Oneplus Bullets Wireless Review... "It's Not All About The Bass"

When the Oneplus Bullets Wireless were announced, I wasn’t so excited given the price. There are multiple options at around Rs.2000/$25 to Rs.3000/$50 for wireless earphones in the market that provide good audio and functionality. As am not an audiophile, the budget earphones already existing in the market would have totally suffice the purpose. But fortunately, I had a $30 Oneplus voucher and it gave me a good reason to try the Bullets Wireless. So I told myself…”Its time, for No Strings Attached”.

The Retail box

I will be covering the following topics in this review,
1. Unboxing
2. Design and Comfort
3. Battery
4. Sound
5. Functionality
6. Conclusion

Unboxing:

Similar to any other Oneplus product, unboxing this package was a bliss. Shiny ear phones, eye catchy pouch, extra pair of earbuds & ear wings and a short USB-C charging cable, all of it properly snugged inside the box. The instruction manual, especially the black one, makes you break that age old habit of throwing the manuals aside. It indeed gives a good detailing about the button operation and how to place the earphone in the pouch (more about it later).

The Box Contents

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Design and Comfort:

The moment I took the earphones out of the box, my reaction was ” Why are these so long??”. But after wearing them, I realized its practical approach. The neck band portion along with the battery on both sides provide a comfortable position around the neck taking most of the weight and providing a free movement of the earbuds. The neck band is made of soft, matt-finished rubber and are super flexi. It feels very comfortable on the neck without any extra weight hanging towards any of the sides. Though the battery compartments look bulky, they don’t really add up to the weight. The bullets are really light. It is not an overstatement when someone says “After a while we forget that they exist on the neck”.

They are made of light weight metal with magnets inside to clamp them together when not in use. The ear plugs and ear wings come with three different size options to suit our needs. The design is tangle free and you will not have a problem dropping it randomly in the bag. The ear wings are provided to keep the buds in place. With right selection of ear plug and wings, they fit perfectly well in the ear and do not come out even after heavy workouts.
The branding is subtle, as with other Oneplus products. Volume buttons, action key, power button, charging port and the micro phone are placed on the left side of the cable along with a battery indicator. Buttons are quite tactile and of good quality. The cables are quite strong & wont easily snap out. The only complain I have about the design is, they should have provided an option to clip it to your shirt as they tend to come in between my workout. If used for gym or outdoor activities, make sure that the vol buttons doesn’t collide with the battery as the sound is annoying.

Battery:

One of the main thing that differentiates wired and wireless earphones is the necessity to charge. Battery life plays a major role in the usage of wireless earphones, especially during traveling. Fortunately, the bullets shines in this category. With dash charging capability, it gives 5hrs of music playing with just 10 min of charging. I tried and it really works. The charging was fast even without a dash charge adapter. And with full charge it gives easily around 8 hrs of music play and calls. With the charge out of the box, I had to deliberately use it more for it to run out of juice. The battery life is truly impressive.
Observations:
1. No accurate charging indication.

Sound:

The earphones may look stylish, battery might be amazing but if they don’t sound good, all the other features wouldn’t matter. That’s where the bullets did not hit all the chords perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, they sound really good, but it isn’t an out of the world experience. If you are expecting it to sound much better than your regular earphones, you would be disappointed.
For a regular multimedia experience, they serve really well. The speakers are really loud and even at 50-60%, they sound sufficiently high. It has a very good surround sound, perfect mids, decent amount of treble with the bass on the lower side. To be frank I did not realize the bass was low until I used a couple of my other earphones. As I am not an audiophile, it did not make much of a difference to me as the sound was crystal clear, rich and suits my taste. But yes, if I were to buy this without the discount voucher, then I would have felt a little disappointed. The voice clarity during calls is good too at both the ends.The noise isolation isn’t 100% and in a way its good, as you can be aware of your surroundings along with enjoying the music. At least my gym trainer din have to shout to give instructions
Tip: Push the plugs to be more tightly snugged into the ear for better sound. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
Observations:
1. The native equalizer on Oneplus phones doesn’t activate with wireless bullets. Hopefully an update can fix this.
2. Sometimes the earphone gives a static sound when plugged-in & not in use.
3. Used it with an Iphone 6s too and the music on a Snapdragon phone was slightly better. Seems like the Qualcom aptX does work.

Functionality:

As the review has turned out to be longer than expected, I shall try to cover all the other practical uses and features in this segment.

Water Resistant Design

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First thing I want to talk about is the water resistance. Honestly, I sweat like a pig, and I use the earphones majorly for my workouts. I did not have to worry about the earphones getting wet. Just note that they aren’t water proof, so don’t try a dip test with them. I sprinkled water on the speaker parts for the above picture and they still work perfectly.
Secondly let me talk about the most exciting feature, the magnetic control feature. Speakers are provided with magnets to stick together when not in use. Most of us assume its purpose is to just pause the music, but there’s more to that. The magnetic control, turns the earphones off within a sec when clamped together and vice-versa. This is a really nifty trick and let me explain you why. Not only will it pause the music but it also gives an option to resume without reaching for the phone (for 1 5/5T, pressing the action button after detaching is required presently to resume the music). It also lets you transfer the calls from earphone to earpiece with just a snap. Handy during phone calls for people who forget where they placed the wireless headphones after last use. As much as I love the feature, the magnetic strength could have been stronger. They can be easily detached accidentally.
The Bluetooth connectivity is really strong. Even at a distance of 10m from phone, the audio did not stutter. I tried with couple of other phones & Tab, and the results were similar. So no complaints here.
The buttons design have a major scope for improvement. Identifying the buttons by the texture is like braille. Only thing is we don’t know braille. It takes at least couple of seconds every time to figure out the action button to skip a track. The feedback is not that great too. The action button is small and it becomes difficult at times to double tap as the travel length is small. Google now and siri activated on point and this trick will be very handy to get quick information or give a call without reaching the phone.
The quality of the soft silicone pouch is quite unique. It has a magnetic lock on top to keep the things inside intact. Placing the earphones inside is not very simple as the pouch closes only when they are rightly placed. After numerous attempts, I finally figured out the technique (Should have checked the manual).

Observations:
1. No option for previous track.
2. The song skipping might not work with some players. The features worked best with Google Play Music. (The music player apps to blame though)
3. The magnets can get detached while keeping inside the pouch.
4.The mic only works for audio, video calls and google assistant and doesn’t support audio recording. I hope this gets implemented in the update.

Conclusion:

The bullets wireless are really unique and provide a decent overall experience in terms of sound, functionality and design. But are they worth the money? That depends on the priority of the user. The cheaper options available in the market might fall short in terms of some functionalities along with possible warranty issues. With around Rs.1500/$30 more than the budget ones, Oneplus bullets wireless would provide a better build quality, water resistance, more functions, support and most importantly a dependable warranty.
PS: Bass heads can definitely stay away from this one.
Bundled with Oneplus 5

If you are interested in buying a Oneplus Bullets Wireless you can register at Oneplus to be notified.
Few other recommended budget alternatives for Wireless headphones are below,

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