Price: Rs 4,999
The OnePlus Buds Z were a good pair of budget TWS headphones and one of the best options under Rs 3,000. A few months ago, OnePlus launched its flagship product in this segment, the Buds Pro, for just under 10,000 rupees. Needless to say, there was a huge price gap between the two and it was only a matter of time before the company introduced something in the middle to bridge the gap.
Say hello to the OnePlus Buds Z2, which looks fairly similar to its predecessor but inherits some key features from its premium sibling like active noise cancellation (ANC). Let’s see how it works and if it’s worth spending almost 5,000 rupees on it.
OnePlus Buds Z2: design and comfort (8/10)
The OnePlus Buds Z2 look almost identical to the Buds Z visually – both the case and the earbuds. We got the black variant for review, which has a gloss piano finish on the buds, and the same finish extends to the capsule-shaped charging case as well. You will need to wipe the product from time to time as it attracts smudges. The build quality is pretty sturdy, and yet the buds only weigh 4.6 grams each. The case weighs around 42 grams and houses a 520mAh battery. You get a charging status LED on the front and a USB-C port on the back for charging.
On the back of the earbuds above the stems are circular zones for touch gestures. Just like its predecessor, the Buds Z2 is IP55 dust and splash resistant, but now even the charging case is IPX4 moisture resistant. The earbuds have silicone tips that sit snugly in the ear canals and provide decent passive noise isolation, and the buds are comfortable to wear for hours. They won’t pop out of your ear while exercising or jogging. Two additional pairs of ear tips are included in the bundle in case the pre-installed medium-sized ear tips don’t fit well.
OnePlus Buds Z2: Features and Specs (8/10)
Each earphone features an 11mm dynamic driver for all frequency ranges. They are each equipped with three microphones for telephoning and for noise cancellation. They also have wear-detection sensors that pause the sound when you remove a bud from your ear and resume when you put it back in your ear. The sensitivity of the touch inputs is spot on and you’ll hear a soft beep each time you tap them so you know how many touches were registered (single, double, triple).
Unlike previous OnePlus TWS buds, you get far more flexibility here with the touch controls. You can reconfigure the single-tap, double-tap, and triple-tap gestures for the left and right earbuds. You can assign play/pause, next/previous track, voice assistant, or nothing to each of these gestures. However, you cannot assign volume control to any of them. Touch and hold for a second to cycle through ANC modes – noise reduction, maximum noise reduction, ANC off and transparency. You can toggle between two or more options.
The buds can be configured using the OnePlus Buds app on OnePlus phones (OnePlus 6 or newer) or the HeyMelody app on non-OnePlus phones. HeyMelody is also available for iOS. While you can configure the controls, there’s no way to change the sound profile like certain Realme or Soundcore products. The OnePlus Buds Z2 is Bluetooth 5.2 compatible and supports SBC and AAC audio codecs, but not Qualcomm’s aptX. Features like Dolby Atmos compliance and low-latency modes only work with certain OnePlus phones.
OnePlus Buds Z2: Performance (7.5/10)
The wireless range is good and the connection remains strong for 10 meters with no obstacles between the source and the listener, and more than half of that with a concrete wall in between. The OnePlus Buds Z2 can get sufficiently loud at around 50% volume and are also perfectly audible outdoors at 60% volume. The sound profile here is distinctly V-shaped, meaning the bass and treble are boosted. While audiophiles may cringe at this, such a profile is popular with the masses.
Bass is plentiful here, and while it’s quite tight, it does weigh on the mids. Perceptible acoustic masking occurs on bass-heavy tracks at the lower end of the mid-range spectrum. Vocal clarity is generally good, but can sound a bit jaded on tracks like this. To compensate for the extra bass, the treble is also boosted. The highs are sharp with plenty of sparkle, but could have been better tempered. Occasionally they sound a little hissing and you can hear the extra hiss, but not so far that it tires the listener.
Overall detail in the sound is decent and the soundstage is reasonably wide for the segment. Even if you’re not using a OnePlus phone, the latency when watching videos is low enough without any noticeable lag between video and audio. All in all, the OnePlus Buds Z2 produce a pleasant sound output that works in most popular music genres like pop, EDM or Bollywood where you don’t have a complex medley of instruments.
The Buds Z2 has two ANC profiles – Normal and Max, and honestly I couldn’t tell any difference in performance between the two. Probably something the company should look at in the next firmware update. That said, the ANC does a good job of reducing some low-frequency noise like a fan whirring or traffic noise outdoors. It doesn’t raise the bar in this segment, but it goes without saying for a pair of TWS earbuds under 5K. The transparency mode is pretty good here and sounds a lot more natural.
OnePlus Buds Z2: call quality (8/10)
The call quality of the OnePlus Buds Z2 is good. The person on the line could hear me clearly for the most part, both inside and outside. The wind noise suppression is actually better here than on the more expensive OnePlus Buds Pro. Traffic noise and other ambient sounds were also suppressed reasonably well, if not completely. So not a bad option to call this.
OnePlus Buds Z2: battery life (8.5/10)
The battery backup of the OnePlus Buds Z2 is one of its strengths. With the ANC fully on, the buds lasted just over four and a half hours at 50-60% volume. And with ANC off half the time, I could get it closer to six hours. The case can charge the buds four more times, giving the total battery backup a lifespan of between 23 and 30 hours depending on ANC usage. This is an excellent battery backup.
The Buds Z2 also support fast charging, and 10 minutes of charging gives you almost 2 hours of playtime for the buds with ANC on and around 5 hours with the buds and case combined. The case and earbuds can be fully charged in less than an hour. The battery level of each earbud as well as the charging case is visible in the OnePlus Buds and HeyMelody apps.
OnePlus Buds Z2: price and verdict
The OnePlus Buds Z2 costs Rs 4,999 with a one-year warranty. For this price you get a pair of TWS earphones with pleasant sound output, decent ANC and very good battery backup, making them a strong contender in this segment. As for the competition for the 5K brand, you get some options like the Soundcore Liberty 2 and Lypertek Levi with comparable battery support and better sound quality, but both lack features like ANC and touch controls.
Oppo Enco W51 is another option in the sub-5K segment with ANC and with a completely different sound profile (brighter and deeper in the bass) for those who prefer it that way. But the battery backup is much less and the limited controls on the buds may put some off. All in all, the OnePlus Buds Z2 is a worthy successor to the Buds Z and, at under Rs 5,000, it’s pretty easy to recommend.
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