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OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS review - Do the affordable ANC headphones make you forget the OnePlus Buds Pro?

The OnePlus Buds Z2 convince with a good sound in the test
The OnePlus Buds Z2 convince with a good sound in the test
The OnePlus Buds Z2 are relatively inexpensive True Wireless in-ears with active noise cancellation with an MSRP of less than 100 Euros (~$114). Read whether the wireless Bluetooth headphones are worth the money and justify a purchase in the review of the latest OnePlus TWS.
Marcus Herbrich, Brian Burriston (translated by DeepL / Ninh Duy), 🇩🇪 🇳🇱 ...

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OnePlus' latest true-wireless in-ears combine the 11mm drivers of the OnePlus Buds Pro with a slightly reduced feature set and the typical design of their Buds Z series. Out come the Buds Z2 with Dolby Atmos support and a battery life of up to 38 hours. A transparency mode is also part of the equipment list, which is rounded off by a touch-sensitive surface for controlling playback and Bluetooth 5.2 with a low latency of just 94 ms.

The OnePlus Buds Z2 can be ordered via the manufacturer's website in Pearl White and Obsidian Black for an MSRP of 99 Euros (~$113). However, the OnePlus TWS were already available over the test period at amazon.de at 69 Euros (~$78), which is considerably cheaper.

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Wearing style In-ear
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.2
Speakers 11 mm driver, dynamic, 20 - 20,000 Hz
Audio codecs SBC, AAC
Charging port USB-C
wireless charging not supported
Weight (per earphone) 4.6 g
Weight (charging case) 42 g
Microphones 3 microphones per earpiece
Included in delivery Headphones, charging case, silicone ear pads (S, M, L), documentation, safety and warranty card, USB charging cable (Type C)
Price (RRP) 99 Euro (~$113)

Workmanship & Ergonomics - OnePlus Buds Z2 in two colors

OnePlus Buds Z2 in Pearl White color
OnePlus Buds Z2 in Pearl White color

Like the Pro model, the color selection of the OnePlus Buds Z2 is limited to a black and a white variant. The design of our test sample in Obsidian Black is relatively susceptible to fingerprints due to the high-gloss finish, but it has a pleasant feel. The design of the in-ears is more oriented towards the Buds Pro than to the OnePlus Buds Z. The Chinese manufacturer talks about a 15 percent shorter stem of the Buds Z2 compared to the predecessor.

The IP55-certified interior of the Buds Z2 is combined with a water-repellent nanocoating to protect against corrosion. The IP55 certification promises adequate protection against sweat or rain penetration, and OnePlus talks about their True-Wireless in-ears being designed for occasional rinsing for easy cleaning. Protection against liquids is also offered by the charging cover, but only according to IPX4.

We find the OnePlus TWS comfortable to wear, and the in-ears also hold well enough for normal everyday use. The headphones weigh a good 4 grams (~0.14 oz) each and are thus pleasantly light. The OnePlus headphones are not noticed negatively in everyday use, even for longer periods. Inserting the in-ears into the case is a bit "fiddly".

The charging case is also made of glossy black plastic and weighs about 42 g (~1.5 oz) together with the headphones. The case's workmanship is solid, but the lid of our test sample has some play and therefore wobbles a bit. However, the case is securely closed with a magnet.

Test OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS
Test OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS
Test OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS
Test OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS

Equipment & Operation - OnePlus TWS with Dolby Atmos

The OnePlus Buds Z2 have an earphone fit test
The OnePlus Buds Z2 have an earphone fit test

As with the Buds Pro the OnePlus Buds Z2 can be easily paired with a OnePlus smartphone after opening the charging case. Pairing with an external player is done via Bluetooth 5.2 with OnePlus Fast Pair. However, the latter is only supported by smartphones of the OnePlus 6 series and higher that already run Android 11. Users from other smartphone manufacturers need the official application "HeyMelody" - which is available for download on Google Play and in the iOS App Store.

The app can be used to configure the two touch sensors, load firmware updates or search for the earphones. An equalizer is still not offered, and Audio ID is also reserved for the Pro model. However, the noise cancellation modes can also be adjusted with the Buds Z2.

There are two types of ANC "Normal" and "Maximum" to choose from, which are supposed to filter noise between 25 dB(A) and 40 dB(A) from the sound image according to the manufacturer. There is also a transparency mode to better perceive the surroundings and to be able to communicate with people at a distance without having to remove the earbuds.

However, no app is needed to switch between the different modes; gestures can be used instead. This involves pressing the circular area on the casing with the touch sensors for a few seconds. In addition, a single touch up to a triple-tap gesture is supported. The inputs are recognized well, but somewhat delayed.

Besides a mono mode so that both the left and right in-ear can be used independently, Dolby Atmos is also on board. However, support for this immersive audio format including the three sound modes "movie", "music" and "mobile gaming" is only provided by OnePlus smartphones. A wear detection that automatically stops a music or movie playback when the headphones are removed from the ear is also featured by the Buds Z2.

Test OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS
Test OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS
Test OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS
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Voice quality - Buds Z2 with 3 microphones

Accept or end calls with a tap gesture with the OnePlus Buds Z2
Accept or end calls with a tap gesture with the OnePlus Buds Z2

The True Wireless in-ears from OnePlus can easily be used as a headset for phone calls or Skype meetings. However, a multipoint connection of two or more devices at the same time is not supported.

Disturbing ambient noise is supposed to be reduced by up to 40 dB(A) with the help of three MEMS microphones. The noise-cancelling counter-frequencies reduce wind and ambient noise. The Chinese manufacturer advertises its TWS with a special design, which is supposed to suppress wind noise caused by air friction and thus improve voice quality.

