It's not often that a set of even the best true wireless earbuds make me perform a dramatic double-take these days – much as I love a marked arriere-pensee. But the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 are something else, at least on paper. And I think that, for the money, they could be the sleeper hit of the year.
First off, they boast a whopping 12.4mm driver per earpiece (yes, one-and-a-quarter-centimeters of driver) which is the biggest currently in the industry. Then, there's the 'bespoke back cavity' to allow the smooth passage of air and thus, sound, plus OnePlus's own N52 neodynium magnets – because you've got to get those drivers snapping back somehow.
Next, you get EQ presets (Serenade, Bold, Balanced and Bass), a claimed 25dB of ANC in an open-ear design, an IP55 rating for dust and water ingress, OnePlus's Clear Call tech (a lot like sidetone, in that it helps you hear your own voice in calls) and the HeyMelody app for controlling it all.
And that's before I even mention Dolby Atmos and Dirac Audio Tuner support, for Dolby-branded immersive presentation with Dirac's digital signal processing (DSP) onboard.
And all for just $59 / £69, which is around AU$130, although I'm waiting on official pricing for Australia. They're available as of today, folks…
Opinion: if the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 deliver on sound, it's an open goal for the wallet-friendly ANC earbuds
OnePlus is honest about the fact that delivering a top-tier ANC experience is a challenge, given the AirPods-esque open-ear design of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2. But if the Nord Buds 2s' ANC is even passable at this level, I think the company has a massive hit on its hands.
That's because a cursory glance at our best noise-cancelling earbuds buying guide proves that getting good ANC usually requires a much more significant outlay than the cost of these new buds.
Add to this the fact that they're the successors to the inaugural OnePlus Nord Buds and you can see why I'm intrigued – check out our glowing OnePlus Nord Buds review if you're not yet familiar (and that's okay, it's not a test).
Battery life is a potential stumbling block in the budget space, but even here the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 seem perfectly acceptable, boasting five hours with ANC on and 27 hours including the case, or a total of 36 hours with noise-nixing off.
I have had a quick listen, but I heard them without app support. The earpieces feel comfortable and the case is smooth and durable (if a little bulky), but it would be unfair to comment at this early stage when I haven't used the companion app.
But initially, there's much to celebrate. Watch this space…