The introduction of the OnePlus Buds Z makes a lot of sense as the Chinese tech company is trying to create its own ecosystem of appliances with its software just as others are doing. Since the advent of the TWS earbuds, one can only wonder the hundreds of earbuds being popped to the market every week which makes it quite hard for any brand to stand out nowadays.
One big advantage OnePlus has over the rest in the market is the fact that its a well-established brand which people don’t mind trying out whatever new product it is they are offering. The new OnePlus Buds Z comes with Bluetooth 5.0 which is pretty standard in 2020 but there is more to it and that includes the IP55 water-resistance as well as fast charging. In this review, we’ll examine some of the top reasons why you should or shouldn’t buy the new OnePlus Buds Z.
The cool thing I find intriguing about the earbuds is the design which is really pretty. While the casing and the placement of the earbuds within it looks very similar to the Honor Magicbuds 3 released a couple of months ago, there are some differences in terms of the overall design specs.
For example, it has this flat back which supports touch sensitivity for controlling the device and then there is the circular ring which budges out a big before extending to a protrusion that goes into the ear-canal.
This is basically an in-ear TWS earbuds with comfortable ear-tips allowing for better listening experience when used. However, the design will always make the earbuds look somehow when worn because the stems are long and can literally fly out of your ears if you’re on a bike and sweaty but that isn’t always the case.
Among the under US$50 TWS earbuds in the market, the OnePlus Buds Z obviously stand a chance of being among the top in terms of the audio output as well as the control, connectivity and the overall battery life which is the most important thing.
While comparing it to my older Havit TW918ANC earbuds which falls at the same price-range, the OnePlus Buds Z is very close in terms of the mids and highs of the audio output. One thing I enjoyed is how well sounds are split to the back rather than being concentrated to your inner ear which can lead to ear damage.
Combining it with my Huawei smartphone, the separation is well balanced out and using reverberation or 3D effects makes it sound even more enjoyable. I didn’t use too much of equalizers with the Buds Z when tried out and the obvious result is outstanding.
Performance of the OnePlus Buds Z
As mentioned earlier, it comes with a very great audio performance but the output will differ depending on the hardware its being connected with since different companies have different configurations for their audio outputs.
Meanwhile its worth noting that the OnePlus Buds Z come with support for Dolby Atmos which isn’t on every devices but restricted to the OnePlus smartphones like OnePlus 7/7 Pro/7T/7T Pro/8/8 Pro/8T. With that, you get a much more better Hi-Fi audio output.
Cranking up the volume to the max was pretty loud enough to keep you immersed into the music while in a lousy environment and that compensates for its lack of active noise cancellation. The touch controls are pretty decent and really responsive meanwhile its sad OnePlus didn’t include the facial sensor that detects whether the device are being used or not in order to automatically play/pause the sound just like the Apple’s new AirPods Max or the Bluedio T-Elf 2.
Even though you don’t have to make use of any third-party EQ application, the result you get from the OnePlus Buds Z is interesting and that’s for the fact. The audio output has a really high bass which is strong and playing at a minimum volume rate will not have any bad effect on your hearing and do not forget that waring this for a long time doesn’t feel too bad.
Even though some people might have issues with that because not too many of us want to wear an earbud for hours, the good thing about the build-quality is how lightweight (4.35 grams) it is and because of the audio output which definitely non-intrusive, you just won’t remember for how long its been in your ears which is a cool thing about the earbuds.
Battery life of the OnePlus Buds Z
The OnePlus Buds Z have great battery life for its size. 5 solid hours of usage on a single-charge is already good enough but then there is an added 15 hours with the casing which mean you can have about 20 hours of usage with the charging case fully-charged.
Another factor that affects how long you use the earbuds is how well cranked up the volume is. Even though my experience with the Havit TW918ANC earbuds gave a solid 8 hours of continuous usage with the ANC turned off while you get 6 hours with the ANC turned on, I was going to expect more from such a reputable brand but I won’t be surprised as well since Honor MagicBuds 3 also have a worse battery life of just 3 hours with ANC turned on.
Even though the official numbers of the battery when full-charged up is 5 hours, different factors as mentioned above will contribute to the battery’s longevity and that include the output source, environmental interference and usage habits. So if you’re using this in the office whereby you always have to listen at the lowest volume possible, you might not have too much problem with the battery draining so quickly when you are about to get excited with the podcast episode you are listening to.
