We're big fans of testing earphones at ShortList towers. For one thing, it means that we can give our best hip-hop albums, best rock albums and coolest albums of all time lists a spin and not have to look at a screen for a while.
Usually, the ear buds we test are around the £100/$100 plus mark and then some. While we don't turn our noses up at anything cheaper, it's just they are rarely sent in for review.
OnePlus, though, sent along a pair of its new OnePlus Nord Buds - alongside its latest handset, read our OnePlus Nord 2 review for info on that one - and we wanted to see, sorry hear, just what a pair of £49 true wireless earphones could do at that price.
Here are 5 things to know about the OnePlus Nord Buds...
1. The drivers inside are Pro quality
Having already tested, and enjoyed, the OnePlus Buds Pro we were happy to see that OnePlus has decided to improve on the 12.4mm titanium-coated driver drivers found in those earphones for its cheaper pair of ear buds.
Case-wise, the OnePlus Nord buds are pretty unassuming and a touch bulky. But the design of the buds themselves is pretty sleek. The stem of the buds is far thicker than found on the Buds Pro, but better than the previous budget true-wireless efforts the OnePlus Buds Z2.
2. These buds are fit for the gym
In the ear the buds don't protrude which is always a relief and fit comfortably. The stem actually gives them a little more stability in the ear which is a good thing as these are decent buds to wear in the gym, thanks to their IP55 rating. In our sweaty gym testing they didn't feel like they were slipping at all and were nice and lightweight to wear.
3. The sound is clear, crisp
Sound-wise, they offer a lot for the money. We tested the OnePlus Nord Buds alongside its new Nord 2T phone and it was great to see audio features baked into the device. From the Bluetooth settings you can play around with the EQ, change the touch controls and the like.
It gets a tad more annoying if you are using something that isn't a OnePlus handset - you have to use the fiddly HeyMelody app.
As with the OnePlus Buds Pro, the tuning of the ear buds is more bass heavy than we would have liked but you can control this, if you want to.
We toned it down slightly while listening to Kendrick Lamar's United in Grief, the ferociousness of the track coming through nicely.
The Smile's The Smoke sounded crisp, too, with its propulsive bass line coming through nice and clear. But even in the more acoustic sounds, the audio clarity was to our liking. Arcade Fire's Lookout Kid had a nice warmth to the guitar and vocals.
4. Charging is quick and the battery life is long
When it comes to charging, these are long lasting. Fully charged and you will get some 30 hours out of the ear buds and the case. And with just 10 minutes of charging, you'll get five hours' use.
While there isn't wireless charging on board, with the speed that these can be charged you don't miss it too much.
5. There are some audio caveats
As you have already guessed from the price, there are a few audio caveats here. We have mentioned the bass - that's not a huge issue as it may well be to your tastes and it can be fiddled with in the EQ settings.
The biggest thing amiss here is noise cancellation. At this price, we wouldn't expect there to be this tech on board but there is some noise isolation at work, apparently using AI. In our tests, this didn't quite work for us and wasn't a patch on proper ANC.
Finally, the case is a little on the bulky side and we would have liked some sort of volume control on the actual ear buds, instead of having to go into your phone - or app - to muck around with this.
OnePlus Buds Pro: Final Verdict
The niggles we have with the OnePlus Nord Buds are slight. For the price - £49/€49/$39 - these are great ear buds.
If you aren't bothered about ANC then these budget offerings are a real, affordable treat.
- If you want some ANC bud options, then these are the best true wireless earphones around.