OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Great features, but sound quality is lacking

Pitched to rival the latest generation of wireless ANC earbuds, the new OnePlus Buds Pro 2 fall short on performance at the price

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 on wooden beam near canal side
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The latest OnePlus flagship earbuds have more features than many wireless ANC earbuds at the price, and look like the perfect accessory for OnePlus mobile owners. But the mediocre battery life, ANC performance, and misjudged sound balance, means these aren't quite the next-gen upgrade we hoped for.


  • +

    Big bass sound

  • +

    Attractive drop-stem styling

  • +

    Good ANC performance

  • +

    Up to 10 hours of use from just a 10-minute charge

  • +

    Fast pairing support


  • -

    Sound balance isn't authentic

  • -

    Mediocre battery life from earbuds

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OnePlus Buds Pro 2: Specifications

Price: $179 / £179 / AU$259 

Colors: Obsidian black, arbor green

Battery life (rated): 6 hours (ANC on), 9 hours (ANC off), 25 hours (with charging case and ANC on), 39 hours (with charging case and ANC off)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 (LHDC/AAC/SBC/LC3 codec support) 

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

Weight: 0.17 ounces (per bud), 1.67 ounces (charging case)

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 earbuds were announced earlier this month at the same time as the new OnePlus 11 phone fitted with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform. We declared OnePlus' original Buds Pro 'shockingly good value for money' when we reviewed them in 2021, so I have high hopes for this second-generation model that looks to challenge similar next-gen 'pro' models from the likes of Apple and Samsung. 

As my first experience with anything OnePlus, initial impressions are good and I'm intrigued that this Pro 2 model is co-created by Dynaudio, a Danish audio specialist with a considerable hi-fi pedigree, and brings audiophile credibility to OnePlus' flagship earbuds for anyone in the know. 

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 in charging case held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The new OnePlus Buds Pro 2 have a $30 price increase, but even so they still cost considerably less than several of their near rivals. While our OnePlus Buds Pro review highlighted some shortcomings with exclusive features tied to OnePlus devices and a mediocre playback time of 5 hours with ANC enabled, battery life looks to be slightly improved on the new version. Playback figures for the Pro 2 claim to be increased by at least one hour in most areas, although the total combined playback time for the charging case and 'buds with ANC enabled seems to have fallen from 28 hours to 25 hours on the new version.

Of course, longer battery life is always desirable when seeking out the best wireless earbuds, but there's plenty of extra features to consider here including Bluetooth LE Audio and hi-res audio support via LHDC. 

Take a closer look at our full OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review below to see whether the new flagship buds are right for you. 

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 earbuds with OnePlus 11 phone

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Price and availability

  • Pro 2 version increases price to $179
  • Still competitively priced compared to ANC rivals

You can pre-order the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 for $179 / £179 directly from the OnePlus store or Amazon where they officially go on sale on February 16. At the time of writing, there was no MRSP available for the release in Australia, but converts to around AU$259. They are sold in two color options: obsidian black, and arbor green. Unlike the original OnePlus Buds Pro, there's no white option available right now. Bundled with the purchase are a wireless charging case, USB-C charging case, and three different sizes of eartips.

The next-gen version sees the price increase to $179, which puts them at the same MSRP as the Sennheiser CX Plus (one of the best value earbuds around right now). Despite the price rise, it's still cheaper than many competing flagship earbud accessory solutions, including the Google Pixel Buds Pro ($199), Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2 ($229), Apple AirPods Pro 2 ($249) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279), while positioned slightly higher than the Nothing Ear (1), which recently increased in price to $149.

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

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 in charging case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Design and comfort

  • Attractive drop-stem styling
  • Solid build and attractive dual-tone color options

I don't have a pair of the original OnePlus Buds Pro to hand, but on the face of it the new model looks very similar except for the different color options. I like the sleek and slender profile and the dual-tone finish with matte plastic on the upper half, and a chrome-look around the drop stems. The force sensors introduced on the predecessor are also carried over.

Build is solid and carries over the IP55-rating for dust and water resistance, meaning they are sufficiently protected from sweat when used at the gym or on a run, say. The charging case is IPX4-rated to sustain sweat and water, too. The case has a nice weight to it, strong magnets that keep the lid shut tightly, and it displays the buds beautifully when opened.

Earbud weight appears to have increased fractionally to 0.17 ounces, but this isn't significant. I enjoyed good comfort levels for several hours during my work commutes to and from the Tom's Guide office, and the selection of three silicone eartips accommodates different ear sizes for a good seal and sense of secure fit.

The OnePlus Earbud Fit Test helps you determine the right ear tip size for the best ear canal seal, and optimal performance. The test can be activated at any time, and was impressively accurate every time I tried it. Mostly, I managed to achieve a perfect fit each time I wore the earbuds, but a couple of times the app told me I had to make adjustments to determine a “perfect fit” for best performance.

