OnePlus Buds vs OnePlus Buds Pro: is it worth buying the high-end earbuds?

OnePlus Buds vs OnePlus Buds Pro
(Image credit: OnePlus)

For OnePlus smartphone owners, the OnePlus Buds have always been an appealing choice for true wireless earbuds – that is, until the new OnePlus Buds Pro came out. Now, the choice is a little more complicated… well, OK, maybe it’s not that complicated.

You see, while the OnePlus Buds delivered an AirPods-like experience for the OnePlus faithful, they weren’t the be-all, end-all earbuds. They had some real issues with fit and noise isolation, and they lacked an always-on assistant. Because they were so uncomfortable they were hard to recommend and because they didn’t bring much to the table in terms of sound quality, it was easy for us to shove them in the closet and forget about them.

The OnePlus Buds Pro don’t fix all the problems of the original OnePlus Buds, but they are significantly better in pretty much every way except in sticker price. For most folks, that makes the OnePlus Buds Pro the better recommendation but we’ll walk you through all the pros and cons just in case there’s any lingering doubt in your mind. 

Ready to settle the debate between the OnePlus Buds Pro and the OnePlus Buds? Here’s what you gain by stepping up to OnePlus’ latest true wireless earbuds.

Difference #1: The OnePlus Buds Pro have active noise cancellation 

One of the biggest flaws of the original OnePlus Buds was that they didn’t have active noise cancellation – in fact, they didn’t provide much noise isolation of any kind, which made them awful to wear on public transportation or at the office. 

The OnePlus Buds Pro rectify both those issues by offering rock-solid active noise cancellation and a better seal for passive noise isolation. The result is a pair of true wireless earbuds that are sure to keep outside noise at bay while you’re listening to your favorite music.

OnePlus Buds Pro

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Difference #2: The OnePlus Buds Pro have interchangeable silicone eartips

Another big issue we have with the original OnePlus Buds is that they use a solid plastic exterior as the eartip. That hard plastic shell can be painful if it doesn’t fit perfectly inside your ear, and that leads to discomfort when listening to them for long periods of time.

The OnePlus Buds Pro, on the other hand, use silicone eartips that not only are more comfortable, but they’ll actually help you get a better seal, too. That better seal will help music sound better with a lower bass response and feel comfortable for extended periods of time. 

OnePlus Buds Pro

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Difference #3: The OnePlus Buds and Buds Pro have different touch-capacitive panels

While it’s not a pro or a con, it’s worth pointing out that the OnePlus Buds and OnePlus Buds Pro have different locations for their touch-capacitive panels. On the original OnePlus Buds it was located on the outside of each bud – which meant every time you pressed it, you shoved the earbuds further into your ear. Ouch. 

On the OnePlus Buds Pro the capacitive panel is built into the stems of the earbud, which means no more pushing them further into your ear everytime you want to pause your music. The downside, however, is that if you go to reposition the buds in your ear and accidentally press the stem by mistake, you might pause the music. That’s much preferable to the former solution OnePlus came up with, but it’s not exactly ideal, either.

Difference #4: The OnePlus Buds Pro sound better overall 

The OnePlus Buds certainly didn’t sound awful by any means, but their sound was just so-so. We found them to be pleasant to listen to, with a soft bass response and decent clarity in the mids and highs. We would’ve liked a slightly wider soundstage, but at the time it was passable. 

While you’re not going to get audiophile sound quality from the OnePlus Buds Pro, their clean and energetic sound lends the OnePlus Buds Pro to most genres, with a spacious soundstage and thanks to large 11mm drivers, you get an extremely enjoyable listening experience. Point to the OnePlus Buds Pro.

oneplus buds

(Image credit: OnePlus / 9to5Google)

Difference #5: The OnePlus Buds’ only advantage? Price 

If money is no object then the OnePlus Buds Pro are the better choice. However, if you’ve only got around £79 / $79 (about AU$110) to spend – the OnePlus Buds should be at or even below your budget thanks to some great deals going on right now. 

While we always recommend paying a bit more for quality, the OnePlus Buds Pro are a big jump up in price. Right now, you’re looking at $149.99 / £139 / Rs 9,990 – basically the same price as a pair of AirPods, Beats Studio Buds or Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. It’s a lot to drop on a pair of true wireless earbuds. 

Which ones should you buy?  

Unless you’re on a strict budget, we highly recommend going for the OnePlus Buds Pro over the original OnePlus Buds. They may be almost double the price, but we think they’re well-worth the extra expense compared to the originals.

That said, if your budget can stretch even further consider some other top models instead. The Sony WF-1000XM4 are some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market right now, and we really liked both the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Beats Studio Buds. If you want to stick to a OnePlus device to match your phone, we don’t blame you, but it’s worth considering the other options if you’re still on the fence.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.