Earbuds are an interesting device for the modern user. I can remember buying earbuds years and years ago and the biggest feature I’d look for was how good they looked and how they sounded. Now, these are by no means replaceable features, but I tend to look more at how they can drown out the sounds of the world around me. The OnePlus Buds Z2 have this down to a science, and the science is rock-solid.
I went in to reviewing the OnePlus Buds Z2 after recently covering the OnePlus Buds Pro, of which I was immensely impressed. A hard act to follow, to be sure, especially since they won our Best Earbuds of 2021 award. Not only did the Buds Z2 meet expectations, but they also surpassed them.
When I first unboxed the Buds Z2, I was met with a beautiful glossy obsidian black oval-shaped case with the OnePlus branding laser etched on top. Opening the case brought me face to face with an equally beautiful pair of earbuds, also in obsidian black. The earbuds themselves were held in place by a surprisingly strong magnetic force, adhering them to the charging pads inside the case. The design differs slightly from the Buds Pro in that the Buds Z2 have a flat edge where the touch controls are. I have to say, this change in the physical form is perfect.
I quickly paired the Buds Z2 to my phone and put them in my ears. The fit out of the box was amazing, and immediately sounded great. The Buds Z2 have two ANC modes, one that is for noise up to 25 dB, and the second for sounds up to 40 dB. Either of these is more than enough to keep you blissfully ignorant to your surroundings if you live or work in a moderately noisy environment. I say blissfully ignorant, but if you have people trying to get your attention, they may feel less enthused about the fact that you probably can’t hear them.
“Not only did the Buds Z2 meet expectations, but they also surpassed them.”
The ANC is also tuned to reduce wind and ambient noise, with three mics affixed to each individual earbud. This means that your calls are not interrupted or made difficult due to the surrounding environment, especially in wind.
OnePlus has taken the 11 mm dynamic earbud driver that was in the Buds Pro and slotted it into the Z2. This allows your music quality to be clear as day and not drowned out by overbearing acoustics. The OnePlus Buds Z2 also feature Dolby Atmos to give you true-to-life sound quality using three different sound modes: cinematic movie, immersive music, and mobile gaming. The Dolby Atmos feature, however, is only available if you have a compatible OnePlus phone, which I do not. Unfortunately, a mark against them there.
Most earbuds these days have some for of water resistance, and the Buds Z2 are no exception. OnePlus say that the Buds Z2 have “sweat-resistant IP55-rated internal components that feature a hydrophobic nano-coating for protection from corrosion”. They are designed for “occasional rinsing for easy cleaning”, although I can’t say I was eager to run them under the taps. The charging case also offers an IPX4 rating for water resistance, so it can handle taking a splash of water as well. I still won’t keep the case beside the sink while I’m doing the dishes though.
“The Dolby Atmos feature, however, is only available if you have a compatible OnePlus phone, which I do not.”
When I put in new earbuds, I have to see how they sound playing heavy metal. With these earbuds, it sounded better than ever. I was hearing things I had never heard before in my favourite songs. Very subtle things, but they made me appreciate the music even more. I never felt overpowered by different sounds when using the Buds Z2. Bass and treble worked side-by-side harmoniously to deliver sound quality that is usually reserved for much more expensive headphones.
With a battery life of up to a whopping 38 hours, I never ran out of power when I needed it most. There was an instance where I needed a quick charge before using them, and the quick 15-minute charge rewarded me with over 5 hours of music playback. I plugged the case back in using the USB-C cable and left it overnight and was good to go again the next day.
“…the quick 15-minute charge rewarded me with over 5 hours of music playback.”
If, like me, you don’t have a OnePlus phone, you can download the HeyMelody app on the Google Play and iOS App Store to monitor the battery levels, enable phone calls to come through, and use the Find My Buds feature. The app is free and easy to use, which is always nice.
The OnePlus Buds Z2 come in two different colours: Obsidian Black, and Pearl White, and I don’t really think they need any more than that. The black looks spectacular to me and feels great in my ears. I don’t think OnePlus could have designed these any better.
When I took these earbuds on, I was very happy using the Buds Pro, but I can’t go back now. The Buds Z2 have won me over with a more aesthetically pleasing design, amazing sound quality, and marathon-like battery life. All of this, for the exact same price that the Buds Pro sold for ($150), as well. I can’t ask for more than that and I can’t recommend the OnePlus Buds Z2 enough. You should give them a serious look if you are in need of a new set of earbuds.