Sonos Era 100 Review How to Download iOS 16.4 Save 55% on iPhone Cases How to Sign Up for Google's Bard Apple's AR/VR Headset VR for Therapy Clean These 9 Household Items Now Cultivate Your Happiness
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you
Why You Can Trust CNET
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

OnePlus Buds Z2 earbuds go a long way in justifying that huge price increase

With active noise canceling and deep bass response, OnePlus's new wireless earbuds offer a fair amount for the price.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

OnePlus Buds Z2, the company's latest true wireless earbuds, come with water resistance, strong bass response and a new addition of active noise canceling. But at $99 (£99 or roughly AU4190), they're pretty much double the price of the previous Buds Z1. Ouch. 

That's a risky move in a market where affordable wireless earbuds are common, with brands like Anker offering excellent quality for low prices. And while the Buds Z1 lacked active noise canceling, their much lower price made them an attractive option for those who couldn't (or didn't want) to stretch their budget to OnePlus's more premium $150 Buds Pro. It's perhaps no coincidence that OnePlus founder Carl Pei's latest Nothing Earbuds also cost $99. 


They're small and lightweight so they don't easily wriggle out of your ears when walking around.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Buds Z2 are aesthetically almost identical to their predecessors with a classic stem design with touch-enabled discs on the main body. They weigh only 4.5 grams each, which makes them comfortable enough for extended use and shouldn't wobble out of your ears if you take them jogging. They come with three oval silicon tips (small, medium and large) to help you get the best fit. I found the large ones worked best for my ears, although they take some jiggling around to get a secure seal in my ear canal. Your experience may vary.

Sound quality is decent overall, as long as you're into bass-heavy music. The larger 11mm drivers give a definite low-end emphasis here which I appreciated on tracks like Coheed and Cambria's Shoulders, in which the driving bass-laden guitars sounded powerful and meaty. That low emphasis has resulted in some muddying of higher-end frequencies so fans of folk, acoustic or classical music might be better looking elsewhere. Perhaps Nothing's Ear 1 buds, which have better definition on the higher-end, but less pronounced bass response.


The OnePlus Buds Pro, OnePlus Buds Z2 and Nothing Ear 1 buds.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Or you could push the budget a little further to OnePlus's own Buds Pro, which offer much the same low-end prowess, with little trade off in definition. Our resident audio expert, David Carnoy, gave them a solid score in the full review.

The noise canceling works well, with much of the noise outside my office window -- and the incessantly loud fan of my desktop PC and large studio video LED light -- being removed entirely. They're certainly on a par with similarly priced headphones such as Anker's Liberty Air 2 or Nothing's Ear 1 buds

Battery life is advertised at a decent 7 hours (without noise cancellation) for the earbuds alone and up to 38 hours total playtime with the charging case. The buds are IP55 rated, meaning they're water resistant enough to withstand some sweat during your workout or for listening to tunes when you're walking in the rain. You can apparently further tailor the sound using OnePlus's HeyMelody app but I couldn't get the app to recognize the buds -- likely because they're not yet publicly available. The app is available on iOS and Android though and owners of OnePlus phones will be able to take advantage of instant pairing and lower latency support when gaming. 


The buds have up to 7 hours of battery life or 38 with the charging case.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

From my time with the buds so far I think they go a long way in justifying the price increase, with decent features and sound quality that'll appeal well to electronic, dance, rock or other bass-rich music genres. Though it's a shame OnePlus no longer has a truly affordable option in its earbud lineup for those without the budget for these new noise-canceling ones.