Due to limited availability and support, we have a hard time recommending the OnePlus Buds or OnePlus Buds Z to anyone outside of the OnePlus ecosystem. The company attempts to reconcile those mishaps with the OnePlus Buds Pro, true wireless earbuds built for everyone. A slew of performance improvements make for an enticing proposition—but these upgrades come with a more premium price tag.
Can the OnePlus Buds Pro stand out from the competition in the true wireless earbud market?
See also: The best true wireless earbuds
Who should buy the OnePlus Buds Pro?
- Entry-level consumers seeking all-around true wireless earbuds. The OnePlus Buds Pro is the jack of all trades and master of none.
- OnePlus fans will appreciate the company sticking to its tried and true formula—all the essentials at a cheaper price than the competition.
- Gym rats can take full advantage of the OnePlus Buds Pro lightweight and water-resistant design.
What is it like to use the OnePlus Buds Pro?
Enjoy the design of the Apple AirPods Pro but wish it came in matte black? Then you’ll love the OnePlus Buds Pro. There’s no doubt that OnePlus looked to Goliath for inspiration, from the rounded earbud design with silicone tips to the short protruding stems. Even the Buds Pro touch controls match the AirPods Pro: a series of stem squeezes to adjust playback, listening modes, and answer calls.
Regardless of how much inspiration OnePlus may have taken from Apple, these look premium, especially at this price point. A reflective metal stem complements the matte black finish (also available in white).
Learn more: What makes a good set of in-ears?
OnePlus only includes three ear tip sizes, each made from silicone as opposed to the memory foam ear tips included with the Sony WF-1000XM4. However, since the earbuds are featherlight, comfort was a nonissue. The earbuds have in-ear detection which automatically pauses your music when you remove an earbud and resumes playback when you insert it.
An IP55 rating for the earbuds means you don’t have to worry about sweat or water damage with the OnePlus Buds Pro. Combined with the lightweight and durable plastic build, these earbuds make for a good workout companion. The case features an IPX4 rating which is rare and seen with few earphones other than the Jaybird Vista 2.
Should you download the HeyMelody app?
HeyMelody is the companion app (iOS and Android) for the OnePlus Buds Pro, and it delivers essential features such as firmware updates, an earbud fit test, and earbud control customization. The home page of the app displays battery information for the earbuds and case.
There’s no EQ customization built into the app—instead, OnePlus opted for a hearing test called Audio ID. It tests your ability to perceive tones across a range of frequencies and builds an EQ setting to adjust for your ears (something we’ve seen from Jabra). An unorthodox hexagonal frequency chart displays the results of the test, with no way to adjust the custom sound profile.
You can't create a custom EQ profile for the OnePlus Buds Pro.
A feature titled Zen Mode Air downloads ambient environmental sounds and white noise to the earbuds. These sounds can be activated at any time with the earbud controls, even when the earbuds aren’t connected to a device. If you frequently meditate, take part in yoga, or just look for moments of zen during a stressful workday, you’ll enjoy having these ambient sounds ready to go at any time.
You can select from three noise control options on the OnePlus Buds Pro—transparency, noise cancellation, or noise cancellation off. From within the app, you can further select from “smart” or “max noise cancellation.” Smart noise cancellation is on by default and automatically adjusts the amount of noise reduction in response to environmental sounds. As the name implies, max noise cancellation on the other hand will reduce ambient sounds to the fullest capabilities of the earbuds.
How well does the OnePlus Buds Pro cancel noise?
Active noise cancelling (ANC) is relatively weak on the OnePlus Buds Pro. The smart noise cancelling mode isn’t very useful, and most listeners will probably just default to the “max noise cancellation” setting at all times. With the max setting enabled, you’ll notice a slight reduction in ambient sounds from a train car or AC unit. These sounds live between 100-1000Hz, and the OnePlus Buds Pro applies a 25% reduction in loudness to this frequency range.
Passive isolation from the silicone ear tips doesn’t quite live up to competing earbuds. Even if you achieve a good fit, only some high-frequency sounds are blocked out. These aren’t the earbuds to get if you’re a frequent air traveler and want to hush the din of the cabin.
Any amount of isolation and ANC is always better than none, as it prevents auditory masking from environmental sounds. Not only does the reduction of auditory masking improve sound quality, it also makes you less likely to increase the volume in order to block out these noises—thus protecting you from noise-induced hearing loss. Still, the OnePlus Buds Pro is outmatched by most of the competition when it comes to noise cancellation.
What Bluetooth codecs does the OnePlus Buds Pro support?
The OnePlus Buds Pro uses Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, and LHDC codec support. While SBC and AAC are standard on most true wireless earbuds, LHDC (Low Latency High-Definition Codec) is much more novel. With a maximum bitrate of 900kbps and a max sample rate of 96kHz, LHDC data transmission rates are up to three times greater than that of SBC and AAC.
The catch? LHDC is only supported by a limited number of devices—not even every OnePlus phone supports LHDC. The fine print on the company’s website states that the feature will be limited to the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, devices scheduled for upgrade to the next Oxygen OS version, and subsequent releases. OnePlus Nord devices, however, will not be supporting LHDC.
