True wireless earphones have been making strides in the sub-Rs 3,000 category, with brands like Redmi, Oppo, Realme, and OnePlus consistently putting out decent products. With a range of TWS to choose from, buyers are keen on making the switch from wired headphones and wireless neckbands. We got our hands on OnePlus Nord Buds CE and used it for a couple of weeks. Does this TWS have what it takes to compete in this hotly contested category? Read our OnePlus Nord Buds CE review to find out.
OnePlus Nord Buds CE review: Design
Inside the box, you’ll find a USB Type-C charging cable, a user guide, a brand sticker, and a red cable club welcome card along with the wireless headsets. The charging case is made out of plastic and has a glossy texture to it. We were quite sceptical of the case being a fingerprint magnet, but after two weeks of rigorous use, we are happy to report that the case holds up well against prints and scratches.
The overall build is satisfactory, but it does not inspire a lot of confidence in its strength, The pebble-shaped case sports a flip lid which could have been a bit more firm. However, the design is very compact and portable. No complaints there. The headset is available in two colours – Moonlight White and Misty Grey. We used the latter for this review.
The design of the charging case is clean and minimal. The USB charging port is housed at the bottom while the notification light finds its way just below the lid. The OnePlus branding is embossed in a greyish colour at the centre of the case. The earbuds have a stem attached to them and do not come with silicone tips. The open design is something we’re fond of, as it is easy on the ears and you can put the buds in for an extended duration of time.
The earbuds are rated IPX4 which means they are resistant to water splashes. You can comfortably work out using the OnePlus Nord Buds CE without having to worry about the buds taking damage due to sweat. However, there is always a risk of the earbuds slipping out when there’s excessive sweat.
The touch sensors are located on the stem and work exceptionally well. We’re used to a lot of accidental touches while using TWS across different categories but the Nord Buds CE do a great job of genuine touch detection. The touch controls can be customised using the Hey Melody app.
OnePlus Nord Buds CE review: Performance
Equipped with 13.4mm dynamic drivers, the OnePlus Nord Buds CE offer a decent audio performance. The earbuds take no time to pair with your device and stay connected within a range of 10-15 metres. There is no option to pair multiple devices with the headset. But that is something you’ll rarely find in a TWS in this category.
Moving to the sound profile, the OnePlus Nord Buds CE certainly does not disappoint. We listened to a range of genres, from hyperpop to classic rock, and the performance was consistent throughout. The mid and low frequencies do not get lost in the background, and the bass mixes in quite nicely with the overall sound. However, we felt that the audio clarity could’ve been worked on a bit more as some recordings sounded muffled and boxy. This was more pronounced at louder volumes.
Listening to podcasts was a pleasant experience with the OnePlus Nord Buds CE. The harsher frequencies were levelled out and the audio output was well-rounded. With the comfortable design, you can listen to a podcast for hours without feeling the need to take out the earbuds. The same applies to voice calls as well. There were very few disturbances or lags in sound quality over a voice call.
The buds are equipped with a microphone on each stem and use AI noise reduction to maintain the sound quality. We would still suggest using the microphone in quieter conditions as the AI noise reduction does not work as efficiently in an environment with a lot of background noise.
OnePlus claims a battery backup of 4.5 hours for the earbuds with an additional 20 hours in the case. We got around 3.5 hours on a full charge.
The battery backup is also dependent on the volume level, so if you don’t go beyond 50-60%, you’ll get the promised 4.5 hours. The charging case was good enough to charge the earbuds 4 times before it needed to be plugged in. Overall, we were quite satisfied with the battery performance.
The HeyMelody app offers a bunch of preset equaliser options for the earbuds. These include Bass (default), Balanced, Serenade, and Gentle. You can even switch to a low latency mode of 94ms if you want to use the earbuds while gaming. We tried out the Game mode while playing Call of Duty Mobile, as the sound synced up perfectly with the video and elevated the gaming experience. The HeyMelody app also lets you customise the touch controls on the stem (as shown in the picture).
If you’re looking for a pair of wireless earbuds for casual listening, the OnePlus Nord Buds CE make a great entry-level product. However, if you’re an audiophile who wants a detailed sound profile, we’d suggest looking outside of this category. The OnePlus Nord Buds CE deliver what is expected from a standard affordable TWS. The price tag of Rs 1,899 certainly works in its favour as there aren’t a lot of TWS in this price range that can deliver a better performance than the OnePlus Nord Buds CE.
Receptive touch controls
Lack of sound clarity on higher volumes