OnePlus Buds Z Review: Truly Wireless on a Budget?

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OnePlus is one of, if not the most well-known brand within the tech enthusiast community. The company time and again offered devices that came with great value, making them a no-brainer of a buy. They forayed into the earphone segment a few years back and launched their first truly wireless earphones- the OnePlus Buds in July 2020. In late 2020, the company announced the launch of the OnePlus Buds Z, which were a budget offering in the truly wireless segment. This came as a downgrade in most areas, but this also fixed one of the Buds’ major complaints- sound quality.

That being said, one ought to wonder as to whether the OnePlus Buds Z are worth their asking price of Rs 3,190. Keep reading to find out as to whether these are a good option for those looking for a truly wireless earphone, minus the high cost.

OnePlus Buds Z Review: Design and Fit

The OnePlus Buds Z’s design is nothing to write home about. The Apple AirPods Pro-esque design, when added with a rubber ear tip, which allows for a better fit, gives the buds some sense of uniqueness, but, at first glance, they can easily be mistaken for just another AirPods clone.

The Buds Z come with three hues: White, Grey and the most recent special edition made by Steve Harrington. The unit that we have is the white colour variant, which is quite bland. The earbuds themselves feature a CD inspired design, which is a hallmark of OnePlus and its earbuds design.

The white finish to the earbuds looks quite clean, but the issue arises when one moves on to the case. The case, which resembles a pill case or, in terms of the truly wireless earbuds, the Galaxy Buds case, comes with one major con.

The finish on the OnePlus Buds Z’s case is glossy, rather than matte, like the OnePlus Buds. This results in the case picking up slight scratches and scrapes and, over time, it will be a major hassle to keep it clean.

When one talks about the fit of the earbuds, this is something that works to the Buds Z’s favour. While I personally found the Buds (Not Buds Z) to fit quite well in my ear, most people complained that the lack of a proper seal made the Buds susceptible to accidental falls.

Things are different this time, since the Buds Z and their rubber seal offer a great fit, with the Buds staying in my ears even during extended running sessions.

That being said, the earbuds do stick out of one's ears quite a bit, which is not uncomfortable in any manner, but the look that accompanies the fit is similar to that of the Buds being improperly applied, even when they were properly fitted in ears.

Overall, the fit is rigid and even during the head shake test, the Buds Z did not fall off. In case the ear tips do not feel comfortable, differently sized pairs are available in the box, so as to find an optimal fit.

OnePlus Buds Z Review: Connectivity, Sound and Battery Life

One of the most important reasons as to why one would choose a truly wireless set of earphones in comparison to a far more affordable neckband is that of added convenience. Amongst them, connectivity stands out as the most important one.

The Buds Z make sure that when you are in the need for some tunes, you do not have to wait for the same.

The Buds Z have great connectivity, with the Buds pairing instantly to the phone. If one owns a OnePlus device, they can control all the controls and updates for the buds via the Bluetooth settings. For those with another brand’s phone, they can make use of HeyMelody, an application that allows non-OnePlus users to control key aspects of their TWS earphones.

The range for these buds is great too, with the connection remaining stable despite the phone being two rooms away from the Buds for most of the time during testing.

As for the audio, which is also the most important part of any set of earphones, wireless or not, the OnePlus Buds Z impresses one in this regard.

The sound on the Buds Z is at times better, if not equal to that of the OnePlus Buds. This is partly because of the in-canal fit, which can ensure that the user can avail proper noise isolation and good sound, with the AAC codec being the cherry on top.

In terms of sound, the Buds Z offer a very decent sound stage, with bass being strong, but not as overpowering as the Buds. The refined approach is one that I appreciated, especially since in bass-heavy tracks such as Mask Off by Future, the bass was clearly evident, but not overpowering, allowing for other aspects in the song to make a sound appearance (pun intended)

Dolby Atmos is available, but that is restricted to those using a OnePlus phone, so, for those of using these Buds with a OnePlus device, the sound will improve even further, which, when considering how good the sound is before Dolby Atmos is applied, is a pretty good thing to know.

For those of you wondering, active noise cancellation is not available on the OnePlus Buds Z, but there is environmental noise cancellation which does its due part during calls.

Speaking of calls, the mic was crisp and clear, with the receiver of the call reporting that I sounded loud and clear, but, when used in crowded situations, such as that of a busy street with horns honking, they were evident, although a bit subdued.

Battery life is pretty decent, with the Buds offering 4-4.5 hours of battery life on 70% volume, which is pretty close to the advertised 5 hours of battery life. The case adds another 12-14 hours, or three additional charges, which is more than adequate.

OnePlus Buds Z Review: Verdict

The OnePlus Buds Z is the perfect example of the phrase “Second time’s the charm” since they improve on all the shortcomings to the Buds, despite the lower cost. They offer good sound, a great fit, a rather bland, yet attractive look. This, when coupled with good battery life and the soundstage, results in a great value for money buy.

This brings me to the conclusion of my review. If I am asked as to which earphone I would recommend to someone in the Rs 3,000 range, the OnePlus Buds Z would be my blind recommendation.

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TT Desk is handled by TelecomTalk staff writers covering breaking news, live events and more from the world of telecom and technology.

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