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A Solid Pair of Budget Earbuds

OnePlus Buds 3

A nice pair of budget earbuds with powerful ANC and long battery life, but it needs to handle the low-ends better.

OnePlus Buds 3, at $100, check almost all the boxes. They’re intuitively designed in terms of controls, last longer than a week of typical usage, feature excellent detailed audio, and have the kind of noise cancellation perfect for a noisy commute. Bass is one of the areas where they fail to deliver; it often comes off as muddy and sometimes leaks onto the high-end.


Long Battery Life

The ANC is too good for $100 buds

Rich, airy sound with a lot of detail

Feature both multi-point connectivity and mono-listening


Bass gets muddy and starts leaking at a higher volume

Even the smallest ear tip size is not tight enough

The OnePlus Buds 3 offers a lot for its price. They’re a decent budget-friendly pick unless you’re a big bass fan. The sound feels nicely layered, and the ANC is powerful enough to silence everyone on the subway. Unless I’m to blame for having extraordinarily small ears (which isn’t true), I wish they fit more snugly. You might find the design a little boring, but at $100, I’m not complaining too much.

OnePlus Buds 3 Design

A very “$100 earbuds” design.

OnePlus’ newest buds feature an extremely inconspicuous design. The case at 40.8 grams and the earbuds at 4.8 grams feel like a feather in your pocket. For comparison, one of our top-rated wireless earbuds for 2024, the Master and Dynamic MW09, weighs around eight grams, and the Apple AirPods Pro 2 weighs about five grams. The charging cases for these buds are also about 10 grams heavier than the OnePlus. With lovely, curved, rounded corners, the case feels good in your hands and sits nicely in your pocket.

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

Don’t expect any bells and whistles in terms of design, though. The case is as modest as possible, featuring a plain (boring) fully matte body. You get to choose between a Splendid Blue and Metallic Grey shade. The buds are thankfully slightly flashier with a gleaming metallic exterior and long Airpods-style stems. All in all, for $100, the OnePlus Buds 3 offers exactly what you’re paying for, so I’m not going to whine too much about their lackluster aesthetic.

OnePlus Buds 3 Fit and Controls

The fit could’ve been snugger.

OnePlus’ newest buds are IP55 rated against water and dust. This means they are almost completely dustproof and can be exposed to a light shower of water or rain from any angle. This makes me want to start using them as workout buds, but sadly, their fit doesn’t support that. I tried all the ear tip sizes, but these buds are not snug in any setting. Even at the smallest size, they kept plopping out of my ears.

A photo of a person holding the various eartip sizes.

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

The stem design made controlling the buds much easier. There was more real estate to play with, and my fingers were not constantly struggling to find space. I enjoyed having plenty of room to slide my forefinger along the stem to raise or lower the volume and manage everything from calls, playback, and ANC modes on the bud.

OnePlus Buds 3 Audio

They get overwhelmed by too much bass.

The buds connect via Bluetooth 5.3 and support multi-point connectivity for up to two devices. It’s nice to have this on $100 buds, considering some more expensive options don’t feature it, like the new Bose Ultra Open that retails at $300. Mono-listening is also supported. While taking a bud out of your ear, auto-pause your music, and you can manually play your song again in the single bud you have on. This is even better as it lets you quickly take your bud out to talk to someone. (For me, though, it was nice because it made sure I didn’t miss my song whenever a bud would fall out, which was often).

Don’t go for the OnePlus Buds 3 if you’re a fan of bass. I was surprised at how messy it got as I cranked the volume up. The low-end on these buds is decent only at a specific volume for specific soundtracks. It loses its power when you give it a little more work (raising the volume or putting a bass-heavy song on). It sounded muddy and all over the place.

On the other hand, Treble also retained its power and grace at higher volumes. It sounded clean and (the good kind of) tinny. It had an optimum amount of sharpness, and the buds could handle that frequency well.

OnePlus prides itself on the proprietary OnePlus 3D Audio they feature on these buds, and they should. The sound was dynamic and felt flat or dull. Even when the bass was leaking onto all the other elements of the orchestra, I was just grateful that I could make out those elements as separate layers because they were given that space to exist.

A photo of the OnePlus Buds 3 charging case and buds.

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

You’ll be surprised at how well these little $100 buds cancel noise. If ANC mode is activated, even with nothing playing, they cancel around 90% of your ambient sound as soon as you put them on. When my coworkers from a few desks away would chat at work, it was enough to wear the buds without even putting a song on.

When I tested these at home, they muted the loud, high-pitched sound right next to me better than the much quieter, low-end hum of the heater around five feet away, but that’s just how ANC works. Low-end is much harder to silence.

There’s also a transparency mode, which I always prefer over an ANC on-and-off mode. Thankfully, the transparency mode doesn’t feature that loud, artificial, annoying hiss you find on many buds.

OnePlus Buds 3 Battery and Mic

The battery life’s great, and the mic’s fairly decent.

These buds and the charging case promise a whopping 44-hour battery life. With 30 to 35 hours being the average battery life for most true wireless buds, 44 hours is impressive. This is with your ANC turned off, though, and they last 28 hours when it’s turned on. The buds last 10 hours without ANC and around six hours with it. I have been using them for a couple of hours daily for the past four days, and I haven’t had to charge them even once.

There are three wind and ambient noise reduction mics on each bud, and they feature what they’re calling the AI Clear Call algorithm (AI 2.0). The buds are also designed to reduce as much wind in the background as possible. While I think the mics did a decent job at reducing wind, I don’t get the excessive hype around it. If anything, there’s some room for improvement.

OnePlus Buds 3 Verdict

Great value for money.

At $100, these buds pack a lot. You’re getting a lightweight design, an easily navigable touch control panel, a pretty clean treble, and good dynamic sound. The ANC is surprisingly great, and there are a few appreciated features, like mono-listening and multi-point connectivity. The battery life is also considerably bigger than you’d find on rival buds, especially at this price. And, like I said, $100 is a pretty reasonable price point, so the lack of aesthetic is forgivable, too. I wish the fit was tighter and the low end could sustain clarity at any given volume.

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