There’s something rather familiar about the OnePlus Bullets Wireless design. Take one look at Apple-owned Beats portfolio and you’ll immediately see what we mean. Except these OnePlus wireless in-ears cost significantly less than what you’d need to pay to get hold of a pair of Beats X.
What’s more, there’s the of promise faster charging, while Qualcomm’s aptX wireless standard ensures compatible phones will remain connected with a rock solid wireless connection.
The big question is: can the Bullets Wireless follow in the footsteps of the OnePlus flagship phones – like the OnePlus 6 – and deliver an experience much better than its price tag suggests it should?
Beats X wannabe?
- Lightweight flexible neckband design
- Water and sweat resistant
- Magnetic pouch opening
- 3x earplugs and fins in S/M/L
Like the Beats X, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless are a pair of neckband earphones which – rather than using a hard plastic collar – make use of a thick insulated cable that sits comfortably on the neck. This is lightweight and flexible, making it perfect for both everyday wearing or using for workouts and running sessions.
The flexibility also means you can twist the collar up to store the earphones in their silicon carrying case. On that note, we really like the pouch’s built-in magnets to ensure it snaps closed and stays shut when stowed away.
More key than weight and flexibility, however, is the balance. Unlike some of the other neckband earphones out there, the two ends of the Bullets’ collar are perfectly balanced to ensure these in-ears don’t shift or start sliding down one side as you’re wearing them and moving around.
Now, these two collar ends, like so many other neckbands out there, house the important components like the battery and wireless chipsets. Credit goes to OnePlus’ design team here for building them to look seamless (even if they do look familiar). They have a pleasing elongated pill-shaped design, with nothing on the right side, a subtle button on the outer left, and a Type-C port on the underside that’s hidden away.
The earbuds are also supremely comfortable. We found the default ear-tips to be the perfect size; not so small that they’d slip out, but not so snug to be uncomfortable. This fit meant we sometimes almost forgot we were wearing them.
There’s an additional in-ear fin that grips on to the inside of your ear to make the fit extra strong. We tested the Bullets on daily commutes, on a handful of 5km runs and during some kettlebell HIIT sessions, and they didn’t slip out once. OnePlus really has nailed this fit.
Performance, features and battery
- Bluetooth 4.1
- 8 hours playback
- Automatic switch off/on with magnets
One of the coolest features built into the Bullets Wireless is activated by the magnet-equipped earbuds. Similar to the likes of the Beats X and more recent Sennheiser and RHA in-ears (among many others), you can snap the earbuds together to keep them out of harm’s way when you’re not listening to them. Similarly, this also means there’s very little chance of them falling off your neck when you’re chasing the next tube train in a busy station.
Snapping the earbuds together means they automatically disconnect, too, meaning what you’re listening to gets paused. It gets even better when you un-snap them: the earphones reconnect to your phone and – if you’re using a OnePlus 5, 5T or 6 – they’ll automatically resume the music where you left off.
We tested this feature pretty thoroughly, even putting it through unrealistic scenarios of snapping them and detaching them from each other repeatedly in quick succession. It did its magic every time without fail. Used with an iPhone, the earphones disconnected and reconnected, but didn’t have the auto-resume feature.
The only issue we had with this feature was if the earphones ever became detached from each other unbeknown to us. This meant they connected to our phone, sometimes without us realising it until a couple of minutes later. Thankfully, after a few minutes of inactivity the Bullets go into standby mode to conserve battery.
Speaking of battery, there’s plenty of playback time available. OnePlus claims eight hours of playback, and our experience suggests that’s not unrealistic. We’ve been getting 50 per cent battery remaining after three to four hours of use at a time.
Compared to the Beats X’s longevity and that’s fairly standard for this form of earphone, although longer-lasting neckband earphones do exist. V-moda’s Forza Metallo Wireless last up to 10 hours, while the RHA MA750 wireless can go for 12 hours.
What’s more impressive is how quickly the Bullets Wireless charge. Similar to OnePlus’ smartphones, which feature Dash Charge, you get a completely insane amount of life from an almost unreasonably short amount of time at the plug. Just 10 minutes is enough to more than half-fill an empty battery. Around 20 minutes plugged in is enough to fully charge it from flat.
To put that into perspective, imagine you’re heading out for a run but your earphone battery is completely dry. Plug it in, then by the time you’ve changed into your running gear, put your shoes on and are fully ready to go, there’s enough charge in the earphones to last you for the session.
- aptX support
- 9.2mm drivers
- Energy tube for distortion absorption
At just £70, just how good a sound can you expect? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is very good. Not perfect, mind, but the Bullets Wireless produce sound that’s emotive enough. In little time these earphones soon became our no-brainer, grab-on-the-way-out-anywhere earphones.
Regardless of the kind of music, the Bullets delivered an experience that seemed to enhance all the elements. There’s a good amount of warm bass in the background with details and mids all well represented.
Listen to even chaotic tracks with excess reverb – like some of Ben Howard’s latest songs (What the Moon Does being a prime example) – you can still pick out the subtle elements within the track. Switch to more acoustic, homely tracks – like some of Elbow’s Little Fictions – and you get a sumptuous mix of detail and warmth. The detail of the bass pedal striking the drum skin, with the bass instruments filling out nicely, is an irresistible mix.
The only shortcoming is the lower-end bass. Lower frequencies aren’t given as much presence as you’d get from a more expensive pair of earphones. But that’s half the argument: at £70, it’s hard to complain about.
With its first attempt at wireless earphones, OnePlus has given us yet another fantastic example of how much you can get for your money.
The earphones are light, comfortable, easy to wear, have great fast-charging, can survive in the rain and your sweaty workouts, and sound really good too.
If you can forgive the slightly-less-than-stellar battery life, and don’t mind there not being massive low-end bass, then it’s hard to think of a better pair of everyday in-ear headphones at this price point.
Got £70 to spend on a pair of earphones? Go get these. Heck, even if you have a higher budget, save some money and get the Bullets Wireless anyway. They’re surprisingly brilliant.
Alternatives to consider
If you’re an iPhone user, you don’t need convincing that any W1 Chip-equipped earphones are a good idea. Not only are they really easy to setup, they automatically pair with any Apple device signed into the same iCloud account. Beats X is convenient, while sounding great, but the price is higher than the OnePlus.
V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless
The V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless is one of our favourite pairs of neckband earphones. They’re fine for exercising, but where they really deliver is with sound. Despite the relatively small size of the drivers, the audio is full and detailed. What’s more, the earphones don’t cost as much as they did when we reviewed them. You can pick them up for just over £100/$134 now.