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OnePlus Buds Pro review: Shockingly good for the price

The OnePlus Buds Pro gives the AirPods Pro some stiff competition

OnePlus Buds Pro review
(Image: © Regan Coule/Future)

Our Verdict

With a superb design, great sound and incredible charging tech, the OnePlus Buds Pro hits nearly every mark. Only its weak ANC playtime stands between it and a perfect score.

For

  • Rich, well-balanced sound
  • Powerful ANC
  • Handsome, luxe design
  • Ridiculously powerful charging technology
  • Unique audio features

Against

  • Poor ANC playtime
  • Some features are unreleased or exclusive to OnePlus devices
OnePlus Buds Pro specs

Price: $149

Colors: Glossy White, Matte Black

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)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2

Processor: N/A

Size: 1.25 x 0.9 inches (per bud), 2.3 x 1.9 x 0.9 inches (charging case)

Weight: 0.15 ounces (per bud), 1.83 ounces (charging case)

The OnePlus Buds Pro is to wireless earbuds what the OnePlus 9 is to smartphones: namely an excellent device that challenges and in some ways even beats the best alternatives from Apple and Samsung. Make no mistake, the OnePlus Buds Pro is not here simply to make up the numbers.  

While most people know OnePlus for its widely acclaimed, affordable, and premium-built Android smartphones, it launched its first wireless earbuds, the OnePlus Buds, to notable fanfare last year. But the noise-cancelling OnePlus Buds Pro is a much more ambitious project.

Equipped with adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC), personalized sound, signature Warp Charge technology, and a swankier design than its predecessor, it matches the high-end performance and quality of the brand’s flagship smartphones. Platform neutrality also means you can enjoy a similar user experience no matter whether you're on iOS or Android. Just be informed that OnePlus smartphone users gain access to a few extras.

Are these buds perfect? Close, but no cigar. The low ANC playtime and exclusive features tied to OnePlus devices are legitimate complaints. However, read our full OnePlus Buds Pro review to see why these drawbacks are forgivable in the grand scheme of things.

Note: We weren't provided a OnePlus smartphone for our review, so all expert feedback is based on our experiences with Android and iOS/macOS devices.

OnePlus Buds Pro review: Price and availability

You can purchase the OnePlus Buds Pro for $149 directly from OnePlus. It is sold in two colors: Glossy White and Matte Black. Bundled with the purchase are a wireless charging case, USB-C charging case, and three different sizes of eartips.

This is the same MSRP as two of the market’s most popular wireless ANC earbuds, the Beats Studio Buds and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. It is also listed lower than category leaders such as the $249 Apple AirPods Pro and $279 Sony WF-1000XM4, while priced higher than the hot newcomers such as the $99 Nothing Ear (1).

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

OnePlus Buds Pro review: Design and comfort

It’s all in the details and the OnePlus Buds Pro has been given a fancier facelift compared to the original OnePlus Buds. The first major change you’ll see is the sleeker and slimmer profile. These buds come with a dual-tone finish that consists of matte plastic on the upper half and aluminum plating on the stems. Gone are the oval touch panels and in their place are force sensors, like the AirPods Pro.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Construction is superior, feeling more durable and premium than both the original Buds and the AirPods Pro. This version also comes with a higher IPX rating (IP55) for enhanced sweat and water resistance.

The charging case is IPX4-rated to sustain sweat and water, too. This is huge, because not many wireless earbuds offer this. The case has a nice weight to it, strong magnets that keep the lid shut tightly, and it displays the buds beautifully when opened.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Each bud is lightweight (0.15 ounces) and won’t weigh down your ears. I enjoyed moderate comfort for several hours throughout the day over the course of a week. There was minor soreness around the concha after about 5 hours of uninterrupted listening, but nothing painful.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

If the AirPods Pro showed us anything, it’s that installed ear tips make all the difference with fit on long-stem earbuds. OnePlus took note and followed Apple’s lead, packaging the Buds Pro with three silicone tip sizes to accommodate different ear shapes for proper stabilization. Adjusting the buds will allow the tips to form a tight seal that keeps them from slipping out. 

