OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Jan 13, 2021 at 09:50 am
OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless Picture
6.7
Mixed Usage
6.2
Neutral Sound
7.2
Commute/Travel
7.6
Sports/Fitness
6.5
Office
5.4
Wireless Gaming
5.2
Wired Gaming
7.1
Phone Calls
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless are comfortable, well-built in-ears designed to have a bass-heavy sound profile. While they deliver extra thump and punch, their sound profile may be overwhelming for fans of a more neutral sound. They're stable in your ear, and they even have an IP55 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Unfortunately, you can only access their controls and their companion app when you pair them with OnePlus phones. However, if you love a bass-heavy sound, they're a solid choice.

Our Verdict

6.7 Mixed Usage

The OnePlus Buds Z are fair for mixed usage. They have a bass-heavy sound profile that may be muddy and overwhelming for fans of a more neutral sound. They're stable enough to wear to the gym, and their microphone can help you communicate with your friends, even if you're calling from a noisy setting. However, they struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises typically found during your commute. Also, their 3.7-hour continuous battery life may not last through your 9-5 workday.

Pros
  • Comfortable, stable fit.
  • IP55 rating for dust and water resistance.
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • Struggles to isolate against bass-heavy background noise.
  • Some features only work with OnePlus phones.
  • 3.7-hour continuous battery life.
6.2 Neutral Sound

The OnePlus Buds Z are okay for neutral sound. They have pretty neutral mid and treble ranges, so vocals and lead instruments are present in the mix, though sometimes a bit weak or distant. However, their bass-heavy sound profile may be muddy or overwhelming for fans of neutral sound. They don't have any sound customization options, either, and their in-ear design doesn't create a very open or spacious soundstage.

Pros
  • Consistent audio delivery.
Cons
  • No sound customization features.
7.2 Commute/Travel

The OnePlus Buds Z are satisfactory for commute and travel. They're comfortable enough to wear during long plane rides, and their portable design makes it easy to grab them and go. However, they struggle to block out background noises like bus and plane engines. Also, their 3.7-hour continuous battery life may not be long enough for international flights. Fortunately, they come with a portable charging case so you can power up on-the-go.

Pros
  • Comfortable, stable fit.
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • Struggles to isolate against bass-heavy background noise.
  • 3.7-hour continuous battery life.
7.6 Sports/Fitness

The OnePlus Buds Z are good for sports and fitness. These comfortable in-ears have a stable fit, so they shouldn't fall out of your ears during your workouts. They even have an IP55 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Their portable design makes it easy to bring them along on-the-go. However, their controls only work with OnePlus phones, which may be annoying if you want to adjust the volume during your run.

Pros
  • Comfortable, stable fit.
  • IP55 rating for dust and water resistance.
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • Some features only work with OnePlus phones.
6.5 Office

The OnePlus Buds Z are reasonable for office use. These comfortable headphones don't leak a lot of sound, so you can crank up the volume on your favorite music and podcasts without really bothering nearby coworkers. They can block out some background noises, including the sounds of coworkers chatting around you. Also, their 3.7-hour continuous battery life may not last through your workday, but at least their charging case offers around three extra charges for when you're on-the-go.

Pros
  • Comfortable, stable fit.
  • Don't leak a lot of noise.
Cons
  • Struggles to isolate against bass-heavy background noise.
  • 3.7-hour continuous battery life.
5.4 Wireless Gaming

The OnePlus Buds Z aren't compatible with Xbox One or PS4. While they can be paired with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, their latency is likely too high to be suitable for gaming.

5.2 Wired Gaming

The OnePlus Buds Z are wireless headphones that aren't suitable for wired gaming.

7.1 Phone Calls

The OnePlus Buds Z are decent for phone calls. Their integrated microphone has a decent recording quality, so whoever's on the other end of the line can understand you, even if your voice sounds a bit thin. You can call from noisy environments, too, as the mic does an impressive job separating speech from ambient noise. However, the headphones struggle to block out some background noises, which can be distracting during your calls.

Pros
  • Great noise handling performance.
Cons
  • Struggles to isolate against bass-heavy background noise.
  • 6.7 Mixed Usage
  • 6.2 Neutral Sound
  • 7.2 Commute/Travel
  • 7.6 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.5 Office
  • 5.4 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.2 Wired Gaming
  • 7.1 Phone Calls

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The OnePlus Buds Z are all-white in-ears with a similar look to the OnePlus Buds Truly Wireless. However, they also have silicone earbud tips like the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless. You can also purchase a special edition variant featuring Steven Harrington's colorful artwork design.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0.0 lbs

These headphones are comfortable. They're very lightweight and don't go deep into your ear. Unlike the OnePlus Buds Truly Wireless, they have different sizes of silicone tips, so you're able to get a comfortable fit for your needs. However, they stick out a bit from your ear, which some listeners may not like.

