OnePlus Nord Buds review: Something slightly different in a crowded segment

Pros:– Lively sound output after some adjustments– 6-band equalizer for custom presets– Unique design, comfortable fit– Good battery life, fast charging– IP55 fluid and dust resistance– Programmable controls Cons:– The output of Default sound is heavy bass– No wear-detection sensors or volume control on earbuds– Bulky charging case, plasticky build– Some features only work with select OnePlus phones Price: Rs 2,799 Rating: 3.5/5 At first, we thought that OnePlus Nord was a phone, then a series of phones, and now it seems to be heading in the direction of being a sub-brand with the addition of a new category of products under the Nord umbrella. While the Nord series phones haven’t exactly become the business of their more premium cousins, the OnePlus Nord Buds seem to have been on the OnePlus Buds Z’s toes since day 1. What does this new pair of buds offer? TWS earphones and where? it suits him? Let’s find out. Image Credit: Ameya Dalvi/Tech2 OnePlus Nord Buds: Design and Comfort (7/10) The Nord Buds take a completely different approach to design and don’t look like any of OnePlus’ previous offerings. Pill-shaped stems look pretty unique and while they may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s something new. We got the white variant for review and it has a distinctly glossy finish on both the buttons and the case. While the construction feels sturdy, they are too sticky to touch. They’re not too flashy, but the case attracts smudge marks. The charging case is quite bulky and far from pocket-sized, unless you don’t mind a big bulge in your pocket. Yes, it houses a hefty 480mAh battery, but I’ve seen cases half its size that do just that. However, at 41.7 grams, its weight is not an issue. A charging indicator LED is located on the front of the case, while a USB-C charging port along with a Bluetooth pairing/reset button are present on the back.OnePlus Nord Buds earphone design (1)Image Credit: Ameya Dalvi/Tech2 The buds are also quite light, with a shade of less than 5 grams each. The fit is snug enough that they don’t slip out of the ear during a workout or jogging. Correctly sized silicone tips offer decent passive noise isolation. The tactile zones on the back are clearly marked with metallic paint and a slight rise. Touch sensitivity is good and the buttons make a small beep every time you touch the area. It’s best to go at a more relaxed pace, as tapping too fast tends to lose the weird touch, especially for triple-tap gestures. OnePlus Nord Buds: Features and Specifications (7/10) The OnePlus Nord Buds are resistant to dust and liquids with an IP55 rating. But unlike the Buds Z2, the charging case doesn’t have ingress protection, which is fine given its price. Each earphone is equipped with a 12.4mm titanium dynamic driver; the largest among all OnePlus TWS buds to date. They also have two microphones each for calling and AI noise reduction on calls. There’s no active noise cancellation (ANC) here, which is almost passable at this budget. Look what Realme has done!OnePlus North EarbudsImage credit: Ameya Dalvi/Tech2 Inexplicably, OnePlus has excluded the wear detection sensors on the Nord Buds. Those sensors were present in the similarly priced OnePlus Buds Z over a year old. These headphones support Bluetooth 5.2 and support SBC and AAC codecs. There’s also support for Dolby Atmos when paired with compatible OnePlus phones. Similarly, latency can be as low as 94ms only on select OnePlus phones with Pro Gamer mode enabled. Mobile gamers without a newer OnePlus phone won’t be too happy about that. You don’t need to install any apps if you use these earbuds with a OnePlus 6 or newer OnePlus phone. You get access to various settings of the buds in the Bluetooth settings. For all other phones, you will need to install the HeyMelody app and pair your headphones with it to modify certain features of this product. The app is available for both Android and iOS. The application allows you to modify the sound profile, configure the controls and update the firmware. With the companion app, assign functions to single-tap, double-tap, triple-tap, and long-tap gestures for the left and right earbuds. You can assign play/pause, previous/next track, voice assistant, or nothing to the first three gestures. Long touch only allows you to switch between the last two paired devices; wasted potential, that. I usually like to assign previous/next track functions to the long tap gesture as I’m not a fan of triple tap. The volume control cannot be assigned to any of the gestures on the Nord Buds.OnePlus Nord Buds Case DesignImage