OnePlus Nord Buds: Two Minute Review
The OnePlus Nord Buds keep the OnePlus value tradition alive, but now in the true wireless earbuds market. They may not have a lot of flair or hip features, but they stick to the basics very well.
With hefty earbud drivers and a Bluetooth 5.2 connection, the Nord Buds do their main job well: delivering clear audio. They get surprisingly heavy bass and rarely confuse the audio. With some music, the soundstage even feels quite broad, considering the price. Busy music can feel a bit crowded, but overall the listening experience is exceptional for such an inexpensive pair of wireless earbuds. Even the incoming audio through the microphones is good – not broadcast quality, but clear and with no background noise.
OnePlus makes almost all of the button aesthetics depend on glossy, concave dishes on each button, giving them a nice little mirror for visual intrigue. It’s not much, but it keeps them from looking boring. Everything else is built around a pill shape, including the charging case. Unfortunately, that shape makes it difficult to fit the cover in a pocket. It comes with a healthy dose of 23 hours of battery life, and the buttons themselves can deliver up to 7 hours of use – a fact they proved to us.
While some features are limited to OnePlus phone users, they hardly feel essential and shouldn’t mean non-OnePlus mobile users should avoid these buttons.
Ultimately, if you’re on a tight budget and want cheap wireless earbuds that generally feel like a quality experience, the Nord Buds feel like a safe bet.
OnePlus Nord Buds: price and release date
- Launched June 9, 2022
- Priced at $39 / £49 / about AU$55
The OnePlus Nord Buds launched in early June 2022. They have a competitive price that matches the Nord branding. In the US they are only $39 while in the UK they are £49.
This kind of price is really hitting the sweet spot for a lot of cheap true wireless earbuds – we see quite a few coming around this price point, and we even see the price of earbuds like the Sony WF-C500 dropping around this kind of price at times.
But for the most part, the models launching at this price will come from lesser-known names, so a reassuring brand like OnePlus behind it is good news.
OnePlus Nord Buds: Design and Features
- Not afraid of sweat
- Fast charging case
- Special features locked on OnePlus phones
The OnePlus Nord Buds keep things pretty simple from a design and features standpoint. They have a bit of aesthetic flair with a slightly concave, reflective shell on the short, pill-shaped stems. Those shiny little saucers double as touch controls, making it easy to feel where to prick when trying to control playback. Furthermore, the earbuds have a fairly classic design with a small speaker port encased in a silicone sleeve. There are two microphones on each earbud, one at the end of the stem and one on the inside of the earbuds, apparently for picking up and eliminating background noise.
OnePlus has gone for a rather blocky design on the Nord Buds. While there are many rounded edges on one axis, there are flat edges on the other. That’s not so much a problem for the buds themselves, as it is a sour point for the business. The Nord Buds fit into a fairly sturdy case and the hard edges of the bulky design make it clumsy in pockets and make it fight not to get in.
Other than that, there isn’t much to complain about with the charging case. It holds the earbuds securely in place with magnets. There is a charging indicator light on the front, although it doesn’t offer as much nuance as cases with multiple indicator lights. There is a USB-C charging port on the back. Given the economy of this product, it’s not surprising that Qi wireless charging is missing.
While the earbuds have an IP55 rating against dust and water, making them a good option for training buds, they tend to slip a little sweat.
Some functions of the buttons are annoyingly locked for OnePlus devices only. OnePlus Fast Pair and Dolby Atmos support for the buttons only come with OnePlus phones, although the latter is really only needed once, and the value of the latter is questionable for a cheap pair of headphones.
While the Nord Buds connect via Bluetooth 5.2, they only support the SBC and ACC codecs, which aren’t the best for audio quality or latency. OnePlus suggests that low latency of 94ms will be available in Pro Gamer mode, which is again limited to OnePlus phones, but that’s not impressively low anyway.
OnePlus Nord Buttons: Performance
- 12.4mm titanium drivers
- Dual Microphones
- 7 hours of playback
What impresses the OnePlus Nord Buds is their performance. For $40 earbuds they really aren’t bad. When listening to a podcast or video that is speech only, the poor signal-to-noise ratio is more apparent, with the high-frequency noise coming through, but when listening to music or anything else with fuller use of the sound range, these earbuds impress.
The 12.4mm titanium discs live up to OnePlus’ suggestion that they can deliver deep bass. It’s surprising every time a big bass hit comes in and it doesn’t have some of the weaknesses we’d expect from such a small speaker.
However, performance depends somewhat on what comes through. With music that’s a bit sparse – the bass, mids, and treble don’t all load at once – the soundstage can feel surprisingly large. But kick on some dense tunes, like just about every song from Of Montreal, and the knobs soundstage creeps up pretty close. With a lot of action in the middle it gets especially tight. Sound quality may not match what you could get from a $40 pair over-ear headphonesbut it’s still impressive with a $40 pair of earbuds.
The latency of the buttons is noticeable though, so they may not be a top choice for those who shoot a lot of video and are sensitive to it, even less so for gamers where audio latency becomes a particular distraction.
On the other hand, the microphones are surprisingly clear, reducing background noise well. Even with an air conditioner and fan in the background, the Nord Buds only pick up our voice effectively. It doesn’t come across as rich like a high-quality boom mic on a headset, but it’s clear enough for calls and voice chat.
After sound quality, the Nord Buds’ most impressive achievement is battery life. They offer seven hours of charge from the buttons and an additional 23 hours from the case, with a 10-minute charge that promises to put another 5 hours back into the case and buttons. We see the battery life claims meet spec, as a workday away from the single-button charging case (an accident, we confess) got us through the day without the lone button ever giving up.
The Nord Buds have occasional connectivity issues. Sometimes there will be a pop noise, probably some signal confusion, sometimes the stereo audio will be out of sync for a moment – every time it’s quite noticeable, but they’re rare enough not to be a major nuisance.
OnePlus Nord Buds: Value
- Competitive price
- Good quality for the money
OnePlus’ Nord sub-brand is all about value, and the OnePlus Nord Buds deliver it. While these $40 earbuds don’t have some of the key features of popular earbuds like active noise cancellation or a wireless charging case, they’re great value for money with a solid enough sound quality and battery life to get you through a busy day.