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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The OnePlus Buds Z are wireless headphones that aren't suitable for wired gaming.
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. The mic has decent noise handling too, and you should be heard clearly in moderately noisy environments, although loud noises can drown your voice out. However, the headphones struggle to block out some background noises, which can be distracting during your calls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According to the manufacturer, these headphones are compatible with the Dolby Atmos app, but only on OnePlus 7 phones or higher.
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.
These are the settings we used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using these settings.
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.
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.
The OnePlus Buds Z have an integrated microphone.
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.
Update 11/26/2021: These headphones have been updated to test bench 1.5. In this update, we made changes to the way we test noise handling. We now use a subjective evaluation of our audio clips. This new method has resulted in different results than what we had reported in our previous test bench. As a result, the scoring of this box has changed, and we have updated our results.
The microphone has a decent noise handling performance. It can separate your voice from moderate background noises, but the noise is still present. However, if there are loud sounds around you, like a train pulling into the station, your voice can be drowned out. The volume of your voice is also reduced.
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.
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. If you're looking for OnePlus headphones with an app that works on Android or iOS devices, consider the OnePlus Buds Pro Truly Wireless.
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.
These headphones are Bluetooth-only.
You can't use these headphones with a wired connection. The included USB-C cable is for charging the case.
These headphones aren't compatible with Xbox One.
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.
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 alternatives, the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds, and the best truly wireless earbuds.
The OnePlus Buds Pro Truly Wireless are better in-ears than the OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless. The Pro have a longer continuous battery life, and have an ANC system, though it doesn't offer better performance than the Z's passive capabilities. The Pro also have a companion app, which offers a variety of features. However, while the Z have limited functionality with non OnePlus phones, they have a better overall battery performance.
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.
The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better than the OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless. The Apple are better-built and 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.
The Skullcandy Dime True Wireless are more versatile truly wireless headphones than the OnePlus Buds Z Truly Wireless. The Skullcandy have a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may prefer, and can passively block out more ambient noise around you. However, the OnePlus are designed to work with compatible OnePlus phones, so you can't use their controls with another device. That said, they're more comfortable, have an auto-off timer to help conserve their battery life, and have a bass-heavy sound, which is sure to please fans of EDM and hip-hop.
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.
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.
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.