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Image of OnePlus Nord Buds in an open case

OnePlus Nord Buds review

It's not incredible, but the price alone makes the OnePlus Nord Buds a formidable starter pick for true wireless earbuds.
By

Published onAugust 23, 2023

7
OnePlus Nord Buds
The bottom line
The OnePlus Nord Buds features a unique design and surprisingly good sound quality for the price, and its best feature is the affordable price. If you're looking to dip a toe into the true wireless pool without breaking the bank, it's hard to imagine finding a better deal than the OnePlus Nord Buds.

OnePlus Nord Buds

The OnePlus Nord Buds features a unique design and surprisingly good sound quality for the price, and its best feature is the affordable price. If you're looking to dip a toe into the true wireless pool without breaking the bank, it's hard to imagine finding a better deal than the OnePlus Nord Buds.
Product release date

May 19, 2022

Price

$39.99 USD

Dimensions

Case: 67.9 x 35.5 x 28.7 mm

Earbud: 27.8 x 20.7 x 23.5 mm

Weight

Case: 41.7g

Earbud: 4.8g

Model Number

E505A

Waterproof

IP55

What we like
Price
Battery life
Comfortable
What we don't like
Isolation
No Android-friendly codecs
7
SoundGuys Rating
8.1
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
4.9
7.2
7.0
Durability / Build Quality
8.5
9.3
9.0
Value
8.0
8.1
8.0
Design
5.5
7.7
8.0
Connectivity
5.0
9.4
9.0
Portability
9.0
8.8
9.0
Battery Life
6.4
8.2
8.0
Feature
7.5
6.5
7.0
Comfort
8.0
7.3
7.0

Smartphone maker OnePus has been dabbling in audio for a few years, with a variety of wired and wireless earbuds. Now the company is back with its cheapest true wireless product yet. The OnePlus Nord Buds are a very simple product, with few extra features or options, and a straightforward design.

We spent a week with the Nord Buds to see if the low price is enough to make it stand out.

Editor’s note: this review was published on August 23, 2023, to update charts, add the JLab Go Air POP, TOZO NC2, and Anker Soundcore Space A40 to Alternatives, and to answer FAQ.

People looking for a cheap pair of wireless earbuds will appreciate the simple experience the Nord Buds provide. The IP55 rating may also appeal to the more outdoorsy crowd.

What’s it like to use OnePlus Nord Buds?

The OnePlus Nord Buds lay on a black lacquer surface.
These are going to be pretty hard to recognize in someone’s ear.

The OnePlus Nord Buds is about as simple as a pair of cheap true wireless earbuds can get. This isn’t the most striking product on the market — they are made almost entirely of matte black plastic, and the only physical design flourish is the glossy plastic disc on the side of each earbud. There are barely got any extra frills or features to note. However, simplicity has plenty of upsides.

Actually using the OnePlus Nord Buds is pretty easy. The earbuds feature the typical silicone tips, and the wide-stemmed design makes it easy to seat them in your ear. The stems mean you may have a little trouble putting on and taking off a mask from time to time, but they’re short enough that I don’t find it too common an issue. At about 4.8g per bud, these are lightweight and wearing them for extended sessions is comfortable.

A man wears the OnePlus Nord Buds outside.
The buds are comfortable, but they’re only going to be secure enough for working out with the right size ear tips.

While there are no stabilizing fins or wingtips, these OnePlus buds feel pretty secure. If you get a decent fit (and there are multiple ear tip sizes to help with that), this could do just fine for activities like running. The earbuds are also IP55 rated, so water and sweat shouldn’t pose any sort of issue.

How do you control the OnePlus Nord Buds?

Controlling the OnePlus Nord Buds is a pretty much bog standard experience for a pair of true wireless earbuds. The glossy panel on the sides of each bud is touch sensitive and you can control the Nord Buds with a series of taps. There are no real customization options in the HeyMelody app, only the ability to turn off the single, double, or triple tap ability, as well as activate the press and hold function for device switching, so what you see is what you get:

InputTapDouble TapTriple TapTap and Hold
Input
Control
Tap
Play/pause
Double Tap
Skip forward
Triple Tap
Skip back
Tap and Hold
Switch devices

Should you use the HeyMelody app for the OnePlus Nord Buds?

The OnePlus Nord Buds sit in the charging case next to a google pixel 4a running the HeyMelody app.
HeyMelody is pretty rudimentary, but it works.

You should install OnePlus’ HeyMelody app (iOS/Android), if only to receive firmware updates. The app asks for a lot of data collection permission right off the bat, and if that makes you uncomfortable, it may be nice to hear this is a pretty basic piece of software. There’s a simple EQ, with presets and the ability to set a custom profile, battery readings, and the ability to shut off controls as I mentioned before, and that’s about it.

