Introduction and Unboxing
OnePlus has launched the Buds Z2, the successor to the brand’s OnePlus Buds Z. For the most part, the Buds have the same design and overall look as the Buds Z, but with overall enhancements throughout the product, including larger drivers and better battery life. In the best-case scenario, these new buds have the longest battery life possible up to 38 hours.
Like the OnePlus Buds Pro, the OnePlus Buds Z2 have an in-ear design and both use the same 11mm drivers. The Buds Z2 now feature active noise cancellation and pass-through sound, features typically seen on higher-priced TWS buds.
The body of the Buds Z2 is made entirely of glossy plastic and offers IP55 water resistance (except for the nano-coating), while the charging case is IPX4 rated. They come in Obsidian Black or Pearl White, and the CD pattern is here as the spiritual successor to the OnePlus Bullets earbuds.
OnePlus Buds Z2 specs and features:
- Dimensions and weight:Buds: (33 x 22.4 x 21.8 mm), 5g (each); Charging case: (73.2 x 37 x 29 mm), 42g (without earphones)
- put up: Glossy plastic, silicone ear tips (3 sizes), IPX4 (charging case only) and IP55 water and sweat resistance (ear tips only)
- hardware: 11mm dynamic drivers (emphasizes bass), three microphones (each earbud); proximity sensor (in-ear detection); touch controls
- Charging and battery life: Rated 5 hours (ANC) or 7 hours (w/o ANC) on charge; up to 27 hours total listening time with ANC or 38 hours total listening time without ANC; charging via USB-C port; charging in 10 minutes Get a total of 5 hours of listening time
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2; voice assistant controlled by touch.
- Various types: Active noise cancellation between 24 and 40dB; Android quick pairing
The OnePlus Buds Z2 promise great sound quality, and the triple mic should make for crystal clear calls. We’ll put these and other features to the test, and compare the Z2 to its direct competitor, the Google Pixel Buds A-series.
The OnePlus Buds Z2 include three pairs of silicone ear tips (small, medium or large) and a short USB-C to USB-A charging cable. Also in the package is a helpful quick start guide showing how to pair and reset the Buds Z2.
Design and Comfort
The design of the OnePlus Buds Z2 is reminiscent of the OnePlus Bullets. It has a CD mode synonymous with older generation Bullets and last generation Buds Z, a chunky shape that inexplicably fits some people’s ears (myself included).
OnePlus managed to fit more hardware into these buds while reducing the length of the stem by 15%. Each Z2 headset measures 33 x 22.4 x 21.8 mm, while the case measures 73.15 x 36.8 x 29.1 mm. Each bud weighs 4.5 grams and the outer shell increases by 40.5 grams. The charging case is only a few millimeters taller and wider than its predecessor, while still being very compact and easy to carry. The charging case is shaped like a large flat-bottomed pill and is comfortable to hold in your hand.
There is a battery LED indicator on the front. There’s a pairing button and a USB-C charging port on the back.
The hinge feels solid and sturdy. The lid doesn’t feel flimsy and doesn’t wobble when you carry it. While everything else is glossy plastic, the inside of the lid is a bit adorned with a matte finish.
The Buds Z2 itself is rated IP55 for water and sweat resistance, while the charging box is rated for IPX4 splash resistance.
Coming from the OnePlus Buds Pro, I have to say that the OnePlus Buds Z2 are compact in size and more manageable for my ears. The Bud body on the ear is smaller and easier to wear for extended periods of time. Remember, everyone’s ears are different, and you may not be.
Wearing the OnePlus Buds Z2 when busy for hours at a time is no problem. They’re light enough that you’ll even forget you’re wearing them. I’ve found the most comfortable way to wear them is to insert them into the ear and turn the stem slightly forward to point towards the mouth.
They do stay in the ears very well. I tested this during a sweaty yoga class, and the OnePlus Buds Z2 didn’t budge. I can’t comment on high-intensity workouts like running, though.
They are comfortable to carry thanks to the compact size and portability of the charging case. Also, the noise cancellation works well when flying. More on this in the performance section below.
Software and Features
The OnePlus Buds Z2 have the Hey Melody app compatible with Android and iOS. If you’re using a OnePlus phone, the integration is built into OnePlus’ firmware. There are also some features that can only be found when pairing the Buds Z2 with a OnePlus smartphone.