OnePlus Earbuds menu showing touch controls

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Controls and digital assistant

  • Responsive control scheme
  • Reliable in-ear detection
  • Strong digital assistant support 

The force sensor on the chrome-colored part of the stem registers squeeze and hold gestures to enable a series of useful playback controls and functions. It’s very responsive (and possibly even more sensitive than Apple's AirPods Pro 2), producing strong 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 (triple squeeze), and listening mode activation (squeeze and hold). 

A squeeze and hold for several seconds activates soundscapes in Zen Mode Air, where you can listen to white noise soundscapes described as Warm Sunrise, Iceland, Nighttime Camping, Summer Seashore, and Meditation.  

On-ear detection enables playback to pause when one earbud is removed, and then automatically resuming once the earbud is placed back in the ear.

Depending on your playback device, digital assistant support can be set for Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby. The mics have excellent speech recognition and picked up my requests with impressive speed and precision.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 sound settings

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OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Sound quality

  • Sophisticated driver configuration
  • Versatile EQ customization
  • Hi-Res Audio mode

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 earbuds employ a sophisticated dual driver arrangement that the company calls MelodyBoost. With an 11mm driver to take care of bass frequencies, and a 6mm driver to take care of treble duties, on paper, the specs look impressive, and the marketing blurb suggests the driver configuration has been designed with audiophiles in mind. 

Dynaudio is attributed to the tuning of the main sound profiles, including Balanced, Bold, Serenade, and Bass. I opted for Balanced as it is the default, and it does indeed give the best balance of frequencies across the claimed 10Hz to 40kHz frequency range. 

The sound quality performance of the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 was largely enjoyable, but it's not the most authentic sound I've heard from a pair of earbuds, particularly from ones that say they're aimed at audiophiles. 

The sound profile is best described as warm, with an emphasis on bass and treble details. But the frequency balance seems a little out of sorts to me. For example, the bassline on Rhianna's “Don't Stop the Music” has a decent amount of punch behind it, but lacks the kind of kick and dynamics that say the AirPods Pro 2 manage to deliver while I'm listening to this song on my treadmill sessions at the gym. Handclaps and vocal sounds edgy and overly sibilant, making the high treble S-sounds at the beginning and end of words sound over emphasized and hard. Okay, the Rhianna track isn't perhaps the finest recording ever made, but I've listened to this track on dozens of earbuds over the years and this is the first time I felt the sound was too edgy. 

Tidal play screen showing Rihanna and Ricky Lee Jones tracks mentioned in review

(Image credit: Tidal)

With an unprocessed, old-school recording from Ricky Lee Jones with "Easy Money," the same tizzy characteristic appears on the percussion backing. It's perhaps a matter of personal taste, but to my ears the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 sound a bit in-yer-face. There's too much boom and not enough detail in the lower mid frequencies, which diminishes performances and overshadows the presence I know the vocals have and deserve. 

Other models, like the AirPods Pro have a more balanced approach across the frequency range. I love listening to Hans Zimmer's soundtracks, but the bass levels on "Like a Dog Chasing Cars" and "Time" are just too overpowering, and end up overshadowing elements further up the frequency range.  

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 sound settings

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Even after taking the Golden Sound test to create an audio profile tailored to my hearing characteristics, I felt the bass and treble frequencies were still too over eager. Although it did help to bring a greater sense of openness and presences by raising the mid frequencies as well as taming high frequencies slightly. 

To set up a Golden Sound profile for your ears, you have to take the test in a completely silent setting. It takes several minutes to complete, but once done, you can activate a frequency map tailored to your hearing.

The LHDC audio codec is said to give up to 900kbps data transfer over Bluetooth, which is the same as Sony's LDAC, for better sound quality compared to AAC and aptX codecs. But even with the Hi-Res Mode activated, it was difficult to discern significant improvements in sound quality from the OnePlus 11 playback device I was using to play lossless and hi-res tracks downloaded from Tidal.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 noise cancelling options

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OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Active noise cancellation

  • Smart ANC mode worked seamlessly
  • Overall noise reduction isn't as effective as Apple or Bose models
  • ANC alters sound balance

Adaptive noise cancellation claims to reduce background noise levels by up to 48dB, which is an improvement on the 40dB noise reduction claim of its predecessor. As well as offering a Personalized Noise Cancellation mode, there are several fixed ANC settings: Max, Moderate, and Mild, plus an adaptive Smart mode that automatically applies the most effective noise level reduction based on your surroundings. 

Max was the way to go for the best background noise neutralization on my work commutes by train, but I didn't find it as effective as the top-class models in our best noise cancelling earbuds buying guide. The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 earbuds lag behind the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 if you're seeking strong ANC performance in the nosiest environments. 

At the office, Moderate was sufficient at reducing the sound of general interruptions from talkative colleagues and passes by, but some noises like the sound of a co-worker tapping away at a keyboard managed to break through. 