OnePlus developed an Earbud Fit Test to help users determine the best ear tip size for optimal fit, and it’s pretty accurate. During testing, I had one bud improperly installed to see whether the feature would determine a “perfect fit,” something several other fit tests have been guilty of, but this test caught the error and suggested adjustment for better noise cancellation.

OnePlus Buds Pro review: Controls and digital assistant

A force sensor is placed near the bottom of each stem that registers squeeze and hold gestures to enable functions. It’s impressive and just as responsive as Apple’s control system, producing great tactile feedback with every press. The control scheme is practically identical to that of the AirPods and consists of the following gestures: play/pause (single squeeze), next track (double squeeze), previous track/digital assistant (triple squeeze), and listening mode activation (squeeze and hold). 

There is one extra gesture you can initiate to turn on the buds’ soundscape mode: long touch and hold. The description is a bit misleading, since it implies leaving your finger on the force sensor for several seconds, but you must squeeze and hold for several seconds to activate the mode.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

On-ear detection is here for automatic playback management. Taking off one bud will auto-pause and placing it back on will auto-play. The Buds Pro has reliable motion detection to execute these functions accurately. 

Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby are all compatible with the Buds Pro and can be set as your native digital assistant, depending on your device. The mics demonstrate excellent speech recognition and pick up verbal inquiries with precision, while each AI bot responds to voice commands as quickly as they receive them.

OnePlus Buds Pro review: Sound quality

The sound profile on these buds is mostly warm, with an emphasis on bass and vocals, though higher sounds are present, culminating in well-balanced audio with substantial frequency range. I tested several music genres and videos and was mostly satisfied with what came out of the 11mm dynamic drivers.

The bassline on DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” knocked hard, while the late rapper’s growly, yet crisp sounding vocals complemented the intense production. Other models, like the AirPods Pro, tone down the cymbals and marching-band horns, but the Buds Pro gave them room to shine. These same sentiments were shared when blasting Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” where the crashing hi-hats remained consistent over the energetic electric guitar strums and pounding drums.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Switching over to more melodic selections, I played Jazz classics like Yusef Lateef's "Love Theme From Spartacus" and was shocked by how striking the high end sounded. The whistle play had a vibrancy to it that proliferated the record’s intimate vibes, while the steady hi-hats blended smoothly over the double bass and piano notes.

Instead of personalizing sound through an EQ or presets, OnePlus has Audio ID, a test that creates an audio profile based on your hearing characteristics. You’ll need to take the test in a completely silent setting to gain the best results and it takes several minutes to complete, but once done, it presents you with a diagram that maps out the hearing on each bud, based on frequency preference. The feature improved sound slightly, boosting the low end a smidge, but I still preferred the default signature.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

What about OnePlus’ low latency Fnatic Mode to boost gaming performance? Well, it’s exclusive to OnePlus devices, which, again, this reviewer wasn’t provided. Fnatic Mode will rebrand as Pro Gaming Mode when the upcoming Oxygen OS 12 update is available. 

Regarding LHDC, the audio codec with Hi-Res Audio certification for better sound quality compared to AAC and aptX, it won’t be available until the end of the year via an over-the-air update on OnePlus 9 series devices. It’s also been confirmed that the feature will not be supported on OnePlus Nord devices, including the new OnePlus Nord 2, as of now.

OnePlus Buds Pro review: Active noise cancellation

The Buds Pro has three mics in each bud to filter noise levels almost up to 40dB. There are also three ANC settings: Noise Cancellation, Smart, and Max Noise Cancellation. Each mode is beneficial in specific settings, though Max is the way to go if you want the best noise neutralization. The technology won’t top that of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or Sony WF-1000XM4, but it edges out the AirPods Pro. 

During office hours, Max was magnificent at blocking out household disturbances, from loud TVs to talkative relatives to unexpected deliveries. I mostly appreciated how well the mode handled rumbling noises from our washing machine. Taking the buds outside was mostly delightful, muffling pedestrians, landscaping tools, and any fracas coming from the barge on the Intracoastal Waterway right across from our house. Noise Cancellation worked well for the same scenarios, though some external sounds were more perceptible.

