Review

OnePlus Buds Pro ANC In-Ear with Good Microphone & Sound for £97

OnePlus is also releasing a Pro version of their Bluetooth in-ears, the OnePlus Buds, to go with their new Nord 2 smartphone. The OnePlus Buds Pro now have active noise cancellation with up to 40 dB, 5 hours of runtime and fast charging. Finally a top headphone from OnePlus?

Technical data

NameOnePlus Buds Pro
Driver11 mm dynamic driver
Frequency range20-20.000Hz
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2
Battery capacity5 hours runtime with ANC; 7 hours without ANC
Weight4.35 g per handset; 52 g battery box
Dimensions32 x 34.2 mm; 60.10 x 49.00 x 24.90 mm
IP protection classIP55 handset, IPX4 charging case
Sensitivity98 dB ± 3 dB at 1 kHz
Audio codecSBC, AAC, LHDC

Packaging & scope of delivery

As we are used to from OnePlus, the OnePlus Buds Pro come in a red and white box. This time, the box is also larger than that of the OnePlus Buds.

However, the scope of delivery remains pretty much the same. In addition to the headphones and their charging case, the packaging contains a 30 cm short charging cable, two additional pairs of ear pads and the usual instructions/warranty information.

Design & Workmanship

Like OPPO did with their Enco X, the Buds Pro have a slightly angled stem. For colors, white and black are available, with both versions having the stem colored silver. One could assume that this stem would be made of metal, but it is made of plastic, just like the casing. However, the stem is rather smooth, while the casing is soft-touch.

Depending on the selected color, the charging case is also black or white. It is made of smooth white plastic and has a very sturdy metal hinge. The headphones are placed inside, and there is a button for the pairing mode directly underneath them. The silver OnePlus lettering is somewhat embedded on the lid, which makes it look like an engraving.

Not only are the headphones IP55 protected against dust and water, but the charging case also has an IPX4 rating and is thus protected against splashing water.

Wearing comfort

For me, the OnePlus Buds Pro are definitely one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve tried. They fit tightly and are still very comfortable even after hours. Of course, this is a very subjective assessment, because every ear is different. You can adjust the fit with the three pairs of ear pads, but I would find more choice appropriate for this price segment.

Sound of the OnePlus Buds Pro

You can tell that OnePlus has improved the sound quality quite a bit with the Buds Pro. Anything else would not make sense in this price range. The headphones produce a sound that I liked very much and do not have to hide from the competition.

In terms of low frequencies, you create a powerful bass that slightly pushes itself into the foreground, but doesn’t overpower the overall picture. Thus, bass-heavy hip hop and electronic music are particularly fun. As we know, this is also the strength of the Soundcore headphones, and with the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro or Life P3, you get even more pressure in the bass.

In addition, the Buds Pro have a midrange and treble that reproduce vocals and voices very well and also create a considerable stage for an in-ear. Compared to the Liberty Air 2 Pro, the Buds Pro have the advantage here and can convince those who are not quite as enthusiastic about bass.

OnePlus Buds Pro Headphones Rear Side

Compared to almost all premium ANC in-ears we have tested, the Buds Pro bring the advantage of a high-resolution codec. However, they only support the rather uncommon LHDC Bluetooth codec. The whole thing makes a slight difference in sound quality, but only with the appropriate feed from Tidal, Qobuz or high-quality files. If you mainly listen to Spotify or YouTube, you will not miss much here.

ANC: good level, but not market leader

The OnePlus Buds Pro are equipped with active noise cancellation (ANC), which reduces external noise. The headphones have three modes: normal, intelligent and maximum noise reduction. The intelligent mode is supposed to adjust the noise reduction depending on the situation, so that you can still hear the traffic on the road. After trying it out, I mostly just used the maximum mode, since I didn’t really need the smart switch.

OnePlus Buds Pro headphones in ear

In terms of strength, they are in the range of the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro and the FreeBuds Pro. However, both have to admit defeat in low frequencies because the Huawei and Soundcore headphones reduce engine noise a bit better. In the office, where it is particularly about voices, they deliver a similar result as the two rivals. However, a very similar result is achieved when you also play music. You only notice the difference in quieter playback, such as a podcast.

The headphones also offer a transparency mode that plays sounds into the headphones. Thus, you can remain responsive or listen to a train announcement despite the headphones. This also works very well here and you could even have a conversation without taking off the headphones in theory.

Headset

Where the OnePlus Buds can really convince is the microphones. You get a clear recording and are well understood in phone calls and video conferences. Background noise is filtered well by the electronic noise suppression. The only thing missing here is multipoint support, which allows pairing multiple devices at the same time.

