Update, December 11, 2020: This review was updated to address the OnePlus Buds Z as an alternative.
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless headset is an old dog, but the price has dropped with the advent of the Bullets Wireless 2. Listeners who want better sound quality than the Bullets Wireless Z without paying a premium for the second-generation earphones, should consider these buds.
Using the OnePlus Bullets Wireless
The aluminum alloy housings look nice but sport a dubious build; the right earbud panel of our review unit dislodged itself, and I used tape to remedy this. Once the earbuds were reconstructed, the auto-play and pause controls worked flawlessly.
While OnePlus states that listeners can run but not swim with the earbuds, I was cautious about exercising in them because the OnePlus warranty states that the company “makes no guarantees” about water-resistance and that liquid damage isn’t covered.
Do the earbuds stay connected?
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless neckband earbuds operate via Bluetooth 4.1 firmware, which isn’t nearly as power-efficient as the more updated Bluetooth 5.0 firmware seen from both the Bullets Wireless 2 and Bullets Wireless Z headsets. I was able to test the limits of the 10-meter wireless range before any connection stutters occurred when both inside and outside. Unfortunately, Bluetooth multipoint isn’t supported, but you can quickly switch between the current and previously connected device via the dedicated button on the neckband. The earphones support aptX, a high-quality Bluetooth codec, which benefits Android devices.
How long does the battery last?
According to SoundGuys’ OnePlus Bullets Wireless review, the headset lasted 7.16 hours on a single charge. While this falls slightly short of the listed eight-hour battery life, it can be forgiven due to the insanely fast Warp Charge technology. Connecting the neckband to the included USB-C input for just 10 minutes yields 5 hours of playback, which is some of the most efficient fast charging we’ve experienced.
Do the OnePlus Bullets Wireless sound good?
Each earbud houses a 9.2mm dynamic driver that’s paired with an “energy tube” to reduce harmonic distortion. While this sounds like quite a bit of PR verbiage, it proved effective in testing: the earphones deliver a clear, consistent neutral-leaning sound that bodes wells or all genres.
Bass and midrange notes are relayed equally loud, which sidesteps a common phenomenon that plagues consumer audio products: auditory masking. This is when a loud sound makes it difficult to perceive a relatively quiet one (e.g. kick drums making it hard to hear vocals). To improve bass response and isolation, you may want to pick up a pair of memory foam ear tips, as OnePlus only supplies the silicone variety.
How does the OnePlus Bullets Wireless compare to the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 and OnePlus Bullets Z?
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 features double the battery life as the original Bullets Wireless neckband headset, yielding 14.23 hours of playtime on a single charge. Just like the Bullets Wireless and Bullets Z, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 supports Warp Charge: 10 minutes of USB-C charging supplies the user with 10 hours of playtime; this is the same rate that the cheaper OnePlus Bullets Z affords. OnePlus dropped the wing tips from the Bullets Wireless 2 and opted for a less angular, more rounded housing to accommodate the triple-unit driver system comprised of two Knowles balanced armature drivers and one 10mm dynamic driver in each earbud. The drawback to the Bullets Wireless 2 is its price — it costs $30 more.
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z is a great option for listeners who want many of the same premium features afforded by the OnePlus Bullets Wireless and Bullets Wireless 2 for nearly half the price. Warp Charge efficiency is identical to the premium Bullets Wireless and quick switch is also supported, making up for the lack of Bluetooth multipoint support. This headset is both dust and water-resistant, and has an IP55 rating to prove it.
Cut the cord with the OnePlus Buds
Learn more: OnePlus Buds review
The Buds have sensors for automatic ear detection, and it’s very responsive for immediate auto-pause and resume of media playback. Other features include Warp Charge for the USB-C case, and an excellent microphone array. Unfortunately, software updates are limited to OnePlus smartphone owners which is a huge knock against the headset. If you have a OnePlus smartphone and like the open-type design, the OnePlus Buds are a fine deal at just $69.
If you want something even cheaper, consider the OnePlus Buds Z instead. These earphones seal to your ear, and fit better than the more expensive OnePlus Buds. The Buds Z case doesn’t support wireless charging though.
Should you buy the OnePlus Bullets Wireless in 2020?
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless has lost its foothold within the OnePlus audio family. The Bullets Wireless Z affords many of the same features for $20 less, while the Bullets Wireless 2 has extremely good battery life, microphone and sound quality relative to the original Bullets Wireless. That said, any OnePlus headset plays nicely with a OnePlus smartphone, and sound quality is great for the price.