OnePlus Buds 3 review: Affordable TWS with strong audio performance and comfort

OnePlus’ audio products have been quite popular among TWS buyers, but not all of them have been good performers in terms of sales figures or audio performance. I really liked the original OnePlus Buds Pro, but not as much as the Buds Pro 2. And now we have the more budget-friendly OnePlus Buds 3 from the company, priced at Rs. 5,499. I have been trying to put these through their paces, and here’s how the experience has been.

The OnePlus Buds 3 come in Metallic Gray (which I tried) or Splendid Blue and are made out of metal and carry a dual matte plus glossy finish that isn’t too blingy. These stem-cell design buds are IP55 water and dust-resistant. The stem is slightly curved inwards with rubberized eartips. I found the buds comfortable to wear for long durations and didn’t have to adjust their in-ear fit frequently either, whether sitting indoors or while commuting. The stems have capacitive touch controls on them; you can swipe up or down to change the volume, tap once to answer a call or change tracks, long-press to change noise cancellation mode, but there’s no gesture to pause or play your music again by default. You can change these from the HeyMelody app or from within Bluetooth settings if you have a OnePlus or Oppo device. The touch controls are fairly responsive and reliable. The charging case carries the OnePlus logo at the top, with a pairing button inside between where the buds rest; while the USB type C port sits behind outside. Each bud weighs about 5 grams while the case adds a little over 40 grams to it.

The Buds boast 10.4mm dual drivers, support Bluetooth 5.3, and come with LHDC 5.0 audio codec, in addition to the usual SBC and AAC (for other Android and iOS devices). These also have multiple device pairing, plus Google’s Fast Pair, which definitely made pairing with an Android device a little quicker.

The Buds 3 do not disappoint in terms of audio quality. They deliver a fairly bass-heavy sound without any noticeable distortion. You won’t have to crank up the volume much to get a good thump from the buds. However, for lows and mids, the Buds 3 can be a little overly aggressive at times, but they generally perform well in handling instruments, although voice may seem a bit more balanced. The default EQ mode may not be ideal for every type of song, so adjusting the EQ from the settings as per your preference is recommended.

The quality of the buds’ mics is pretty good for making calls while wearing them. Even when outdoors, the mic quality is sufficiently good for ensuring that the person on the other end can clearly hear your voice.

When it comes to active noise cancellation, the Buds 3 do a pretty decent job, especially considering the price tag. The sound quality is still preferred with it switched off, but with the ANC switched on, the surrounding noise does decrease considerably. Additionally, with the transparency mode on, you can hear your surrounding people well enough to not need to take the buds off.

The OnePlus Buds 3 perform well when syncing video and audio, even when playing high-bitrate content. Additionally, the gaming mode effectively minimizes latency, ensuring a smooth gaming experience without any noticeable issues. The automatic stop and resume feature when removing and reinserting the buds functions reliably.

The battery life on the Buds 3 is impressive, lasting approximately 7.5 hours with ANC switched on and an additional 3 hours with ANC switched off. This is primarily when the LHDC codec is being used while paired with a OnePlus device (OnePlus 12 and Pad).

All in all, the OnePlus Buds 3 are a complete package to take on the likes of the Oppo Enco Air3 Pro. You get really nice audio quality, which is a bit bass-heavy, good battery life, decent ANC for the price tag, all while being comfortable to wear.