With the Nord Buds, OnePlus has its cheapest pair of wireless earphones that have been released to date. The Nord Buds cost 49 euros. Are they good value for money or are they too good to be true? You will discover it in the review.
OnePlus Nord Buds
At the beginning of this year, OnePlus brought its Buds Z2 (99 euros) on the market. They cost 50 euros less than the Buds Pro (149 euros) and also came with active noise canceling (ANC) technology: a way to filter out disturbing background noise in your environment. In our review of the Buds Z2, we stated that there are few reasons not to prefer them over the OnePlus Buds Pro, as the brand has also rectified some of the flaws or flaws of the Pro version.
Now OnePlus is doing it again. The Nord Buds (49 euros) are a pair of wireless earphones with charging case that in turn are 50 euros cheaper than the Buds Z2. OnePlus also features larger 12.4mm audio drivers compared to the 11mm drivers in the Buds Z2 and Buds Pro. These do come without ANC. Are the Nord Buds a great deal or is it better to spend a little more money for your wireless earphones? We discuss it in the review.
OnePlus Nord Buds – the pros
1. Fun design, stuck in the ear
Every pair of OnePlus earbuds looks completely different, and that applies to both the case and the earbuds themselves. The designers have also succeeded in creating a nice design with these cheap ears and the Nord Buds are more successful in that area than the Buds Z2 if you ask more. Oval shapes appear in both the caps and the case, while the Buds Z2 mainly resembles the Apple AirPods.
When you take the Nord Buds in your hands, you do feel that OnePlus has made the case and ears from cheap materials, but that is also the price you pay. The brand also alternates glossy plastic with a matte finish and it forms a playful whole together with the oval shapes. Most successful. And a nice detail: the earphones come with OnePlus’ characteristic red charging cable.
What is striking is that the Nord Buds have a slightly wider fit than its predecessors. They are a little firmer than their predecessors and OnePlus claims to have improved the design by testing on real ears. The earphones come with three different sizes of earplugs.
2. Excellent service
With the Buds Z2, OnePlus has managed to improve the operation of its earphones and that trend is continued with the Nord Buds. Touch control is again provided and on the Nord Buds it is made very clear with a round chrome-colored plate where exactly you have to touch the caps.
As soon as you pair the Nord Buds with the HeyMelody app for the first time, you will first receive a tutorial with which you can try out all control gestures. That is a very good addition for those who use wireless earphones for the first time. After that, OnePlus gives you all the freedom to set the operation as desired and that without the limitations that we found with the Buds Pro. Play, pause, the next song, previous song or call up the voice assistant: it all works very smoothly.
3. The sound is one level lower, but that’s no problem
We were quite excited about the 11mm drivers of the Buds Pro and Buds Z2, but this time the brand opts for new 12.4mm audio drivers. I found the Buds Z2 loud enough, but these take it one step further. That could even be an added value if the sound also remains rich and refined, but that is not the case. Details in music that you do hear with the Buds Z2 and the Pro earphones sometimes disappear into the background with the Nord Buds and that happens at high and low volumes.
I liked a pop song like ‘One Kiss’ by Dua Lipa, but equally good with ‘Riders on the Storm’ by The Doors. Some songs also sound quite unpleasant at the highest volumes and that is remarkable, especially with bass tones. So I have rarely used the Nord Buds at maximum volume.
However, there is one aspect that we should not forget and that is the price tag of the Nord Buds. Considering the price you pay for these earphones, the sound is really not that bad. It could have been a lot worse considering these wireless earphones cost half as much as the Buds Z2. It is certainly not the case that every song is by definition unpleasant to listen to. Keep in mind that quality audio codecs like aptX or LDAC aren’t supported, but that’s to be expected given the price.
4. Finally an equalizer in the app
In the HeyMelody app you can adjust settings of the Nord Buds and also update the firmware. It’s where you set the touch controls to your liking, but you’ll also find the brand new equalizer function called ‘Sound Master EQ’. We’ve been underlining for some time that we’re missing it with the Buds Z2 and Buds Pro, but it’s part of the Nord Buds. OnePlus has not yet added them to its more expensive earphones via a software update.
With the equalizer you can adjust the high, medium and low tones that the ears sound. There are also some presets: ‘Balanced’ (active by default), ‘Serenade’, ‘Powerful’ (recommended in the app) and ‘Bass’. I was personally not very impressed with the presets, but those who like solid bass sound should definitely try the ‘Bass’ option. Still, I think that OnePlus can offer even better presets in the future, for example more tailored to different music genres.
