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OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Which noise-cancelling earbuds win?

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

This OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro face-off breaks down two of the market’s best noise-cancelling earbuds, helping you decide which pair best suits your needs and budget.

A newcomer to the scene, the OnePlus Buds Pro has surpassed expectations and stands out as one of the category’s top performers. With adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC), personalized sound, insanely powerful charging technology and a luxe design, this model has AirPods Pro killer written all over it.

But before any title is claimed, it must be earned, and plowing through an industry titan like the five-star Apple AirPods Pro is no easy feat. Adaptive sound, customized fit, effective ANC, and seamless integration with all Apple devices make up quite the list of hallmarks. Also, Apple’s ability to continuously update functionality through new iOS updates has made this model futureproof, at least until the AirPods Pro 2 is officially announced.

You’re looking at two heavy hitters that deliver their own special user experience. Want to know which is the better overall investment? Check out our full OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro analysis to find out.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Specs compared

OnePlus Buds ProAirPods Pro
Price$149$249
Wireless chargingYesYes
ChipNot statedH1
Battery Life (Rated)5 hours (ANC on), 7 hours (ANC off), 28 hours (with charging case and ANC on), 38 hours (with charging case and ANC off) 4.5 hours (ANC on), 5 hours (ANC off), 24 hours (with charging case)
Water ResistanceIP55IPX4
Case Size1.25 x 0.9 inches1.8 x 0.9 x 2.4 inches
Case Weight1.83 ounces1.6 ounces
Special featuresAdaptive noise cancellation, transparency Mode, Audio ID customization, Bluetooth 5.2, Gaming Mode, LHDC support, Warp Charge, Zen ModeActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, adaptive EQ, spatial audio, automatic switching, customizable fit, audio sharing, Fast Fuel charging, announced messages with Siri, “Hey Siri” voice-activated assistance, wireless charging case

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Price

The OnePlus Buds Pro undercuts its rival with a $149 MSRP, while also sharing the same price as two popular, recently launched models: the Beats Studio Buds and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. An attainable price for an excellent product.

Apple launched the AirPods Pro at $249, though we’ve seen some retailers drop the price down to as low as $180. That is an unbeatable value. Walmart currently has the AirPods Pro for $179 at the time of publishing.

For all of the latest wireless earbuds sales, be sure to bookmark our best headphones deals page.

Winner: Tie

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Design

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

OnePlus stepped up its design game on the Buds Pro, crafting sleeker and slimmer buds with a dual tone finish consisting of matte plastic on the upper half and aluminum plating on the stems. The buds look and feel more premium than both the original OnePlus Buds and the AirPods Pro. They also come IP55-rated for enhanced sweat and water resistance. OnePlus sells the buds in two attractive colors: Glossy White and Matte Black.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The AirPods Pro is a subtle upgrade from the original AirPods, with smaller stems, black vents to equalize pressure, and IPX4 sweat and water resistance. Hard plastic makes up the frame, though it isn’t very durable; dropping it from a high distance or stepping on the buds may crack the casing. Sadly, the AirPods Pro only comes in one color: White.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

We prefer the Buds Pro charging case for its chicer, more compact appearance and IPX4 protection. The buds are gorgeously displayed on the inside and the magnets are strong enough to keep the lid shut tight. You won’t have issues carrying around the AirPods Pro charging case, which is also lightweight and portable-friendly. Our complaints are that the magnets closing the lid are weak and the exterior scuffs up easily.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Apple set a precedent for comfort and fit on long-stem wireless earbuds when it finally added ear tips on the AirPods Pro; these lock onto the canal when properly adjusted and provide reliable on-ear stability. The angled sound port also slides easily into the ear. Much of the same can be said about the Buds Pro, only we found OnePlus’ buds gentler on the ears during long listening sessions.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Both companies developed an ear tip fit test for their respective models, and they work well to determine the best tips for optimal fit.

Winner: OnePlus Buds Pro

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Controls

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The AirPods Pro was the first to come with force sensors on the stems, and though a few competitors have tried replicating this, the Buds Pro is the only one that even comes close to the original. These two noise-cancellers support a wide range of input methods, including single-, double-, triple-, and hold-and-press gestures. While the AirPods Pro’s indentation makes it easier to initiate actions, the Buds Pro’s flat aluminum cover is just as responsive. On top of that, it is sturdier, so it won’t suffer from wear and tear as quickly as the AirPods Pro’s sensors. 

