OnePlus Buds Z review

The OnePlus Buds Z are budget true wireless headphones from the cult smartphone brand, and yet another reminder that OnePlus is at its best when it’s finding ways to undercut competitors – and even itself – on price.

Sure, the sound quality is unlikely to absolutely wow anyone – but it’s fine. And once you factor in a decent battery life, fast charging, and IP55 water-resistance these begin to look like a very solid pair of headphones for £55/$50 – and a marked improvement on the disappointing original OnePlus Buds.

Design and build

OnePlus hasn’t exactly rocked the boat when designing the Buds Z. They look an awful lot like the original Buds – which is mostly to say that they look quite a lot like Apple’s AirPods.

OnePlus Buds Z

Importantly, however, the Buds Z use silicone tips for your inner ear. This not only makes them substantially more comfortable than the first-gen Buds, but also helps them block out a lot more external noise, helping the Buds Z sound better than their budget specs would suggest.

I still found I couldn’t quite get a perfect fit, and the right bud has a curious habit of consistently trying to slowly work free of my ear that I can’t quite explain. Still, there are three sets of tips included, and you might have better luck than me.

The Buds Z also have an IP55 rating, which means they should be able to survive some rainfall or sweat, making these a solid budget exercise option.

The circular outside of each bud is a touch-sensitive panel, but controls are frustratingly limited. There’s no single-tap, triple-tap, or long-press – only a double-tap control, which by default is the same on each ear, and skips forward a track.

If you own a OnePlus 6 or later then you can customise the double-tap with a range of options, but use the Buds Z with any other phone and there’s no app to tweak the controls, leaving you stuck with the defaults.

You’ll note that said default doesn’t include a play/pause option. Instead this is handled through in-ear detection – take either bud out, and your music will pause, then resume when you put it back in. This at least works smoothly and reliably, though I still wish there was a button or touch control by default to pause a track without removing the headphones entirely.

OnePlus Buds Z case

There’s only one core colour – white – though if you don’t mind spending a little more there’s a colourful, cartoonish collaboration with artist Steven Harrington for £68.99/$59.99.

Either way the case will match. It’s a simple cylindrical design – a little like a pill box – with a single exterior LED to show battery level, a USB-C charging port on the rear, and a pairing button next to it.

Sound quality

The OnePlus Buds Z use 10mm dynamic drivers, a notable spec drop from the drivers on the original Buds. That might seem like enough of a reason to spend a little extra for those headphones, but once you factor in the passive noise reduction from the silicone tips here the difference evens out a little.

OnePlus Buds Z

Still, sound quality is merely average. OnePlus touts the Buds Z’s Bass Boost, but it’s not enough to make these a good fit for hip hop or dance. Sure, the snatches of guitar or vocals on Kid Cudi’s new album come through, but the beat is left languishing in the background.

Pop, classical, and rock fare better, with crisp treble and clear mids for the most part. The Buds Z mostly avoid the common cheap headphone problem of muddy sound that runs together in the mid-spectrum, though there’s no getting around the fact that they sound a little thin.

Battery and charging

Battery at least is a more confident triumph. OnePlus touts a 20-hour battery life for the Buds Z, though note that this is including the case – you should get around five hours between charges.

That matches up pretty nicely to my experience, with the buds happily carrying me through an afternoon of non-stop listening.

OnePlus Buds Z case USB-C

As for charging, ten minutes plugged into the USB-C cable should net three hours of playback time, making it easy enough to salvage the situation if you actually run the case down entirely.

Price and availability

At £55/$50 the OnePlus Buds Z sit squarely in our budget true wireless earbuds chart, which is competitive territory.

They’re only a little cheaper than the £79/$79 OnePlus Buds, so you might be tempted to make the upgrade, but I’d caution against it. They may have bigger drivers and slightly better battery life, but the lack of silicone tips alone is enough to make them a worse choice for most than the cheaper Buds Z, which are far more comfortable and block out much more outside noise.

If you already use a OnePlus phone then the Buds Z are a solid choice for the price, but anyone on another phone – even another Android device – is better off looking elsewhere, as the limited and fixed controls scupper these somewhat.


The OnePlus Buds Z are a solid budget option that improve on the original OnePlus Buds despite the lower price.

Audio is average, but a comfortable fit and solid battery life mostly make up for it. Limited touch controls are a bigger problem though, especially since if you don’t own a OnePlus phone you can’t change them at all – so if you’re not already in the ecosystem these definitely aren’t the best budget buds for you.


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How to watch the presidential inauguration in the UK

After a long wait (and a rocky end to Trump’s term in office), Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States today. He will be sworn in alongside Kamala Harris, who will become the Vice President – the first woman, African-American and Asian-American to hold the role.

Despite the violent events of 6 January, in which a group of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol during a session to count the Electoral College vote, the inauguration will still take place in Washington DC today.

In preparation for the event, 25,000 soldiers have been deployed to protect both Biden and Harris as they are sworn into office. We’ll also see performances from Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez – though there will be no appearance from Donald Trump.

If you’d like to watch the ceremony as it takes place, there’s plenty of options available. We’ve rounded up all the ways you can watch on broadcast TV and online.

What time will the 2021 presidential inauguration take place?

As is tradition, the actual ceremony will take place two months after the election, which is today, 20 January 2021.

If you’re not bothered about any of the build-up towards the ceremony, the event itself will start at 11:30am EST (local time for Washington DC), with Biden being sworn in at 12pm EST. For UK viewers, this is 4:30pm GMT for the ceremony start, and 5pm GMT for the new president being sworn in.

Before Biden is sworn in, we will have a performance of the national anthem by Lady Gaga, and Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

After Biden is sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, he’ll deliver his inaugural address to the crowd of spectators.

Once this is all done, both Biden and Harris will take on various traditions such as the Pass in Review and the Arlington National Cemetery visit before finally returning to the White House for a night of celebration.

Due to COVID restrictions, there won’t be a large ball, and we expect performances and gatherings to all be socially distanced.

How to watch the US presidential inauguration online

There are quite a few options for tuning into the inauguration via YouTube. You can check out this playlist, which has all the upcoming livestreams from the main US news channels, as well the stream directly from the Biden and Harris team. We have embedded the latter below for easy viewing:

You can also stream the event from one of the US news channels such as ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC. However, many of these are geo-blocked, so you’ll need a VPN such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN. You can read more about how VPNs work here.

How to watch the presidential inauguration on TV

Both BBC One and ITV will be covering the main event. Here’s when these will be happening, and what the titles of the programmes are:

  • BBC One, 4pm until 6pm – BBC News Special
  • ITV, 3:30pm until 6pm – President Biden: The Inauguration

You’ll be able to catch up on both of these events over on BBC iPlayer and the ITV Hub. There will also be coverage throughout the day from BBC News, Sky News and CNN International.

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