OnePlus Buds Z2 review

A worthy successor

₹ 4,999

Truly wireless earbuds are far more convenient to use than their wired counterparts and sound just as good too – unless you have the ears of an audiophile. The growth of the TWS segment is proof of just how popular these earbuds are across various price points.
After the supremely good Buds Pro, the folks at OnePlus have launched a pair of budget earbuds, called the Buds Z2. As the name suggests, this is the successor to the OnePlus Buds Z launched back in 2020. So are the Buds Z2 better than the original or disappointing like most film sequels? Read on.

Design: Smaller and shinier

At first glance, you’ll need a jeweller’s eye to tell the Buds Z2 apart from the Buds Z. OnePlus has retained the Apple AirPods-like stem design. Only this time, the stems are shorter. The rounded case slides in and out of pockets easily, and it isn’t too big either, so there won’t be an embarrassing bulge in your trousers.

OnePlus has added a new black colourway in addition to the white seen on the Buds Z. Both the earbuds and the case now have a glossy finish, which adds that hint of premium-ness to the budget product. But while they are good to look at, maintaining them is an entirely different matter. The glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet, and more often than not you’ll find yourself wiping them clean. 
That aside, the Buds Z2 are comfortable to wear and use. OnePlus provides ear tips in different sizes so finding the right fit isn’t difficult. At just 4.5 grams each, the earbuds don’t weigh too much either and can be used for long hours without much fatigue.

Touch: Tap tap

The stems feature touch controls, and they work smoothly. You can set up to three touch controls per stem – single tap, double-tap, and triple tap – and select between functions like music playback controls, and summoning the voice assistant. One can also tap and hold to switch through noise cancellation and hear through modes. 

If you’re an existing OnePlus smartphone user, all these controls are accessible via the Bluetooth settings window. On other Android smartphones or iPhones, you’ll need to install the HeyMelody app for such controls. Needless to say, the overall experience is far better and seamless on OnePlus devices. 
The Buds Z2 are also among those rare budget earbuds that support device switching. You can connect them to two devices simultaneously, and a long press (up to five seconds) on either of the stems will switch devices. The switch is not always instantaneous though, and we did face issues in switching a couple of times during our usage.

Sound: Bass-heavy

The Buds Z2’s audio chops are almost predictable, and you know what to expect before you plug them in. The sound tends to lean heavily towards the lows and highs with the tendency to drown out the mid-range a bit. The bass is boomy, and while it works for some songs, most others sound muddled. 
Take for instance Lo/Hi by The Black Keys, where the bassy guitars and drums tend to subdue Dan Auerbach’s vocals quite a lot. On the other hand, Doobey from the movie Gehraiyaan sounds as melodious and haunted as it is supposed to until the chorus hits, at which point the strong beats again drown out the singer’s voice. Unfortunately, there aren’t any equaliser controls to tune aspects of the audio.

Again, OnePlus users benefit a bit here with support for Dolby Atmos, which adds a bit more depth to the sound. The low-latency mode gets activated when Pro Gaming mode is enabled on OnePlus phones, which improves the latency when playing games.

You can’t expect a lot in this budget, and yet active noise cancellation on the Buds Z2 gets the job done. It blocked out most of the outside noise when we went running with these earbuds. There are two modes – Normal and Max – and honestly, we couldn’t make out much difference. The difference is far more perceptible on the slightly more expensive Nothing ear (1) earbuds.

Verdict: Should you buy?

The Buds Z2 earbuds are just like any of OnePlus’ mid-range smartphones. They look decent, are packed with features, and won’t burn a hole in your pocket. But they fail to set a benchmark in the most important aspect – sound. Then there’s the difference in experience between OnePlus phone users, and others. 
And that’s why it isn’t the automatic choice at this price point – at least for non-OnePlus users. For them, the Nothing ear (1) makes more sense. They may be a tad more expensive, but they are better to look at, come with similar features, and sound way better.

Stuff Says

An affordable, yet feature-packed pair of TWS from OnePlus that sounds just about good.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Comfortable fit

  1. ANC in this budget

  1. Dolby Atmos support for OnePlus users

  1. Decent battery life with fast charging

  1. Glossy case finish a fingerprint magnet

  1. Spotty call quality

  1. No EQ controls

Drivers: 11 mm dynamic
Frequency range: 20 Hz - 20,000 Hz
Noise cancellation: ANC + Transparency mode
Battery: 40mAh (earbuds) / 520mAh (case)
Weight: 4.6 grams (earbuds) / 42 grams (case)
Colours: Obsidian Black, Pearl White