You can’t expect the world from $39 for the earbuds. After reviewing a series of more expensive products, I’ve spent the past few days trying out the new OnePlus Nord Buds. There is something unpleasant about the name to me; The word ‘Nord Buds’ looks like a prop that could have been used on them Mork and Mindy Circa 1979. But it matches the brand of OnePlus’ budget phone range, Which proved to be impressiveSo, it makes sense for the company to expand the brand into budget earbuds. Regardless, the features and performance of these cheap buds are more convenient than they are called.
The budget category of wireless earbuds is filled with options from Skullcandy, JBL, Anker Soundcore, JLab, and many more brands you’ll find on Amazon. Most stick to the basics and aim to provide a decent fit, adequate battery life, a lively audio profile and heavy bass that can partially mask the essential compromises in sound quality. With Nord Buds, OnePlus has pretty much checked all of these basics.
They’re comfortable to wear, can last up to seven hours on a single charge, and their 12.4mm drivers amplify the bass and treble enough to make Nord Buds thoroughly enjoyable for uncritical listening. Also rated IP55 for dust and water resistance, it is more durable than What $200 are Sony headphones? I will give you. OnePlus definitely picks up the points there.
Like other companies, OnePlus keeps some software features exclusively for their smartphone owners – but they’re somewhat secondary in the grand scheme of things. OnePlus phones can take advantage of a low-latency gaming mode and are also able to adjust earphone settings, customize controls, and make equalizer changes through the built-in Bluetooth menu. If you have a different brand Android phone, you can install Hey Melody Application to access the same functions; You only lose in this case the low latency trick. So there is a file HeyMelody for iPhoneWhich is impressive when companies like Google and Samsung abandoned iOS software support for their earbuds. HeyMelody for iPhone has not yet been updated to support Nord Buds at the time of this review, but that should change soon.
Nord Buds don’t look cheap as they are: the earpiece is glossy, but the outer stem is matte with a circular chrome accent that doubles as a touch control surface. The stems are shaped like lollipop sticks, which is enough to make them look less like an AirPod clone than previous OnePlus earbuds. You get the status quo of triple silicone tip sizes in the box, and the large pair managed to keep them firmly in my ears with good closure and decent noise isolation. The latter is an important factor, as Nord Buds don’t include active noise cancellation, so a tight seal is critical to reducing outside noise. Comfort is an area I have no complaints about; Nord Bud gave me no pain or irritation after two days of prolonged use in the coffee shop and office.
These earbuds have a very bass sound that brings out the treble frequencies. The hikes are done a bit more than I’d like and can come off sharply on an odd path here and there. This is something you can call back with EQ mods on Android, and you’ll probably want to show off the mods while doing it. Nord Bud is not shy about smiley face parabolic curve, but they still made for a fun listening. You might be assuming the $39 earbuds would sound muffled or indistinct, but Nord Bud has managed to up the ante in this regard. They lack the resolution, presence, and detailed sound profile of premium-grade earphones, but if you tell me I’m going to stick with them for a few weeks, I won’t be too bothered about it. This is a good place for $39 for earphones.
The matte and matte charging case for Nord Buds avoids any weakness; Its pill-shaped cap has a robust mechanism and no annoying wobble. But the issue is on the longer side. No matter which way you put it in the pocket, there will be some bulge. Hopefully, OnePlus can shave a few millimeters off next time. The magnets do a competent job of holding the earbuds in place, although you can shake them off with some force. The case charges via USB-C, and to no one’s surprise at all given the $39 asking price, there’s no wireless charging on offer. But, on the plus side, fees are charged quickly. OnePlus claims that you can get five hours of playback after just 10 minutes of charging time.
OnePlus says the Nord Buds can go up to seven hours of continuous playback, and my time with them so far has given me no reason to question that estimate. The case will give you another 30 hours of total listening time.
There must be a downside to that somewhere For $39 for the earbuds, right? Of course there is, and with Nord Buds, that weakness is microphone performance. You will not want to use these for voice calls or Zoom meetings. They are not up to the task, with people reporting that my voice sounded distorted and difficult to identify on test calls if I was anywhere with moderate background noise. It’s also disappointing that while Nord Buds support the OnePlus-owned fast pair, they don’t take advantage of Google’s Fast Pair for instant setup with many other Android phones.
But these are really the only failings of the Nord Buds Report Card. Their Bluetooth 5.2 connection was reliable, and the earbuds never jammed or displayed frustrating bugs over several days of use. They cover the basics admirably, represent a solid budget effort, and lend more credibility to Nord’s lineup. Even if the Nord Buds end up essentially appealing to OnePlus faithful, they’re good value at $39, In the words of my colleague Alison Johnson, can make you feel like you’re slipping away from something – just like other Nord devices. And even if I had the urge to say “nanu nano” every time I mentioned their name.
Photo by Chris Welch/The Verge