OnePlus may be best known for its phones, but the Chinese company also made a name for itself in the world of personal audio last year with the release of its first wireless headphones, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless.
According to OnePlus, the upgraded Bullets Wireless 2 earphones deliver an "extraordinary audio experience", and with support for the company's proprietary Warp Charge technology, only need "10 minutes of charge for 10 hours of playback".
So, do the second-gen earbuds live up to the hype?
Price and availability
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 earphones are available from May 21 for $99 / £99. This works out at around AU$140 based on current conversion rates, but the company has currently suspended sales in Australia until it's sure it can provide its Australian customers with "the best OnePlus experience".
At $30 more expensive than their predecessors, you'd be forgiven for balking at the price – however, they're still at the lower end of the price scale for similar models on the market.
They're around the same price as our current favorite wireless in-ear headphones, the Optoma NuForce BE Sport4, which impressed us with their high quality audio and comfortable fit.
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The new earphones look almost identical to their predecessors, with a black and red color scheme, silicone neckband, and inline remote – but there are a few subtle design changes here.
Like their predecessors, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 earbuds are connected to each other by a cable-come-neckband, which features a seamless, silicone design; overall, they look very smart.
The left side of the neckband features a USB-C charging port for topping up the earphones' battery, as well as a button that activates the pairing process. Beneath that is a subtle LED that flashes to indicate when the headphones are in pairing mode.
In contrast to the matte design of the neckband, the earbuds themselves sport a glossy black finish, with red rings encircling the buds' housings.
The shape of the earbuds has changed in comparison the original model, sporting a tilted oval-like shape that fits more ergonomically into your ear than the first-gen buds. Comparatively, the shape of the earbuds feels more ergonomic, with a tilted oval-like shaped that creates a more secure seal between the eartips and the opening of your ears.
As well as creating a snugger fit, the improved seal means the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 earphones are better than their predecessors at blocking out environmental noise when you're listening to music.
Like the original Bullets Wireless earphones, the back of each earbud is magnetic, allowing you to clip them together around your neck to prevent them getting in the way, or getting lost, when you're not using them. Clipping the buds together also has the effect of pausing your music, which we found to be a really useful feature when we needed to quickly take the buds out without stopping to pause our music.
The controls are located on the inline remote, with a buttons to increase and decrease the volume positioned either side of a multi-function middle key – a short press will play or pause your music, and a long press will summon your device's voice assistant. You can also double press the middle button to skip to the next track, triple press to go back one, and press once to answer incoming phone calls and end calls already in progress.
Using the controls was a mixed bag – while the volume buttons were quite effective, it was actually quite difficult to locate the different buttons through touch alone – and as the earphones wires are relatively short, the inline remote hangs fairly close to your left ear, there's no way of looking at which buttons you're pressing.
This meant that it would often take a few tries to play/pause our music using the middle key, as our thumb would always stray to the volume buttons instead. The play/pause function also seemed to suffer a slight lag, taking a few seconds to actually work, which could be frustrating if you need to pause your music quickly – in this instance, we'd recommend just taking the earbuds out and letting those nifty magnets work their magic.
During our time with the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 earphones, we found them extremely comfortable to wear, and we loved how lightweight the neckband felt.
There's no waterproof rating, which is a shame, as the comfortable neckband and snugly-fitting earbuds would make them suitable for working out; however, we just can't guarantee that sweat wouldn't damage them.
In the box you get two additional sizes of eartips, so you should be able to find a secure fit, plus a striking red carrying case.
While we liked the look of the carrying case, it isn't the easiest to use; it’s made of silicone with a magnetic flap, but as the opening is so small, it's difficult to put the earphones away without getting into a tangled mess.
It's a small niggle, though – we generally loved the tomato-red branding of the carrying case and the box the headphones come in.
Battery and connectivity
With support for OnePlus' proprietary Warp Charge technology, the new earphones only need a 10-minute charge to provide you with 10 hours of playback, which is incredibly useful if you frequently forget to charge your wireless headphones.
This is also a huge improvement on the originals, which could offer only five hours of playback from a 10-minute charge.
The overall battery life has been upgraded, with the Bullets Wireless 2 earphones boasting 14 hours of charge as opposed to their predecessors' eight hours. We found the stated battery life to be accurate at a medium volume, although you may find your charge runs down much quicker if you listen to music at high volumes.
Unlike the previous model, the new earphones support Bluetooth 5.0, and we were impressed by how quick and easy it was to pair them with our devices. Connectivity was also generally very good, and we didn't experience any connection dropouts in the short time we tested them.
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 earphones also support a 'Quick Pair' function that allows them to pair rapidly with OnePlus phones. We tested this feature on the OnePlus 7 Pro, and we found it worked really well – even so, pairing is still quick even if you don't have a OnePlus handset.
With a fully upgraded triple-armature driver structure, including two "moving iron drivers" for great quality highs and one dynamic driver to handle the mid and bass frequencies, we were expecting the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 earphones to sound great – and generally, we were impressed by the audio quality on offer.
Listening to Bright Eyes' Amy In the White Coat, the strummed guitar with all its scrapes and scratches had a good level of clarity without sounding overly harsh, while the hushed vocals sounded accurate and resonant.
As we launched into the next song, Devil Town, we were impressed by the accuracy with which the Bullets Wireless 2 rendered the grainy texture of the track. The distorted guitar and fuzzy chords didn't overpower the rest of the mix thanks to a good level of stereo separation and clarity between the different frequencies.
Wanting to test the Bullets Wireless 2 on something a little bassier, we listened to Wild Beasts' Thankless Thing, and we liked the sweet tone of the echoing guitar and the softly chattering synths.
These earphones probably won't appeal to bass-heads; although we liked the tight, controlled bass frequencies, the earphones have been tuned quite naturally, without emphasizing the bass as much as other consumer headphones like the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones.
Instead of the bass, it's mid-frequency sounds like vocals that take center stage. Tracks like Whitney Houston's How Will I Know really sparkle (although the high-frequency snare hits in this song were a little harsh).
While they aren't the best-sounding wireless buds we've tested, they're enjoyable to listen to, and hold their own against similarly priced competitors – and with support for aptx HD, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 earphones can handle 24-bit Hi-Res audio, which will likely appeal to audiophiles who are looking for buds on a budget.
Overall, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 earphones are a very capable pair of headphones, with good connectivity, and an attractive design – and at just $99/£99, they're good value for money, too.
In terms of audio quality, they boast a lively sonic presentation and an accurate-feeling soundstage, although bass-heads may want to look elsewhere for headphones that pack a bassier punch.
They're comfortable to wear too, but it's just a shame that they don't have a waterproof rating and the inline remote is so fiddly, because otherwise they could make a decent pair of running headphones.
They may be $30 more expensive than their predecessors, but the improved battery life and sound quality makes up for that; it also makes it worth upgrading if you have the originals and are due a new pair of wireless earbuds.
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