Saturday, September 5, 2020

What are these OnePlus Buds really worth?

INTRODUCTION

OnePlus recently introduced its first true wireless headphones. The brand relies on a well-known design and an attractive price-performance ratio. What are these OnePlus Buds really worth?
Presented at the same time as the OnePlus Nord , the OnePlus Buds are the brand's first true wireless headphones. With a design strongly inspired by AirPods, a nice little case, a nice promise of autonomy and above all a reasonable price, these headphones have it all, especially for OnePlus fans. Let's see if the brand can succeed in convincing a slightly larger audience .


A WELL-KNOWN DESIGN, WITH ITS ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

Many manufacturers have taken the design from the stem of the famous AirPods , but OnePlus has gone all the way and offers so - called “ open-fit  ” headphones  : they do not fit into the ear canal, but just land in the ear. ear conch . So, unlike in-ear headphones, the OnePlus Buds don't cause this plugging effect, but it's important to understand that this open-fit design doesn't allow any sound isolation . Some will see the advantage of not being cut off from the outside world (being able to hear the cars coming for example), others will be disappointed to hear their metro neighbors.

There is no question here of proving one argument or another right, but it is clear that it is quickly necessary to increase the volume to hear your music, and it is never good for the eardrums - do not Don't count on active noise reduction , since OnePlus Buds don't have it.

As a guide, setting the volume to 30% was enough for me to hear my music without problem in a house or any other quiet place, but count 50% of the volume in a quiet bus and 75% in a shopping street or metro. You can tell that pushing the volume up to this level is anything but ideal for the ears, but that's not surprising for open-fit headphones . In short, the OnePlus Buds are not the best choice for outdoor use.


Like the AirPods, the OnePlus Buds play the universal shape card and therefore do not come with different sizes of tips : the headphones are supposed to fit the ears of as many people as possible. No problem on my end, they slide in easily and stay in place, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will fit everyone . The headphones each carry a total of three microphones, including one at the end of the rod: this choice of design is therefore not purely aesthetic and should provide a reasonable call quality - answer a little further in this test.

Despite their affordable price, the OnePlus Buds do not ignore the quality of manufacture. The finishes may not be at the level of a high-end product, but they are still very neat, and give a beautiful appearance to the headphones. Be careful though, the shiny plastic coating seems to take shocks quite easily, especially since the headphones are relatively slippery in the hands and it is quite difficult to take them out of the case.

 Exactly, let's talk about the latter. Shaped like a flattened egg, it's reminiscent of the Pixel Buds , and that's not a bad thing. It is indeed compact enough to be carried in a jeans pocket , which makes it very pleasant to use on a daily basis. The case hinge has no play and therefore seems resistant, which is not the case for all models tested. For those crazy about the case, know that its closure produces a satisfactory sound, but not up to that of AirPods.

A CONNECTION TO THE IOS

Good news, the OnePlus Buds are compatible with Google's Fast Pair pairing . The first connection is thus very fast, since it suffices to open the case next to a recent Android phone and wait for the small animation window to appear . It's always nice to see Android manufacturers mimic the iOS experience - at least for connecting wireless headphones.

After two weeks of use I would set the connection to be stable. I only deplore a few rare micro-cuts , which certainly slightly alter the experience, but which do not in any way slow down daily use. As for the range, it is similar to other models with Bluetooth 5.0. Understand that it is sufficient for classic uses - beware of thick walls indoors. Outdoors, you should not move more than 20 meters from your phone .

With its “Fnatic” game mode, OnePlus promises 103ms latency on some mobile games - it works great on Call of Duty Mobile . This experience is available for all the brand's phones from the OnePlus 6. For the other phones, nothing particularly to report in terms of latency. The latter is noticeable on mobile games, and classic platforms like YouTube and Netflix anyway compensate for the slight delay between the headphones and the source.

NO ONEPLUS, NO CONTROL

Each earpiece offers a single action, triggered with a double tap on the touch surface. By default, the same action is configured on both headphones: a double press on the left or on the right will start the next music. It is possible to change this, but on one condition: do it with a OnePlus phone. Yes, the brand has decided to prioritize its customers - or to disadvantage others. Worse yet, the headphones can only be updated with a OnePlus phone .