That is why different users might report different results in terms of the battery life however, a 10 minute charge gets you a whooping 1.5 hours of listening while an extra 5-minute charge gives you 2 hours of listening and that is pretty standard.
The fast charging capacity is another cool thing about the OnePlus Buds Z and it also come bundled with the USB Type-C cable which requires a 5V – 0.6A adapter but your PC USB port might just be okay enough or a power-bank might be awesome too.
Charging it to 100% takes about 1 hour or less depending on whether you’re using the fast charging supported-power brick or just a USB connection port on your computer or not. However, you should get a decent amount of juice that will last you for hours when you pull the earbuds out to use.
Build Quality of the OnePlus Buds Z
The design is pretty decent and feels really premium but I’d say it took a lot of its design inspirations from the Honor MagicBuds 3 especially with the placement of the earbuds within the casing as well as the length of the stems of the earbuds.
As for the weight, it weighs about 4.35-grams based on the measurement and it come with superior plastic build quality which makes it quite tough when it slips out and land on hard surface even though I’d strongly warn against ever allowing the earbuds to fall off as it can damage it over time if not immediately.
It also come with three ear tips with varying sizes such as small, medium and large size all which can be found in the box of the device. It is also IP55 certified making it water-resistant but no sweat resistance here. The test result for this is based on the TUV standards and IEC 60529 standards as well.
While the TWS earbuds are IP55-rated, the casing isn’t and that’s why you might want to keep the casing as safe as possible.
On the paper, the OnePlus Buds Z is also sweat resistant even though I wouldn’t trust that and I never really tried it out due to not having that rating in fact the sweat resistance capability will decrease with long-term use. Sweat damage is not covered under warranty but its however useful for workout and it doesn’t really slip out just easily especially if your ears aren’t wet or oily.
Bluetooth 5.0 is like the gold standard in 2020 and so it’s not entirely surprising that the OnePlus Buds Z have this feature out of the box. And to add more, it comes with Quick Pair and Quick Connect features which allows it to quickly connect with any Android smartphone that run on either the older Android 6 and above.
It also support the official OnePlus “HeyMelody” app that can be gotten from the Google Play store. The app is only available for Android phones with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above and with Google Play Services 11.7+.
And speaking of latency, the OnePlus Buds Z’s latency is only 103ms which can be obtained when Fnatic Mode is turned on. This feature works with almost all OnePlus models starting from the olden OnePlus 6/6T/7/7 Pro/7T/7T Pro/8/8 Pro/Nord/8T devices. Different games may generate different latencies but my overall experience with performance-hungry games like PUBG or Gangster Vegas showed there is a very low latency.
The HeyMelody application can be used to tweak the functionality of the earbuds touch control systems from single to double or triple taps depending on what you want.
Earbuds: 4.35 g; Charging case: 40 g
Playtime (fully charged)
Up to 5 hours (music playback) Up to 3 hours (phone call) Up to 20 hours (combined playback)
Fast charge-10 mins for 3 hours (charging case + earbuds combined)
Should you buy the OnePlus Buds Z?
If you’re like Apple fans who just want to own everything Apple, you might just stick with this if you have an array of OnePlus products already such as their smartphone. But if you are the type that is adamant about Active noise cancellation, you might want to consider another option such as the Havit TW918 ANC is even the MagicBuds 3 even though its much more expensive than this at about US$99.
But for casual usage, this is one of the best TWS earbuds out there offering you the absolute high-quality sound output as well as great values for the money. And moving forward, I’d compare the OnePlus Buds Z with the following:
One big difference between the two is that the Havit TW918 ANC offer a long 6 to 8 hours of long-life battery usage which is amazing for such an earbud. It also come with Active noise cancellation with a powerful audio microphone for making and receiving calls among other cool features.
Honor MagicBuds 3
This is yet another great option which comes with ANC also though much more expensive than both the Havit TW0918 or the OnePlus Buds Z. It has a weaker battery but it sync well with the Huawei ecosystem so it might not be ideal if you’re a notorious OnePlus fan boy.
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OnePlus Buds Z
Great audio and in-ear design makes the audio more interesting all under US$50
Great battery life
Great audio output
Fast connection and Bluetooth 5
Supports Hey Melody application
No Active noise cancellation
Lacks sweat proof
Not an entirely unique design
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