OnePlus Buds Z2 in the test – there’s a lot of power behind it

OnePlus has introduced more in-ear headphones with the Buds Z2. Visually, they borrow from the Buds Pro, which have been available since early August. Like their predecessors, the OnePlus Buds Z, the Z2 are considerably cheaper, though. Can you hear that in them? That’s what atechbook reveals in the first test.

The OnePlus Z2 are offered in two colors, black and white. Both versions will be available in Germany from December 20. The RRP is 99 euros. Thus, the true-wireless headphones are in the mid-price segment.

Design and wearing comfort

Visually, there seem to be two trends in in-ear headphones at the moment: Either with style, similar to the AirPods, or as a plug, as Samsung does with its Galaxy Buds. The OnePlus Buds Z2 are based on the AirPods, so they have a style, but it is quite short. Thus, the headphones are quite discreet when they sit in the ear. The fit was very comfortable in the test, which is also due to the fact that the silicone earpiece can be exchanged for larger or smaller alternatives. They are part of the scope of delivery. Even after wearing them for a long time, we did not find them annoying or oppressive at any time.

The small headphones are transported and charged in the case. This is made of high-gloss plastic and is correspondingly light. We already know the elongated shape from the Buds Z. Our review sample came in black, which looks simple and elegant at the same time. Overall, the case of the OnePlus Buds Z2 makes a good and stable impression, but it does not appear to be as high-quality as that of the Buds Pro (here in review).

The Buds Z2 (left) in comparison with the Buds Pro
The Buds Z2 (left) in comparison with the Buds Pro Photo: atechbook

Setup and operation

Since they are true-wireless headphones, the OnePlus Buds Z2 have to be connected to the smartphone first before you can listen to music via them. In connection with a smartphone from OnePlus, this worked very easily in the test thanks to Bluetooth 5.2 with Fast Pairing. A connection request pops up on the phone as soon as you open the case of the OnePlus Buds Z2. Simply confirm and the connection is established. For all other phones, pairing is done via a small button on the back of the case or alternatively via the HeyMelody app that OnePlus offers. It can also be used to configure the touch fields or perform a wear test. Once paired, the headphones immediately connect with the smartphone as soon as you put them in the ear.

Music can be controlled directly via the OnePlus Buds Z2. Owners of the headphones can also accept or reject calls via the earbuds. All it takes is a tap on the flat part of the headphones, which sits above the style. A song can be started or paused with a single tap. Tapping twice, on the other hand, jumps to the next song, accepts or ends a call. Tapping three times on the headphones makes the player jump to the previous song. As mentioned, the commands can be customized in the app or the settings. The latter can be accessed via the Bluetooth menu item. Here, the OnePlus Buds Z2 are listed as connected devices. Click on the gear next to the device name and select the “Headphones” item.

The OnePlus Buds Z2 also support active noise cancelling (ANC). The function can be activated by holding down the touch field on the headphones for a second. OnePlus speaks of a noise suppression of up to 40 dB in the highest level. It especially filters out catchy noises like continuous humming noticeably. Sudden noises are filtered less well, but that is in the nature of noise cancelling.

The intensity of the noise suppression can also be reduced to a medium level in the settings or the HeyMelody app. This is useful when users do not want to completely shut themselves off. There is also a transparency mode that allows outside noise when listening to music. This allows the wearer to follow a conversation on the side, for example.

Sound and battery

For such small headphones, the OnePlus Buds Z2 convince with a very good sound. Especially the deep bass surprised us in the test, which is even better than that of the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless. This is partly due to the fact that OnePlus uses the same 11 mm drivers in the Buds Z2 as in the Buds Pro. Music thus gets a decent thump with a depth that you have to like. It is also possible to use a single earbud independently of the second one. Unfortunately, OnePlus does without individual equalizer adjustments. Thus, users who want to change the sound output will be left out in the cold.

The headphones can be turned up very loud. However, this is not recommended since the maximum volume is no longer really good for the ears. Unfortunately, OnePlus still does not offer volume control via the touchpad. Users thus have to take the detour via the smartphone like in the Buds Pro – unattractive.

Just like many other true wireless headphones, we cannot rate the call quality very well. Although both conversation partners understand each other well in comparatively quiet surroundings, it looks different when there is movement or loud background noise, for example in the train or due to rushing wind.

In a direct sound comparison with the OnePlus Buds Pro, the Z2s sound a bit muffled in some sequences. As mentioned, this is only noticeable in comparison and should hardly be noticed otherwise. However, we did not like the fact that the headphones clearly hiss when no music is played, i.e. when they are placed quietly in the ear. This is probably due to the noise cancelling, which should be turned off in such cases – this also saves the battery.

OnePlus Buds Z2 with their oval charging case.
OnePlus Buds Z2 with their oval charging case. Photo: atechbook

Overall, OnePlus claims a runtime of up to 7 hours for the Buds Z2 without ANC and up to 5 hours with noise cancelling. Including the intermediate charging in the case, the headphones have a total runtime of 38 and 27 hours, respectively. If the 520 mAh battery in the case is empty, it can be quickly recharged thanks to Fast Charging. Ten minutes of charging time is enough for a playback time of five hours. A full charge of the case takes about one and a half hours. OnePlus includes a USB-C charging cable, but a power adapter is missing in the scope of delivery of the Buds Z2. Wireless charging is not supported by these models – unlike the OnePlus Buds Pro.

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Conclusion about the OnePlus Buds Z2

The OnePlus Buds for 99 Euros put quite a bit of pressure on the competition. If you are looking for true wireless headphones with noise cancelling, you can buy this model with a clear conscience. The headphones deliver an exceptionally good sound especially in the bass range, and users do not have to do without comfort features like the transparency mode or control via the touch surfaces. Nevertheless, there are some drawbacks: The missing equalizer functions and volume control via the headphones, the lack of wireless charging, and the build quality that does not reach the level of the Buds Pro are the most noteworthy ones. However, the OnePlus Buds Z2 do not cost 100 Euros. Thus, the price-performance ratio is quite good.

Advantages:

  • good price-performance ratio
  • Very good sound
  • Protective case with quick charging function
  • super hold in the ears
  • Very good battery life

Disadvantages:

  • Missing volume control via headphones
  • no wireless charging
  • Noise when ANC is activated