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OnePlus Bullets Wireless review: Aging out but still good

The Bullets Wireless is a fine middle-ground headset between the Bullets Wireless Z and Bullets Wireless 2.
December 11, 2020
A picture of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless A top-down image of the earbuds and the neckband.

OnePlus OnePlus Bullets Wireless

The OnePlus Bullets Wireless earbuds are showing their age due to Bluetooth 4.1 firmware and average battery life relative to OnePlus' other offerings. Upsides include aptX support and a comfortable fit. Plus, the magnetic housings are an effective form of cable management when the earbuds aren't in use. However, most are better off saving up for the second-gen model or saving money with the Bullets Wireless Z.

What we like

Magnetic housings control play/pause
Quick charging

What we don't like

Battery life

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.

This OnePlus Bullets Wireless review comes from the audio experts at our sister site SoundGuys. Check out their in-depth take on the OnePlus Bullets Wireless.

Using the OnePlus Bullets Wireless

A picture of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless A top-down image of the earbuds and the neckband.

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?

A picture of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z in ear worn by a man looking frame-right.

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

A picture of the OnePlus Buds true wireless earbuds (Nord Blue color) on a Google Pixel 3 smartphone with the earbuds charging case open in the background.
Lily Katz / Android Authority
OnePlus entered the true wireless market with its OnePlus Buds, which borrow a familiar stemmed, open-type design. Users are able to hear their surroundings when wearing the OnePlus Buds, which may be beneficial for listeners in loud environments. I was unable to keep the totally wireless earphones in place when exercising, but some may have better luck.

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.

OnePlus Buds

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.

A product image of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless neckbuds against a white background.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless
An old but reliable pair of wireless neckbuds.
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless have some of the most efficient fast charging around, thanks to OnePlus' Warp Charge technology. Listeners who want accurate audio and a comfortable fit should consider these buds.
A newer version of this device is now available. The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 headset supplies many improvements over the original Bullets Wireless addressed in this review, including better battery life, microphone quality, and audio reproduction.