These buds also kept high-frequency sounds to a minimum, although several could still be heard from afar; the occasional ambulance siren or something like a whistling tea kettle will grab your attention. I heard my infant child crying in his nursery from one room away, and while it wasn’t distracting enough to break my concentration with music on, it was tough to get through videos.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The Smart setting left much to be desired. This is designed to adapt to your current environment and automatically tweak the ANC algorithm for optimal noise cancellation, but I never got the sense that it did this. Only those with detailed hearing may notice any improvement in performance.

Want to increase the awareness of your surroundings? Turn on Transparency Mode to pipe in ambient noises, most of which sound distinctive enough to identify. This mode comes most in handy when you’re stopping for brief chats with co-workers or want to convey coffee orders to a barista without removing the buds.

Then there is Zen Mode Air to calm listeners by producing white noise that masks the distractions around them. Competitors like Bowers & Wilkins and Jabra already have this, and I prefer either over this version. Some of the sound profiles aren’t reproduced well, plus they only last for 10 seconds before restarting, which is annoying and disrupts your focus. Something else I discovered is that the mode pauses whenever your smartphone screen times out.

OnePlus Buds Pro review: App and special features

OnePlus did a standup job of balancing its true wireless experience across all platforms. Those with an iOS or Android device can download the HeyMelody app for extended functionality, while OnePlus users can download the OnePlus Buds app in the Google Play store.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Unfortunately, the company keeps two of its extra features exclusive for OnePlus smartphone users: Fnatic Mode/Pro Gaming Mode, and Fast Pair. The latter is discussed further in the review.

Besides those, everything else is at your disposal, including Audio ID, ANC settings, control customization, Earbud Fit Test, and Zen Mode Air. Firmware updates are available, too. It’s a fair amount, though opposing apps like Sony Headphones Connect and JBL Headphones have bigger feature sets; an EQ with presets would have been nice.

OnePlus Buds Pro review: Battery life and charging case

The Buds Pro only offers a max of 5 hours ANC playback, which is really 4-4.5 hours when factoring in volume and special features. This is almost the same as the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours) and nearly half that of the WF-1000XM4 (8 hours); expect 2 days of moderate listening (2 hours daily) at most. Users can extend the listening time to 7 hours when turning off the feature.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Where OnePlus sort of makes up for this is in its insanely powerful charging technology. The Buds Pro comes with Warp Charge to generate 10 hours of use on a 10-minute charge. Bear in mind that this is for the earbuds and charging case combined. This will secure you 2 full charges in 10 minutes. When placing the buds in the case, I saw battery levels increase from 20% to 60% in 5 minutes. The case itself holds between 28 to 38 hours, depending on how you use the buds.

Wireless charging also comes part of the package.

OnePlus Buds Pro review: Call quality and connectivity

As a calling headset, the OnePlus Buds Pro is above average. My best experiences came indoors, where several callers reported on how loud and clear I sounded, along with minor cutout and muffling. Taking calls outside was so-so. OnePlus claims that the buds are “calibrated for wind and noise reduction,” and though they do a formidable job of blocking out interference, my wife mentioned that noises were very audible whenever I spoke. Muffling and cutout also increased when outdoors.

OnePlus Buds Pro review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Bluetooth 5.2 operates the buds. Range is lengthy, so you can enjoy 40 feet of wireless listening. Those with a OnePlus 6 (or higher) can take advantage of Fast Pair for instantaneous pairing. Others with an Android phone or iPhone will be able to pair quickly to devices as well.

OnePlus Buds Pro review: Verdict

The OnePlus Buds Pro is a must-own for the entire OnePlus community and a solid pickup for iPhone/Android users that want highly functional wireless ANC earbuds at a reasonable price.

Audio is warmly resonant, thanks to tight bass and crisp vocals, along with vibrant highs for full-bodied sound. ANC is effective enough to tame most ambient noises and handles droning and rumbling better than the AirPods Pro; its adaptive capabilities could use some refinement. The upgraded design is superb, from the prime aesthetics to the innovative controls. Then there’s the charging technology on these beauties that no one can rival.

Had it not been for the dismal battery life and exclusive features (e.g., gaming mode, Fast Pair), this pair of buds could have possibly earned a perfect score. Nonetheless, the Buds Pro is a remarkable ANC debut from the mobile creator that has earned its spot among the true wireless elite.

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.