On-ear-detection is also superb on both models, letting you auto-pause content when removing the buds and auto-play when placing them back on your ears.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Where the AirPods Pro has an advantage is in voice activation. Besides being able to manually enable Siri, there is “Hey Siri” wake-word activation to fire up Apple’s AI bot and shout out voice commands that the software picks up immediately. The AirPods Pro’s digital assistant function can be enabled on Android devices through a third-party app like Assistant Trigger.

The Buds Pro supports Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby. OnePlus’ mics are highly intelligible and demonstrate terrific speech recognition when registering verbal inquiries. There is some lag when enabling the feature, but it’s nothing major. We only wish it came with voice activation; using the “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google” function is so convenient.

Another bonus that comes with owning the AirPods Pro is that you can connect the buds with an Apple Watch to control playback and other functions on your wrist.

Winner: AirPods Pro

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Sound quality

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

OnePlus improved its sound profile, which remains warm, but tightens up the bass, while placing more emphasis on mid and high frequencies. What you get is well-balanced audio that plays nicely with most music genres and other content (e.g., videos, podcasts, eBooks). Those who want more personalized sound can check out the Audio ID, a feature that examines your hearing characteristics to create your own sound profile. 

Apple’s adaptive EQ gives the AirPods Pro punchy lows and solid midrange. This is ideal for contemporary tracks with up-tempo productions. Highs don’t receive much attention, so critical listeners beware. The option to customize sound is available by going into the iPhone settings and selecting from over 20 presets. Furthermore, there is a Headphones Accommodations mode that tailors sound to your hearing. Having the AirPods Pro also means you can share audio with a second pair of Apple or Beats headphones.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Spatial audio is the AirPods Pro’s secret weapon that brings 360-degree effects to video calls, movies, and select songs on Apple Music. It also works on a variety of video streaming apps that support multichannel audio, including Vudu, Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO Go and Max, Amazon Video, and the Apple TV Plus app. Seriously, the feature is awesome and makes audio feel wider and more open. 

OnePlus does not have a spatial audio mode, but, instead, a low latency Fnatic Mode that enhances the audio synchronization for better gaming performance. This is exclusive to OnePlus devices and is being rebranded to Pro Gaming Mode in the upcoming Oxygen OS 12. The Buds Pro will also receive LHCD codec support with Hi-Res Audio certification later this year.

Winner: Tie

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Active noise cancellation

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

OnePlus’ latest creation outperforms the AirPods Pro in noise cancellation. It can filter noise levels almost up to 40dB and comes with three ANC settings: Noise Cancellation, Smart, and Max Noise Cancellation. The latter is your best ANC option and blocks out most ambient noises at a high level, while keeping high frequency sounds to a minimum. Smart is the company’s attempt at adaptive ANC, but it can use some refining as there weren’t any significant changes in noise neutralization that we noticed during our testing.

We’re fans of what Apple has done with the AirPods Pro on the ANC front. The two-mic noise-cancelling array performs well both indoors and outdoors. Everything from loud televisions to rowdy pedestrians are silenced, along with the humming sounds from any centralized AC units. The Buds Pro does the same, but the AirPods Pro comes with stronger wind resistance.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The transparency modes on these models are equally great. Apple’s version is more suitable for conversing with people without taking the buds off, while OnePlus’ version pipes in a good number of external sounds to gain better awareness of your surroundings during walks.

OnePlus even added a soundscape mode called Zen Mode Air that produces white noise to mask the distractions around you. This was a thoughtful gesture, but it needs serious work since most of the profiles don’t reproduce sounds as well as other soundscape modes, and each profile only lasts for 10 seconds before restarting, which will break your concentration quickly.

Winner: OnePlus Buds Pro

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Special features and apps

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Features are in abundance on these two products, but the AirPods Pro not only has more available, but more exclusive ones at that. All functionality is tied to the H1 chip, including aforementioned features such as audio sharing, spatial audio, Ear Tip Fit Test, EQ selection, “Hey Siri” voice integration, and Headphone Accommodations. 

