In-ear headphones for less than 50 euros and without ANC: That's why they can still surprise you

The OnePlus Nord Buds stand out. But not with a gaudy design. Rather, the price of less than 50 euros makes the headphones an eye-catcher. The question is: whether they offer an alternative to more expensive models. But first things first.
To get back to the beginning: OnePlus keeps it simple in terms of optics and colors both the headphones and the charging case in a deep black. With a so-called metallization technology, the manufacturer conjures up a metallic-looking surface, even though the headphones are made entirely of plastic. The OnePlus lettering is emblazoned in gray on the lid, while a circular silver plate on the spherical heads of the true wireless headphones stands out from the rest. That's it. From there, a wide, but flat and rounded bar leads down, which should ensure a better hold in the ear.
The OnePlus lettering on the lid of the charging case
Technically, the OnePlus Nord Buds come with Bluetooth 5.2, which is the latest version of the wireless standard. So that the mobile phone and the headphones find each other quickly, the coupling takes place via OnePlus Fast Pair. Inside the headphones are dynamic 12.4 mm titanium drivers, which are intended to ensure precise sound. The package is rounded off by a total of four microphones – i.e. two per headphone – for telephone calls.
OnePlus Buds Pro in the test: where it squeezes and where it rustles

OnePlus Nord Buds: fit and operation

And that's exactly what the OnePlus Nord Buds do. They sit firmly in the auricle like chewing gum in your hair. Despite the rather thick earpiece as such, it is small enough to hold securely even in small ears. It doesn't matter whether you just walk or do sports, such as jogging. Keyword sport: The true wireless headphones are protected against spray, rainwater or sweat thanks to the IP55 certification.
You don't have to hold your phone in your hand all the time to control music. You can easily control it yourself via the headphones – at least for the most part. Single-tap the headphones to play or pause music, double-tap to play the song, and triple-tap to recall the last track you listened to. Calls can also be controlled using these gestures, for example by double-tapping to answer or end a call. A long hold, on the other hand, causes the call to be rejected. The OnePlus Nord Buds are not overly sensitive and react to even the smallest touch – such as the Nokia Noise Canceling Earbuds BH-805.
What is annoying about the OnePlus Nord Buds is that they do not have a wearer ID. This means the music just keeps playing, even if you take off the headphones. However, the music starts playing as soon as you plug it into your ears – at least if the function is activated.
OnePlus chooses a simple but timeless design for the Nord Buds.

No ANC – a problem?

The environment in which you move is usually far too loud. Headphones in, music on and the problem should be fixed. ANC – Active Noise Canceling – helps here and simply hides conversations and background noise. That's missing from the OnePlus Nord Buds. Instead, AI noise suppression is used to filter out background noise. But only for calls.
The good thing about cheap in-ear headphones is that the silicone attachments fit so precisely in the ear canal that no noise can penetrate from the outside and the ear is surprisingly well sealed. For different ear sizes you will find different attachments in the packaging. Only, for example, sirens or loud voices that are right next to you penetrate through the music – depending on the volume control.

That's why the sound can surprise

The Titan drivers promise a frequency of 20 to 20,000 Hz for music playback and a low latency of 94 ms. According to their own information, this is only given if the OnePlus Nord Buds are paired with a OnePlus cell phone. This is the case in our test. SBC and AAC are the audio formats that the OnePlus Nord Buds support. In our test we use the latter. You will look in vain for aptX support.
Those who expect a dull and hollow sound from cheap headphones can be pleasantly surprised by the OnePlus Nord Buds. The sound experience is full, the music penetrates the ear with deep and sometimes precise tones. The headphones can bring boom to bass-heavy music, from which genres such as electronic music, rap or the like benefit in particular – both in the highs and lows. Weaknesses can be found in the details: the OnePlus model sometimes plays bass too high, which makes it sound shrill. In classical music, for example, or songs with an emphasis on vocals, there is a lack of depth of detail, which means that noise often rings through the music or the voice is pushed into the background by the overlay of the bass.
You can tweak the sound experience a little in the HeyMelody app – for cell phones that are not from OnePlus – or in the settings of the headphones themselves – for OnePlus devices. For example, focus on the bass or set a surround sound. This changes and improves the sound experience here and there. Nevertheless, the OnePlus Nord Buds cannot match the sound fidelity and presence of higher-priced headphones. However, the in-ear headphones should not meet this requirement in terms of price.
The OnePlus Nord Buds headphones in their charging case
Finally, a word about the volume: The volume is already sufficient when the volume is not even half turned up. In case of doubt, there is still room for improvement for everyone who wants to hear their music extra loud.

Telephony: A moderate catastrophe

The situation is different with telephone calls. Despite AI noise cancellation and a total of four microphones, making calls with the OnePlus Nord Buds is disappointing. The AI filters out ambient noise little or not at all, so that the conversation partner only hears it instead of their voice. Same game with wind. If you are in a quiet and protected environment, the OnePlus Nord Buds ensure a neutral sound and clearer voice reproduction.

Battery: No problems throughout the day

According to OnePlus, the true wireless handset and the charging case combined offer a battery life of up to 30 hours. The headphones themselves last for 7 hours of music playback and 3.5 hours of intensive phone calls. The OnePlus Nord Buds are able to keep the promise: without having to charge the headphones in between, they last a working day to listen to music.

The OnePlus Nord Buds are recharged via USB-C.

The headphones can then be recharged with the case. It has a battery capacity of 480 mAh. If the Nord Buds are completely empty, the capacity is sufficient around three times to fully charge the headphones again. So the Nord Buds don't quite come close to the 30 hour runtime. However: If the charging case itself is recharged, 10 minutes of charging the headphones is enough to be able to listen to music for 5 hours again.
Conclusion: This is how the in-ear headphones from OnePlus perform
OnePlus normally charges 49 euros for the Nord Buds. A low price, which, as mentioned at the beginning, is noticeable. And measured against this, the in-ear headphones offer an amazingly good sound experience, which sounds particularly convincing thanks to the deep bass. In addition, OnePlus succeeds in good workmanship and a design that is made for a firm fit in the ear cup. Due to the well-sealed ear canal, the missing ANC hurts less badly.
However, the OnePlus Nord Buds cannot match the sound precision of more expensive headphones, as they lack the wealth of detail. The quality of phone calls and the lack of wearer recognition are also disappointing.

Pros of the OnePlus Nord Buds

Perfect fit in the earFull sound, especially with bass-heavy musicLong battery lifeAffordable price

Contrasting of the OnePlus Nord Buds

Lack of ANCE Disappointing phone quality and microphones Weakness in the sound details Somewhat clunky charging case

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