OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review

One of the latest entries into the world of TWS earbuds from OnePlus is the Nord Buds CE. However, you can take this as the most budget-friendly earbuds from, as the name suggests, the CE and Nord series lineup. That means the OnePlus Nord Buds CE is generally low-budget from the current market offers.

Not to mention, right now they are only available in India. Also, $29, is a comparatively good price and comes in Moonlight White and Misty Grey colors. It is so amazing that most people prefer these earbuds because of them. Let’s, move forward, and find some other exciting features about this headset.

Things we like

  • Minimal design
  • Long lasting battery
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Affordable price

Things we don’t like

  • App connectivity
  • Sound quality at highs
  • No ANC
  • None

You may also like: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Review: Stay With Your Music

Box Content

OnePlus Nord Buds CE

Let’s quickly finish the in-box content that comes packed with the OnePlus Nord Buds CE earbud. Firstly, you will get the earbud, which comes in stunning two different colors. The one I got is the Misty Grey color variant. However, if you don’t like Grey, then you can consider buying the Moonlight White color. The second, they come with a charging case, which feels strong and enjoyable. Third, you get a magnetic charging cable, that quickly snaps to the back of the smartwatch to charge it. The magnet is quite strong, so it does not slip off with some accidental pulls. And last is the user manual and safety+ warranty card, which is the most useful thing in the entire box content because it knows “ How to handle your earbuds”.

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Design

Starting with the design, the ergonomic design is good. Plus, it’s completely light in weight, So it doesn’t fall off easily from your ear. It sure looks similar to the OPPO Enco Buds2, except for the ear tips. Which is available in the Buds2, but lacks in Nord Buds CE.

Along with the lightweight, they are also quite small and reliable. Thus, you can easily get it into your hand without much discomfort. Moreover, the branding of the front looks amazing, and on the bottom of that you see, a charging indicator. So, you always have the details of the battery percentage. To add, they also include a Type-C USB charging slot on the back, to give faster charging.

Sadly, the Nord Buds CE does not offer in-ear detection so there is no automatic play or pause when you insert or remove the earbuds from your ears. Which is fine, Meanwhile, the earbuds are IPX4 rated, which means they can survive the rain and splashes of water. Which is best for sports people like the gym and swimmers.

You may also like: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd-Generation) Review: Most Features-Proof Earbud

OnePlus Nord Buds CE

Jumping to the charging case, it looks comparatively small and sturdy and has a curvy design. It gets the same glossy finish, which is not that good, and scratched quite easily. There is no pairing button on the case; instead, the earbuds direct enter pairing mode when the case lid is opened and no paired device is available. The spring-loaded lid opens quite often, which is so annoying.

OnePlus Nord Buds CE

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Comfort

The OnePlus Nord Buds CE is quite average in giving the comfort you want. The flexible designs can be natural and rarely work for us. Depending on your ear shape, you may find the Nord Buds CE either too small or too large. Which not only affects their comfort but also the sound quality. Sad to say, there’s not much you can do to change it, which is why this user tends to lean over for the over-ear headphones. which is more comfortable than in-ear earbuds.

The lightweight design doesn’t easily fall and offers reliable comfort. Even when your ears are the correct size, they can still move about a bit from their optimal position. Thankfully, at least for me, there didn’t seem to be any real danger of them falling out.

Even when you get the perfect fit, this type of earbud isn’t as comfortable as in-ear models. The real reason is that the in-ear model uses soft silicone tips to secure themselves in your ear canal. In addition, with enough pressure between the ears and tips, they keep in place securely. Overall, it provides good comfort and balance design.

You may also like: JBL Tune Flex Review: Pure Bass Sound.

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Touch controls

The company update the touch controls to improve the sensitivity and touch accuracy to make sure your music isn’t interrupted by annoying mistouch.

FunctionsFeatures
Single tapPlay/Pause
Double tapNext track, Answer/End calls
Triple tapVoice assistance, Switch to Game mode

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Software

You can easily control the Nord Buds CE with your smartphone or through the HeyMelody app on other devices.

OnePlus Nord Buds CE

Most of the functions in the Nord Buds CE are controlled by a system of apps that integrates the features within the Bluetooth settings menu. That is somehow similar to the Enco Buds2 that operates on Androids. It is not a good system, as you think it is. Because most settings you can’t find within the app. The reason behind this is they are buried far too deep within the Bluetooth settings for most regular people to find.

Once you get there, there’s nothing left with the Nord Buds CE as they have a standard feature set in the market. Despite being a standard set, you can also manage the EQ presets and the tap gestures. You can also enable an option to take pictures by simply double-tapping the earbuds in the camera app

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: OnePlus built-in UI

If you have to use the HeyMelody app on Android phones then you get the same option except for the option to take photos. With this app, you can check battery status, and also update the firmware here. It’s simple and does not need tingling in the head. In addition, the OnePlus Nord Buds CE also offers a Game mode option, which ultimately lowers your latency to give a lag-free gaming session for long hours.

