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Review

OnePlus Bullets Wireless In-Ear Headphones Review: The OnePlus way of things

The latest accessory from smartphone maker OnePlus is a pair of wireless in-ear headphones that comes with the same philosophy that has made the company’s phones so successful.

oneplus bullets wireless magnet and case

OnePlus Bullets Wireless 4.5 5
BGR Rating :
4.5/5

Highlights

  • The OnePlus Bullets Wireless is priced at Rs 3,990.

  • The headset features a magnetic power switch, letting you switch it on and off by separating or attaching the earbuds.

  • You also get fast charging on the Bullets Wireless, with a full charge in around 15 minutes.

While its first few products weren’t quite as good as they could have been, OnePlus stepped up its game in 2016 with the OnePlus 3. And since then, it’s barely taken a wrong step, growing rapidly and building on its reputation. With the launch of the OnePlus 6 last month, the company cemented its reputation as a serious player in the Indian flagship smartphone market.

Alongside the OnePlus 6, the Chinese smartphone maker also launched a key accessory for smartphones – the OnePlus Bullets Wireless in-ear headphones. The successor to the OnePlus Bullets v2 wired in-ear headphones that were launched in late 2016 alongside the OnePlus 3T, the new wireless headset comes at a price of Rs 3,990. Are these just another pair of wireless neckband-style in-ears, or is there more to this than meets the eye? We find out in our review.

OnePlus Bullets Wireless Design and Features

When it comes to the design of the headphones, there are some significant changes over the previous wired headset. The design is a bit more adventurous this time around – it’s sharper and more abstract, but maintains its all-metal build. Aiding the fit are silicon ear-wings, alongside the ear-tips. These are detachable, and three pairs each of the ear-wings and ear-tips come in the box, in different sizes.

While the wings do help in getting a secure fit, you could easily skip using them altogether, since the earphones are light enough to stay in place even without them. The package also comes with a silicon carry case, which is oddly not big enough for the entire headset to slip into. It seems to exist only to keep the charging cable, along with the extra wings and tips. The cable is a standard USB Type-C one, but isn’t compliant with the same Dash Charge standard for the company’s smartphones.

Each earbud runs via a short cable into the neckband, which serves to keep the headphones in place, as well as houses the battery and electronics of the headset. It’s quite flexible, and feels solid as well, to the point that I wasn’t worried about just tossing the headset in my bag without much attention to how it’s being stored. The cable could have maybe been a bit shorter, considering it occasionally brushed up against my face during use.

The in-line remote and microphone are on the left cable, and is a three-button affair. It lets you control the volume, play/pause music with a single press of the middle button, skip to the next track with a double-press, or trigger Google Assistant with a long press. The neckband has the USB Type-C port for fast charging, and you can top up the battery on the headset in around 15 minutes (using the included cable and a laptop USB port). About 10 minutes of charge will give you 4-5 hours of usage, which is impressive to say the least.

While you can’t get an audio prompt of the battery level from the headset itself, if you’re using the headset with a compatible smartphone, you’ll be able to see the battery level of the headset on the smartphone in the Bluetooth menu. The battery will give you about 6-7 hours of mixed usage on a full charge, including listening and hands-free calls.

The OnePlus Bullets Wireless feature 9.2mm dynamic drivers, and support Qualcomm’s AptX codec on supported phones. The Bluetooth version on the headset is 4.1. In terms of connection stability, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless is up to expected standards, and you can easily use it within about 10m of the source device, assuming there are no major obstacles.

There is also a physical button on it as well, which serves as the secondary power and pairing button. However, what makes the OnePlus Bullets Wireless unique is its magnetic controls. The backs of the earbuds are magnetic, and clamp together. When attached magnetically, the headset is switched off, thanks to a magnetic switch that controls the power.

Separating the earphones switches it on, and allows it to connect to a source device. This is as simple as it sounds, and is incredibly intuitive in practice. Considering how fast it is to re-connect, you can just power the headset down by attaching it even when you just want to pause for a bit, and it will quickly re-connect and resume where you left off. However, the quick reconnection and auto-resume and auto-answer features seem to work with only the OnePlus 6 for now; more on those in the next section.

OnePlus Bullets Wireless Performance

Before I get to the sound, it’s worth talking a bit on some of the key functionality of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless with regards to usability. My primary source device for the review was the OnePlus 6, which is the ideal device to use with the headset for a couple of reasons. Similar to how the Apple Airpods are hard-coded to work best on an Apple device and have specific features for it, so does the Bullets Wireless headset.

You’ll first see this optimization when pairing, with a special visual pairing method that’s wired into the phone’s software. It’s also noticeably faster when done right, and allows a couple of key features as mentioned above – auto-resume and auto-answer. These can be set to on or off within the Bluetooth menu on the phone, and seem to work best with the OnePlus Bullets Wireless.

When you’re receiving a call, you can simply un-clip the headset and start talking, as it will pair and connect to the call nearly immediately, assuming of course that Bluetooth on your smartphone is on. This works the same way when resuming music, assuming the app is running in the background. During my testing, it worked with Apple Music, Poweramp, and Google Play Music. Naturally, the headset will work with other smartphones as well, since it uses Bluetooth.

Finally, let’s talk sound. To start with, it’s an incredibly clean sound, and one that immediately appeals to you no matter what genre you’re listening to. There are no awkward characteristics to the sonic signature at all, and the clean nature of the sound also means that you won’t face any listening fatigue. I listened to a lot of jazz tracks by modern jazz artist Brasstracks, and I was impressed with how well the saxophones and trumpets were handled by the Bullets Wireless. The timbre and general tonality were excellent for a wireless headset in this price range.

The sonic signature itself has been tuned with the very same philosophy that goes into OnePlus’ smartphones – it’s meant to suit everyone. Don’t expect audiophile-grade sound here, or even anything beyond regulation sonic tuning. Don’t expect a wide or open soundstage here, but you do get very capable stereo, that gives you as much of a sense of depth as a wireless sub-Rs 5,000 headset can.

Talking specifics on frequency response, the headset has a typical V-shaped sonic signature, with bass and treble slightly boosted. There’s a hint of sparkle at the top of the range, but it never gets too bright or unpleasant. Bass has the expected impact, and feels entertaining enough for most genres.

The mid-range is decent enough, and you don’t feel like it’s too suppressed at any point. Listening to tracks with strong vocals, including the excellent Brass Against the Machine cover of Wake Up, was enjoyable across the range, with enough sharpness in the bottom and top ends, along with plenty of energy portrayed in the vocals. On the whole, it’s about the cleanest, most inoffensive sound you can get on a wireless headset at under Rs 5,000, and one that entirely justifies the price.

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Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, and very little to criticize. If I had to nitpick, I’d say that the battery life could maybe have been a bit better, and a slightly more open soundstage wouldn’t have hurt at all. But all things considered, the Bullets Wireless is a solid package for Rs 3,990, and an automatic recommendation for anyone looking for an affordable pair of wireless headphones, whether you use a OnePlus smartphone or not.

With clean sound, an agreeable sonic signature, excellent design and ease-of-use thanks to the magnetic switch, and fast charging as the cherry on top, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless is an excellent pair of headphones on all counts. If you also happen to own a OnePlus 6, this will make for a fantastic add-on, and we highly recommend you pick this up. The headphones go on sale on 19 June.

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  • Published Date: June 14, 2018 10:00 AM IST