Wireless neckband earbuds are still in, or so OnePlus hopes with the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2. These neckband earbuds are the companion accessory to the company’s flagship phone. It’s designed similarly to the original Bullets Wireless with improved battery life and aptX HD support to justify the price hike.
Editor’s note: this OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 review was updated on November 22, 2020, to make note of the OnePlus Buds Z.
Who should get the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2?
- Anybody can enjoy wireless neckband earbuds. They’re nearly as convenient as true wireless earbuds with better connection quality. Sound quality is clearer than the original Bullets Wireless due to the three-unit driver array, which is similar to the 1More Triple-Driver.
- OnePlus users will like these earbuds because they’re a fine solution to the headphone jack-less OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro smartphones. Unlike how the Huawei FreeLace provides exclusive features for Huawei users, the Bullets Wireless 2 doesn’t have an ace up its sleeve for OnePlus users.
Using the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 is a lot like the original Bullets Wireless. The earbud housings are a bit larger, but the design language is familiar. Its in-line control module and neckband are identical to the first-generation earbuds. A rubberized material coating the flexible collar creates a comfortable amount of friction during wear.
These isolate so well, they could be mistaken for noise cancelling earbuds.
Angled earbud nozzles make for an ergonomic fit. If the default ear tips aren’t suitable for you, test out the other sizes. Not only will it make wearing the earbuds more enjoyable, but it’ll also improve sound quality. A three-unit driver lay beneath each nozzle, producing greater clarity than a single dynamic driver.
Unlike the old Bullets Wireless, wing tips aren’t included. You get three pairs of ear tips, though, which isolate well. The earbuds stay in place well but don’t exercise with these. OnePlus’ safety information guide explicitly advises against letting the earbuds contact liquid. Doing so may damage them, which isn’t covered by the warranty. On the whole, the earbuds seem more durable than before. On our first-gen review unit, one of the flat housing panels came off in transport. This has yet to happen with the Bullets Wireless 2.
Is it iPhone-compatible?
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 work just fine with an iPhone. Audio quality isn’t the best, though, since AAC isn’t supported. This means iPhone users are bumped down to the basic SBC codec. If you’re an Apple fan in need of wireless earbuds, we highly recommend the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They’re true wireless earbuds that afford all the conveniences of the AirPods (2019) with a much better fit.
Related: Best iPhone earbuds
How long does the battery last?
Battery life is not an issue for the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2. OnePlus claims a 14-hour battery life, and our testing yields 14.23 hours of playback. Once the battery is depleted, you can connect it to the included USB-C cable. If you don’t have a couple of hours to spare, quick charging performance is impeccable: 10 minutes connected to the USB-C cable provides 10 hours of playback.
Since different phones decode Bluetooth audio codecs with varying efficiency, how a given pair of earbuds sounds is dependent on what phone is used. In the case of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2, you’ll experience less latency with the OnePlus 6T as opposed to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Since they support aptX HD, sound quality will generally be better than aptX and noticeably better than steaming over AAC with an Android phone.
To actually pair the Bluetooth 5.0 headset, press and hold the shortcut button (located on the left end of the neckband) for five seconds. Then select the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 from your phone’s menu. Although these earbuds don’t technically support multipoint connectivity, connect to two devices at a time, you can quickly switch from one to another by double-tapping the shortcut button.
Do the Bullets Wireless 2 sound good?
Sound quality is quite good. Bass frequencies are a bit louder than mids, but this isn’t cause for concern since auditory masking isn’t an issue. The three-unit dispersion of frequency reproduction bears clear audio. This results in detailed vocals and harmonies as well as accurate bass lines.
Isolation is phenomenal. At first glance, the isolation chart reads as if these are noise cancelling earbuds. They’re not. External noise fades away, making these a great choice for commuting and studying in high-traffic areas. What’s more, because environmental noise is blocked out, you’re less likely to increase the volume to potentially dangerous levels.
Lows, mids, and highs
Maggie Rogers’ song Retrograde, opens with a winding sound effect. From then, individual notes are quickly played to underscore Rogers’ repeated “Ahs.” At 0:11, the drums signal the first verse. Thanks to the dedicated low-end driver, the kick drum leaves Rogers’ vocals unmasked. This lets listeners enjoy her ethereal tone, instead of straining to hear it.
Treble reproduction is excellent. I’ve listened to this song tens of times, if not a hundred, and failed to hear the cowbell prior to these ‘buds. Skip to 2:22, just before the chorus begins. If you listen intently, you can hear the faint cowbell through the left channel. This is typically masked by consumer earbuds.
