- The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 are priced at Rs 2,999
- New features include ANC, mic noise suppression and battery life
- They secured a score of 8.4/10 in our review
OnePlus’ budget-friendly Nord Buds were one of our favourites last year. With a funky design, decent battery life and a sound tuned specially for the bass heads, it was a good pair of value-for-money buds. They weren’t perfect, however – they had poor mic quality and ANC at the time was a feature reserved for more expensive buds.
But now, OnePlus has dropped the bomb. At just Rs 2,999, the recently launched Nord Buds 2 offer the same, if not better, sound but combines this with the blissful silence of ANC, insanely good mic quality and a more convenient case design.
This sounds too good to be true – is there a catch? Find out in our review of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2.
OnePlus Nord Buds 2 Review: Design and Durability
The Nord Buds 2 follow the same ‘material design’ as the original Nord Buds, except that the case now has no sharp edges, so no more ouchies in unfortunate places when they are in your pockets. Otherwise, the buds themselves are nearly identical to the previous ones, except that the dimpled indentation for the touch surface now sits under a more drastic cliff. Still, it’s different enough from the rest of the buds to let you know where exactly to press. The footprint of the Nord Buds is so identical to the previous ones that we could place them perfectly with their cases swapped.
The IP55 rating is carried forward from the last time. No advances there either, so the buds are still shower-proof like before.
Despite their blocky, Lego-like appearance, the Nord Buds 2 are surprisingly comfortable and lightweight. We took them to the gym to put the ergonomics to the test, and they stayed put inside our ears throughout the workout.
OnePlus Nord Buds 2 Review: Hardware and sound
Because the original Nord Buds already had pretty good drivers, OnePlus probably thought, ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it’. So, the Nord Buds 2 still have the same 12.4mm dynamic drivers capable of delivering some good thumpy low-end sound. The codecs are bare basic; however, you only get AAC and SBC, which is acceptable for the price.
Here’s the thing, though, the emphasis on lower frequencies in the default equaliser settings is so much that some songs start sounding muddy. We understand that the average Indian Joe generally enjoys bass, but here it sounds a bit overdone and doesn’t do justice to the actual capabilities of the drivers. So we tweaked around with the equaliser in the HeyMelody app manually to suppress the low frequencies and increase the higher ones, and boy, the soundstage cracked open like a cheap piñata at a children’s party when listening to Eric Clapton’s ‘91 live concert at Albert Hall!
We are sure that OnePlus did some tinkering with the drivers this time around, because we didn’t notice any clipping at high volumes.
Tinkering the EQ also results in springier bass. We noticed this, particularly in Shouse’s single, Love Tonight and some Punjabi pop songs.
For watching movies and TV shows, you get Dolby Atmos and Dirac Tuner compliance, and our experience was mostly positive. Despite defaulting to a warm tuning, the Nord Buds 2 never overpowered the sound effects to drown the vocals.
Let’s address the silent elephant in the room – active noise cancellation. At this price, the sheer mention of it in the feature set impressed us. Its implementation is also acceptable for the price. It is entirely capable of eliminating ambient noise from a fully packed cafe or the whirring of a treadmill in the gym, but it can be a bit too much at times and can make your ears feel a bit stuffy. Sadly, the transparency mode isn’t as good because it doesn’t feel all that natural. Fixing this may only be a matter of a software update because it may just require adding a bit of gain to the mic’s signal on OnePlus’ behalf.
The mics are excellent and have improved massively over the previous generation. However, the recipients of our calls could never figure out whether we were speaking through our phone’s mic or via our buds. Not many earbuds are capable of getting this right; heck, we even did a side-by-side mic test on a phone call against the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, and even they didn’t perform as well as the Nord Buds 2. We don’t know how OnePlus did it, but boy, did they do it right!
The companion app is mostly unchanged from the last time, allowing you to change the touch controls, equaliser settings and ANC modes.
OnePlus Nord Buds 2 Review: Battery life
OnePlus hasn’t mentioned much about the actual battery capacities of the buds and the charging case, but their claims are very interesting – about five hours of listening time with the buds and 27 hours of backup with the charging case with the ANC turned on. That’s about the same as the original Nord Buds, which lacked ANC.
We got about six and a half hours on the buds with ANC turned on and the battery set to 80% the entire time. So we were able to get through about five days easily without having to charge the case, which is great for a pair of ANC buds. We were able to extract an hour and a half more on both the buds and the charging case with the ANC turned off.
Charging the case entirely from a standstill takes about half an hour. Charging the dead buds (not the case) entirely takes about the same time.
OnePlus Nord Buds 2 Review: Verdict
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 were launched alongside the Nord CE 3 Lite but offer far better value than the latter and easily justifies the price bump of half a grand. They look unique, offer decent durability and still have a powerful sound. That inclusion of ANC and a nice, crisp mic system makes this a near-perfect pair of starter buds. They do skip on some small, quality-of-life features such as in-ear detection and multi-device connectivity, but that can be overseen once you look at the grand scheme of things.
OnePlus Nord Buds 2₹2,999
VALUE FOR MONEY9.0/10
What Is Good?
- Improved case design
- Water and dustproof
- Good battery life
- Loud and clear mic
- Great value
What Is Bad?
- No multi-device connectivity
- Bare basic codecs
- No auto-pause feature