, but it can prove to be helpful. It keeps an eye on updates and customizes controls on your earbuds. The app also has a feature that allows you to carry out a fit test, making sure you get the right ear tip on your earbuds. Of course, OnePlus users can do most of those from their phones without needing an app.

Bass heavy sound

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The OnePlus Buds Z2 lean towards being slightly more bass-heavy in terms of audio profile. This makes the audio output on the OnePlus Buds Z2 more rumbly than balanced. This kind of sound is likely to impress those who enjoy deep lows and like added bass power to their music. For us, this bass-heavy experience was quite overwhelming as the loaded bass made the audio output quite muddy. You would hear a slight rumbling even in songs with subtle lows as it seems the earbuds cannot do away with bass even in songs that do not require it.

We wish the buds delivered a slightly more balanced sound as the output sometimes lacked clarity. We have no complaints as regards the volume levels, though – they sound loud enough.

Good ANC (for the price), but ambient sound leaks into calls

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The in-ear design of the OnePlus Buds Z2 means they come with pretty good passive noise cancellation, but ANC on the earbuds works very well, too. Once you activate ANC, ambient noise starts to fade away quite instantly, which is very impressive for earbuds at this price point. The OnePlus Buds Z2 come with a transparency mode as well, which is quite impressive. It allows you to hear your surroundings whenever needed and comes in handy when you want to reconnect with the world outside. We would say that this is perhaps the best ANC we have experienced on a sub-Rs 5,000 TWS, and if you are ready to use the Hey Melody app, you can even control levels of ANC. Again, this is a feature that you do not often see at this price point.

In terms of call quality, the OnePlus Buds Z2 are a bit of a mixed bag. While we could hear the caller very clearly, the caller almost always complained of hearing a truckload of surrounding noise when we used the Buds Z2 on a call.

Impressive battery life

oneplus buds z2 review battery

An area where the OnePlus Buds Z2 perform impressively is battery life, although that depends on your ANC usage. The earbuds can last you a solid six hours and sometimes even more (with controlled volume levels) on a single charge, but the performance goes down to about 4.5-5 hours with ANC enabled. The case offers a battery life of about 30 hours on a single charge with ANC turned off, while it can deliver about 20 hours of playtime on a single charge with ANC turned on. Considering many ANC-enabled TWS cannot last that long, these numbers are quite decent.

The case comes with support for fast charging, and just 10 minutes of charging of the case can give you two hours of listening time. The case takes about an hour and a half to go from zero to 100 percent. The small LED light on the front indicates charging levels, with green indicating fully charged, yellow indicating low battery, and red indicating that you are just about to lose all the battery life.

Scoring on bass and ANC, but Nothing might matter

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At their price of Rs. 4,999, the OnePlus Buds Z2 are a great option for bass heads who want TWS with ANC. They definitely come with a number of visible improvements over the OnePlus Buds Z, and their bass-heavy audio profile is more mainstream than the slightly more balanced one we experienced on the premium OnePlus Buds Pro last year. They will face a challenge from the likes of the Realme Buds Air Pro and the Oppo Enco W51, which also offer ANC at about the same price, but whose ANC experience is not on the same level. A more serious contender is the Nothing Ear (1), which at Rs 5,999, is a little more expensive but has comparable ANC, a more eye-catching design, and a very different sound profile (yes, we are working on a comparison).

The OnePlus Buds Z2 will impress those who like heavy-bass output and would want to experience decent ANC performance on a budget. They are worthy successors to the Buds Z and could well be bestsellers in the making.

Buy OnePlus Buds Z2

Pros
  • Good battery life
  • Decent ANC for the price
  • Responsive touch controls
  • Do not fall off easily
Cons
  • Bass can be overwhelming
  • Routine, plasticky design
  • Do not keep out ambient noise in calls
Review Overview
Looks & Build
Audio
Battery Life
Ease of Use
Price
SUMMARY

OnePlus Buds Z2 come with a larger driver and also have ANC on board, something the Buds Z lacked. At Rs 4,999, the OnePlus Buds Z2 face some stiff competition from budget ANC TWS from the likes of Realme and Oppo.

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