Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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OnePlus Nord Buds 2r Review: Nord a Bad Deal

Since launching the first Nord Buds about a year ago, OnePlus has been constantly releasing new models of its TWS almost twice a year. The clear and present theme has always been about offering better value by incrementally adding new features, which in a way, ends up justifying its changing price. OnePlus did the same with its recently launched Nord Buds 2 (Review), which added active noise cancellation (ANC) to its feature set with a slightly hiked price of Rs. 2,999 in India (up from the previous Rs. 2,799).

Unlike the more expensive Nord Buds 2, there’s no ANC on the new Nord Buds 2r, but it does get an IP55 rating. The Nord Buds 2r with its Rs. 2,199 price tag seems to be in a league of its own, but has OnePlus cut any corners in order to offer it at such a competitive price? Let’s find out.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r design and features

The design of OnePlus Nord Buds 2r and its case will remind you of the higher-priced Nord Buds 2 earphones which were launched in April this year. The earbuds are available in two finishes, Deep Grey and Triple Blue. The capsule-shaped case appears almost identical to the Nord Buds 2’s case in terms of size and cosmetic appearance, with rounded corners and the same matte finish. I found this finish to be extremely slippery and often ended up dropping the case when trying to opening it.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r case design gadgets 360 OnePlusNordBuds2r  OnePlus

The OnePlus Nord Buds 2r’s charging case has a slippery, matte finish

 

Opening the lid itself can be quite difficult since there’s no notch around the edge to gain any leverage. I often ended up pinching my index finger near the hinge area every time I tried to open the case with one hand. While I appreciate the minimalistic design which makes the case easy to slip into most pockets, I would have appreciated a little more grip.

As for the earbuds, removing them out of the case is quite easy thanks to the larger cutouts in the case. Each earbud has the same slippery plastic finish as the case, which made it a little tricky when trying to wear them, and they slipped out of my fingers quite a few times while on long walks. The flattened pill-shaped stem of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r matches the design theme of the outer case but also makes them hard to grip, unlike the softer grippy texture of the Nord Buds 2. 

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r case cutouts gadgets 360 OnePlusNordBuds2r  OnePlus

The cutouts for the earbuds inside the charging case are quite large

 

While I’m not too happy with the texture of the earphones, the actual fit of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r is quite good and feels comfortable for long periods of listening.

The charging case weighs 38.1g, while each of the earbuds weigh 4.3g. This makes the overall package quite light. The buds come with an IP55 rating which is an upgrade over the Nord Buds CE which offers an IPX4 rating. The sales package comes with two extra sets of silicon ear tips, and a short USB Type-C port charging cable.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r app and specifications

When connected to a OnePlus phone, all of the customisable settings of the Nord Buds 2r can be accessed under Bluetooth settings of the smartphone. OnePlus allows for adjusting the equaliser to three presets (Balanced, Bass and Bold) along with several custom EQ profiles. There’s also a game mode which is said to prioritise a steady and faster connection over sound quality, in order to reduce audio lag when playing games.

In addition to the above, there is also a simple Find my earbuds feature, which plays a loud tone to help you locate your earbuds when you have misplaced them. There’s also a camera control feature which lets a user snap a photo by double tapping either earbud when the camera app is being used.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r earbud dimple gadgets 360 OnePlusNordBuds2r  OnePlus

The dimple on the earbud’s stem needs to be tapped accurately, else it does not register an input

 

There’s customisable touch controls on the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r, but there are only presets to choose from. While there’s the usual single, double and triple-tap functions, there’s also a long-press function which switches between two paired devices. True multi-point device support is a bit too much to ask at this price point. I found the touch controls to be a bit slow to respond. One also has to accurately tap on the dimple on the ear bud for the touch input to be registered, or else it’s a miss. 

Users with a non-OnePlus Android device will need to download and install the HeyMelody app. This will allow you to access the same set of customisations as the built-in controls on a OnePlus smartphone, minus the Find my earbuds and camera control feature.

