One worthy successor to OnePlus Buds Z.
OnePlus is no stranger to creating great audio products such as the OnePlus Buds Pro and the hugely popular OnePlus Buds Z. The device we are reviewing here is the successor to the latter and is known as the OnePlus Buds Z2. In the low-cost sweet spot of 5K, these earbuds have a variety of enhancements and additions compared to their predecessors, including extended battery life, longer drivers, and active noise cancellation support. Nevertheless, due to the popularity of this price segment, the OnePlus Buds Z2 is also facing a fair share of competitors. The OnePlus Buds Z2 is a highly featured TWS earbud on paper and is priced at Rs 4,999. But when faced with star competitors like Nothing Year 1 and Sony WF-C500, are these buds enough to be worth your hard-earned money? Let’s find out this and much more in this review.
OnePlus Buds Z2: Build and relax
Featuring a light build with earbuds weighing just 4.6g, the OnePlus Buds Z2 is a great option to use on the go. The earbud comes in two color options – Obsidian Black and Pearl while and we got the previous one for review. The earbud has a glossy finish with a long stem and the back of the bud has a CD-like design that doubles as a touch control zone. Although the stalks are generally quite long, they are 15 percent shorter than the OnePlus Buds Z. These are not the strongest feeling earphones and feel a bit cheap to the touch
However, earbuds are quite comfortable to wear and provide a secure enough fit. The fit is just as good as the Nothing Year 1, but the Sony WF-C500 feels much more comfortable and secure to the ear. OnePlus also gives you two extra silicone ear tips so you can use the one that works best. The rear touch controls are fairly easy to find and accurate enough, although there were some wrong or incorrect text examples.
As a charging case, the earbuds sit in a pill-shaped case that is extremely easy to carry. It has the same glossy black finish as the buds and a large OnePlus logo on the lid. The front has an LED indicator light while the rear has a USB Type-C charging port The lid can be easily opened using the given indent and can also be opened with one hand. The magnets inside the case are also fairly strong.
OnePlus Buds Z2: Active Noise Cancellation, HeyMelody App and Other Features
Despite being conservatively priced at Rs 4,999, the OnePlus Buds Z2 is full of features especially for OnePlus device users. Although the title feature is active noise cancellation. According to OnePlus, the device’s three microphones are capable of analyzing environmental noise and reducing noise up to 40 dB. You can choose between regular and Max ANC using the HeyMelody app and we tested these earbuds on Max ANC. While the ANC in these earbuds certainly doesn’t come close to the premium heavyweights, it’s quite decent for the price.
Low-frequency, constant sounds such as the hum of an AC, the whir of a PC and much more are quite effectively eliminated but you will easily be able to hear irregular and high-frequency sounds like traffic, human voice and much more. In our experience, the OnePlus Buds Z2 has a slightly more efficient ANC than Nothing Year 1, although the difference is minimal. For transparency mode, the earphones do a good job of making the surrounding sounds clear, although it can sometimes sound a bit artificial. You can switch between ANC and transparency using Touch Control in the bud or via the HeyMelody app.
Speaking of the HeyMelody app, it is compatible with both Android and iOS features. If you use a OnePlus phone, it is built into the OnePlus firmware. For those who don’t have a OnePlus device, the HeyMelody app offers a fair number of features such as viewing battery status, switching to noise cancellation mode, testing earbuds, customizing touch controls, and updating firmware. The app allows users to set earbud controls for a variety of actions, including pause / music play, track search, switching to noise cancellation mode, and enabling voice assistant. Although there is no way to integrate volume control, which is frustrating.
The app doesn’t even have a customizable EQ, so users need to work with earbud’s swollen base response. You can use the Find My Device feature from Bluetooth settings to detect a missing earbud if needed, which is quite convenient. There’s also a Nifty feature called the Quick Switch, which will alternate between paired devices if triggered by pressing and holding the touch control for three seconds.
If you use a OnePlus smartphone, you’ll also have access to multiple OnePlus exclusive features. First, you get Dolby Atoms support that mimics a 3D sound stage and makes the sound more immersive. Although it is only available on selected OnePlus phones. You will also get low latency gaming mode support which reduces the delay to 94ms. Lastly, there’s OnePlus Fast Pair, which lets users quickly pair up with OnePlus devices. However, if you don’t use a OnePlus phone, the buds still support Google Fast Pair, which works the same way. However, if you use an iPhone, you will need to manually attach these earbuds.
Among other features, the OnePlus Buds Z2 is rated IP55 dust and water-resistant which makes it great for outdoor use or at work. Not only that, the charging case is rated IPX4 which is a rare feature commonly found, leave this price alone. You also get automatic ear detection that pauses and plays music depending on whether there are buds inside your ear. There is also the use of mono earbuds, which allows you to use one single earbud independently while the other is inside the case. OnePlus Buds Z2 is one of the most featured TWS below 5K The Sony WF-C500 which costs more than 1K does not come with ANC, transparency mode or wear detection, whereas the Nation Year 1 which costs 1K comes with all these features.