The OnePlus Buds Z2 do an appealing job during everyday calls. Our callers are rendered well, even though the naturalness of the voice suffers a bit. Discreet background noise is noticeably suppressed as soon as we start talking. Wind noise is shielded very well; it is not noticed at all or only very slightly by our counterpart. However, air movements are very clearly perceptible for users of the Buds Z2, which is particularly noticeable in gusty winds during phone calls.

Sound quality - OnePlus Buds Z2 with rich sound

The OnePlus Buds Z2 also shield their wearer noticeably from ambient noise passively.
The OnePlus Buds Z2 also shield their wearer noticeably from ambient noise passively.

A dynamic 11 mm driver is responsible for the sound reproduction of the Buds Z2, which is supposed to cover a frequency response of 20 to 20,000 hertz according to OnePlus. Technically, there are no differences to the TWS flagship, the OnePlus Buds Pro.

We use the AAC codec with the Buds Z2 in the test because the affordable headphones from OnePlus cannot rely on the LHDC support of the Pro model, even though this standard is currently only implemented in a few smartphone models. Nevertheless, the Buds Z2 deliver a similarly good sound profile.

The connection to our test smartphone Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 is via Bluetooth 5.2. The sound output of the in-ears is clear and differentiated. The Buds Z2 act balanced, work out vocal details well and score with a harmonious music reproduction. For the price range of up to 100 Euros, we really like the sound qualities and would recommend the Buds Z2 to, for example, the Honor Earbuds 2 Lite in terms of sound quality. One strength of the OnePlus TWS is the maximum volume. If you like to enjoy your music very loud, the Buds Z2 are a good choice.

According to the manufacturer, the latency can be reduced to up to 94 ms, as long as a current OnePlus smartphone is paired with it and the Pro gaming mode is enabled. However, the offset between sound and picture is also low with our Samsung phone. Similar to the Pro model, the Buds Z2 support 3D sound via the headphones when a movie title including Dolby Atmos is available.

The ANC feature, which is very important for many users, noticeably filters noise from the sound, but external noise clearly penetrates OnePlus' Buds Z2. An audible noise is very present in quiet background noise, especially with maximum ANC - even compared to other TWS - but it is only annoying when the headphones are used very quietly.

The active noise cancellation of the OnePlus headphones reduces monotonous, low-frequency street noise solidly, but the ANC of the Buds Z2 is not a real highlight. Quite a bit of noise still gets through to the user, especially "shrill" noise sources like rail or braking noises from vehicles. We also like the counterpart "transparency" less than in the competition. Voices are difficult to understand in quite loud music playback. Noises are also only passed on to the user very discreetly. We still see potential for firmware updates here.

Battery life - OnePlus TWS with good endurance

Structure of the OnePlus Buds Z2
Structure of the OnePlus Buds Z2

OnePlus claims a runtime of up to 38 hours for its earphones in combination with the charging case, as long as audio playback takes place with the ANC mode turned off. Each in-ear has an integrated battery with a capacity of 40 mAh, which can be refilled with the 520 mAh energy storage of the storage case. Thanks to in-house flash-charge technology, 10 minutes of charging should be enough to guarantee up to two hours of listening pleasure.

We get a good runtime of about 6.5 to 7 hours without active noise cancellation with the Buds Z2 at a volume of about 80 percent and continuous music playback. This is generally in line with OnePlus' specifications. However, it is only just under 4 hours in ANC mode in our test, which is slightly less than the manufacturer specifies for its TWS.

Test conclusion of the OnePlus Buds Z2

In review: OnePlus Buds Z2. Test sample provided by OnePlus Germany
In review: OnePlus Buds Z2. Test sample provided by OnePlus Germany

The mid-range TWS from OnePlus prove to be very good true wireless in-ear headphones with active noise cancellation in the test, especially in light of the street prices that dropped considerably shortly after release. In terms of sound, we consider the Buds Z2 to be on par with the in-house Pro model and also in direct comparison to the Xiaomi FlipBuds Pro the OnePlus headphones cut a good figure. The runtimes are not bad, although other TWS in this price range, like the Honor Earbuds 2 Lite, last considerably longer.

The OnePlus Buds Z2 offer a great sound and very loud music playback - a challenge to the competition for 70 Euros (~$80).

What we do not like as much are the ANC features and the transparency mode, both of which we remember being better on the OnePlus Buds Pro. Compared to the flagship TWS with intelligent and dynamic noise cancellation, the Buds Z2 have to make sacrifices. The limited number of supported Bluetooth codecs can also be criticized for an MSRP of just under 100 Euros (~$114), and OnePlus still does not offer an equalizer.

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Marcus Herbrich
Editor of the original article: Marcus Herbrich - Senior Tech Writer - 280 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2016
I have always been very passionately interested in mobile technologies, especially smartphones. Being a tech enthusiast means the half-life of my devices isn’t exactly long, and being the latest hardware is not enough to suffice as the manufacturer and operating system play a minor role – the most important aspect for me is that the device is state-of-the-art. After posting for Mobi Test I joined Notebookcheck in 2016, where I have been pursuing my enthusiasm for technology by reviewing the latest smartphone, tablet, and accessory trends.
contact me via: @Marcus_Herbrich
Ninh Duy
Translator: Ninh Duy - Editorial Assistant - 215918 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2008
My main responsibility as an editorial assistant is maintaining the Library section, which aggregates reviews from other publications and channels. In addition, my daily breakfast is Notebookcheck's long list of new content, which I comb through to select the most interesting topics for translation from English to French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch."
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > OnePlus Buds Z2 TWS review - Do the affordable ANC headphones make you forget the OnePlus Buds Pro?
Marcus Herbrich, 2022-01-12 (Update: 2022-01-12)