You might know it better for its smartphones, but OnePlus is making a fair deal of noise (pun intended) in the personal audio segment as well. And just like in phones, the Never Settling brand has followed a two-pronged strategy in TWS, with premium devices under the OnePlus name and more pocket-friendly ones coming with the Nord tag.

oneplus nord buds 2 review

The latest addition to the Nord series is the OnePlus Nord Buds 2, which brings ANC to the Nord Buds at a typically affordable price. But does Nord with ANC have what it takes to beat back some very formidable competition?

OnePlus Nord Buds 2 design: Smart, similar, and each set is unique

In terms of design, the Nord Buds 2 look very similar to the OG Nord Buds. You get a slightly bulky cuboid-ish case with the buds inside them. The buds themselves are small and light (4.7 grams each) with touch panels on circular dots on their back and flat and straight stems. The case weighs just 37 grams, but at 24.4 mm, it is thicker than two phones. It can fit into most pockets easily, but it will make them bulge a little. The buds and case are both made of plastic, although the touch panels on the buds have a metallic sheen to them. The buds come with IP55 dust and water resistance, good enough for gym buddies, although the case has no such protection.

You get two color options, Lighting White and Thunder Gray (our review unit). The case and buds come with a matte finish and have been designed using what OnePlus claims are eco-friendly materials. Both the buds, as well as their case, have speckles on them in a unique pattern. It sounds nice but actually is too subtle – we actually thought the speckles were dust particles and spent a few minutes trying to scrub them off! If you liked the OnePlus Nord Buds, you would like their successors as well. They will not grab much attention with their design, though.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2 interface: Press, tap to play, and do more

The Nords Buds 2 come with three ear tip options in the package. Once you get the right fit, the buds are comfortable to wear. There is no ear fit test, but then you would not expect it at this price point. Pairing the buds is especially easy with a OnePlus phone as Fast Pair is supported on them. All you need to do is open the case (with the buds inside) and bring it close to the device.

oneplus nord buds 2 review

For others, you will need to press the multi-function button that is located rather oddly on the lower part of the back of the case to put the buds into pairing mode. You would also need to install the Hey Melody app on non-OnePlus devices to be able to customize controls and do more with the buds – at the time of writing, the buds did not work with the iPhone using the app, but we are told this will change in the coming days.

The controls are simple enough and revolve around tapping and pressing the circular touch panel on the back of the buds – the tutorial will keep telling you to touch the ‘stem’ of the buds, but what it actually means is the touch panel on the buds. A single tap will pause and play audio, a double tap will take you to the next track, and a triple tap to the previous track. Keeping the bud pressed for a second will let you switch between ANC and transparency mode. You can customize the double and triple taps if you wish and get them to involve the voice assistant or activate the gaming mode if you wish. You can also use the long press of the buds to turn ANC on and off instead of switching between ANC and transparency mode.

oneplus nord buds 2 anc

The controls work well enough once you get the hang of where to tap. It is a simple enough system, and the touch panels on the buds are large enough to spot and tap or press easily. However, there is no in-ear detection, so audio will not pause if you take one of the buds off, which is a little disappointing as some of its competitors have this feature. The buds can be paired with two devices simultaneously, but this feature does not work if Fast Pair has been turned on, so it cannot automatically switch between a OnePlus phone and your notebook, which is a bit of a downer.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2 sound: Driven by bass-ic instinct

If you love bass, you are going to love the Nord Buds 2. OnePlus’ TWS generally have a distinct bass accent, and the Buds 2 follow suit. The buds come with a 12.4 mm driver and deliver good volumes with no distortion, even at higher levels. You get four EQ settings – Balanced (which is set by default), Bold, Serenade, and Bass. You can also create your own EQ setting by tweaking the equalizer. There is plenty of bass even at the Balanced setting, but you can amp it up even further using the Bass setting or the special BassWave feature.

oneplus nord buds 2 sound

You get Dolby Atmos support with OnePlus 7 and above flagships and Dirac Tuner support with other devices. The buds come with support for AAC and SBC codecs, which is typical for this price segment, although some might be disappointed at the absence of aptX support.

The sound signature is very mainstream, and those who like music with plenty of beats or watch action films will love the additional thump and rumble that the Nord Buds 2 deliver – just go to BassWave if you want even more! If you like classical music or want vocals to be cleaner, then go for the Serenade option, but by and large, Balanced should work just fine for most users, although vocals can get slightly overwhelming at times.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2 other features: Decent-ish ANC, good calls, and battery life

oneplus nord buds 2 battery

There has been a lot of talk about ANC on the Nord Buds 2. The fact that the feature is offered at this price point is impressive. It does make a difference in slightly noisy conditions but do not expect it to be very effective when noise levels are high. We would say that these are good enough to be used in a slightly busy cafe, but not in a bus in heavy traffic or in the Metro.

Call quality is a pleasant surprise, though. TWS, at this price point, generally do not handle calls well, but the Nord Buds 2 do a decent job and keeps some of the external noises out. Most of the people we spoke to using the Nord Buds 2 could hear us clearly, although a few said that our voices were a little on the low side. We would definitely rate them very good in terms of call quality for their price.

Battery life is good as well. We got close to four and a half hours on the buds with ANC turned on, and turning ANC off took it to about seven hours. You get about five recharges with the case – so about 22-25 hours with ANC and about 35 hours without it. Given the difference in battery life and the fact that the ANC has relatively limited utility, we would recommend keeping the ANC off.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2 Review Verdict: Terrific if you have an OP and are on a tight budget

oneplus nord buds 2 review verdict

The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 are priced at Rs 2,999. And at that price, we would say that they are an excellent option for those who have a OnePlus phone and are on a tight budget and a very good one even for those with different phones and similar budgets. They do face some competition, though. Perhaps their most notable rivals are the very similar Oppo Enco Air Pro 2, which have similar-sized drivers and also ANC, but a more balanced sound and a more pocket-friendly case, all at a slightly higher price of Rs 3,499.

Those wanting better sound quality, although without ANC, are also likely to be swayed by the Jabra Elite 3, which start at Rs 2,999. And those just looking for a truckload of bass and a funky design might get swayed by the Skullcandy Dime 2 at Rs 2,700, although they have no ANC and rather ordinary battery life. But if you have a OnePlus device and want TWS with good call handling and ANC, these are a no-brainer!

Buy OnePlus Nord Buds 2

  • Good sound (especially if you like bass)
  • ANC present
  • Good battery life
  • Extra features for OP phone users
  • Good call handling
  • No in-ear detection
  • Routine design, bulky case
  • Not the greatest ANC
  • Need an OP phone to get the most out of them
Review Overview
Looks & Design
Audio Quality
Battery Life

Although they resemble the OG Nord Buds and have similar-sized drivers, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 come with some new touches of their own, including ANC and a bass-friendly audio signature.

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