OnePlus Buds Z2: Performance
The OnePlus Buds Z2 is equipped with 11mm drivers, an improvement over its predecessor 10mm driver, and has a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz. In contrast, the Sony WF-C500 Sports comes with a 5.8mm driver and the Nothing Ear 1 11.6mm driver. For audio codecs, earbuds support SBC and AAC formats, which prove to be more useful for iOS users because iPhones are better optimized with AAC codecs. However, even if you use an Android phone, the experience is almost refined.
The earbud’s sound signature is too much base-biased with an over-emphasized height, so the midges tend to take a back seat in the mix. We tested these earphones with our special tools to create a frequency response graph of these earbuds. On the graph, you can clearly see that the bus area from 20 – 250Hz has increased significantly in this region compared to the neutral as well as the response of Nothing Year 1 and Sony WF-C500.
The resulting sound signature is a low-heavy sound that can occasionally sound boomy and muddy. The sound signature can be seen in the budget earphones of boAt, JBL and a few other brands. While Indian consumers may enjoy this base-forward sonic signature, especially in genres like pop, rap, EDM and Bollywood, purists or audiophiles will probably be shut down by the aggressive bus. The midges, by themselves, are well produced with good clarity and fair amount of detail, however, the aggressive lows impress them strongly and mask the details in the vocals and main instruments.
The height is increased so elements like symbols and hi-hats can be heard on the front in the mix, but there is a prominent spike around the 5-6kHz mark with a sharp drop off which creates some sharpness. Overall, the earbud’s sound quality has declined somewhat due to the highly aggressive bass response, but bass lovers will definitely enjoy this sound signature. However, if you prefer more detailed and balanced sound, go for options like Nothing Ear 1 and Sony WF-C500. If you can increase your budget to 2K, you can get the excellent-sounding Lypertek PurePlay Z3 (formerly known as Lypertek Tevi).
The OnePlus Buds Z2 is equipped with three beamforming, ENC microphones that work well when making phone calls or recording your voice. The voice relayed by Mike sounds clear and quite normal for the most part. It doesn’t sound muffled or distant. The microphone set up in these earphones is better than the Sony WF-C500 which sounds a bit thinner and is similar to the Nothing Year 1. If you are in a noisy position, the mics pick up the surrounding sounds and relay them. , But they do not suppress the air to a degree.
For wireless connection, the earphones are powered by Bluetooth 5.2 and have a solid wireless range. The connection process is seamless with Google Fast Pair or OnePlus Fast Pair. There was no lag or stuttering while using the earphones and we found the connection to be quite reliable. Although there is a slight delay or delay in watching the video. However, OnePlus phones have access to 94ms gaming mode which will eliminate this problem. If you use a non-OnePlus device, you’ll have to deal with some delays, though it’s not annoying at all.
OnePlus Buds Z2: Battery Life
OnePlus devices are famous for their exceptional battery life and charging ability, and the OnePlus Buds Z2 is no different. The OnePlus battery life is rated at 7 hours in the bud alone (excluding the ANC), and 38 hours of play time in the Bud and Charging case combined. With the introduction of ANC, these numbers only come down to 5 hours in the bud and a total of 27 hours, which is still surprisingly good.
In our experiments, when the ANC is turned on and the volume level is set to 50 percent, the bud lasts 4 hours and 50 minutes, which is very close to the OnePlus estimate. Also, the case offers not one, not two, but 4 extra charges with some juices that still remain incredibly left. In comparison, the Sony WF-C500 has only 20 hours of total play time. However, Nothing Year 1 comes close with a total of 34 hours of wireless playback time.
OnePlus also integrates Flash Charge which provides 5 hours of playback (case and earbud combined) by charging earbuds for only 10 minutes. However, keep in mind that these high charging speeds can lead to rapid battery depletion, which means you may have to buy a new TWS in a few years.
OnePlus Buds Z2: Judgment
The OnePlus Buds Z2 is one of the most complete all-rounders you can find under 5K with many features, excellent battery life and good ANC. If you have a OnePlus device, you’ll have access to more features like Dolby Atoms support and less latency gaming mode. However, the sound quality is highly bass-forward and will only appeal to bass lovers.
Still, there are very few earphones that offer good sound below 5K, so we recommend these earphones to those who want to spend 5K on TWS earbuds. However, if you want to increase your budget by 1K, Nothing Year 1 is an equally tempting package with similar features and a more balanced sound signature. The Sony WF-C500 also has excellent sounding earbuds below 6K, but you’ll miss features like ANC, wear detection and more.