OnePlus Buds Pro 2 Lightning Review: Not Quite The AirPods Pro Killer

OnePlus Buds Pro 2

OnePlus has released its newest pair of high-end earbuds, the Buds Pro 2. These are supposed to be the brand’s answer to other top-of-the-line earbuds like the AirPods Pro, complete with stems for media control and even spatial audio.

They are definitely priced in the higher-end category, priced at a whopping RM869, so my expectations were high for these premium earphones. So far, I’ve found some major downsides to them, but they also have a saving grace that could persuade some people to choose them over other options in the same price range.

What Is It?

OnePlus Buds Pro 2

The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 is the best that the brand currently has to offer in the audio category, featuring all the bells and whistles such as ANC, spatial audio, Dolby Atmos, and stem controls.

Each earbud is equipped with 11mm dynamic drivers and 6mm planar diaphragm drivers with three microphones to pick up on your voice during calls  — all tuned by Dynaudio. The improved ANC is adaptive in that you can set the strength of how much it cancels out, capable of reducing background noise up to 48 dB.

Is It Any Good?

To OnePlus’ credit, I love the design of the earbuds. The buds themselves have a two-tone matte and glossy finish and it fits in the case very easily with its wide-open design.

They also come with Google Fast Pair, which makes pairing with new devices quick and seamless by just holding the button on the case. My personal favourite feature of the Buds Pro 2, which I’ve been raving about to anyone who would listen to me, is dual connection.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2

Dual connection lets the earbuds be connected to two devices at the same time and it genuinely allows you to switch the audio between the devices much better than Apple’s AirPods can with its ecosystem. As someone who daily drives two phones, this was a game changer for me as I didn’t have to carry around two pairs of earbuds or have to reset the connection every time I wanted to switch phones for listening to music.

The stem controls are also quite responsive, with squeezing always being the better option for media control than tapping. The in-ear detection is also quick to respond.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2

As for the battery life, the Buds Pro 2 can last much longer than most people need them to. On a single charge, they can last up to six hours with ANC turned on and the charging case can juice them up at least four times before needing a recharge.

The Sound Quality. Talk To Me.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2

Considering that they are priced in the high-end range, the expectations for the sound quality are quite high.  I’m quite ambivalent about how they actually sound. They don’t exactly sound bad, but the bass isn’t very punchy and there isn’t a lot of soundstage, even when using the LHDC codec when connected to a OnePlus 11.

You can play around with the built-in equaliser in the Bluetooth settings and there is even a personalised sound profile that you can do, but in my experience, it didn’t help much. Again, they don’t sound muddy or other adjectives you would use to describe cheap earbuds, but they do fall short of earning the premium label.

The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.

The most disappointing feature of the Buds Pro 2 is the ANC, which barely blocks out background noise and instead just makes your surroundings sound muffled and still audible. The transparency mode isn’t any better; while I am able to be aware of my surroundings, the transparency mode is really bad at making speech sound clear, meaning that I still need to take the earbuds out to have a conversation.

Speaking of taking the earbuds out, while in-ear detection is good for pausing, it’s a tad bit too sensitive. The earbuds would start playing the music again when I held one of them in my hand, mistaking my fingers for my ears. While this isn’t uncommon for earbuds, this happened much too often and I got incredibly annoyed by it.

The stem controls aren’t the best either, the lag between pinching and the action actually taking place is too long, and disappointingly, they do not have volume control, unlike the newer AirPods Pro.

Should I Buy It?

OnePlus Buds Pro 2

At RM869, it’s very difficult to recommend these earbuds. The sound quality, while relatively good, doesn’t qualify to be in this price range. Of course, I do love the design, but overly-sensitive in-ear detection is a deal-breaker for me. The only saving grace of these earbuds is the stellar dual connection feature, which I hope OnePlus will implement in a more affordable package in the future.

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