Operation

You control the headphones by pressing the headphone trunks. I had to get used to this a bit with the Buds Pro, since the place to press is quite far up and you can’t press the bottom of the stem. But once you get the hang of it, you can reliably perform the gestures. The advantage of this control is that you can lie down sideways and do not accidentally pause the playback.

By default, the control is assigned as follows:

1x short touchPlayback Start/Pause
2x touchNext title
3x touchPrevious title
one second holdSwitch ANC mode
hold three secondsActivate Zen Mode Air

You can edit the two bolded gestures in the headphones’ settings. Unfortunately, the options are limited here as well and only the voice assistant is available when pressing three times. At least you can change left and right individually, so that you can jump to the previous track on the left and activate the voice assistant on the right earpiece, for example.

When holding it for a second, you can only choose through which modes it should jump. If you only want ANC and disabled ANC, you can remove the transparency mode. I don’t quite understand why they limit the user so much here if they already provide the feature. There is also a complete lack of volume adjustment. Rather weak for a model in this price range.

Bluetooth connection & range

The headphones connect via a Bluetooth 5.2 connection. The Bluetooth codecs SBC, AAC and LHDC are available. The choice of LHDC shows the closeness to OPPO, which now increasingly uses it in their devices. Funnily enough, only the OnePlus Nord 2 currently supports this codec, but the OnePlus 9 models and others are supposed to follow with the next OxygenOS update.

In any case, it is nice to support a codec with low latency and bandwidth, but they have chosen the least common one here.

OnePlus Buds Pro headphones with packing

There is nothing to complain about in terms of range and stability of the connection. Even at a distance of more than 10 meters, the playback is interference-free and the headphones can even withstand a wall.

Battery life & charging

OnePlus promises a battery life of up to 5 hours with ANC and 7 hours without ANC. They also keep this up, and depending on the volume setting, you can maybe even get a bit more out of them. Thus, they are average and should provide sufficient runtime for most users.

OnePlus is familiar with charging technologies and also uses WarpCharge to charge its charging case. It recharges 10 hours of runtime within 10 minutes. The case can also be recharged via Qi wireless charging.

App & smartphone integration

The OnePlus Buds Pro also offer an app or smartphone integration. Users of OnePlus devices can find the settings for the headphones directly in their Bluetooth settings, everyone else has to download the HeyMelody app. iPhone users are left empty-handed here, because the app is only available for Android.

The app allows you to check the charge level, adjust various settings, and run two tests. In one test, the headphones play music to determine the fit of the Buds Pro via the microphones. Sony also uses a similar system for their in-ears.

There is also a kind of sound test, where you hear different sounds and have to indicate whether you can still hear them. Afterwards, you get an overview of what the headphones have adjusted and can also listen to this directly with a comparison song. At this point, a salute to the OnePlus developer who chose Last Christmas by Wham. I think August is now also the record for hearing the song for the first time in the year. You can notice a slight difference, however, I think some would like a separate equalizer here that you can customize.

Conclusion: the best OnePlus Bluetooth in-ear so far

With the OnePlus Buds Pro, the manufacturer manages to catch up with the competition for the first time. I liked the headphones very much in the test and I can point out a few positive things. The sound of the OnePlus Buds Pro fully meets my taste, with a powerful bass that does not overpower the rest and a certain stage that not every in-ear achieves. However, if you are a real bass fan, you will have more fun with the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro. The controls take some getting used to, but are good to use afterwards, I would just wish for more setting options here. Not only are the microphones suitable for noise cancellation, but they sound good in phone calls and video conferences.

When it comes to active noise cancellation, it only comes close to the competition and is slightly inferior. However, it is still quite good and very functional in combination with music. Offering LHDC as a Bluetooth codec is a nice addition, but at this point, only the OnePlus Nord 2 in the OnePlus family supports it. An update will follow for many devices, but the low distribution of the codec is already noticeable.

  • Very good sound with powerful bass
  • Smartphone / App integration
  • LHDC Bluetooth codec
  • Good microphones

  • ANC slightly weaker than competition
  • No volume adjustment on the headphones

The OnePlus Buds Pro are not the clear favorite in the ANC in-ear segment and fit into the market. The two main competitors, Huawei FreeBuds Pro and Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, are now regularly on offer for around £100, which results in a £50 surcharge for the OnePlus. Now, OnePlus isn’t exactly known for price cuts either, so we’ll have to see how the price develops here. At the same price, it comes down to preference here, as each of the three headphones brings its own features. However, that’s not the case here and I would currently advise most people to go with the alternatives mentioned.

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Henning

I've been fascinated in the Android world for a while, it starts with smartphones and ends with vacuum cleaners. So I can basically say that I am a technology nerd :-D

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