The app offers a simple gesture, you can’t get confused while using it. Because it’s right there in your app drawer and you don’t have to go digging for it in the Bluetooth settings. Well, I don’t know about it, but there is always a second option to access these.

Earlier, the built-in audio feature on the OnePlus phone was picked up by the OnePlus Buds app. Which could be updated from the Play Store. OnePlus later set this ease of use to a system-level app, which only updates with OS updates.

As a result, older phones don’t easily get support for the latest audio products. The only OnePlus phone that provided audio options for the Nord Buds CE at the time of testing was the OnePlus 10T, which launched alongside the earbuds. The lower category phones need to wait for the update to arrive when the settings become available in the OS. Otherwise, you would have to do what I did and just install the HeyMelody app.

You may also like: Realme Buds Air 3S Review: Perfect Choice For Youngsters

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: HeyMelody app for Android

The OnePlus Buds has a companion app that allows you to configure the earbuds, find them, and also receive firmware updates that bring new features. However, the app is only compatible with select OnePlus phones. This means that owners of older OnePlus phones or non-OnePlus phones who pick up OnePlus TWS earbuds will miss out on these features.

OnePlus has now released a new app called HeyMelody that allows owners of older OnePlus phones or non-OnePlus phones to enjoy some of the aforementioned features including firmware updates.

Speaking of EQ, the four EQ presets available in the app are applied on the earbuds themselves, which means they get saved in memory and are enforced regardless of what device you pair the earbuds with, even if that device does not have the HeyMelody app. This also applies to the earbud controls. This means you can configure them through an Android phone and then use them with other devices while having your settings carry over.

The app is still in development and may be unstable but if you are willing to give it a try, you can download it here.

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Performance

Audio quality

The Nord Buds CE comes with a single 13.4mm titanium dynamic driver. This will give a smooth sound and deep heavy bass to help you feel the rhythm. which is amazing for music lovers. Looking for internal instruments, the driver is set on the larger side compared we normally find in earbuds. But, somehow, it is a good thing to overcome the lack of isolation. Moreover, for better connectivity, the earbuds also offer Bluetooth 5.2 with a 10m wireless range.  

However, the big drivers aren’t the only reason for these earphone slaps. The Nord Buds CE offers a special closed-tube design that boosts the booming bass up to 3 dB. These big drives will become music to your ear.

Before coming to the audio quality, there are two things to keep in mind. The way these earbuds sound will vary depending on the shape of your ears and how well they fit. Moreover, the sound changes as the earbuds move around in your ears, and it’s not easy to get the same sound every time you wear them. This is what characterizes the design of these earbuds and why most people choose in-ear these days.

Just play DJ with a sound master equalizer and choose one of four unique audio profiles to jazz up your listening experience using your phone (OnePlus) or the HeyMelody app. Such as Bass, Balanced, Serenade, and Gentle. However, the Bass is set to default, so, most of the testing was done using the Balanced preset.

You may also like: Portronics Harmonics Z2 Introduced In Rs.799 With ENC And Voice Assistance

Balanced preset

The reason behind the use of Balanced preset is that they are quite well-tuned. The overwhelming emphasis is the major complaint of the OnePlus products. But whether it’s through my incessant moan, a change of heart at the company, or sheer dumb luck. The Nord Buds CE show careful restraint and consideration in their audio tuning.

Bass preset

Speaking of bass, the Nord Buds CE comes with a higher level presence in the mid-bass and upper bass areas. I sense slight force in these areas, but that doesn’t create a problem like overbearing and frequency spectrum.

However, are you facing a lower bass, well, I must tell you that this is not the strong point of this design of earbuds. But, still, it feels nice. The large drivers offer a surprising amount of rumble. This does come through in actual music as well and the low-end never feels lacking or hollow. It’s certainly weaker than what you’ll get with in-ear models but it also adds bass emphasis to further amplify the design’s inherent advantages.

Bass is average, on the other hand, mid-range is extremely good. Additionally, the mids and upper mids have great tonality and definition, the kind you don’t see in budget earbuds. Not afraid to let the mids shine, with balanced, presets, strong, full-bodied vocals, and instrumental presence in the mix.

Treble also looks weak. While the sound is by no means dark, it does hold back a bit on the treble extension, which results in a slightly veiled presentation. Some may appreciate this because there is no hiss or sibilance but it also lacks the brightness and airiness of more accomplished (and more expensive) products on the market.

Serenade preset and Gentle preset

Let’s move to the EQ presets, the default Bass preset looks fine. While there’s certainly more mid-bass out there. Plus, it also drops the mid-range substantially to emphasize the bass. On the contrary, the serenade preset follows the other direction, with an overemphasis on the mids, which gets a bit shouty. The Gentle preset sounds similar to Balanced but with a reduced treble for a softer presentation.

You may also like: Jabra Elite 5 Review: Best Audio, Value For Money

OnePlus Nord Buds CE

No presets sound good except the Balanced preset. There is no option to set a custom EQ like on the Nord Buds, which would have been handy to get the most out of the drivers.

