OnePlus’ Nord Buds are the best $49 earbuds I’ve ever tested

There are not a lot of extra features, but a good price and decent sound are what you get

The Pros

  • Fair cost
  • Very comfortable
  • Good battery life

The Cons

  • Case scratches easily
  • Earbud tips fall off too easily
  • Touch controls are laggy

OnePlus has impressed me for years with its reasonably priced earbuds, and the new Nord Buds are no different — except this time, the price is even lower.

I’ve been using the new buds for over a week, and while they didn’t capture my heart like the Nothing Ear 1s, they still stood up to regular use and surprised me with how good they are for $49.

Sound quality

OnePlus actually managed to jam in a 12.4mm speaker driver into each earbud. Even if it’s not the biggest earbud speaker around, it’s still loud enough and larger than the 11mm option inside the Nothing Ear 1s.

The playback isn’t perfect, and the buds do show their limitations when the volume is maxed out, but in most situations, they’re fine, and I really haven’t felt the need to push the volume that loud unless I was biking with only a single bud in. Since these buds are so light, they work well for this.

The tuning is balanced, and it’s not tinny or distorted. There’s even an equalizer in the ‘HeyMelody’ app, so anyone that’s not satisfied with the Nord Buds can try and tune them on their own. Generally, I keep the buds on the ‘Balanced’ preset, but the ‘Bold’ option is pretty fun and offers a little more depth and sharper pitch tuning.

The user experience

As I alluded to above, one of my favourite things about the Nord Buds is how light and comfortable they are. They have a small stemmed design that looks pretty cool and keeps the earbud’s centre of gravity close to my head, so they always feel secure.

The buds themselves offer seven hours of listening and a total of 30 hours with the case. I have yet to kill the buds in a single listening session, and the case has lasted more than a week off its initial charge. That being said, at the time of writing, it’s getting low and is at 30 percent. Of course, OnePlus also added fast charging, so five minutes will give the case 10 hours of battery life and the buds three.

Overall, battery life wasn’t really an issue with the OnePlus Nord Buds.

The OnePlus Nord Buds also feature an IP55 rating, so they can repel a little bit of water which is always reassuring to know that you can wear the buds in a bit of rain. They also offer Bluetooth 5.2 and utilize Android Fast Pair technology.

What I didn’t like about them was the fact that when I was pulling them out of my ears or my pockets, the ear tip would often fall off too. It’s not attached as securely as other buds, so this happens a lot. I haven’t lost a tip yet, but it seems like only a matter of time. Regardless, the tips fit into my ears nicely and blocked outside sound well for earbuds without noise-cancelling.

The other negative is that the touch controls are a bit laggy, so whenever I would tap once, I’d often tap again, thinking it didn’t register me, but it was just being slow.



Good budget buds

I’ve only been able to use these earbuds for just over a week at the time of writing, and while I got an hour or more of listening in every day, the only thing that worries me about the buds is how long they’ll last over time. There’s nothing to suggest that they’ll die over time, but they feel too good to be true.

I don’t think they’ll replace my AirPods or even the OnePlus Buds Pros for me, but without a doubt, I feel comfortable recommending them to people looking to get a solid pair of wireless earbuds on a budget. In a previous review, I said that wireless earbuds typically fall into three categories: decent, terrible and surprisingly good.

When stacked up against other buds in the $100+ range, the Nord Buds are ‘decent,’ but when you factor in that they’re half the price of the nearest competition, they feel ‘surprisingly good.’

The OnePlus Nord Buds are available to pre-order now for $49 from OnePlus and come in Black.