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OnePlus Buds Z2 First Impressions

Posted December 23, 2021 | Android | Earbuds | iOS | Mobile | Music + Videos | OnePlus | OnePlus Buds Z2 | Windows


The OnePlus Buds Z2 earbuds are truly wireless and offer both active noise cancelation (ANC) and Dolby Atmos capabilities.

I never tried the first-generation OnePlus Buds Z wireless earbuds, which were released about a year ago, offering 10-mm dynamic drivers, Bluetooth 5.0 and Quick Pair, and about 20 hours of total playback time for about $50. But I did recently test the firm’s flagship OnePlus Buds Pro, and it appears that the two products represent OnePlus’ competition for the Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro, respectively. Makes sense.

OnePlus notes that the second-generation Buds Z2 earbuds improve on their predecessor in some important ways. They provide the same 11-mm dynamic drivers and ANC capabilities as the Buds Pro, for example, and as a result are more expensive than their predecessors, at about $100. (The Buds Pro retail for $150.) To be clear, this is a great price for a pair of ANC-capable earbuds.

Anyway, earbuds are a curious thing, in part because everyone’s ears are different: I may find a particular pair of earbuds to be comfortable, but someone else will find them uncomfortable, and vice versa. So all I can really do in this area is to see how well they work for me. And to date, I’ve had great success across a wide variety of earbuds, and I almost always just use the default ear tips and don’t need to fiddle with the other tips that each hardware maker bundles.

The one exception, go figure, was the OnePlus Buds Pro. I just never found a set of tips that worked well for my ears. And that was a problem because their ANC capabilities rely on a tight seal: if an earbud comes loose, either by exercise or just a poor fit, the ANC turns off. That’s a bad system to my mind—I’d prefer an option to just leave ANC on regardless of what’s happening and battery life be damned—but whatever. It meant that the OnePlus Buds Pro just weren’t for me.

Naturally, I was worried about this with the OnePlus Buds Z2 earbuds, too. As with the Buds Pro, they come with extra tips (and a short USB-A to USB-C charging cable).  A quick test with the default tips seemed to work fine, but I waited to write this until I used them for an hour at the gym with both cardio and weight-based exercises.

And I’m happy to report my surprise: the default tips work great. Perfectly, in the sense that ANC never disabled, a key need of mine at the gym. And I never even had to adjust them from time to time as I do regularly with the Earfun earbuds I normally use. Nice.

I’ll keep using them, of course, but I already like the controls, among them single-tap either bud by default to Play/Pause, for example, and press and hold to toggle between full ANC and transparency mode, which lets in the outside world so you can hear and speak to others. And the ANC is terrific and exactly what I’m looking for at the gym.

I also like that they come in both white and black. I get the white thing, since that’s what Apple uses and companies will never stop trying to copy that look. But I prefer black, and I was happy to get that version for review.

So far so good. I’ll report back again soon.

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