Sony WF-C700N vs. OnePlus Buds 3: Which budget noise-canceling earbuds win?

Listing image for Sony WF-C700N vs. OnePlus Buds 3 face-off
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Everyone wants to get the most for their dollar, especially when shopping for the best wireless earbuds. Pricey entries like the $249 AirPods Pro 2, $299 Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, and $299 Sony WF-1000XM5 guarantee top-tier performance. However, I’ve tested many inexpensive releases that supply much of the same functionality as these category leaders for around a third of the price, and the OnePlus Buds 3 and Sony WF-C700N are two of my favorites.

These budgetary rivals come equipped with identical feature sets that include active noise cancelation, Bluetooth multipoint, one-tap pairing, quick charging, spatial audio, and several sound-calibrating features. Any notable differences lie within their designs and playtimes.

Calling these two of the best cheap wireless earbuds available isn’t hyperbole, but only one pair can be considered the better investment. Keep reading my OnePlus Buds 3 and Sony WF-C700N comparison to find out the answer.

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Specs compared

Sony WF-C700N with OnePlus Buds 3

(Image credit: Future)
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Header Cell - Column 0 OnePlus Buds 3Sony WF-C700N
Price$99 / £78 / AU$150$99 / £78 / AU$150
ColorsMetallic gray, splendid blueBlack, violet, white
Size1.24 x 0.79 x 0.96 inches (per bud); 2.07 x 1.97 x 1.01 (charging case)Not specified
Weight0.16 ounces (per bud); 1.43 ounces (charging case)0.16 ounces (per bud); 1.09 ounces (charging case)
Battery life (rated)6.5 hours (ANC on); 10 hours (ANC off); 28 hours (ANC on w/charging case), 44 hours (ANC off w/charging case)7.5 hours (ANC on); 10 hours (ANC off); 15 hours (charging case with Spatial Audio); 24 hours (charging case with ANC on); 28 hours (charging case with ANC off)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC and LHDC 5.0Bluetooth 5.3 with AAC and SBC
DurabilityIP55 (buds); IPX4 (charging case)IPX4 (buds)

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N Price & availability

The Sony WF-C700N are priced at $119 on Sony’s website, but can often be found for less at Amazon as well as other online retailers. OnePlus launched its Buds 3 at $99 earlier this month (February 2024) and for what's on offer at the full MSRP, I can't imagine a price drop coming any time soon.

Both models are well worth their respective MSRPs. Your decision may come down to platform compatibility. The WF-C700N operate well with all Android and iOS/MacOS devices, while the Buds 3 perform similarly and run on the OnePlus ecosystem for instant connectivity with the brand’s latest smartphones including the OnePlus 11 and OnePlus 12R.

Winner: Tie

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Design

OnePlus Buds 3 in charging case placed on some stones

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus has the sleeker and sturdier true wireless design. The Buds 3 don all-aluminum stems, larger mic grilles, plastic sound ports, slim touch panels, and silicone ear tips. IP55 dust/water resistance protects the buds and IPX4 sweat/water resistance keeps the charging case safe from moisture damage. Even the two colorways — metallic gray and splendid blue — are gorgeous and have soft matte finishes.

The WF-C700N might not match their competitor’s striking appearance, but they’re still substantially constructed. Durable plastic makes up their entire composition and the material is IPX4-certified. Sony’s pill-shaped charging case with carbon-fiber-inspired exterior gives the product some swagger. The three different color options include black, violet, and white and are stylish too. 

A snug, comfortable fit is provided by both models.

Winner: OnePlus Buds 3

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Controls

Sony WF-C700N earbuds held in finger tips to show size

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The Buds 3 have some of the category’s best touch controls. Excellent touch accuracy allows the buds to execute commands as quickly as they register single/multi-tap and long-hold gestures. Wear detection is spot-on for auto-pausing content when removing the buds. OnePlus’ intelligible mic array picks up vocals clearly for seamless digital assistance. 

The WF-C700N use multifunctional buttons to perform functions. They work well. Sony’s mic array demonstrates superior speech recognition for effortless Google Assistant and Siri use. I only wished that Sony added wear detection and signature voice-activated features like Speak-to-Chat to automatically mute audio when picking up the listener’s voice.

Winner: OnePlus Buds 3

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Sound quality

Sony WF-C700N in charging case placed in hand of reviewer

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We prefer Sony’s buds for their stronger 3D audio and upscaling technologies. 360 Reality Audio brings an immersive feel to music and works with optimized Tidal playlists for lively, Hi-Fi sonic goodness. DSEE significantly boosts clarity on lo-fi tracks. You can create a sound profile or select from several well-engineered presets via EQ in the Sony Headphones Connect app. 