Learn more: Understanding Bluetooth codecs
You can toggle the “Pro Gaming mode” on to reduce latency to as low as 94 milliseconds, though this feature is only available on OnePlus devices with OxygenOS 11 and up. Dolby Atmos support is also limited to the OnePlus 7 series and higher.
How does the OnePlus Buds Pro sound?
The OnePlus Buds Pro frequency response closely follows our house curve with pleasantly amplified bass and treble ranges. Since there’s no custom EQ in the companion app, there’s no easy way to adjust the sound of the OnePlus Buds Pro. At best you can change the EQ settings in your streaming service of choice, though those settings will carry over to other devices you playback music on.
Lows, mids, and highs
If you love earth-shattering bass, these aren’t the earbuds for you. Low-end frequencies are less pronounced on the OnePlus Buds Pro compared to most consumer earbuds.
Read on: What is frequency response?
Since bass notes rarely overpower other instruments (see—auditory masking), details on vocals and other instruments are able to shine through. For example, when the strong sub-bass comes in at 2:45 of Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish, detail on both the vocals and guitar is still preserved.
How long does the battery last?
OnePlus claims the earbuds last up to 5 hours on a single charge with ANC turned on, and 7 hours without ANC. In our testing of constant playback at 75dB (SPL) with ANC turned on, the earbuds lasted 6 hours, 30 minutes. Most companies tend to exaggerate headphone battery life, but it seems like OnePlus might be selling itself short here.
Learn more: How to increase true wireless earbud lifespan
On top of the solid earbud battery life, the charging case provides up to 31 hours of additional playback—23 hours if you enable ANC the whole time. Fast charging the case over USB-C provides 10 hours of playback from only 10 minutes of charging, or you can charge the case wirelessly. There are no replaceable batteries, so like most true wireless earbuds, the lifespan of the OnePlus Buds Pro will be limited to a couple of years.
How good is the microphone on the OnePlus Buds Pro?
Typically earbuds with a stem design achieve better microphone quality than others by placing a microphone at the base of the stem, though I found the OnePlus Buds Pro to be not quite as clear as competitors such as the AirPods Pro.
In the recording below, I step into a room with both a fan and air purifier running at maximum intensity, and you can hear the noise reduction algorithm block out most of the white noise in the background. The three onboard microphones work well enough that people will hear you on calls, though we wouldn’t recommend these for professional use.
OnePlus Buds Pro vs OnePlus Buds and OnePlus Buds Z: What’s the difference?
Prior to the OnePlus Buds Pro, the OnePlus Buds was the company’s flagship audio product. Upon its debut, the original Buds retailed for $79 USD, significantly less than that of the new Buds Pro. The biggest difference between the OnePlus Buds and the OnePlus Buds Pro is that the former features an open-type fit. Rather than copy the AirPods Pro, the OnePlus Buds mimics the original Apple AirPods so the buds don’t seal to your ear canals. The first-gen earbuds feature an IPX4 rating, while the case lacks any kind of water resistance. You do, however, get automatic ear detection; wireless, USB-C, and fast charging; and Dolby Atmos support when paired with OnePlus 7 series smartphones and later.
The OnePlus Buds Z is the company’s most economic set of true wireless earbuds and costs just $49 USD. OnePlus departed from the open-type fit with these earphones and provides users with three sizes of silicone ear tips. Even at this price point, you get automatic play/pause functionality, limited Dolby Atmos support, and earbuds with an IP55 rating. Listeners who don’t care for a nominal degree of noise cancelling, and have no use for LHDC may want to save $100 and buy the more pedestrian OnePlus Buds Z over the Buds Pro.
Should you buy the OnePlus Buds Pro?
Despite the OnePlus mantra of “Never Settle,” it’s hard to feel like anyone could pick up the OnePlus Buds Pro without settling. From customization, to sound, to noise cancellation, the OnePlus Buds Pro is just okay—with very little interest to write home about.
These earbuds feature a sizeable improvement over the original OnePlus Buds, but follow that up with a sizeable increase in price. For $150, you deserve a pair of earbuds that do quite a bit more.
While it's well designed, the OnePlus Buds Pro is ultimately just okay.
I love the look and design of these earbuds, and if you do as well, maybe that will be enough to persuade you to buy. If you do decide to pull the trigger on the OnePlus Buds Pro, you’re unlikely to experience intense buyer’s remorse—aside from a custom EQ, these earbuds aren’t missing any essential features.
The OnePlus Buds Pro feels like just another pair of mid-range true wireless earbuds, and without a significant “wow” factor, will likely be forgotten in the crowd within weeks.
What are some alternatives to the OnePlus Buds Pro?
By adding the “Pro” moniker, OnePlus has aligned itself in direct competition with the pro earbuds from Samsung and Apple, both of which are better, albeit more expensive, true wireless earbuds. If you have the extra cash and own a Galaxy smartphone, go with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro instead of the OnePlus Buds Pro. The same goes for Apple users with the AirPods Pro, which can now be found for under $200.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, check out the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen), which is now frequently on sale for under $100. These earbuds have better noise cancelling than the OnePlus Buds Pro, and more features and integrations via the Alexa app.
See also: Best true wireless earbuds under $100