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OnePlus Nord Buds CE do standout in the budget truly wireless earbuds segment, thanks to their high overall quality, excellent battery life, and improved sound.

 

Getting up early in the morning, sipping on lukewarm water, slipping on my shoes and stepping out for a walk are some of the ‘good’ things that I started practicing during the pandemic. No matter whether I am travelling or at home, I make sure not to miss my morning walk. Morning is also the time when I put my earbuds in and listen to music and podcasts or do a guided meditation. The OnePlus Nord Buds CE, which I am reviewing now, fit well into this routine. They are a set of truly wireless earbuds that cost under Rs 3,000. But does the low price mean less superior audio quality and a weird fit, or are they as good as premium TWS?  Here is everything you need to know about the Nord Buds CE, including the pros and cons.

Design and fit

At first glance, Buds CE looks like a carbon copy of the second-generation AirPods but there are some design differences. Unlike on the AirPods where stems were longer and thicker, Buds CE have shorter stalks. They don’t block your ear canal completely, like the AirPods 2 or newer AirPods 3. That design has a disadvantage to it: a lack of interchangeable silicone pads. This means you’ll have to put the buds directly in your ears and that won’t sit well with everyone. However, in my case, they were fairly comfortable and stayed in place while walking or sitting at the desk all day. They are usable for light exercise, but I don’t recommend them for running as they keep falling from your ears. I still prefer OnePlus Buds Pro for lengthy music listening sessions as they offer a better fit. The Buds CE are water-and-sweat resistant with an IPX4 rating, which means they can be used for workouts. Just don’t wear them to the shower or a swim.

Audio quality

I am not an expert in audio but these truly wireless earbuds sound good to me. The audio quality is actually decent for the price. Throughout my testing, regardless of which genre of music I listen to, the Buds CE maintained clarity. The sound is crisp and clear. The 13.4 mm titanium drivers bring improvement in bass while cutting distortion in the highs at top volumes. When listening to Phir Le Aya Dil by Rekha Bhardwaj, the vocals and instruments seemed surprisingly well-balanced. Usually, listening to classical music and podcasts on cheap wireless earbuds sounds harsh on the ears. That’s not the case here. But yes, keep your expectations under check as these are not Sony’s LinkBuds or AirPods Pro in audio quality.

Beyond listening to music, my experience of attending calls using the Buds CE has been satisfactory. I make and receive a lot of phone calls, and devices like these truly wireless earbuds come in handy especially when on the go. The microphone performance was okay but they struggle when it comes to cancelling background noise. But then, I was not expecting ANC on wireless earbuds that cost just Rs 2,299. That said, using the Buds CE for phone calls or attending video calls worked well indoors, and in quiet environments. You can actually get decent results in public spaces like parks which are comparatively quieter where I stay.

Battery life

The Buds CE come in an egg-shaped charging case with a flip-top lid. The earbuds feel very secure in their case. The case is very much pocketable, and comes in a white glossy plastic finish, which acquires light scratches very quickly. The moment you slot these earbuds into the case, they start charging automatically. Charging can be done via a USB-C cable, which is included in the box. OnePlus claims a decent 4 and a half hours of battery per charge and the case stores an additional 20 hours of juice. A quick charge of 10 minutes gives an additional 81 minutes of listening time, which comes in handy when you are running late for the office and need to attend an important call.

Observation

The Buds CE setup is painless. I unboxed the new wireless earbuds, turned on the Bluetooth connectivity on my iPhone, opened the case lid, and the earbuds paired to my phone in seconds. The Buds CE work best with OnePlus phones or Android smartphones, but I used them with my MacBook Air, iPad mini and iPhone 13 mini too without any trouble. There is a HeyMelody app (iOS/Android) that not only makes pairing to a phone easy but also lets you customise listening experiences. Unfortunately, as observed during my testing, the app on the iPhone does not support the Nord Buds CE wireless earbuds yet.

Should you buy the new Nord Buds CE?

The idea behind the Buds CE is not to compete with premium wireless earbuds, and that’s very much evident in the performance. That said, the Nord Buds CE do standout in the budget truly wireless earbuds segment, thanks to their high overall quality, excellent battery life, and improved sound. The OnePlus brand is also a major factor that will move consumers towards the Buds CE. As a user, I am less bothered about features like ANC or wireless charging. Instead, I always look for TWS that sound good, offer good battery life, look nice and are compact enough to be easily carried in my track pants or jeans pocket as I head out.

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