Then comes the WF-C700N’s standard sound profile, which I described in my review as “refined” and capable of handling “complex bass-filled tracks with ease, but also treats mids and highs with the same respect as other premium Sony earbuds like the LinkBuds S and WF-1000XM4.” Sony left their LDAC codec off the spec sheet, which would have resulted in a maximum streaming bitrate of 990kbps.

OnePlus Buds 3 testing sound quality with Golden Sound feature in app

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus stuffed their buds with powerful audio specs such as Bluetooth 5.3 with LHDC 5.0, dual driver units (6mm tweeter + 10.4mm woofer), Hi-Res Audio certification, and multiple listening modes. The Sound Master EQ can be accessed through your OnePlus device settings or the HeyMelody app (iOS/Android) and has three presets: Balanced, Bass, and Serenade. There’s a BassWave setting to increase/decrease bass response. Golden Sound creates an effective sound profile tailored to your hearing. LHDC streams content up to 900kbps for faster streaming and greater clarity. OnePlus does need to fix their 3D Audio format because its airy presence makes effects and vocals sound unnatural.

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Active noise canceling performance

Reviewer testing ANC performance on OnePlus Buds 3

(Image credit: Future)

You’re looking at two of the best noise-canceling earbuds under $120. OnePlus has four modes that minimize ambient noise at different levels based on your surroundings. Sony’s adaptive ANC technology is tuned to perform at max level in any environment. You’ll be happy to hear that both models neutralize most low and mid-frequencies. Only a few high-frequency noises can be heard, but they aren’t distracting enough to pull you away from playlists. 

OnePlus and Sony’s transparency modes are also perfect for increasing situational awareness. The WF-C700N provide up to 20 levels of ambient listening, giving listeners full control over the amount of incidental sound they want to let in or keep out. Transparency mode on the Buds 3 is just as dependable for keeping tabs on what’s happening around you.

Winner: Tie

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Call quality

Reviewer testing OnePlus Buds 3 call quality

(Image credit: Future)

Both of these are some of the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls. However, the Buds 3 win this round due to their stronger wind resistance. OnePlus’ mic array and noise cancellation helped produce clean, distraction-free calls in gusty conditions. The WF-C700N are just as reliable for voice calling, though there was some ambient noise present during chats.

Winner: OnePlus Buds 3

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Connectivity

Side profile of Tom's Guide reviewer Alex Bracetti wearing Sony's WH-C700N ANC earbuds

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Buds 3 are compatible with current Apple, Android, and Windows-operated machines and come integrated with all OnePlus devices for instantaneous connectivity. These buds also employ Bluetooth 5.3 and produce stable connectivity and wireless range (up to 50 feet).

The WF-C700N can be used on the same devices, though Android users have one-tap Google Fast Pair at their disposal, which is also available on OnePlus devices. Bluetooth 5.2 is sufficient for music streaming, though there was some occasional dropout.

Multipoint technology works well on both models, so you can pair either set of buds to two devices simultaneously.

WinnerOnePlus Buds 3

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Battery life

The best Sony headphones and earbuds give you lengthy playtimes, and the WF-C700N is no exception. A full charge generates between 7.5 to 10 hours and the charging case carries up to 28 hours. You can even net 1 hour of use from a 10-minute quick charge.

The Buds 3 hold between 6.5 to 10 hours, depending how you use the buds. Unfortunately, OnePlus’ special features drain the battery quickly and reduce playtimes by about 2.5 hours. A 10-minute charge equates to 2 hours of listening time. The charging case holds up to 44 hours.

Winner: Sony WF-C700N

OnePlus Buds 3 vs Sony WF-C700N: Verdict

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Header Cell - Column 0 OnePlus Buds 3Sony WF-C700N
Price and value (5)55
Design (15)1410
Controls (10)98
Sound quality (25)2023
Active noise cancelation (20)1717
Call quality (10)98
Connectivity (5)54
Battery life (10)67
Total score (100)8582

You can’t go wrong purchasing either set of buds, but if you’re asking what the better product is overall, that would be the OnePlus Buds 3. The combination of dynamic sound, highly adaptive ANC, and outstanding touch controls in a handsome design gives them the edge. I'm disappointed by their battery life, but at the least the charging case holds enough juice to keep music playing on the go.

I’ve viewed the Sony WF-C700N as the best cheap wireless earbuds deal since they went on sale. Obtaining the company’s stellar noise canceling and sound technologies for around $100 is a steal. Improvements in call quality and playtimes are also acknowledged. The only things holding these buds back from perfection are their substandard design. Everything else is on point.

As I said, there is no wrong option, but the OnePlus Buds 3 have more style and substance for the money.

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Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.