Moving on to the technical performance, the level of detail is lacking a bit, particularly in the treble range. This may be down to the choice of codecs, the audio processing, the drivers, or a combination of all three. A slightly brighter treble response would have mimicked a more resolving sound but that’s not the case, either.

The imaging and soundstage were mediocre. This style of earbuds has a slight advantage in this department as they sit a bit further away from your ears and the outside sound piping in creates the illusion of a wider soundstage that’s around you rather than inside your head. While the Nord Buds CE sound a bit better than most in-ear models in this price range with a less boxed-in sound, they are still handily outperformed by more expensive in-ear models.

But while the technical performance was nothing to write home about, the overall tonality makes up for it. These are some of the most well-tuned earbuds in their price range and easily the best OnePlus has put out in several years.

Microphone

The Nord Buds CE comes with mediocre microphone options. It looks great as it sounds crystal clear. The Voice sounds a bit mixed up and some kind of robotic even when recording in a quiet environment. In noisier areas, the AI noise reduction does a decent job of keeping the ambient noise down but your voice takes a further hit. These are still fine for occasional voice calls and your callers should have no complaints as long as you speak up.  However, if the microphone quality is important to you then go with wired options.

You may also like: Master and dynamic MW08 Review

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Noise cancellation

The Nord Buds CE does not offer active or passive noise canceling, but instead, it gets the AI noise canceling. Which is quite useless, you hear almost everything happening around you. Which, I guess, is not for you.

When music is played, then some of the silent voices are hidden. Which is offering the louder sound, more vibrant and sharp, because there is no context from the initial quieter sounds leading up to the louder sounds.

In particular, you won’t hear someone coming up to you unless they are next to you and start talking. Which makes it somewhat dramatic. Similarly, cars passing by won’t be audible until they are right next to you, which is its special jump scare.

So while they do let outside sound in, it’s simultaneously a lot and not enough. But again, this is not unique to the Nord Buds CE and is an issue with all earbuds with this design.

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Latency

The Nord Buds CE has somehow okay latency performance. While watching videos, there is an initial delay, which eventually gets fixed as you keep watching. Afterward, the delay is not as noticeable, and eventually, you stop noticing it altogether.

The gaming situation is not ideal as the delay is more noticeable. For best results, I still recommend using wired earbuds for fast-paced, multiplayer games where latency is important. As a bonus, you also get high-quality microphone performance for voice chat.

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Connectivity

The Nord Buds CE had perfectly reliable connectivity performance during testing. There were no audio drops or pairing issues and everything worked as intended. You can get AAC and SBC audio codec support.

OnePlus Nord Buds CE Review: Battery Life

The Nord Buds CE comes with a battery life of 4.5 hours of continuous playback for the buds, with the case providing a total of 20 hours (so approximately four additional charges).

In my testing, the Nord Buds CE offers 4 hours 45 minutes, which is just over the official figure.

OnePlus also claims 81 minutes of usage after ten minutes of charging the buds inside the case. In my testing, I got 90 minutes, which is again just over the official figure.

In addition, you can get 278 mAh battery capacity per earbuds and 300mAh battery capacity with a charging case.

The overall battery life isn’t outstanding considering there are no special features like active noise cancellation but still adequate for most use cases.

Conclusion

On the whole, the OnePlus Buds CE comes with a low cost of about INR 2299, which is about $29. However, this is not a lot of money, there are many other options available in this price range, and some are a lot cheaper.

The earbuds offer the best sound quality and offer a boosted bass. The sound is so good it sounds better than some that cost twice as much, including OnePlus’ models. The one thing that lacks is Active noise cancellation features, these are the ones that take this earbud down the track.

Aside from that, however, there isn’t much else to complain about. If you are someone who doesn’t mind this design or prefers it to in-ear models, then this is easily one of the best pairs of earbuds you can buy today. Hopefully, OnePlus makes them available in more regions.

What are the best alternative to the OnePlus Buds CE?

If you need the similar aesthetic with comparatively low cost than consider buying the boAt Airdopes 141 Pro. They are extremely good with performance and offer stunning built quality. It is extremely light weigh with ₹ 1,498 price tag. This earbud include a 12mm dynamic drivers to improve the bass and 45 hours of playback time provide a more time to listen to your favorite songs. The only missing thing is to be the Active Noise cancellation. But to tackled this, the earbuds come with an ENx Mode technology. This new tech reduced the background noise considerably, so that you can hear crystal clear voice during calls.

However, if you doesn’t care about the cost, than consider buying the Jabra Enhance Plus. Like most hearing aids, Jabra Enhance Plus does not reproduce frequencies above 8kHz. This means, because hearing loss usually affects high frequencies first. Moreover, a higher sampling rate and more processing power will be required, including a wider frequency range, which will increase the size or reduce the battery life.

However, people with mild hearing can often hear a frequency better than 8kHz, they may need more volume to hear better. What’s more, our measurements show that Enhance Plus does not reproduce bass at all. So, before you go out to buy this audible device, make sure that the sound quality does not cause significant nuisance in your ears.

You may also like: