OnePlus Buds Pro 2 reviewon February 7, 2023 at 15:00 Tech Advisor

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At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Great overall soundOutstanding bass responseVery good noise cancellationHi-res support

Cons

Cheap plastic buildHi-res limited to few phonesNo in-ear detectionSoftware bugs and gripes

Our Verdict

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 are very good true wireless earbuds with superb noise cancelling and above average bass. They’re a well-priced option if you have an Android phone.

Price When Reviewed

£179

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Price
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Although they have only been popular for the last five years or so, wireless earbuds are now so ubiquitous it’s difficult to know where to begin when buying a pair (unless you just go and buy AirPods, of course).

The bottom line with the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 is they are some of the best wireless earbuds for under $200/£200/€200, with features you don’t normally find at this price range such as superb active noise cancelling (ANC) and Hi-Res Audio support.

The successor to the OnePlus Buds Pro feel a little cheaply made and I experienced some connection issues but judged on their sound quality and ANC the Buds Pro 2 are a success.

Design & build

LightweightSqueezable stemsMatt plastic

The Buds Pro 2’s slightly cheap looking and feeling plastic case flips up to reveal black buds that are made from matt plastic. The buds pick up surface scuffs easily, as does the case. But at 4.9g per bud they are very lightweight and comfortable to wear.

Each bud has a shiny metal accent on the stem to spice up the look a bit, with a couple of grilles on the head of the buds, mics on the bottom of each stem, and two silver contacts for charging in the case.

This is standard fare for earbuds and the case is quite compact, hardly noticeable even in a front trouser pocket. My review unit was black but you can also get green, the colours matching the two hues of OnePlus 11 phone.

Henry Burrell / Foundry

I found the best fit with the small size silicone ear tips, which are included with medium and large sizes too. OnePlus has sensibly opted for slightly flatter oval shaped tips that stay in my ears better than circular ones.

The buds snap magnetically flat into the case to charge, with a single USB-C port on the case to charge the whole package. The buds are IP55 water and dust resistant, so can withstand light rain but not much else beyond that if you want to be safe.

… at 4.9g per bud they are very lightweight and comfortable to wear

Sound quality

Very good bass responseExcellent soundstageHi-Res support

The Buds Pro 2 sound phenomenally good out of the box, and I became more impressed the more I used them. They have dual 11mm and 6mm drivers co-designed by audio company Dynaudio, a partnership that appears to have paid off.

They have a very good, punchy bass response that doesn’t overpower the mix, giving many songs the drive that the original recording had but is lost on lesser earphones.

Days by Television shines with good separation of the guitar arpeggios and the bass guitar well represented. It’s a busy song, but the buds offer a distinct soundstage.

The bass guitar, drums and horns on Jazz on the Autobahn by The Felice Brothers are well produced with the right emphasis on all the right frequencies and with good stereo field.

Henry Burrell / Foundry

Kim Deal’s Wish I Was pulses with its intended menace while the guitars on Chaise Longue by Wet Leg punch through the mix where intended. Not all wireless earbuds are this clear and well-calibrated for the compressed Spotify streams I tested them with and via which most people will be listening to them.

The buds can also get incredibly loud – almost too loud. The high end of One More Time by Daft Punk got on the verge of grating, but the buds gave a good thud to the track despite being at the edge of their capabilities with such a full mix.

The Buds Pro 2 sound phenomenally good

Dipping into some Beethoven was also not out of the question with the Buds Pro 2 showing considered balance and warmth with a recording of Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor. I was impressed with how many genres the Buds Pro 2 handle well, perhaps electronic music aside as mentioned.

The buds’ secret weapon is their Hi-Res audio playback compatibility thanks to the LHDC 4.0 lossless codec (OnePlus says an update to 5.0 will come soon). At their time of release in February 2023 this is still relatively rare for wireless earbuds, and partly because you need to pair them with a compatible playback device and file formats.

I tested them with the compatible OnePlus 11 and some of my favourite tracks in locally stored FLAC format. REM songs Harborcoat and So. Central Rain sounded incredible, with almost as much roundness and clarity as I found them when played on a dedicated Sony Walkman player with good quality wired in-ear monitors.

Henry Burrell / Foundry

The downside is LHDC is a less common codec for phones to be compatible with than LDAC. You’ll need to check if your phone supports LHDC, or the Buds Pro 2 won’t play back in hi-res. Aside from the OnePlus 11, the Oppo Find X5 Pro supports it, but not many other popular phones. Check the specs of your phone before you buy the buds or you’ll be disappointed.

The same hardware match up limitations apply to the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which are limited to hi-res only on Samsung phones.

Overall, the Buds Pro 2 are powerful, punchy earbuds with the bonus of Hi-Res support, futureproofing them for when such a feature, hopefully, becomes more widely available on popular streaming platforms.

Despite this, I came across some connection issues. The buds would sporadically pause audio in both Spotify and Pocket Casts, particularly when I used them with a Samsung Galaxy phone, but it also happened with the OnePlus 11 regardless.

I had to take my phone out to press play again, as the bug meant the squeezable stems became momentarily unresponsive to pressing, which usually plays or pauses.

It happened often enough in my testing that I’m confident this is a bug. Hopefully, it can be fixed with a software update but for now, it’s putting me off fully recommending them.

… I came across some connection issues. The buds would sporadically pause audio

Noise cancelling & smart features

Outstanding ANCNo in-ear detectionSpatial audio support

The noise cancelling on the buds is very good. The only pairs I’ve personally used that I think best the OnePlus are Apple’s second-gen AirPods Pro and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. Sony’s WF-100XM4 are also great, but I struggled with the fit.

Those competitors truly shut the world out as well as the best over-ear ANC headphones can. OnePlus is nearly there though, which is mightily impressive considering their price.

On a packed London Underground train, I could hear all the details of my favourite Interpol album with only the uncancellable rattle of the loudest rail noises on the capital’s Tube system hovering in the background – very dampened though.

Henry Burrell / Foundry

You can select from mild, moderate, and max levels of cancellation or set the buds to smart mode to sense which is best. I tended to leave them on smart mode, so impressive is the effect. There’s also a transparency mode for listening to the world around you when you’re wearing the buds.

Finding the controls for the buds is a pain. Even on the same-brand OnePlus 11 it’s not obvious you must tap through to the controls via the Bluetooth settings menu. On other Android phones, you must download the HeyMelody app, which isn’t even OnePlus branded and is not pushed to the user by the software.

This allows you to select personalised ANC that claims to consider your ear canal structure to tailor the levels for you. All said, the effect is excellent. OnePlus even pre-loads the buds with five white noise tracks to play offline such as birdsong and camping scenes for you to tune into, to tune out. They’re very pleasant.

You can also select from EQ presets or create your own to tailor the sound profile. The buds are also capable of spatial audio but without many compatible Android apps using the technology yet it was a little difficult to test. OnePlus says it works with any dual-channel audio.

Henry Burrell / Foundry

To test I had to play songs then go into the buds’ settings and turn on the function. It made songs sound very tinny and they would frequently distort. This is likely because the buds and phone (running Android 13) is trying to create a spatial reproduction of a song that is a compressed stereo stream. Apple is having more success with its own Spatial Audio for Apple Music because the tracks are only compatible when they have been actually mastered for the 3D effect.

I appreciate the tracks I tried weren’t necessarily compatible but when you give users the option to use a function on audio it’s not designed for then you’ll get people (like me) using it incorrectly and have a bad experience.

To control playback audio playback, OnePlus has nabbed the AirPods Pro’s squeezable stem. It works well, but like Apple’s buds, you can’t control volume without whipping your phone or smartwatch out. You can also skip tracks and switch between ANC and transparency modes, or invoke a voice assistant.

There’s also no in-ear detection here, a feature common on many other buds that pauses audio when you take one bud out of your ear and resumes it when you pop it back. I missed it.

I never ran out of battery in one sitting with the buds

Battery & charging

Solid all-day batterySeveral charges with caseWireless charging

OnePlus promises 25 hours of battery life with ANC and 39 with it off, which includes the charges from a fully charged case. There’s a small USB-C cable in the box, but no wall plug as per usual.

Henry Burrell / Foundry

I never ran out of battery in one sitting with the buds but I used them how I normally use buds – for an hour or so at a time and never for eight hours straight without a break.

The case (and buds) can be charged for 10 minutes to get three hours of playback, which is a neat feature, and the case can recharge on a Qi wireless charging pad too.

Price & availability

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 cost $179/£179/€179 which is a very good price considering their sound quality and noise cancelling chops alone.

You can buy them direct from OnePlus in the US, UK and Europe.

The buds are less than the $249/£249/€299 second-gen Apple AirPods Pro by some distance, and a much better pick if you use an Android phone. They also undercut the £250/$280 Sony WF-1000XM4 and $299/£279.95/€299.95 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, suggesting the OnePlus aren’t truly premium earbuds – but I think they hold their own, particularly with their excellent ANC and hi-res audio support.

Samsung’s Buds 2 Pro also support hi-res (with the right set up) at $229/£219/€229.

You can find the Sony for about the price of the OnePlus these days though, which I would recommend for their superior sound, ANC and smart features. But if you prefer the AirPod-esque OnePlus design then you should go for the Buds Pro 2 – I have small ears and they fit me much better than the Sony.

Henry Burrell / Foundry

Verdict

OnePlus has a great product in the Buds Pro 2. They have good universal fit, superb ANC, excellently tuned audio with impressive bass response and good battery life to boot.

Hi-Res support also ensures they are future-proofed for the still-emerging technology (in terms of Hi-Res wireless audio at least) but you must make sure your phone supports the LHDC standard, and I’d ignore using the spatial audio feature at all until that standard has also matured.

The wireless earbuds market is a crowded place but if you use an Android phone then the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 are an excellent option. They have surprised me by being better than their price tag suggests and can hold a candle to products by audio titans Sony and Bose for around $100/£100/€100 RRP less.

Specs

Active Noise CancellingWireless: Bluetooth 5.3 LE, LHDC 4.0Voice control: Yes (not automatic)Touch controls: YesBattery life: 25 hours total with ANC, 39 without (both with case)Ear tips and wing tips: Three sizesIP55 sweat and weather resistant (buds)Weight: 4.9g per earbud, 47.3g case

Audio, Headphones

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