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OnePlus Buds Pro
September 1, 2021
32 x 23.2mm (earbud)
60.1 x 49.1 x 24.9mm (case)
Due to limited availability and support, we have a hard time recommending the OnePlus Buds or OnePlus Buds Z to anyone outside the OnePlus ecosystem. The company attempts to reconcile those mishaps with the OnePlus Buds Pro, 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. The Buds Pro are long in the tooth, but if you can find them, they’re a great deal.
Editor’s note: this OnePlus Buds Pro review was updated on June 8, 2023, to address the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 and other market changes. We ensured all information is current.
Entry-level consumers seeking all-around true wireless earbuds will enjoy these jack-of-all-trades earphones. Of course, OnePlus fans will get plenty of mileage from the Buds Pro too.
What is it like to use the OnePlus Buds Pro?
Enjoy the design of the Apple AirPods Pro but wish they came in matte black? Then you’ll love the OnePlus Buds Pro. Undoubtedly, 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).
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 app’s home page 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 cancelation, or noise cancelation off. From within the app, you can further select from “smart” or “max noise cancelation.” Smart noise cancelation is on by default and automatically adjusts the amount of noise reduction in response to environmental sounds. As the name implies, max noise cancelation on the other hand will reduce ambient sounds to the fullest capabilities of the earbuds.
What Bluetooth codecs do the OnePlus Buds Pro support?
The OnePlus Buds Pro use 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.
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.
On January 11, 2022, OnePlus updated the firmware for OnePlus device owners and HeyMelody app users to version 531.531.410. You can now enable the dual connection feature from the headphone settings from your OnePlus smartphone or the HeyMelody app.
After you enable the dual connection function in your OnePlus phone’s settings or the HeyMelody app, you must:
- Close the lid with the earbuds inside
- Press the pairing button on the inside of the lid for up to five seconds until the LED slowly flashes white
- The OnePlus Buds Pro is now ready to pair with the secondary device
- After you pair it with the second device, it will appear under the app’s “Connected Devices” section
You can now seamlessly switch playback between the two devices.
How well do the OnePlus Buds Pro cancel noise?
Active noise canceling (ANC) is relatively weak on the OnePlus Buds Pro. The smart noise canceling mode isn’t very useful, and most listeners will probably just default to the “max noise cancelation” 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 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 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 cancelation.
How does the OnePlus Buds Pro sound?
The OnePlus Buds Pro frequency response closely follows our headphone preference curve with well measured 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 many consumer earbuds.
Since bass notes rarely overpower other instruments, details in 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, the vocals and guitar detail are still preserved.
How long does the battery last on the OnePlus Buds Pro?
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 music playback, peaking at 75dB (SPL) with ANC turned on, the earbuds lasted 6 hours, 30 minutes. Some companies tend to exaggerate headphone battery life, but it seems like OnePlus might be selling itself short here.
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 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Hold up! Something’s different:
We’ve made a big improvement to how we demonstrate the microphone performance of products we review. We now use a standardized test setup that plays back pre-recorded phrases from a calibrated artificial mouth in our test chamber, either with or without simulated background noises, simulated reverberant spaces, or artificial wind. This means that samples from every product can be directly compared, which makes it far easier to make meaningful comparisons between products in terms of the raw speech quality or the product’s ability to reject noise.
It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved microphone demos. These will be made obvious in each new sample which begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
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 cancelation, the OnePlus Buds Pro are 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 price increase. For $150, you deserve a pair of earbuds that do quite a bit more.
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.
While it's well designed, the OnePlus Buds Pro is ultimately just okay.
Today, you can’t even get the OnePlus Buds Pro from the company store. The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 ($149 at Amazon) replaced the original Buds Pro. While the newer earbuds share many of the same features, the noise canceling is better. The second-gen Buds Pro share the same design as the first-gen earbuds, which is a good thing. This time around, the company decked the case out with an IPX4 water-resistant rating.
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 2 Pro ($179 at Amazon) instead of the OnePlus Buds Pro. The same goes for Apple users with the AirPods Pro 2 ($199 at Amazon), which can now be found for under $200.
The Nothing Ear (2) ($149 at Amazon) are another set of earbuds with LHDC support. The buds have an IP54 rating and the case has an IP55 rating, so this is a well-rounded product when it comes to durability. You get squeeze controls like Apple and OnePlus’ flagship buds, but unlike Apple, Nothing includes a custom EQ in its app. The Ear (2) ANC is much better than the OnePlus Buds Pro, but it won’t compete with our aforementioned alternatives.
What are some frequently asked questions about the OnePlus Buds Pro?
The OnePlus Nord Buds are a recent addition to the OnePlus wireless earbuds lineup. True to the company’s other “Nord” branded products, the OnePlus Nord Buds are ultra-affordable and stripped of any extra features.
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless are very similar to the OnePlus Buds Pro. As the mid-range offering in Sennheiser’s earbud lineup, the CX True Wireless check all the important boxes. However, the bass-heavy frequency response and lack of active noise canceling may turn people away from these earbuds.