A positive thing about the equalizer is that thanks to the equalizer you can adjust the sound for songs that sound less good on the Nord Buds. If you listen at a high volume, sometimes the low tones derail and you can reduce them yourself.
Furthermore, OnePlus offers a game mode in the HeyMelody app and the intention is that image and audio are better synchronized, with less delay in games. The only thing OnePlus does not say in the app is that the function only works in combination with a phone from the brand.
5. Multipoint audio, an added value
The Nord Buds works with bluetooth 5.2 and you can therefore switch between multiple connected devices. If you have tucked your phone away and are sitting in front of the PC, you can long press the touch control to connect. If you receive a call on your smartphone, the Nord Buds will automatically switch to your phone. It’s a very handy feature and a nice extra considering the low price of the earbuds.
6. Very good battery life
According to OnePlus, the Nord Buds last 7 hours and a total of 30 hours if you include the charging case. The numbers seem to be slightly lower in practice, but they still last longer than the expensive Pro earphones. Still, the Buds Z2 are the true masters of battery life. In combination with the charging case, they can last 38 hours.
That is a bit better, but the most important thing is that you can easily bridge a long flight with the Nord Buds. And the fast charging is also very welcome, because you can listen to music for 5 hours again if they have been able to charge for 10 minutes in the box.
7. Filters background noise on phone calls
The Nord Buds comes with four microphones and the intention of the arrangement is that background noises are recognized and filtered out during telephone calls. OnePlus uses artificial intelligence to recognize those sounds. The technology works well for softer background sounds, but it doesn’t work well with louder sounds. That is in line with expectations. For example, I could call right next to a fan without being noticed on the other end of the line, but loud heavy traffic, for example, can still be heard.
What is also very positive is that the quality of telephone calls is very good with these earphones. The dull sound that sounds when you call with many wireless earphones – because the microphone is further away from your mouth – is less noticeable with the Nord Buds. You are very loud and clearly intelligible to your interlocutor.
OnePlus Nord Buds – the negatives
1. No ANC, Transparency Mode and Wear Detection
I doubted whether or not to discuss this point in the review, precisely because we have earphones from 49 euros. Still, it’s worth mentioning: active noise canceling is a feature you’ll miss. A useful aspect of headphones and earphones is that you can shut yourself off from your environment for a while, but that is not possible with the Nord Buds.
In addition, there is no so-called transparency mode, which is a function that you can quickly activate when someone is talking to you. You can then understand that person without taking off your earphones. Taking off the Nord Buds is therefore an option, but then you automatically bump into a third handy function that is missing: the wear detection. Many wireless earphones automatically pause the music when you remove them and start playing again when you put them back in your ears. These Nord Buds can’t do that. All these missing features, which in itself is not so strange, because you get what you pay for, but it is something to think about.
2. Does not work with Google Fast Pair
An asset that the Buds Z2 had compared to the Pro earphones is that they can easily connect to any Android phone with Google Fast Pair. As soon as you press the button to pair, you will spontaneously see a notification on your phone. The Buds Pro and these Nord Buds work with OnePlus Fast Pair, which is a similar system, only it only works on phones from the Chinese manufacturer.
The advantage of Google Fast Pair became clear to me when I reconnected the Buds Pro and the Buds Z2 to my phone to compare them with the Nord Buds. The Buds Z2 were the only ones coupled in seconds. Hopefully we will see OnePlus again using Google Fast Pair with its next earphones.
For the 49 euros that you pay, you get a very nice product from OnePlus in exchange. The Nord Buds sound great and with the new equalizer function you can adjust the sound to your liking. Yet you notice that they do not reach the same level as the Buds Z2 and The Buds Pro, but they do achieve an excellent result given their price.
Furthermore, the Nord Buds just look really nice and they sit firmly in the ear. The battery life allows you to easily survive a day on the plane and the airport. In addition, the operation is also a real plus, because it works flawlessly and you can adjust it as desired in the app. Things like ANC and Fast Pair are a loss, but for this price you can’t really complain about it. A solid pair of wireless earphones at an incredibly low price.
Buy OnePlus Nord Buds
The OnePlus Nord Buds are now available for purchase through the OnePlus.com webshop and through other retailers. They are only available in the color Black Slate.
Buy OnePlus Nord Buds
The OnePlus Nord Buds is the first audio product from this line. These wireless earphones last for 30 hours on a single
charge and they have four microphones for clear conversations without outside noises.