OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z Review: Bullets on a Tight Budget

A lot of eyebrows went up in confusion when OnePlus announced the Bullets Wireless Z for Rs 1,999 in India. The main reason for this was the fact that the previous wireless earphones from the brand, the Bullets Wireless 2, had been priced at Rs 5,999. The reason for this was was simple: the Bullets Wireless Z was focused at a very different audience – one with a much tighter budget.

Cutting back on a case and sound

Of course, with that lower price come some negotiable. And the most obvious of these is in the sound department. While the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z does deliver sound at a decent volume, it is definitely a big step down from the Bullets Wireless 2. Yes, there is an attempt to deliver a slightly more bass-friendly sound (something which is assumed to be popular), but this sometimes tends to drown out other instruments and vocals.

If you like music with a lot of percussion and beat, it is a fair chance that you will like these earphones, but if you like a little more stress on vocals and stringed instruments, you might not like the sound as much. Simple English: pop and dance music lovers will like the sound, rock, folk, and jazz fans might not. We are not even going to consider the audiophile audience that prefers a more balanced sound. There is also a slight misrepresentation at high volumes, although, given the high output of the earphones, we would not recommend using them at maxed-out volumes!

And well, another cost-cutting measure is the absence of that trademark orange carrying case into which you could squelch and squeeze your Bullets Wireless. Get your own case for this one (would love it if OnePlus did start selling those orange cases, though).

Sticking to a design that works

But those are perhaps the only major cutbacks as far as the earphones go. In terms of design, they stick to the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2, a neckband with two capsule-like carriage, with wires running from them to the buds, which are flat on the back with a bit of shine on them and are magnetic. The buds themselves come with removable tips (three in all) and generally fit very snugly in your ear, although there is no boot to keep them secure. There is a tiny controller on the left wire for volume, pause, and play, with the pause button also for calling the virtual assistant. It is a rather small controller, and finding the buttons can be a little bit of a task, but one gets the hang of it. On the capsule on the left is a single button for powering on the buds, putting them in pairing mode and also switching between devices. There is also a USB Type C port on this side.

We would not call the design premium, but it is very smart. In a neat touch, OnePlus has also added new colors to the range – mint, blue, oat, and of course, the usual black (our review unit). Most of the materials are plastic but seem very sturdy, and well, the earphones are sweat and dust resistant. OnePlus has kept its branding subtle, as always, with the name appearing only on the left capsule – quietly classy we think. Finally, like its accentors, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z can also be mashed up into any shape and then clear up without any trouble at all. You can bundle them into your trouser pocket if you wish!

Adding a battery that rocks, and some neat touches

It all works very well too. And it is in functionality that some neat touches come to the fore. The ability to switch between two connected devices is a windfall for all those who work on notebooks or even on more than one phone – you can switch from watching Netflix on your notebook to taking a call on your phone by hitting a button. Speaking of watching Netflix, the level of latency is very low here – you can hardly sense any gap between the moving images and words. It gets a little more pronounced in gaming, but at its price point, this is rather an extra ordinary.

Then there is the close to the twenty-hour battery life of the earbuds which is among the best at its price point. We easily got sixteen to eighteen hours on a single charge, and if you have a 30W charger, you can get 10 hours of listening by charging the buds for a mere ten minutes. We got about eight hours, which is again exceptional that is the total battery life of some devices the Bullets Wireless Z are competing with. Call quality was good too, and we did not hear any accusations about not being clear when we were on the phone.

It is not all roses, though. We are not the biggest fans of the magnetic earbuds. We like them being magnetic, but their switching off when together and switching on when apart can lead to some very odd situations. We suddenly lost sound on our phone because the buds had detached in our pocket and the call had gone to them (the magnets connecting them are not the most powerful). Similarly, we do with the volume buttons were larger or at least felt more distinct (we love some of the large buttons on Skullcandy devices really).

OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z: one of the best below Rs 2,000

So how good a proposition is the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z? Well, in some ways, they remind us of the Realme Buds Air, which stunned us with the features they offered at the price, rather than their sound quality. Similarly, we love the battery life of the Bullets Wireless Z, the fast charging, dust and water resistance, and the option to switch between devices. The sound quality is frankly middling, with the accent on bass tending to muddle the experience at times, but then the sound is rarely the forte of wireless devices at this price point.

They do face some very stiff competition, notably from Sony which has the Wi C200 at around the same price with fast charging and better sound, albeit slightly lesser battery life, and the Wi C310, which offers better sound (especially bass) at a slightly higher price. There is also the Oppo Enco M31, which has just been released, at Rs 1,999 and comes with support for hi-res audio, and of course, lurking around also are the Realme Buds Wireless earphones and the Mi Sport Bluetooth earphones (which have an older version of Bluetooth but larger drivers).

The OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z does not beat them all, but bring their strengths to the contest – good battery life, decent (rather than exceptional) sound, and some snazzy features. The battery life, the ability to switch between devices, and the good call quality make them one of the best options for anyone who is looking for a pair of wireless earbuds mainly for handling calls and work, on an almost tight budget.

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