OnePlus Nord Buds Review: Tasteful design and exceptional battery life at an affordable price
OnePlus’s Nord smartphones are good-looking, nail the essentials, and are always pocket-friendly. Now OnePlus wants to expand this formula to other products as it seeks to expand the Nord line beyond smartphones. The long-term goal likely involves creating a Nord product ecosystem consisting of earbuds, smartwatches, etc. The OnePlus Nord Buds is the first product in the ecosystem, offering a unique design and a solid battery life at a cheap price tag. I have been using the OnePlus Nord for over a week, and here’s what I like and dislike about them.
Pricing & Availability
- The OnePlus Nord Buds are available in India, the US, and Canada.
- They cost ₹2,799 in India. In the US and Canada, they’re priced at $39 / CAD 42 and will be available for purchase in early June.
You can purchase the OnePlus Nord Buds from OnePlus’s website and Amazon. They come in two colors: Black Slate and White Marble.
OnePlus Nord Buds: Specifications
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About this review: The OnePlus Nord Buds review unit was provided by OnePlus India. OnePlus had no input in the content of this review. Unless otherwise specified, the observations in this review are with regard to Android smartphones.
OnePlus Nord Buds: Design, Comfort, Controls
The OnePlus Nord Buds have a striking design that sets them apart from Apple AirPods lookalikes that you normally see in this price range. The design is one of the strongest aspects of the earbuds. It’s refreshing to see a pair of entry-level earbuds not settling for a simplistic design and putting real effort to stand out from the crowd. The earbuds feature wide stems and flat edges with mirror-finished touch-sensitive buttons on the back, providing a nice contrast. The stems, which also house microphones, have a metallic NCVM finish, while the earcups are glossy.
The OnePlus Nord Buds are hands down the most comfortable truly earbuds I have ever tested. They are featherweight, and you can easily wear them for hours on hand without inviting any discomfort or irritation. It also helps that they don’t sit too deeply in your ear canal.
Silicone tips form a fairly tight seal, so the passive isolation is really impressive, blocking out quite a bit of lower-end frequencies. The tight seal also helps the buds stay firmly in your ear. They’re unlikely to pop out while walking, running, or doing any exercise. In addition, they’re IP55 rated for sweat and water resistance, making them a perfect choice for intensive workouts and other demanding physical activities.
The plastic charging case is rather tall and doesn’t easily slide in and out of the pocket. But at least it features a matte finish, so it’s not a fingerprint magnet. The charging port is placed on the backside, adjacent to the multi-function key, while an LED light on the front indicates the charging level of the case.
The buds offer fairly simple gestures: A single tap on either bud to play/pause the playback, double-tap to skip to the next track, and triple-tap to switch to the previous track. The long touch and hold action is also supported though you’ll need to assign an action using the HeyMelody app.
- The OnePlus Nord Buds pack 12.4mm, titanium-plated dynamic drivers with Dolby Atmos support.
- They provide bass-driven sound that’s fine for casual listening but may not be suitable for those who prefer a balanced sound profile.
The OnePlus Nord Buds are entry-level earbuds, so naturally, you wouldn’t expect them to sound as refined and rich as something like the Galaxy Buds 2 or OnePlus Buds Pro. They’re fine for casual listening, and if you’re a bass lover, you may even enjoy what’s on offer here. The Nord Buds feature 12.4mm, titanium-plated drivers with Dolby Atmos support. The sound signature leans towards the V shape, with the elevated bass and treble and recessed mid-range. Most mass-market earphones aimed at casual listeners opt for this sound as it makes for a fun listening experience and is a relatively safer bet.
With this type of sound signature, your experience will largely depend on what kind of music you listen to. Electronic, Hip Hop, and Rap music benefit from the boosted higher and lower frequencies, and if that’s what you primarily listen to, you’ll find little to complain about here. But if you’re like me and listen to a wide range of music from different genres and periods, you’ll find that the Nord Buds don’t always fare well. They don’t do proper justice to vocal-centric tracks and classical recordings and overall sound less detailed. This was the case while listening to Heartbreaker by Bee Gees, which sounded quite muddy on the Nord Buds as the excessive bass overpowered the vocals and mid-range instruments. The same track sounded very open, lush, and lively on my OPPO Enco W51.