Credit: Ameya Dalvi/Tech2 OnePlus Nord Earbuds – Performance (7/10) These earbuds are some of the loudest and the volume level mostly stayed between 40-50% throughout the course of my testing, both indoors as outdoors. The default sound signature in the ‘Balanced’ preset is totally bass dominated. The excess bass mainly impacts the mid-range frequencies with noticeable auditory masking. Even vocals sound muddy on bass-heavy tracks. And believe it or not, there’s a separate ‘Bass’ preset for even more bass! The ‘Bold’ and ‘Serenade’ presets tend to reduce bass and offer a brighter sound that can be fatiguing. If OnePlus hadn’t offered a custom equalizer here to adjust the sound manually, the ratings for this product would have plummeted like the stock market does every three days. The Sound Master EQ (Equalizer) changes things in a big way. You get a 6-band equalizer, two for bass, mid, and treble, which allows you to re-adjust the sound profile and create your own audio presets. While it doesn’t make the Nord Buds sound like OnePlus Buds Pro or even Buds Z2, it does make a noticeable difference in output. Pushing the 1KHz and 4KHz bars up a few units adds noticeable clarity on vocals and upper midrange sounds. Feel free to experiment with the other bars as well until you get the best possible results. After those adjustments, the Nord Buds produce a lively output with better balance, despite a bias towards low frequencies. The soundstage here isn’t too wide but it’s fine for the segment. While the 94ms latency is only available on select OnePlus phones, there was also no noticeable lag between video and audio when streaming video on other phones. I did not try to play with these headphones. The wireless range is as advertised with a strong connection of up to 10 meters with a clear line of sight. OnePlus Nord Buds: Call Quality (6.5/10) The call quality of the OnePlus Nord Buds is mixed. It’s pretty good indoors. Although the voices aren’t the clearest, the people on the line were clearly audible to each other. When outdoors, the AI ​​noise reduction does a reasonable job of isolating your voice from ambient noise, but it can’t reduce background noise as much as I would have liked. I’ve had a better experience with similarly priced OnePlus products.OnePlus Nord earphones in case_H62Image Credit: Ameya Dalvi/Tech2 OnePlus Nord Buds: Battery Life (8/10) The Nord Buds’ battery backup is pretty impressive. The company claims 7 hours for the buttons and 30 hours total with the charging case. These numbers are not unheard of, and since there is no ANC here, getting into that ballpark shouldn’t be too difficult for these folks. With the volume mostly below 50% during the test, the earbuds managed to last about 6 hours and the case was able to recharge them at least three more times.OnePlus Nord Buds Charging CaseImage credit: Ameya Dalvi/Tech2 That translates to an overall battery backup of about 25 hours for the earphones and case combined, which is pretty impressive. Even better, they also support fast charging. A 10-minute charge promises about 5 hours of playback, which is not bad at all. The product can be fully charged in less than an hour. The battery level of each earbud and charging case can be viewed on newer OnePlus phones and the HeyMelody app. OnePlus Nord Buds: Price and Verdict The OnePlus Nord Buds can be purchased for Rs 2,799 with a one-year warranty. For that price, you get a pair of TWS earphones with a unique design, more than decent sound quality thanks to the custom EQ, configurable controls, and impressive battery backup with fast charging. Despite that, it may not be an easy option below Rs 3,000. The competition is quite tough in this segment. Before we move, let’s look at internal competition first. OnePlus Buds Z have always been a solid option in 3K. In addition to good sound quality, it also has wear detection sensors, but offers limited customization options and lower battery backup. While the Buds Z’s default tuning is better, the Nord Buds can catch up and go a little further if you use the EQ wisely. Next up is the Realme duo, which can be a bit tough to beat. The Realme Buds Q2 and Realme Buds Air 2 flaunt ANC in this budget, along with better audio output, customizable touch controls, multiple sound profiles, and comparable battery backup. The Buds Air 2 which sells for around 3K also has wear detection sensors. The Buds Q2 are even more affordable at Rs 2499. Not bad though, amidst so much competition, the Nord Buds may have a hard time breaking into the market, unless OnePlus opts for a price cut. Via: FirstPost


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