0
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use No Controls
Feedback No Controls
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No

These headphones have touch-sensitive controls, but they only work when paired with a OnePlus phone. According to the manual, you can double-tap the controls to answer/end a call and hold for five seconds to reject a call. By default, double-tapping either bud skips ahead to the next track, but you can customize this feature on OnePlus 6 phones or higher to play/pause, return to the previous track, or activate the voice assistant. Even if they aren't paired to a OnePlus phone, you can remove one bud to automatically pause your audio.

9.4
Design
Portability
L 1.1 "
W 1.5 "
H 0.9 "
Volume 1.5 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The OnePlus Buds Z are incredibly portable. They're very small and lightweight, so you can easily carry them in your pocket. You can also use the carrying case to bring them on-the-go, which should fit in most pockets.

8.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 1.4 "
W 2.9 "
H 1.1 "
Volume 4.7 Cu. Inches

The case is impressive. It's made of plastic with a glossy finish, which feels hard and durable. There's a magnet to hold the buds in place while they charge. Also, the single LED light indicator helps you keep track of the battery level.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The OnePlus Buds Z have a good build quality. They feel pretty solid, even though they're made of plastic. The silicone tips don't seem like they could rip easily, which is nice. The earbuds also have an IP55 rating for dust and water resistance, but we don't currently test for this.

7.5
Design
Stability

These headphones have good stability when you get a tight seal. They shouldn't fall out of your ears, even if you're working out at the gym.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • OnePlus Buds Z headphones
  • Charging case
  • USB-C charging cable
  • 3x earbud tips
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
5.94 db
Treble Amount
-3.85 db

The OnePlus Buds Z have a bass-heavy sound profile. You can really feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and EDM, but some listeners may find that they sound boomy or muddy. Vocals and lead instruments may also be weak or distant.

9.0
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.2 dB

These headphones have outstanding frequency response consistency. Assuming you achieve a proper fit with the included tips, you should get consistent bass and treble delivery each time you use them.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
4.7
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
7.4 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
9.73 dB
Mid-Bass
8.39 dB
High-Bass
6.47 dB

These headphones have poor bass accuracy. The entire range is overemphasized, resulting in a thumpy and punchy bass. It can sound a bit muddy as well, but fans of bass-heavy music may still enjoy it.

8.0
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.61 dB
Low-Mid
3.75 dB
Mid-Mid
0.69 dB
High-Mid
-1.63 dB

These headphones have great mid accuracy. Vocals and lead instruments are clear and present in the mix. However, the overemphasis in the low-mids carries over from the bass range, adding a muddy quality to the mix.

8.0
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.71 dB
Low-Treble
-2.16 dB
Mid-Treble
-1.76 dB
High-Treble
-5.34 dB

The OnePlus Buds Z have impressive treble accuracy. The range is fairly even, though the slight underemphasis in the low-treble can hurt the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments. Sibilants like S and T sounds are also slightly dull.

8.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.05 db
Dips
0.73 db

The OnePlus Buds Z have excellent peaks and dips performance. The peak in the low-bass ensures that you feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music. There's also a dip in the high-mid and low-treble ranges, so vocals and lead instruments can be weak and distant. The peak in the low-treble and mid-treble can make those same instruments as well as sibilants bright and piercing.

8.8
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.35
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.31
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
0.63
Weighted Phase Mismatch
1.21

The OnePlus Buds Z have excellent imaging. Their weighted group delay falls mostly below the audibility threshold, resulting in a mostly tight bass and transparent treble. The L/R drivers of our test unit are also well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response. As a result, objects in the stereo image like voices and footsteps are accurately placed and localized. However, these results are only valid for our test unit, so your experience may vary.

0.9
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
3.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
1.0

The OnePlus Buds Z have a terrible passive soundstage. Due to their in-ear design, they don't interact with the outer ear, which is one of the key factors in creating a large, speaker-like soundstage. Also, because of their closed-back design, their soundstage isn't perceived as being as open as that of open-back headphones.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No

According to the manufacturer, these headphones are compatible with the Dolby Atmos app, but only on OnePlus 7 phones or higher.

5.8
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.276
WHD @ 100
1.665

The OnePlus Buds Z have a middling weighted harmonic distortion performance. At normal listening volumes, audio reproduction is clean and pure. However, there's a slight jump in WHD at higher volumes, especially in the mid and treble ranges. You may be able to hear the distortion with real-life content if you play it at max volume.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
Unknown
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Default
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings we used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
6.8
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-17.88 dB
Bass
-6.19 dB
Mid
-17.17 dB
Treble
-31.3 dB

The OnePlus Buds Z have fair noise isolation. They struggle to block out bass-heavy ambient noise like bus and plane engines. However, they perform better with higher-frequency background noises, so they can block out the sound of people talking around you or the hum of a nearby AC unit.

