Tech

A worthy successor to the Buds Z despite its shortcomings- Technology News, Firstpost

Price: Rs 4,999

Rating: 4/5

The OnePlus Buds Z has been a fine pair of budget TWS earphones and one of the best options under Rs 3,000. A few months ago, OnePlus launched its flagship product in the segment, the Buds Pro for a Rupee short of 10K. Needless to say, there was a huge price gap between the two, and it was only a matter of time until the company introduced something in the middle to fill the gap. 

Say hello to the OnePlus Buds Z2 that looks quite similar to its predecessor but borrows some key features from its premium sibling like active noise cancellation (ANC). Let’s see how it performs and if it’s worth spending close to Rs 5,000 on.

Buds Z2 in case

Buds Z2 in case

OnePlus Buds Z2: Design and Comfort (8/10)

The OnePlus Buds Z2 looks almost identical to the Buds Z – the case as well as the earbuds. We got the black variant for review that has a glossy piano finish on the buds, and the same finish extends to its capsule shaped charging case too. You will have to wipe the product from time to time as it attracts smudge marks. The build quality is quite sturdy, and yet the buds weigh just 4.6 grams each. The case weighs about 42 grams and hosts a 520 mAh battery. You get a charge status LED at the front and a USB-C port at the back for charging.

There are circular zones at the back of the earbuds above the stems for touch gestures. Just like its predecessor, the Buds Z2 is IP55 rated dust and splash resistant, but now even the charging case has IPX4 moisture resistance. The earbuds have silicone tips that sit just right in the ear canals offering decent passive noise isolation, and the buds are comfortable to wear for long hours. They don’t pop out of the ear during a workout or a jog. Two more pairs of eartips are included in the bundle in case the preinstalled medium sized tips don’t fit well.

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OnePlus Buds Z2: Features and Specifications (8/10)

Each earbud has an 11 mm dynamic driver to handle all frequency ranges. They are fitted with three microphones each for calling and noise reduction. You also have wear detection sensors that pause the audio when you remove a bud from the ear and resume when you put it back in the ear. The sensitivity of touch inputs is spot on and you get a soft beep every time you tap it so that you know how many taps it registered (single, double, triple).

Unlike previous OnePlus TWS buds, you get far more flexibility with the touch controls here. You are allowed to reconfigure 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 for each of those gestures. However, you cannot assign volume control to any of them. Touch and hold for a second lets you cycle through ANC modes – Noise cancellation, Max noise cancellation, ANC off and Transparency. You can choose two or more options from those to toggle between.

The buds can be configured using the OnePlus Buds app on OnePlus phones (OnePlus 6 or newer) or HeyMelody app on non-OnePlus phones. HeyMelody is available on iOS too. While you can configure the controls, there is no way to alter the sound profile like in case of certain Realme or Soundcore products. The OnePlus Buds Z2 is Bluetooth 5.2 compliant, and supports SBC and AAC audio codecs but not Qualcomm’s aptX. Features like Dolby Atmos compliance and low latency modes work only with certain OnePlus phones.

OnePlus Buds Z2: Performance (7.5/10)

The wireless range is good and the connection stays strong for 10 metres with no obstruction between the source and the listener, and over half of that with a concrete wall in between. The OnePlus Buds Z2 can get sufficiently loud around 50% volume, and even outdoors, they are perfectly audible at 60% loudness. The sound profile here is distinctly V-shaped, meaning the lows and highs are boosted. While the audiophiles may cringe at that, such a profile is popular with the masses.

There is an abundance of bass here, and while it is reasonably tight, it does negatively impact the mids. There is noticeable auditory masking in bass-heavy tracks in the lower end of the midrange spectrum. The vocal clarity is generally good but can sound a tad blunted in such tracks. To balance the extra bass, the highs are boosted too. The highs are sharp with ample sparkle, but they could have been tempered better. On occasions they do sound a little sibilant and you can hear the extra hiss, but not to a point of causing listener fatigue.

The overall detail in sound is decent and the soundstage is reasonably broad for the segment. Even when not using a OnePlus phone, the latency is low enough when watching videos with no noticeable lag between the video and audio. All said and done, the OnePlus Buds Z2 produces an enjoyable sound output that works in most common genres of music like Pop, EDM or Bollywood where you do not have a complex medley of instruments.

The Buds Z2 has two ANC profiles – Normal and Max, and frankly, I could not spot any difference in performance between the two. Probably something for the company to look at in the next firmware update. Having said that, the ANC does a decent job of cutting down on several low frequency sounds like whirr of a fan or traffic noises when outdoors. It doesn’t raise the bar in the segment but is par for the course for a sub-5K pair of TWS earbuds. The Transparency mode here is quite good and sounds a lot more natural.

USB-C port

USB-C port

OnePlus Buds Z2: Call quality (8/10)

The call quality on the OnePlus Buds Z2 is good. The person on the line could hear me clearly for most parts when I was indoor as well as outdoor. The wind noise suppression here is actually better than that on the more expensive OnePlus Buds Pro. The traffic noises and other ambient sounds were suppressed reasonably well too, though not entirely. So not a bad option for calling this.

Lead

Lead

OnePlus Buds Z2: Battery life (8.5/10)

The battery backup on the OnePlus Buds Z2 is one of its strong suits. With ANC switched on full time, the buds lasted a little over four and a half hours at 50 to 60% loudness. And with ANC off half the time, I could push them closer to six hours. The case can recharge the buds four more times, thus taking the total battery backup between 23 to 30 hours depending on your use of ANC. That is excellent battery backup.

The Buds Z2 supports quick charging too, and 10 minutes of charge gives you close to 2 hours of play time for the buds with ANC turned on and about 5 hours with the buds and case combined. The case and buds can be charged fully in under an hour. The battery level of each earbud as well as that of the charging case is visible in the OnePlus Buds and HeyMelody apps.

OnePlus Buds Z2: Price and verdict

The OnePlus Buds Z2 is priced at Rs 4,999 with a one year warranty. For that price, you get a pair of TWS earbuds with enjoyable sound output, decent ANC and very good battery backup, making it a strong contender in the segment. As for competition around the 5K mark, you do get a couple of options like the Soundcore Liberty 2 and Lypertek Levi with comparable battery backup 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 (more bright and low on bass) for those who prefer it that way. But the battery backup is much lower and the limited controls on the buds can put off a few. All things considered, the OnePlus Buds Z2 is a worthy successor to the Buds Z and fairly easy to recommend under Rs 5,000.

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