If you’re not using a OnePlus phone, the Hey Melody app will let you perform firmware updates, change touch controls, perform earbud fit tests, and toggle noise cancellation/sound transparency settings. However, if you need an equalizer or the option to adjust bass levels, you’ll need a OnePlus device.
If you can’t find the earbuds, you can ring the bell. Of course, keep in mind that this means the buds should be connected to your device and need to be charged to stay connected. If the Buds are inside the case and closed, there is no way to track them. The built-in Find My Device feature will only show you where the Buds were last connected.
The quick toggle to switch between the two devices is a great feature. This can be done by holding a bud for three seconds. The Buds will disconnect from the connected device and reconnect to the previously paired device, whether it’s a phone, tablet, or computer.
The earbuds sound ok. The output is mostly strong bass and loud mids. The bass is strong, which will resonate with the average listener (lol).
However, the highs sound exaggerated and unpleasant. The Buds are tuned to boost the upper range of the EQ that would otherwise be lost by compression, creating the illusion of sound clarity. This is most evident in the singer’s “esses” and high instruments such as violins and cymbals. The Buds sound like they’ve been tuned for a balanced sound.
When you remove the earbuds, presumably to talk to someone or hear sounds around you, the remaining earbuds in the other ear will automatically switch to transparent mode.
Transparency mode works well. It does what it’s supposed to do – funnel external sounds into the ear. It does some interesting things when it’s windy – it temporarily stops delivering sound through the mic until the wind stops. Then it will go back to transparent mode.
The Hey Melody app lets you choose between regular and “maximum” noise reduction levels. I found that the regular mode performed better than the “Max” in the roar of the jet engine. The latter produced a high-pitched frequency, probably due to aggressive noise cancellation.
In any case, the noise reduction is pretty good. Sound passes through clearly and comfortably at volume levels around 45%. 50% is enough to drown out any remaining noise, any noise used to be It’s easy to forget to leave after a few minutes.
Overall, the OnePlus Buds Z2 were rated at 38 hours of total listening time with ANC turned off. The Buds last up to 7 hours on a single charge and up to 5 hours with ANC enabled. Each bud comes with a 40mAh battery, while the charging case houses a 520mAh battery pack.
Buds support OnePlus “flash charge”, which can generate about 5 hours of listening time after 10 minutes of charging. This statement comes with a disclaimer: 5 hours of listening time includes 2 hours from the Buds plus 3 hours from the charging case, in addition to requiring 7.5W over USB. This means that the statement only applies to charging with Buds.
Compared to Google Pixel Buds-A
The OnePlus Buds Z2 cost twice as much as the original Buds Z, but the added features make them a serious competitor to the similarly priced Google Pixel Buds A series.
In my experience, the Buds Z2 are more comfortable and safer. The Pixel Buds’ snazzy fit wasn’t secure in my ears, and the stable arc didn’t even make contact with my ear’s conch.
The feature set is completely different between the two pairs of buds. Although they have similar touch controls, the Google Pixel Buds A-series don’t have any kind of noise-cancelling or pass-through audio.
The Buds Z2 basically interact with Google Assistant by double-tapping or triple-tapping any earbud you’ve programmed for Voice Assistant. The Pixel Buds A series will offer the most comprehensive integration with Google Assistant. The ability to quickly and easily hold to talk to the Google Assistant, listen to and reply to messages, and make calls with a tap or wake-up phrase is great.
OnePlus Buds Pro (top) and OnePlus Buds Z2 (bottom)
Then there’s the question of whether the Google Pixel Buds-A sound better. Although both have comparable drivers, the Buds Z2 peaked too high in the treble range, giving the illusion of a full range. By contrast, the Pixel Buds-A have a more balanced sound.
As for comfort, in my personal experience, the OnePlus Buds Z2 are much more comfortable than the Pixel Buds A series. While the Pixel Buds’ silicone arc stabilizers have an interesting and unique design, they don’t work with all ear shapes.
The OnePlus Buds Z2 are an attractive pair of true wireless earbuds for $99. Active noise cancellation and pass-through audio are popular features, and it’s nice to see them at this price point.
The compact size of the case and the comfort of the Buds make them a pleasure to carry and wear, but their sound tuning could be better. The bass drowns out the human voice, and the high-range sounds overpower the music, but you can certainly make the buds sound better if you understand how the EQ is set on your device.
- Small and compact chassis
- ANC and pass-through sound is good at this price point
- long battery life
- mighty bud
- Hey Melody plain and simple
- Sound quality adjusted for loudness