OnePlus Nord Buds 2r review: Nord is a bad deal

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r review: Nord is a bad deal

Since the release of the first Nord Buds about a year ago, OnePlus has been steadily releasing new models of its TWS almost twice a year. The clear and current theme has always been about offering better value by incrementally adding new features, which in a way ends up justifying its price change. OnePlus has done the same with the recently launched Nord Buds 2 (Review), which has added active noise cancellation (ANC) to its feature set with a slightly increased price tag of Rs. 2,999 in India (up from previous Rs. 2,799).

Unlike the more expensive Nord Buds 2, there’s no ANC on the new Nord Buds 2r, but it does get an IP55 rating. The Nord Buds 2r with its Rs. The 2,199 price seems to be in a league of its own, but has OnePlus cut some corners to offer it at such a competitive price? Let’s find out.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r design and features

The design of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r and its case are reminiscent of the higher priced Nord Buds 2 headphones that were released in April of this year. The headphones are available in two finishes, Deep Gray and Triple Blue. The capsule-shaped case looks almost identical to the Nord Buds 2’s case in terms of size and cosmetic appearance, with rounded corners and the same matte finish. I found this finish extremely slippery and often ended up dropping the box when trying to open it.

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OnePlus Nord Buds 2r charging case has a slippery matte finish

Opening the lid itself can be quite difficult as there is no notch on the edge to gain leverage. I often ended up squeezing my index finger near the hinge area every time I tried to open the case with one hand. While I appreciate the minimalist design that makes it easy to slip the case into most pockets, I would have appreciated a little more grip.

As for the headphones, taking them out of the case is quite easy thanks to the case’s larger cutouts. Each earbud has the same slippery plastic finish as the case, which made it a little fiddly when trying to use them, and they slipped out of my fingers a few times during long walks. The flattened, pill-shaped stem of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r matches the outer case design theme, but also makes them difficult to grip, unlike the softer grippy texture of the Nord Buds 2.

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The cutouts for the earbuds inside the charging case are quite large.

While I’m not really happy with the texture of the earbuds, the actual fit of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r is pretty good and comfortable for long periods of listening.

The charging case weighs 38.1g while each of the earbuds weighs 4.3g. This makes the overall package quite light. The buds come with an IP55 rating, which is an upgrade over the Nord Buds CE, which offer an IPX4 rating. The sales package comes with two extra sets of silicone ear tips and a short USB Type-C port charging cable.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r app and specs

When connected to a OnePlus phone, all of the Nord Buds 2r’s customizable settings can be accessed in the smartphone’s Bluetooth settings. OnePlus lets you tweak the equalizer for three presets (Balanced, Bass, and Bold), along with several custom EQ profiles. There’s also a game mode that prioritizes a stable and faster connection over sound quality in order to reduce audio lag when gaming.

In addition to the above, there is also a simple find my headphones feature which plays a loud tone to help you locate your headphones when you misplace them. There is also a camera control feature that allows the user to take a photo by double tapping one of the earbuds when the camera app is being used.

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The cavity in the headphone stem needs to be tapped precisely, otherwise it will not register an input.

There are customizable touch controls on the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r, but there are only presets to choose from. While there are the usual single, double, and triple tap functions, there’s also a long tap function that switches between two paired devices. True support for multipoint devices is asking too much at this price point. I found the touch controls a little slow to respond. You also need to accurately tap the dimple of the headphone jack for the touch input to register, or else it’s a mistake.

Users with a non-OnePlus Android device will need to download and install the HeyMelody app. This will allow you to access the same set of customizations as the built-in controls on a OnePlus smartphone, minus the Find My Headphones feature and camera control.

However, things didn’t seem to work as expected with the iOS version of the HeyMelody app. I was able to connect the headphones to an Apple iPhone 14 Pro via Bluetooth and listen to uninterrupted music, but the app was unable to detect the headphones. This meant features like the equalizer, game mode, and ability to check the case’s battery status weren’t accessible when paired with an iOS device.

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Pairing the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r with a OnePlus device gives you access to two extra features

In terms of specs, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r comes frighteningly close to the Nord Buds 2. Each earbud gets 12.4mm dynamic drivers, with 111db sensitivity and a frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. There are dual microphones with AI noise cancellation. Each earbud contains a 36mAh battery while the case has a 480mAh battery. The headphones use Bluetooth 5.3, there’s support for SBC and AAC codecs, and the headphones also support Dolby Atmos, but only on OnePlus 7 or newer devices.

OnePlus Nord Buds 2r performance and battery life

Typical with most OnePlus headphones (and others in this category), the dynamic drivers on the Nord Buds 2r deliver very heavy sound with Bluetooth settings set to AAC. This is pretty obvious in the default Balanced EQ preset itself, with overpowering bass that almost sounds a little distorted at high volume and isn’t all that nice. To my surprise there is another preset called Bass which trumps the previous one and this results in an extremely low end sound with very little emphasis on the mids and vocals on any track. In fact, the two presets above are better suited for down heads, but I’m sure even those people might not like it as much.

Lastly, there’s a Bold preset that I really liked. Listening to Daft Punk’s Giorgio de Moroder sounded very lively and pleasant thanks to the attenuated bass. There was also a lot more emphasis on the mids so that everything could be enjoyed the way it’s supposed to sound, with a bass side of course.

I also tried the game mode and the audio sounded pretty good (especially with the bass-heavy sound) and on point, with impressively low latency when it came to gaming.

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OnePlus Nord Buds 2r offer a bass-heavy listening experience on default settings

Voice quality on calls sounded loud and clear to the person on the other end. The two microphones in each earcup, along with the alleged AI noise canceling technology, managed to suppress traffic noise quite a bit, giving my voice a higher priority. The wind emanating from a ceiling fan didn’t seem to distort my voice either. Connectivity wasn’t an issue on the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r, as the earbuds stayed connected to the source device no matter where I was in my rather large apartment.

The audio quality hasn’t deteriorated either, which was a bit surprising. However, audio cut out completely when cornered by thick walls on three sides, which was to be expected. Noise isolation with the provided silicone ear tips was good and was able to drown out unnecessary background noise whether at home or on a busy street.

The OnePlus Nord Buds 2r will last eight hours without a case with continuous music listening. The case offers up to four extra charges, which brings total listening hours to close to two days with music alone, or close to a day and a half with mixed use. That’s similar to OnePlus’ claimed 38-hour battery backup, which is pretty good for an affordable, no-frills pair of truly wireless earbuds. OnePlus didn’t make any complaints about the charging speed, but when connected to a 30W charger, the case and buds took around an hour and a half to fully charge.


At Rs. At 2,199, the OnePlus Nord Buds 2r are an easy recommendation for a casual listener. It charges quickly and has long-lasting power despite its size and lightweight design. While the headphones fall into a new segment in the Nord Buds lineup, I can see shoppers on a tight budget choosing them over the other options. The Nord Buds 2R also sound a lot better and provide better noise isolation than the Nord Buds CE (review), which cost a little more at Rs. 2,299. However, I think those on a more flexible budget should pick the ANC-enabled Nord Buds 2 (review) for Rs 2,999.

From the Nothing Phone 2 to the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, several new smartphones are expected to debut in July. We discuss all of this month’s hottest smartphones and more in the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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