It doesn’t stop there, either. Add automatic switching, the ability to control the buds from a MacBook, and all these AirPods Pro tricks to the list and you have a seriously impressive selection of extras. Plus, an upcoming iOS 15 update will bring more features into the fold. These will consist of Announce Notifications for audible reminders, Conversation Boost to hear voices better during chats, extended spatial audio support for Apple TV and Mac, and true Find My support for lost AirPods.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

OnePlus equipped the Buds Pro with its own software perks that can either be accessed on the OnePlus Buds app via OnePlus smartphones or the HeyMelody app on iPhone or other Android smartphones. We already touched on the majority of these features, including Audio ID, Earbud Fit Test, noise cancellation settings, and Zen Mode Air. Again, Fnatic/Pro Gaming Mode is exclusive to OnePlus devices.

Apple has connectivity on lock with the H1 chip pairing to iOS/macOS devices instantly. The Buds Pro comes with Bluetooth 5.2 and has its own Fast Pair feature that works specifically for OnePlus devices, though the buds can establish a quick connection with iOS and Android devices as well. It would have made more sense for OnePlus to just program the buds with Google Fast Pair, giving all Android users the same automatic pairing capabilities.

Multipoint technology to connect a pair of buds to two devices simultaneously was left off the spec sheet for both of these products.

Winner: AirPods Pro

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Call quality

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The AirPods Pro is known as one of the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls. Apple’s beam-forming mics limit background noise and pick up vocals with clarity and precision. Wind resistance is impressive, allowing you to have conversations in gusty conditions. The H1 chip also gives you 50 percent more talk time than the original AirPods.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The Buds Pro is sufficient for voice and video calls, though you’ll need to make most of them indoors. Cutout and muffling occasionally occur, but both issues increase when taking calls outside. OnePlus’ mics are supposedly “calibrated for wind and noise reduction,” which is close to accurate. However, callers on the opposite end mentioned that external sounds were audible whenever we spoke.

Winner: AirPods Pro

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Battery life

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

If we’re talking ANC playtimes, then these are two of the worst wireless ANC earbuds for battery life. OnePlus states a full charge will give you 5 hours of ANC use, but these buds suck up a lot of juice, dropping battery life to 4 to 4.5 hours when factoring in other variables (e.g., volume, special features). The AirPods fall in the same range, maxing out at 4.5 hours, though Apple’s battery management is better optimized to squeeze every bit of power out of the battery before a recharge is necessary. Battery life can be extended on either model when disabling ANC, pushing playtimes to 7 hours on the Buds Pro and 5 hours on the AirPods Pro.

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

Now you can see why neither charging case will ever leave your side. Apple’s charging case is capped at 24 hours, whereas OnePlus’ charging case holds between 28 to 38 hours, depending on how you use the buds. The differentiator between these two models isn’t how much playtime they hold, but more so the quick charging. Where the AirPods Pro can achieve 1 hour of use on a 5-minute charge, the Buds Pro’s Warp Charge technology can generate 10 hours on a 10-minute charge; this includes the buds and charging case combined.

Wireless charging is available on these models as well.

Winner: OnePlus Buds Pro

OnePlus Buds Pro vs. AirPods Pro: Verdict

It was a very close battle, but the AirPods Pro claims the victory with better overall performance. For a model that has been out to market almost two years, many of its hallmarks continue to age well, from the adaptive EQ to call quality to the hands-free voice activation. The fact that Apple continues to expand the AirPods Pro’s feature set through software updates is also marveling, keeping these buds modernized and competitive against newer releases.

OnePlus BudsAirPods Pro
Price and value (5)44
Design (15)1311
Controls (10)910
Audio quality (20)1717
Active noise cancellation(20)1716
Special features and apps (15)1113
Call quality (5)35
Battery life (10)76
Total score (100)8182

OnePlus showed out with the Buds Pro. We didn’t expect so much greatness to come out of these tiny noise-cancellers, but the Android mobile giant surprised the hell out of us. Sound is dynamic and vibrant. ANC, while not as smart as advertised, is still robust to combat different frequencies. These are also some of the finest-looking buds out there, and of course they're available at a cheaper price. Had it not been for the very low battery life and exclusive features that could have been made available for most Android devices, it’s possible we could have seen a different winner. 

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.