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Following the 2016 release of its well-received Bullets V2 wired earphones, OnePlus has returned to the audio market with a set of affordable Bluetooth earphones -- the Bullets Wireless -- announced alongside the new OnePlus 6 phone. They seem to take their design cues from Beats' popular BeatsX earphones, but they cost less ($69 or £69, shipping in June) and arguably sound slightly better. (We're still waiting for Australian pricing but that converts to about AU$90.)
Like the BeatsX, the Bullets Wireless have a fast-charge feature. These earphones charge via USB-C instead of Micro-USB, which allows for incredibly quick charging -- OnePlus says its fast-charge feature gives you 5 hours of continuous audio from just 10 minutes of being plugged in. (The BeatsX charges via Lightning and can give you 2 hours of audio from a 5-minute charge.)
Total battery life is rated at 8 hours at moderate volume levels, which is fairly decent, and to preserve battery life, the earphones automatically switch off after 5 minutes of inactivity.
The other special feature OnePlus is touting relates to how the earbuds magnetically bind to each other. When they're magnetically clipped together, your music pauses; when they're separated, it resumes. However, the feature only fully works with the OnePlus 5, OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 6 phones, which is a shame.
When I tested the earphones with an iPhone X, my music did pause when I clipped the buds together, but didn't automatically resume when I separated the buds. That said, I was watching a video clip on the iPhone X through the phone's speakers, and when I separated the buds, the earphones paired with the phone and I heard sound through the buds.
OnePlus says a future update will allow users of the OnePlus 5, 5T and 6 phones to answer calls by uncoupling the earbuds.
The earphones fit me comfortably and securely -- they come with three different sizes of silicone tips and three different sizes of stabilization fins -- but I had one major issue: Even with the largest sized tip I couldn't get a tight seal, so I had to dig up a larger set of tips to get the right fit. With this type of earphones, if you don't get a tight seal, you lose a lot of bass and the sound quality suffers.
Overall, I like the BeatsX's design a little better. The buds are smaller and lighter and the BeatsX's cord design is slightly better. But it's worth pointing out that the Bullets Wireless buds are milled from aluminum and have 9.2mm drivers. They're sweat-resistant but not waterproof and would do well as both a sports headphone for the gym or running and as an everyday headphone.
As for sound, they're one of the better sounding wireless earphones for the money. That said, if you're bass a lover, these may not be the earphones for you. They have a more neutral, balanced sound profile. By that I mean the bass is a little leaner and more sculpted. It's good bass, it's just not real plump. For instance, Human by Rag 'n' Bone Man and That's what I like by Bruno Mars felt like they lacked the visceral impact that I've heard with other headphones.
On the flip side, the headphone does sound more detailed and accurate than a lot of the Bluetooth headphones in this price range. It's strongest with well-recorded tracks, with some nice sparkle in the treble and natural sounding midrange. In other words, it's a revealing headphone -- particularly for Bluetooth, which has a tendency to make everything sound a touch dull.
For phone calls, I thought they were OK, not great. Callers said I sounded a tad muffled at times. I think the BeatsX are slightly better in this department.
In the end, I came away pleasantly surprised by the OnePlus Bullets Wireless. Their sound profile won't appeal to everyone -- and they may not fit ears that demand XL tips -- but they have a lot to like for the money. They're worth considering even if you don't have a OnePlus phone.