The music is also automatically paused as soon as one of the headphones is removed from the ear . The presence of this feature, now essential for wireless headphones dedicated to daily use, is always welcome, especially when it is working. This is the case here, the headphones aren't extremely responsive, but the delay is more than reasonable - allow a second for the music to pause, or resume. Note that the music will be sent to the headphones if and only if they are inserted in the ears: restarting the music manually from the phone will not change this.

The headphones fit easily into the case and are positioned correctly in their slots. Please understand that it is not necessary to check if they are correctly placed before closing the case. The magnetic connectors keep the headphones securely in place , and I was never surprised to see that they weren't charged when taking them out of the case. This point is important, since having tested several models of wireless headphones, not being sure that the headphones are correctly positioned in their case is a real obstacle to use.

The Buds are not intended for sports use, but they still benefit from an IPX4 certification - enough to withstand a light rain. No problem running behind the bus, but using headphones for your workout is not the best idea, since they tend to slip out of the ears little by little. I therefore advise you not to use them for your sports sessions , unless you take the time to reposition them after each sudden movement. Again, it all depends on the shape of your ears.

Buds are the most pleasant to use on a daily basis . That's good, they are made for that. The headphones are comfortable enough that you quickly forget them, but they do make you feel slightly after 2-3 hours of listening - just putting them back on was enough to stop the slight discomfort on my side.

SOUND WORTH ITS PRICE

The OnePlus Buds offer sound that lives up to the price they charge. This is not the sound performance of the year, but we do not necessarily ask more of this type of product. The target audience wants headphones capable of correctly transcribing any type of music. This is the case here. The overall rendering is then easily qualified as balanced .

The voices are well transcribed and the bass is felt, but without madness. Be careful not to push the volume beyond 80% since the hearing discomfort will be felt more quickly. Precisely, the rendering is sometimes a little more messy with music loaded with instruments. Rock songs are therefore not the most pleasant to listen to: the guitar for example tends to tire too quickly. Too bad, especially since the lack of real passive isolation forces us to increase the volume to cover ambient noise.

Keep in mind that if you are already used to the sound offered by wireless headphones, you will not be out of place with the OnePlus Buds. They do the job for home-work use .
Finally, let's move on to the call quality offered by the Buds, which is neither brilliant nor particularly bad. The behavior remains (not surprisingly) similar to the competitors in this price bracket: my interlocutor can hear me perfectly in a quiet place, and more difficult outside . We expected a little more, especially with a microphone under the stem of the headphones. To name but a few, AirPods offer much clearer and more defined voice reproduction during calls - but are sold at double the price.

On its site, OnePlus says that its headphones are equipped with a "unique noise cancellation algorithm" during calls, enough to remain audible in the presence of wind for example. Failed, at least according to the "But are you in the water or what?" From my dear mother.

GREAT PERFORMANCE IN AUTONOMY

OnePlus promises up to 7 hours of battery life for its headphones , and up to 30 hours with the case. This 7 hour figure has been tested with 50% volume depending on the brand. For my part, I did the test with 30% and 75% volume. The first corresponds, as explained previously, to a use made in a very quiet place, and the second in a noisy place - metro, street with a lot of traffic.

So at 30% volume, it took 6 hours and 37 minutes for the first earbud to turn off . The second resisted 20 minutes more, bringing the score closer to the announced autonomy. At 75% of volume, the difference is not obvious, since the first earbud to switch off did so after 6 hours and 10 minutes. The autonomy offered by the OnePlus Buds is therefore at the top of the basket, easily surpassing the majority of its competitors .

It is especially on the speed of the recharge that we expect OnePlus, which for several years offers a very fast charge on its phones - now called Warp Charge . The brand announces that a 10-minute charge offers 2 hours of listening . So I waited for the Buds to discharge completely before putting them all stack for 10 minutes in their case. They then went from 0% to 30%, and took 2 hours and 5 minutes to fully discharge, with a volume of 75%. The case lost a little over 10% during this rapid recharge of the headphones.

Also and according to my tests, it only takes 40 minutes in the case for the headphones to fully charge . Once the headphones and the case are completely discharged, allow just 1 hour and 20 minutes to charge everything. Good news, the headphones go to sleep fairly quickly, which helps conserve battery power when not in their case. I performed several tests, and after 3, 5 or even 15 hours, the OnePlus Buds still remained within the ten percentages they were in before disconnection.



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