Screenshots for the HeyMelody app paired with the OnePlus Nord Buds.
The EQ options are nice, at least.

At the start of the review period, a firmware update was available, which added Game Mode for lower latency and reduced audio-visual lag. It works, though noticeable lag wasn’t a factor during my time with the earbuds to begin with.

How do the OnePlus Nord Buds connect?

The OnePlus Nord Buds lays on a leather surface next to a Google Pixel 4a running spotify.
Pairing works much the same everywhere.

The OnePlus Nord Buds is a pretty basic pair of wireless earbuds, so it makes sense the connectivity options would be similarly standard. There’s no Google Fast Pair or H2-enabled quick pairing on Apple devices, so you pair it the old fashioned way whether you’re on iOS or Android. The earbuds connect using Bluetooth 5.2 and support the SBC and AAC audio codecs. It’s a shame that earbuds from a company that makes Android phones doesn’t feature a codec higher bitrate audio on Android devices like aptX AAC can still be a little unreliable outside Apple’s ecosystem, even though it’s certainly improved over time. Basically, this is the minimum level of connectivity to have and not feel seriously out of date.

This is pretty straightforward stuff.

  1. Open the Nord Buds charging case without removing the buds.
  2. Hold the button on the back of the case down until the LED light on the front turns white and begins pulsing.
  3. Find the “OnePlus Nord Buds” in your device’s Bluetooth settings page, and pair.
  4. Remove the buds and start listening!

How long does the OnePlus Nord Buds battery last?

The OnePlus Nord Buds charging case sits closed on a leather surface.
The lack of wireless charging isn’t surprising.

OnePlus claims the Nord Buds can last up to 7 hours on a single charge, and in our testing we found it comes close to that. With constant music playback, peaking at 75dB(SPL), the OnePlus Nord Buds lasted 6 hours, 27 minutes on a single charge, just over 30 minutes shy of what’s advertised. If you listen to music on the quiet side, you may well get past the 7-hour mark. According to OnePlus the charging case contains enough juice for an additional 23 hours of listening, and nothing during the review period has called that into question.

The Nord Buds can also do quick charging, and 10 minutes with the case plugged in will net you 5 hours of playback time. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging support, but after all, this is a $40 pair of wireless earbuds. Battery performance like this is decent, but not spectacular for true wireless earbuds — don’t expect to outlast a pair of AirPods or set a high watermark for sustainable product development.

How well does the OnePlus Nord Buds block out noise?

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The OnePlus Nord Buds don’t feature active noise canceling, so the only thing separating the noise inside your ears from the noise outside your ears is the earbuds’ passive isolation performance. What you get is a pretty average degree of high-end noise being blocked. It will cut the severity of exterior sounds like the clattering of dishes or chatter of people in a cafe, but not enough to block any of it out entirely. You won’t mistake these for open-back headphones, but you’re also not going to miss any doorbells — at least, not unless you turn the volume up very high (please don’t, noise-induced hearing loss is no joke).

How does the OnePlus Nord Buds sound?

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The OnePlus Nord Buds feature a sound profile that’s pretty common for wireless earbuds. While the earbuds boost bass pretty notably up to around 100Hz, the earbuds’ frequency response otherwise sticks pretty close to our headphone preference curve, with minor intermittent dips in the mid and high range.

Lows, mids, and highs

Listening to a song like Words and Guitarby Sleater Kinney and Courtney Barnett sounds very nice coming through the OnePlus Nord Buds. The increased bass response makes the bass guitar come through a little more prominently than it otherwise would, but not enough to muscle out other sounds in the song. In fact, all the instruments sound clear and distinct, as do the vocals.

However, while simpler four- or five-piece band arrangements sound nice, tracks with more layered production can start to sound a little indistinct. In Viva Las Vengeance by Panic! At The Disco, the rumble of bass guitar starts to drown out the piano as the song builds in intensity, and pretty much just the attack of the drums is audible. The loudest parts of the song still sound plenty audible, but you lose a lot of detail in busier mixes with the Nord Buds.

Can you use the OnePlus Nord Buds for phone calls?

A frequency response chart for the OnePlus Nord Buds microphone, which shows decent output levels in the low end.
This sounds pretty nice for a microphone in true wireless earbuds.

It still has some of the muffling that’s typical of this product category, but the OnePlus Nord Buds microphone actually sounds pretty good. Deeper voices sound loud and clear, and there’s no issue with sibilants sounding exceptionally piercing. However, the microphone does virtually nothing whatsoever to reject environmental noise, and while the sound of wind doesn’t blow everything out, the processing it applies to avoid this results in voices becoming seriously muffled and indistinct.