But, there were times when I preferred the Nord Buds over the OPPO Enco W51. For example, Sway by Dan + Shay and Again (Your Lie in April) by Kayou sounded more exciting and energetic on the Nord Buds thanks to the deeper bass.
The HeyMelody app offers additional sound profiles and an equalizer to let you fine-tune the sound to your liking.
If music quality is of paramount importance, you’ll be better served by other earbuds, although they would certainly not be as cheap as the Nord Buds. Otherwise, there’s not much to complain about here.
Do OnePlus Nord Buds offer ANC?
The OnePlus Nord Buds skip out on the active noise cancellation as a cost-cutting measure. This can be a deal-breaker for some. But if it’s any consolation, the earbuds provide a very good passive isolation if you can achieve the proper seal. That also means that if you’re planning to use the OnePlus Nord Buds mostly during commute and in crowded places, you’ll often find yourself cranking up the volume slider to drown out the outside noise. There’s no transparency mode either, which is again understandable given the price.
How is the calling experience on the OnePlus Nord Buds?
OnePlus has equipped the Nord Buds with four microphones, two on each earbud, and a wind-resistant design. In addition, there’s AI noise reduction software at play. OnePlus says all of these work in tandem to reduce background and wind noise during calls. For the most part, the earbuds do a good job of suppressing the background noise indoors but struggle a bit when you’re outside in a crowded setting. They’re also not that effective at cutting down wind noise.
Battery Life, Charging Experience, and more
- The OnePlus Nord Buds provide up to 7 hours of playback on a single charge.
- They also support fast charging, with a 10-minute enough to provide 5 hours of music listening time.
The Nord Buds claim to provide 7 hours of listening time. That’s 2 hours more than the flagship OnePlus Buds Pro. The charging case holds an additional 23 hours of charge for a combined 30 hours of playback. In my Spotify loop test, the earbuds lasted a tad over five hours, which, although not quite close to the company claim, is still impressive for a pair of truly wireless earbuds.
Should you run out of juice and need a quick refill, OnePlus advertises a 10-minute fast charge that gives you 5 hours of playback time. The charging case and earbuds combined take about half an hour to fully charge using a standard 10W charger. To check the battery level of each earbud and the charging case, you’ll need the HeyMelody app.
As you would expect, the OnePlus Nord Buds don’t offer a high-end codec like aptX or LDAC. That means they’re fine for audio and video streaming but not recommended for gaming. It’s a different story if you have a OnePlus, though, as you can enable Pro Gamer Mode to decrease the latency to 94ms.
Features like Dolby Atmos and Fast Pair are only available on select OnePlus phones, which is understandable given they require deeper system-level integration and thus can’t be made available to other devices via an app.
Should you buy the OnePlus Nord Buds?
The OnePlus Nord Buds are excellent entry-level truly wireless earbuds with a tasteful design, good sound, and exceptional battery life. While they nail the fundamentals, they may not be the most featured packed earbuds on the market, lacking features like ANC and transparency mode support. But rather than overpromising and underdelivering, the OnePlus Nord Buds focuses on getting the basics right. If you’re coming from the land of wired earphones or Bluetooth neckbands, the OnePlus Nord Buds are a great starting point in the world of truly wireless earphones.
If you’re in India and can spend slightly more, the Realme Buds Air 2 is an excellent alternative, offering ANC and 25 hours of battery life. Meanwhile, those in the US and Europe might want to check out the Realme Buds Q2 or Realme Buds 2 Neo, both of which are equipped with ANC.
Buy the OnePlus Nord Buds if:
- You’re on a tight budget and want serviceable truly wireless earbuds that get the job done.
- You like the bass-driven sound.
- You want solid battery life.
- You want a unique design.
Don’t buy OnePlus Nord Buds if:
- You want active noise cancellation.
- You want balanced sound.
- You can spend more.