The Smart setting worked well, and seamlessly adjusted the level of ANC for optimal noise cancellation depending on my surroundings. Apart from a slight imbalance in audio between the left and right earbuds on one occasion, I wasn't aware of the Smart mode in action, or having any noticeable effect on the EQ balance of the audio as it auto selected the level of noise cancellation based on what was happening around me.

Transparency Mode allowed me to listen in to my surroundings, and came in handy for brief chats with co-workers or when conveying my coffee and lunch order without removing the buds.

OnePlus 11 display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Special features and app

  • Only fully compatible with OnePlus 11 phone at time of testing
  • Plentiful sound and ANC customizations options
  • Useful white noise Zen mode plays relaxing sounds

I was lucky enough to receive a pair of OnePlus Buds Pro 2 ahead of their on sale date, but as I only had access to the OnePlus 10 Pro I was locked out of the Pro 2's flagship features. Although I suspect that we'll shortly see an update bringing full support for the Pro 2 earbuds to older OnePlus mobile devices, and shouldn't be an issue for OnePlus owners wanting to partner the latest Pro earbuds with the company's older mobiles. The HeyMelody app brings Pro 2 features and controls to iOS and Android devices, and did show me some of the extended OnePlus Buds Pro 2 functionality when using an iPhone 12 Pro as my playback device.       

Thankfully, I was able to borrow the all-new OnePlus 11 mobile from a Tom's Guide colleague. Once paired with the latest phone model, a world of customization options opened up via the Earbuds Functions menu. 

These are stacked with top-tier features, including Sound Master EQ with custom Equalizer, Hi-Res Mode, ANC On/Off/Transparency, Personalized noise cancellation, Golden Sound, Android Spatial Audio, Earbud Controls customization, Earbud Fit Test, Find My Earbuds, and Firmware Updates. Google Fast Pair is also supported for connection to mobile devices running Android 11 and above.    

Zen Mode Air features a set of audio recordings characterized as white noise to help listeners relax by listening to soothing sounds. Described as Warm Sunrise, Iceland, Nighttime Camping, Summer Seashore, and Meditation. Once your choice of white noise is downloaded to the earbuds, it plays continuously even when the screen on the playback device times out. The sound profiles don't sound particularly well produced, and repeats on a seamless 50 second loop. Meditation was one of my favorite Zen Mode Air sounds, and was pretty effective at creating a calming space to write this review while others chatted around me. 

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 charging case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Battery life and charging

  • Mediocre playback time from earbuds
  • Up to 10 hours playback from a 10-minute charge
  • Wireless charging support

The Buds Pro 2 claim a battery life of 6 hours with ANC playback. This figure is better than the 5 hours claimed by the original, but is based on the volume level being at 50% and with Hi-Res mode switched off. In reality, most of us will listen a little louder (although it's important to be mindful of potential hearing damage caused by long term listening at higher volume levels), but around 4.5 to 5 hours between charges seems more typical from my experience. Switching ANC off claims to extend the listening time to 9 hours.

As with original OnePlus Buds Pro, Fast Charge can generate an impressive 10 hours of use from just a 10-minute charge. Bear in mind that this is for the earbuds and charging case combined and secures almost 2 full earbud charges in 10 minutes. The case itself holds between 25 and 39 hours, depending on how the buds are used.

A USB-C charging cable is supplied and wireless Qi charging is supported.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 in their charging case

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Call quality and connectivity

  • Decent call quality
  • Bluetooth 5.3 support but some occasional dropouts
  • Google Fast Pair supported

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 stand up well as a useful tool for calls. Callers mentioned that I sounded loud and clear on voice calls. Indoor calls faired better than outdoor calls, where some of the backgrounds sounds got in the way of conversations. 

These 'buds support Bluetooth 5.3 and range seemed lengthy in most situations. There were only a couple of occasions where I experienced dropouts while listening to music playback. However, on both occasions the playback device was within a few feet from me, so there's really no excuse. 

Pairing was seamless to all three mobile devices I tried connecting the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 earbuds to. Those with a OnePlus 6 (or higher) can take advantage of Fast Pair for instantaneous pairing.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 review: Verdict

While the original OnePlus Buds Pro felt like a must-own for the OnePlus community, and a solid pickup for iPhone/Android users, this second-gen model feels less so.

The up sides are a superb design, slick controls, a fantastic feature set and user experience. Adaptive ANC is effective at reducing general background noise, but doesn't beat the best noise-cancelling earbuds out there. Battery life improves on the original, but it is still pretty mediocre for the sector and doesn't better Apple's AirPods Pro 2. 

Also, despite the 'pro' moniker, audio is contoured towards bass and treble frequencies, which misses the point for any audiophile listeners that OnePlus seems out to attract with its LHDC 'hi-res' support. Nevertheless, the Buds Pro 2 are a neat update, with solid connectivity and one of the strongest feature sets around. 

It is possible that the sound balance may be improved via a future software update. Until then, these are a fun listen that will bring plenty of zip to your music, but aren't the most authentic-sounding audio experience I've heard. Ultimately, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 feel like a bit of a backwards step in performance for a next-gen version.

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.