Depending on what headset you’re currently using, it may be completely imperceptible once the chorus starts. I assure you, however, it’s exceptionally clear with the Bullets Wireless 2. This instance also serves as a great example of the realistic, three-dimensional space rendered by the ‘buds.
Can you use the microphone for calls?
Yes, the integrated mic is preferred over standard phone microphones. Voices sound natural, making this an unusually good headset mic. In fact, this happens to be one of my favorite headsets for fielding phone calls, but don’t take my word for it; hear it for yourself instead.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 mic demo:
As good as the microphone quality is, one of its shortcomings relates to the physical placement of the microphone. When I wore a jacket, the microphone often rubbed against the collar, transmitting an unappealing crackling noise. When walking around, make sure the microphone isn’t swinging into your clothing.
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How do the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 compare to the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro?
As the name denotes, the Dual Driver ANC Pro includes active noise cancelling, and it does a fairly good job of attenuating background noise. Unlike the Bullets Wireless 2, 1More’s neckband earbuds use oblong nozzles for a more comfortable fit. This places less pressure in the ear canal, so you can listen for longer.
Both headsets have neutral-leaning frequency responses, and the Bullets Wireless 2 Knowles balanced armature drivers amplify the low end a bit, which the 1More earphones avoid altogether. This means the 1More earbuds have a technically more accurate sound, but OnePlus has the upper hand when it comes to battery life and lasts nearly three hours longer on a single charge. Both headsets support USB-C quick charging though, which is great for travel.
Microphone quality is great on either headset, and aesthetics come down to personal preference. I’m partial to the rounded design of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 over the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro, but you may very well feel differntly. Fellow SoundGuys Editor Adam Molina has a great in-depth review for those itching to learn more.
Should you buy the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2?
If you’re looking for a wireless solution that doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount, then the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 hits that sweet spot. While the neckband design isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, OnePlus makes it look sophisticated. It also includes some enticing features. The aptX HD support satiates most audiophile needs, while the top-notch passive isolation will make you wonder if these are actually noise cancelling earbuds.
However, the only verified seller of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 is the OnePlus website, and this limited distribution can make it difficult to get your hands on these earbuds. While you may be able to find the Bullets Wireless 2 from a third-party seller, we don’t recommend doing so because it’s very possible you’ll get a knockoff pair.
Consider the more affordable OnePlus Wireless Z
Perhaps spending $100 on wireless earbuds is too rich for your blood; in that case, wait a bit for the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z. These earphones cost just $50 and afford some of the same premium features seen with the Bullets Wireless 2, including Warp Charge support: 10 minutes of charging supplies 10 hours of playtime. Battery life is rated at 20 hours on a single charge, and quick-switching between devices is retained via an onboard switching button. Low latency mode is supported, too, for lag-free video streaming.
If you don’t care much for audio quality, the original Bullets Wireless may be more appealing. They’re $30 cheaper than the second-generation model and offer similar functionality. Granted, they only support aptX and have less impressive battery life, but those sacrifices may be moot to you.
Cut the cord entirely with the OnePlus Buds
The OnePlus Buds are available in three color variants: White, Gray, and Nord Blue. These earphones support fast charging, while the case supports the company’s famed Warp Charge, meaning 10 minutes of connection to a USB-C cable yields 10 hours of playtime. Automatic ear detection is accurate and enables the auto-pause/play functionality of the headset, a rare feature for cheap true wireless buds.
Not all is perfect with OnePlus’ debut totally wireless earphones, though: the headset can only be updated with a OnePlus device, which means non-OnePlus Android users are unable to receive basic improvements to connection stability, and are barred from customizing the touch controls. This is a real shame, as firmware and software updates add a lot of value to headsets (e.g. the Samsung Galaxy Buds).
A killer alternative for the OnePlus Buds is the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2. These true wireless earbuds have great isolation, customizable EQ settings, and can be updated from any smartphone so long as you download the SoundCore app.
The OnePlus Buds Z are another option
If you like the idea of true wireless earbuds but want better isolation, the OnePlus Buds Z have silicone ear tips that seal to the ear. They’re also even more affordable than the OnePlus Buds, have an IP55 rating, automatic ear detection, support fast charging, and they sound pretty darn good too.
Frequently Asked Questions
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 headset doesn't support multipoint connectivity, but you can quickly switch between the current device and last-connected device by double-tapping the button on the neckband.