Like clockwork, we get another true wireless earbud release that wants to take a bite out of Apple’s AirPods orchard. OnePlus, not to be confused with 1More, who also make TWS earbuds, already have a second generation model, Buds Z2.
At $99, the OnePlus Buds Z2 sit in the middle of the lineup that includes the original Buds Z ($49) and Buds Pro ($149).
The OnePlus Buds Z2 add active noise cancellation and improved battery life over the original Z. But the Z2 is a closer cousin to company’s flagship Buds Pro. The Buds Z2 boast the same 11mm dynamic drivers as Buds Pro and also include Dolby Atmos but there’s a catch; Dolby Atmos is only supported on OnePlus 7/7 Pro/7T/7T Pro/8/8 Pro/8T/9/9 Pro/9 R/9 RT devices.
With Bluetooth 5.2, both Buds Pro and Buds Z2 deliver latency as low as 94ms with Pro Gaming mode enabled, and come with three sound modes: Cinematic Movie, Immersive Music, and Mobile Gaming. In addition, both provide Transparency Mode when users want to listen to music or podcasts while staying in tune with the world around them. A trio of microphones on each earbud should improve call quality.
The Buds Pro and Buds Z2 earbuds both feature a three-mic setup that actively filters out noise levels of up to 40dB. Buds Z2 has two noise cancellation modes (Faint and Extreme), while the Buds Pro adds a third setting called Smart that intelligently drowns out unwanted sound frequencies in real time, such as environmental noise or chatter, adjusting the level of noise cancellation accordingly to keep users immersed and undistracted from their tunes.
The Buds Z2 and Buds Pro have the same battery life. Enjoy up to 38 hours of combined battery life and support for Flash Charge that delivers 5 hours of listening time in just 10 minutes.
The 38 hours of battery life is a rather bold claim that we will be testing. It’s derived from some combination of recharges with ANC off. With ANC on total hours drops to 27. Regardless, users should expect up to 5 hours of playback on a single charge with ANC on, or 7 hours with ANC off.
Despite their similarities, there are still three other features that suggest the Buds Pro are a better option for most people. The Smart ANC feature, Qi Wireless Charging, and Audio ID — a carefully calibrated sound profile that caters to user-specific sound sensitivities.
|Buds Z||Bud Z2||Buds Pro|
|Released||Fall 2020||Late 2021||Fall 2021|
|Max Battery Life||20 hrs||38 hrs||38 hrs|
(requires OnePlus phone)
|Google Fast Pair||–||Yes||Yes|
|Qi Wireless Charging||–||–||Yes|
|Zen Air Mode||–||–||Yes|
(only with OnePlus 9 Pro/9)
As previously noted, key features require pairing with a OnePlus smartphone. However, users without a OnePlus phone can download the HeyMelody app to access an array of customization features and settings, such as the ability to select what a triple tap on the Buds Z2 does.
The HeyMelody app can also be used to toggle between the Buds Z2’s two noise-cancelling adjustable modes, to conduct a fitting test to ensure the Buds Z2 are being worn correctly, and to use the Buds Z2’s Find My Buds feature. All of the features listed above are available and accessible without the HeyMelody app when the OnePlus Buds Z2 are paired with a OnePlus smartphone.
Price & Availability
OnePlus Buds Pro – $149.99 at oneplus.com (white or black)
OnePlus Buds Z2 – $99.99 at oneplus.com (pearl white available now, obsidian black coming early 2022)
OnePlus Buds Z – $49.99 at oneplus.com (white)
Related reading: Best Wireless Earbuds and Headphones