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OnePlus Buds Z Review: Excellent Value For Money Truly Wireless Earbuds
OnePlus is gradually expanding its audio portfolio in the Indian market. After populating its wireless neckband line-up (Bullets Wireless earphones), OnePlus is now focusing on introducing new affordable models in the true wireless earbuds category. Needless to say, the sub-5k TWS earbuds space has huge momentum in a price-driven market like India.
- Good Overall Audio
- Comfortable Fit
- IP55 Rating For Water-Dust Protection
- Decent Battery Life
- USB Type-C Charging
- Very Limited Touch Controls
- Best Used With A OnePlus Smartphone
After the OnePlus Buds (Rs. 4,990), the brand has now introduced a slightly more affordable pair of true wireless earbuds for price-conscious buyers. Priced at Rs. 2,999, the OnePlus Buds Z is a pair of TWS earbuds with AAC Bluetooth codec support. The Buds Z's design is water-sweat resistant (IP55 rating) and the affordable buds even offers a Type-C charging port. Powered by a 10mm dynamic driver, the Buds Z are available in White and Gray color options and seems to offer a solid spec-sheet for the price-point. But do these specs also translate to a good overall performance? Let's find out.
OnePlus Buds Z Specifications
Design: In-ear Buds, Buds Weight- 4.3 grams, Charging case- 40g
Water-Dust Rating: IP55, Waterproof and sweat-resistant design
Driver: 10mm dynamic
Connectivity- Bluetooth 5.0, GFP (Google Fast Pair Technology) / OnePlus Quick Pair, 10 meters + effective range
Charging: USB Type-C Port, No Wireless
Battery: Earbuds- 40mAh, Charging case: 450mAh
OnePlus Buds Z Design And Fit
Unlike the OnePlus Buds, the Buds Z earbuds have an in-ear fit design with silicone tips that offer better noise isolation and a comfortable in-canal fit. You can choose among three different silicone bud sizes to find the perfect fit for your ear size. Each bud weighs a mere 4.3 grams and feels very light on ears which make them perfect for long listening sessions. I was able to wear them for a much longer duration than the competition TWS earbuds that flaunt an outer ear design. Importantly, the buds stick to their position in ears and do not fall off that easy which makes them a great pair of affordable TWS earbuds for both indoor and outdoor physical activities.
As far as build quality is concerned, both earbuds and the charging case are made up of decent quality plastic. The buds even have an IP55 rating for dust and water-resistance. The glossy plastic feels durable and sturdier than some of the TWS earbuds priced even higher. The case has an LED light at the front and a Type-C charging port at the rear side along with a physical button to help you pair the buds with your smartphone. Considering the sub-3k price, it is quite acceptable that the case lacks wireless charging support.
Odd Buds’ Arrangement Inside The Case
The Buds Z's pill-shaped case has a rather confusing housing. Every time you put the buds back inside the case, you have to change their orientation. Turning the buds while holding them from the elongated stalk might not sound like a big issue; however, it increases the chances of dropping them in daily routine. I found myself struggling to put the buds back in the case and even dropped them a couple of times. Thankfully, the hard plastic casing absorbed the shocks and did not let anything happen to the buds.
OnePlus Buds Z Touch Controls
The affordable earbuds support limited touch controls via a touch sensor placed under the CD-like circular back panel. You can only customize the double-tap actions for both the earbuds from the Bluetooth settings if you have paired the Buds Z with any OnePlus device. You can set the left or right earbuds to play/pause music, activate voice assistant or play next/ previous track with a double click. OnePlus hasn't offered support for triple-tap or long-press actions which is a letdown. Moving on, the in-ear detection mode works seamlessly on the Buds Z. Removing either or both earbuds instantly pause the music and wearing them again resume the tracks playing.
OnePlus Buds Z Audio Performance
Powered by 10mm drivers with support for AAC or SBC codecs, the Buds Z produces warm and engaging audio. While there's no active noise cancellation, the good in-ear fit ensures decent noise isolation for a clean and immersive listening experience. The sound produced by these sub-3k TWS earbuds has enough detailing and sparkle to let you enjoy a wide range of genres. OnePlus has even provided support for Dolby Atmos that add a bit more detailing and wider perspective to the audio; however, you can only take advantage of Dolby Atmos on OnePlus handsets.
Moving on, these affordable buds also create a very good low-frequency response which results in a bassy sound throughout the music sessions, depending upon the tracks you are streaming. The bass is punchy yet not overpowering which is hard to find at such low price-point. Resultant, the bit warm overall output also ensures good lower mid-range response. If you prefer listening to Bollywood songs with male vocals and often tune in to podcasts, you will like the sound signature on the Buds Z.
The treble response is decent but could have been better. Also, the mid-range seems to be the weak point of these buds. Listening to string-heavy music with female vocals, for instance- Boat to Nowhere and Land of Gold by Anoushka Shankar sounded somewhat muddy. The sound could have a bit more detailing but there's a limit to what a sub-3k pair of TWS earbuds' can deliver in terms of audio.
Overall, the Buds Z produce good audio for the price. The right tuning and good imaging make them a good pair of affordable TWS earbuds for most of the music types. You would enjoy listening to most of the music genres on these affordable buds and that's an achievement for the low-cost true wireless earbuds.
OnePlus Buds Z Voice Calls Performance
The Buds Z also deliver satisfactory voice calls performance, thanks to environmental noise cancellation and good microphone response. I did not encounter any issues with the call quality and connectivity while making calls on Airtel Network in Delhi NCR. The voice call performance is at par with the slightly premium Oppo Enco W51, Vivo TWS and the Mi True Wireless Buds. Also, these affordable buds have no latency issues and work well for video watching on OTT apps and videos stored on the device's storage.
OnePlus Buds Z Battery Life
OnePlus claims 20-hour audio playback (Buds + case). You can achieve the claimed battery life with 60-80% volume and with a certain number of voice calls. The buds lasted for about four hours one full charge and the case managed to add another three cycles taking the total battery life to close to 16 hours which is a decent number for these affordable buds. The battery life will vary depending upon your usage pattern which includes the number of calls made, volume levels and touch interactions with earbuds.
OnePlus has managed to offer an excellent pair of affordable true wireless earbuds. These sub-3K true wireless earbuds sound good and offer good voice calls performance. The limited touch controls seem to be the only major letdown as you are forced to use your smartphone for voice controls and other important functions. Overall, the Buds Z's audio performance, battery life, IP55 rated design and good build quality truly justifies the price-point.