OnePlus might be best known for its smartphones, but the Chinese brand has also made a name for itself in the world of true wireless earbuds - and its latest pair could be its most exciting yet.
The OnePlus Nord Buds offer some truly appealing specs at a price we can hardly believe - for just $39, the brand is promising Dolby Atmos support, a 30-hour battery life, and “crystal-clear” calls. Global pricing and release dates are yet to be confirmed, but that works out at around £30 / AU$55.
Looking like a pair of squashed-down AirPods Pro, the new OnePlus earbuds are the first in-ear headphones in the Nord line and come hot on the heels of the OnePlus Nord N20 5G.
Inside the earbuds are 12.4mm titanium dynamic drivers, which OnePlus says will deliver “rich bass production and razor-sharp treble”. If they sound anything like the OnePlus Buds Pro, you can expect an energetic and clean audio performance and a spacious soundstage.
Unlike the Buds Pro, the OnePlus Nord Buds don’t come with active noise cancellation - but that’s reflected in the price. OnePlus’ noise-canceling earbuds cost $149.99 / £139 (about AU$210), over three times the price of the Nord Buds.
Stellar specs, bargain price
That low price is why we’re surprised to see that the Nord Buds support Dolby Atmos. Earbuds that can handle spatial audio tech, such as the AirPods 3, tend to be fairly pricey - and the actual audio engineering required to do object-based virtual surround sound tracks justice presumably costs money.
We’ll be interested to see how well the Nord Buds fare with Dolby Atmos tracks and movies. If they work as well as OnePlus promises, then they could be a fantastic pair of earbuds for watching movies, and for those that want to hear their favorite songs in a more immersive way.
The Nord Buds should also be fairly long-lasting for a pair of true wireless earbuds at this price, with a total battery life of 30 hours. You get seven hours of playback from the earbuds themselves, with a further 23 hours provided by the charging case. A Flash Charge feature means you can get five hours of playback from a quick 10-minute charge, too.
Calls should sound pretty clear, thanks to four microphones built into the earbuds that are designed to filter out unwanted background noise, AI noise reduction, and a mechanical design that should reduce the sound of wind blowing.
You should be able to use the OnePlus Nord Buds during workouts, as they come with an IP55 dust and water resistance rating, which means they’ll be protected from the odd splash of sweat or rain. The earbuds also have a hydrophobic coating that OnePlus says will defend against corrosion.
As for connectivity? The earbuds will pair to your phone via Bluetooth 5.2, and have an ultra-low latency of 94ms - that means you should have no problem using the earbuds while gaming on your smartphone, with audio and gameplay matched up in sync.
If you have a OnePlus device, you’ll be able to take advantage of super-fast pairing, while those without will need to download the HeyMelody app to get started with the earbuds.
All those specs sound very impressive when you consider how little the OnePlus Nord Buds are set to cost. We can’t wait to try them for ourselves to see if they live up to OnePlus’ promises; if they do, we could be looking at the best budget earbuds you can buy today.
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Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.