Basically, if you’re at home or walking in a quiet place, this will do quite nicely for phone calls. If you’re in not-so-ideal conditions, you better make it quick. Check out our simulated office and windy samples to see what I mean:

OnePlus Nord Buds microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

OnePlus Nord Buds microphone demo (Office conditions):

OnePlus Nord Buds microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

851 votes

Should you buy the OnePlus Nord Buds?

The OnePlus Nord Buds true wireless earbuds lay on a wooden surface.
There are no additional color options for the Nord Buds.

If you’re on the hunt for a bargain pair of true wireless earbuds, the OnePlus Nord Buds could be the right move. It sounds alright, it’s comfortable, and its battery performance is decent. The mediocre isolation and lack of ANC is a bummer if you’re on the hunt for a commute or gym companion, as the rumble of traffic and grunting of weightlifters will come through pretty easily. However, for under $40, it’s hard to justify getting too nit-picky.

OnePlus Nord BudsOnePlus Nord Buds
OnePlus Nord Buds
Affordable price • 6-hour battery life • Capable microphone
MSRP: $39.99
An affordable pair of true wireless earbuds.
The OnePlus Nord Buds are simple to use and comfortable. For an affordable price, they sound alright, and the battery plays for at least six hours on a single charge.

How does the OnePlus Nord Buds compare to the Anker Soundcore Life A1?

Zoomed in photo of Anker Soundcore Life A1 is sitting on a table.
These earbuds aren’t exactly a bold fashion statement either.

There aren’t a lot of worthwhile options under $50 in the true wireless space, but the Anker Soundcore Life A1 ($49 at Amazon) is one of the best. It’s a little more expensive than the Nord Buds, but it supports wireless charging and it has an IPX7 rating. This means it’s not dust resistant like the Nord Buds, but it can safely handle total submersion in water, which is a big step up. The battery life is also superior, at over 8 hours on a single charge.

The sound profile here is very similar to that of the OnePlus earbuds, as is isolation performance and microphone quality. Basically, if you’re more concerned about the wetness of where you’re listening, this might be worth picking up over the Nord Buds, but you shouldn’t notice a big overall difference in experience with either.

Anker Soundcore Life A1Anker Soundcore Life A1
Anker Soundcore Life A1
IPX7 waterproof • Affordable • Stable connection
MSRP: $49.99
A pair of waterproof earbuds with good bass sound
The Anker Soundcore Life A1 offers a high IPX7 rating and a bass-focused sound at an affordable price.

What should you get instead of the OnePlus Nord Buds?

The Moondrop Chu dangles from a purple and green vine.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
If you want best bang for your buck, you might want to try wired earphones.

Apart from the Anker earbuds mentioned above, there aren’t a lot of comparably competent earbuds at a similar price to the OnePlus Nord Buds. If keeping costs as low as possible is your primary goal, it might be worth considering some wired earbuds. For instance, the Moondrop Chu ($21 at Amazon) is a little over half the price of the Nord Buds and it sounds much better — arguably it sounds better than earbuds that cost 10 times the price, even. Plus, it’s wired, so you’ll never run out of charge.

Keeping it cheap and cheerful, the JLab Go Air POP are a competently executed set of earbuds. They get impressively close to our headphone preference curve for pocket change ($24 at Amazon). You get an IPX4 rating, which is sufficient and a long battery life. They’re pretty plasticky but so inexpensive for basic earbuds without noise canceling.

The Anker Soundcore Space A40's case open with the earbuds inside, resting on a person's hand.
Sam Smart / SoundGuys
The Anker Soundcore Space A40 is a great purchase if you’re looking for earbuds under $100.

For something with noise canceling, better codec selection, and some EQ check out the Anker Soundcore Space A40. These cost more ($79 at Amazon) than the Nord Buds, but you get more options for the money. You can also check out the TOZO NC2 if you don’t mind dealing with the quirks of TOZO earbuds. They cancel quite a lot of noise, especially for the bargain price $39 at Amazon. We can’t speak to the long-term durability, but they have an IPX6 rating.

The 1More ComfoBuds Mini goes for $99 at Amazon, and it’s super comfortable, portable, and features excellent ANC. The sound can get a little wonky when you turn ANC on, but not necessarily in an unpleasant way.

Frequently asked questions

The OnePlus Nord Buds are truly a pair-and-go set of earbuds with little in the name of frills. In contrast, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 have added noise canceling for a seemingly reasonable price of $59.99 at Amazon.

dfdsfs

No, but you can pair the OnePlus Nord Buds to two devices at once. Device switching isn’t automatic — you need to press and hold the on-ear touch panel to do it (once you’ve turned the control on in the HeyMelody app).