Sunday, June 26, 2022

OnePlus’ Nord Buds Wireless Earbuds: Calls and Music for $40

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OnePlus’ latest set of wireless earbuds is also the first to receive its Nord branding, which the company uses for its lower-cost products. The new Nord Buds are announced today, along with teases for two new entries for OnePlus’ European Nord smartphone lineup: the Nord 2T 5G and the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G.

The Nord Buds actually have a decent amount of money for them, even at $39.99. They don’t have active noise cancellation and they only have two mics in each stem instead of three like the $99 Buds Z2, but they have the same seven hours of battery life (38 hours paired with the case), and promise the same low latency – especially when connected to a OnePlus phone with ProGaming mode enabled – and fast charging.

The Nord Buds also have 12.4mm drivers, Dolby Atmos support, “AI-powered noise-cancelling algorithms” for phone calls, and a new design makes them even more comfortable for long listening sessions, according to OnePlus.

One way to think about it is that the Nord Buds are the AirPods to the Buds Z2’s AirPods Pro. (What I think makes the $150 Buds Pro, which also adds wireless charging and adaptive noise cancellation, the AirPods Max? This isn’t a perfect analogy.) The Nord Buds, however, are meant to be the entry-level model in the lineup now that you’ve got the latest generation. Buds Z for the same price, the OnePlus catalog is starting to get a little confusing.

A teaser image for the upcoming launch of the European Nord smartphone from OnePlus.
Image: OnePlus

And that’s exactly when it comes to wireless earbuds. OnePlus is also announcing two new Nord smartphones for the European market today: the OnePlus Nord 2T 5G and the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. The Nord 2T is intended to be a spec of last year’s Nord 2 and now features 80W fast charging, compared to 65W last time. Meanwhile, the Nord CE 2 Lite is being pitched as a step-down model compared to the Nord CE 2, which was self a step back from the Nord 2 (it’s okay to be confused). OnePlus plans to properly launch both phones on May 19, when we can expect pricing and release date information.

While OnePlus is still primarily known as a phone brand, the headphones often exceed their price. Chris Welch of The Verge found the Buds Pro to be both comfortable to wear and impressive in their sound quality, and they’ve earned a spot on our list of the best wireless earbuds money can buy.

Overall, we’re seeing a huge drop in the cost of a pair of half-decent wireless earbuds. While it seems unlikely that the Nord Buds will beat some of the more expensive models on the market, even competing with slightly more expensive models like the Jabra Elite 3 is a big ask, it wasn’t too long ago when $100 was the bare minimum for a decent pair. It’s encouraging to see the price drop all the way to $40.

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