However, things didn’t seem to work as expected with the iOS version of the HeyMelody app. I was able to connect the earbuds to an Apple iPhone 14 Pro via Bluetooth and listen to uninterrupted music, but the app was not able to detect the earbuds. This meant features such as the equaliser, game mode and the ability to check the case battery’s status were not accessible when paired with an iOS device.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r case with buds gadgets 360 OnePlusNordBuds2r  OnePlus

Pairing the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r with a OnePlus device gets you access to two extra features

 

In terms of specifications, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r gets eerily close to the Nord Buds 2. Each earbud gets 12.4mm dynamic drivers, with a sensitivity of 111db and a frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. There are dual-mics with AI noise cancellation. Each earbuds pack a 36mAh battery while the case has a 480mAh battery. The earphones use Bluetooth 5.3, there’s support for SBC and AAC codecs, and the earbuds also support Dolby Atmos but only on the OnePlus 7 or newer devices.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r performance and battery life

Typical with most OnePlus earbuds (and others in this category), the dynamic drivers in the Nord Buds 2r deliver a very bass-heavy sound with the Bluetooth settings set to AAC. This is quite obvious at the default Balanced EQ preset itself, with overpowering bass which almost sounds a wee bit distorted at high volume and not all that enjoyable. To my surprise, there’s another preset called Bass which tops the previous one and this results in an extremely bass-heavy sound, giving very little emphasis to the mids and the vocals in any given track. Indeed, the above two presets are better suited for bass-heads, but I’m pretty sure even such people might not enjoy it as much.

Lastly, there’s a Bold preset which I really liked. Listening to Daft Punk’s Giorgio by Moroder sounded very lively and enjoyable thanks to the toned down bass. There was also a lot more emphasis to the mids so everything could be enjoyed the way it’s expected to sound, with a side of bass of course.

I also tried game mode and the audio sounded quite good (especially with the bass-heavy sound) and on-point, with impressively low latency when it came to gaming.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r show case gadgets 360 OnePlusNordBuds2r  OnePlus

The OnePlus Nord Buds 2r offers a more bass-heavy listening experience at default settings

 

Voice quality on calls sounded loud and clear to the person on the other end. The two mics on each earbud along with the claimed AI-noise cancellation tech managed to suppress traffic noise to quite an extent, giving higher priority to my voice. Wind emanating from a ceiling fan also did not seem to distort my voice. Connectivity was not a problem on the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r as the earphones remained connected to the source device no matter where I was in my fairly large apartment.

Audio quality also did not deteriorate, which was a bit surprising. However, the audio did cut off completely when cornered by thick walls on three sides, which was expected. Noise isolation with the provided silicone ear tips was good and was able to drown out unnecessary background noise, whether it was at home or a crowded street.

The OnePlus Nord Buds 2r will last eight hours without a case, with continuous music listening. The case delivers up to four extra charges, which brings the total listening hours to close to two days with just music, or close to a day and half with mixed usage. This is similar to OnePlus’ claimed 38-hour battery backup, which is quite good for a pair of no-frills, affordable truly wireless earphones. OnePlus has not made any claims about charging speeds, but when plugged into a 30W charger, the case and buds took about an hour and half to charge fully.

Verdict

At Rs. 2,199 the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r are an easy recommendation to a casual listener. It charges quickly and has long-lasting power despite the size and lightweight design. While the earbuds fall under a new segment in the Nord Buds range, I can see buyers on a tight budget picking them over the other options. The Nord buds 2r also sound a lot better and provide better noise isolation than the Nord Buds CE (Review), which are priced slightly higher at Rs. 2,299. However, I feel those with a more flexible budget should choose the ANC-enabled Nord Buds 2 (Review) at Rs 2,999 instead.


From the Nothing Phone 2 to the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, several new smartphones are expected to make their debut in July. We discuss all of the most exciting smartphones coming this month and more on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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