9.1
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
26.53 dB

These headphones have a fantastic leakage performance. They don't leak a lot of noise, and any escaping audio sounds thin. It shouldn't really be noticeable to people around you at the office, even if you're listening to music at loud volumes.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No

The OnePlus Buds Z have an integrated microphone.

7.1
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
289.23 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.76 dB
HFE
4763.35 Hz
Weighted THD
0.235
Gain
4.74 dB

The microphone has a satisfactory recording quality. Whoever's on the other end of the line should be able to understand you, but your voice sounds thin and boxy.

8.2
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
30.05 dB

The microphone has an impressive noise handling performance. It can separate your voice from background noises, even if you're calling from a noisy environment.

Active Features
6.5
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
3.7 hrs
Additional Charges
3.0
Total Battery Life
14.8 hrs
Charge Time
1.7 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The OnePlus Buds Z have adequate battery performance. They're advertised as having a 5-hour continuous battery life, but we measured continuous battery life of just 3.7 hours. Fortunately, their portable charging case offers about three extra charges for when you're on the go. There's also an auto-off timer to help you conserve battery life, so the buds turn off after ten minutes without a connection. Also, the in-ear detection feature only automatically resumes audio if you place it back in your ears within three minutes of removing them, otherwise, you have to resume the audio manually.

N/A
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

These headphones are compatible with the OnePlus Buds app, but since the app is only available on OnePlus 6 phones or higher, we weren't able to test for it. According to the manufacturer's website, you can use the app to check the battery level and map the double-tap feature on the right and left earbuds.

Connectivity
7.1
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
216 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
155 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
56 ms
Android Latency
72 ms

The OnePlus Buds Z have decent Bluetooth connectivity. They don't support NFC or multi-device pairing. While their latency with PCs is likely too high to be suitable for gaming, they perform better with iOS and Android devices. While the manufacturer advertises 103ms of latency with OnePlus Phones when set to 'Fnatic Mode', we don't test for this. However, some apps compensate for latency, so your experience may vary.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

These headphones are Bluetooth-only.

0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

You can't use these headphones with a wired connection. The included USB-C cable is for charging the case.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
No
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

You can pair these headphones with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, but they aren't compatible with PS4 consoles.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones aren't compatible with Xbox One.

2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

The OnePlus Buds Z have a portable charging case. You can charge it using the included USB-C cable.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The OnePlus Buds Z come in 'White', and there's also a special edition in collaboration with designer Steven Harrington that features his striking artwork on the buds and the case. We tested the 'White' label, and you can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The OnePlus Buds Z are truly wireless in-ear headphones designed to have a bass-heavy sound profile. They're similar to the OnePlus Buds Truly Wireless, but their earbud tip design is more comfortable and more stable than a one-size-fits-all design. Like other OnePlus earbuds, their controls and their companion app are only accessible when paired with a OnePlus phone. See also our recommendations for the best AirPods clones, the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds, and the best truly wireless earbuds.

OnePlus Buds Truly Wireless

The OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless are better than the OnePlus Buds Truly Wireless. The Z have a more comfortable, stable fit thanks to their silicone earbud tips, which the original Buds lack. They have better noise isolation and they leak less sound. Also, their default sound profile packs a lot of extra bass. However, the original Buds have longer continuous battery life.

Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better than the OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless. The Apple are better-built and more stable, and they have better noise isolation thanks to their ANC feature. Also, they have a more neutral sound profile, though some listeners may prefer the OnePlus' bass-heavy sound profile.

JBL Tune 225TWS True Wireless

The OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless are better overall than the JBL Tune 225TWS True Wireless. The OnePlus in-ears are more comfortable, better-built, block out more ambient noise, leak less audio, and exhibit lower audio latency. However, their controls only work when they're paired to a OnePlus device. The JBL have longer continuous battery life, though unlike the OnePlus buds, they aren't fitted with an auto-off timer.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless are better than the OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless. The Anker have better noise isolation and longer continuous battery life. Also, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets for greater sound customization. However, the OnePlus are more comfortable.

Skullcandy Jib True Wireless

The Skullcandy Jib True Wireless are better headphones than the OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless. The Skullcandy have better noise isolation, a longer continuous battery life, and they leak less sound. However, the OnePlus have a more comfortable and stable fit.

JLab Audio JBuds Air Executive Truly Wireless

The OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless are somewhat better headphones for mixed usage than the JLab Audio JBuds Air Executive Truly Wireless. The OnePlus are better-built and more comfortable. Also, they're a better choice for phone calls, since their microphone has a better recording quality. Some listeners may prefer the JLab Audio's v-shaped sound profile, while others may prefer the OnePlus' bass-heavy sound profile.

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