Although Nord is OnePlus’ ‘affordable’ product line, its items are by no means considered entry-level. A excellent illustration of how even the company’s entry-level goods are still quite well-equipped and capable is the recently released OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G (Review). This philosophy also extends to the product I’m reviewing here, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2. The second-generation Nord Buds, which are the replacement for the first-generation model, have been introduced at the same price but with considerable performance and feature changes.
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 are available for Rs. 2,999 and include active noise cancellation (ANC) in addition to promises of improved sound quality, battery life, and connection. Is this now the top true wireless earphones around Rs. 3,000 that you can purchase? Learn more from this review.
OnePlus Nord Buds 2 design and features
If you are familiar with the OnePlus product line, you will know that the Nord devices have hardware that is positioned adequately and are cost far less than the flagship number series. The Nord Buds 2 aren’t quite as well-equipped as the recently released (and more expensive) OnePlus Buds Pro 2, which follow the similar principle.
The 4.7g earpieces’ design has changed somewhat, while the 37.5g charging case’s appearance and feel have changed more noticeably, aside from the addition of ANC in the Nord Buds 2. The Nord Buds 2 continue to be light and comfortable, with a correct in-canal fit that ensures a proper noise isolating seal, despite the fact that they still have a somewhat unusual and unusual appearance for a set of genuine wireless earbuds.
The earpieces’ outer surface is a little bit more even, making it a little bit simpler to use the tap controls, which can be customised through the app. They are also IP55-rated for dust and water resistance. The charging case is designed with nicer curved corners that make it easier to fit in a pocket. The pairing button and USB Type-C port for charging are located on the back of the device, and the indication light is located on the front.
Both the white and the grey versions of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 headset come with an intriguing speckled design on the earpieces and charging case. I thought this looked like paint splatters or dust at first, but I ended up like this design feature. Three different sets of silicone ear tips for the earphones are included in the sales package, along with a USB Type-A to Type-C charging connection.
OnePlus Nord Buds 2 app and specifications
The detailed settings for the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 are baked into a separate software, unlike certain other headsets from OnePlus and Oppo which are integrated into the Bluetooth menu on some devices. The HeyMelody app, as is customary, allows you to modify the Nord Buds 2’s settings. It’s important to note that the Nord Buds 2 can only be detected by the Android version of the app; at the time this review was published, the iOS version didn’t support this headset.
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2’s individual settings in the app are quite straightforward and cover the few capabilities the headset has to offer. This includes selecting from a selection of equaliser presets, activating the “BassWave” mode, which amplifies bass, activating the low-latency “Game” mode, and adjusting the tap controls. It also includes switching between ANC and transparency modes. Additionally, you can view the individual battery levels for the charging case and both earpieces as well as update the headset’s firmware.
The touch controls are pretty detailed, allowing you to programme each earpiece to control playback, activate the voice assistant on your phone that is configured to be your default voice assistant, or switch to the game mode. While the long touch-and-hold function can be configured to quickly switch between two paired devices, the touch-and-hold function can only be used to cycle between ANC and transparency modes (or turn both off). Although quick switching allows you to use the headset with two devices almost simultaneously, multipoint connectivity is not available.
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 has decent features for a headset that costs less than Rs. 3,000. The 12.4mm dynamic drivers inside the earphones have a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz and a sensitivity rating of 111dB. Two microphones are included in each earpiece for voice and ANC capability.
The headset connects through Bluetooth 5.3, which supports the SBC and AAC codecs. On some OnePlus smartphones, features like OnePlus Fast Pair and Dolby Atmos audio are supported.
Although the Nord series of OnePlus earphones has always been reasonably priced, it has also typically delivered average performance and lacked any distinguishing features that helped it stand out from the competition. With the Nord Buds 2, OnePlus intends to change things, not only because active noise cancellation is available at this price, but also because the sound quality has improved significantly compared to the Nord Buds.
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 provide an aggressive, punchy, and bass-heavy sound that is comparable to that of the model from the previous generation. Better tuning has made it possible to get a reasonable amount of detail as well, and active noise reduction helps just enough to improve the sound in general.
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 started off loud and aggressive with Anpanman by BTS, with the bass hitting hard and the reverberations stretching remarkably far. The distinction here is in how the mid-range and highs were able to keep up equally effectively, even though this was largely the premise of the original Nord Buds as well. The synth aspects of this infectious K-pop single were able to push through very capably, keeping the rhythm from being lost in all of that low-end drive.
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 were able to keep up with the track and all of its subtleties when switching to the faster and more rhythmic I Could Be The One by Avicii. The sound felt immersive and surprisingly cohesive even at high volume levels, which isn’t too common on affordable true wireless headsets. The Nord Buds 2’s bass is certainly the most noticeable aspect of the sound, but it won’t keep you from enjoying the rest of the range.
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2’s sensitivity level of 111dB stands out in comparison to the typical true wireless earbuds’ rating of around 100dB. This set of loud headphones will come in helpful for people who want to utilise the headset outside or when commuting. The earbuds were fairly competent even at softer and more comfortable levels, although I found that sound quality was best at about 60 percent volume level or higher.
Like most low-cost audio items, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2’s active noise cancelling is very standard and has limited functionality. Although the vacuum effect feels a little misleading and it doesn’t provide much noise reduction on its own, it does make it simpler to hear music or video dialogue, even at moderate volumes.
Unsurprisingly, the noise cancellation cannot be customised. There is a transparency mode, but I didn’t use it very much due to the microphone’s somewhat overwhelming amplification of sounds from outside. This would wear out quickly, and if I needed to talk to someone or listen to something, it was simpler to simply pause the audio and remove the earphones.
The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 include a 480mAh charging case and a 41mAh battery in the earpieces. I was able to get little less than five hours of mixed use from the earpieces with ANC on and the volume set to anywhere between the 50% and 60% volume levels. The charging case added slightly more than four complete extra charges, giving me a total battery life of 25 hours per charge cycle.
Fast charging is very convenient; it claims that a 10-minute charge will provide approximately 5 hours of earpiece listening time (while the earpieces are in the case and the case is charging). The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 provide acceptable indoor and outdoor call quality for brief conversations, and connectivity proved reliable across distances of up to 4 metres.
True wireless headphones with active noise cancellation for under Rs. 3,000 are not unheard of, but few firms have been able to execute the concept successfully. With the Nord Buds 2, OnePlus has gone a little farther than others, providing a set of earbuds that, overall, are a good value. If popular and electronic genres aren’t your thing, you could just find the bass a little too loud, but beyond than that, this is an outstanding true wireless headset for the money.
Although there are alternatives from companies like Oppo and Realme, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 seem to be a more complete and satisfying set of earphones at a price that is difficult to beat. The only real flaw is that there is no app support for iOS, but it doesn’t really detract from how lovely these earbuds are in general.