Who says good ANC isn’t cheap?

The new OnePlus 12 is an AI-packed smartphone with a rich camera suite that showed major improvements from its predecessor. Similarly, the OnePlus Buds 3 builds on its predecessor’s already superb performance. Earning a perfect 5-star rating when we tested them last year, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 delivered effective noise-cancelling and clear sound via their capable dual drivers, but they had two notable drawbacks: A lag between music stopping when removing the bud, and the spatial audio didn’t add much.



OnePlus 12 review: Much more than an incremental update

The OnePlus 12 delivers on many promises, including strong performance, long battery life and stellar cameras. But it’s not perfect.

For the past two weeks, the OnePlus Buds 3 have been my mainstay, and the latest iteration wipes our only two cons from the list, improving audio delay and adding its own OnePlus 3D Audio that’s so impressive that it’s almost right on par with Apple’s Spatial Audio and Bose’s Immersive Sound. And while OnePlus’ latest iteration may have dropped the “Pro” name, everything about the buds’ performance, look, and fit have a luxurious vibe — except they’re firmly in the budget range.

OnePlus Buds 3

OnePlus Buds 3


The OnePlus Buds 3 improve upon their predecessor while adding even more features. The buds and case tote a luxury, yet compact design that make for a lightweight carry and wear.


  • Premium design and feel
  • ANC is effective and clear
  • OnePlus 3D Audio is immersive and engaging
  • Entry level price with luxury features

  • OnePlus 3D Audio still needs some improvements
  • Battery life could be better

Solid specs for the price

The OnePlus Buds 3 have a surprisingly entry-level $100 price tag. When compared to existing mid-range market competitors, the OnePlus’ sound and looks feel really premium. I received the splendid blue color to test. They’re chic, different, and a fun deviation from the AirPods and Bose’s staple black-and-white designs.

OnePlus Buds 3

Battery Life
6.5 hours (ANC on), 10 hours (ANC off), 28 hours (ANC on with charging case), 44 hours (ANC off with charging case)

Charging Case Included?

3 mics per earbud

Supported codecs

Bluetooth 5.3


IP Rating

Driver Size
10.4mm woofer + 6mm tweeter dual drivers

Dimensions and weight (earbuds)
31.68×20.22×24.4mm, 4.8g

Dimensions and weight (case)
58.72×50.15×25.81mm, 40.8g

Metallic Gray, Splendid Blue

Charging Port

iOS and Android

On-touch sensors

Noise Cancellation

Max talk time
Earbuds only: 4 hours, Earbuds and case: 17 hours

Also on the menu is great active noise-cancellation (ANC), intuitive touch controls that only require a gentle swipe, IP55 water protection for the buds, Bluetooth 5.3 codec support, and dual dynamic drivers. For $100, this pair of buds has quite the feature lineup. And, from my testing, I can vouch that not only does OnePlus have vast offerings, but it does it all well.

Luxe design and fit

Like its predecessor, the OnePlus Buds 3 come in a compact case with a matte finish and “OnePlus” script across the top that, when exposed to light, reveals a metallic finish. Unlike most mainstream charging cases, the compact OnePlus case opens like a jewelry box rather than a lid mechanism to reveal the buds sitting snugly flush against the surface.

The buds themselves are sleek and more luxe looking than I’d expect from a budget product. They have a metal-like finish and on-stem touch controls, and they’re comfortable with properly fitted eartips that aren’t intrusive and don’t contribute to pressure buildup. While I’m a big fan of AirPods’ stem control, it requires pressure and can be awkward to use when walking down the street or running. The OnePlus’ touch feature only requires a gentle touch for vast control and is even easy to use when jogging. Additionally, it has impressively low latency, giving the immediate response I want when turning my audio up or down.


Bose’s new Open Ultra earbuds are the fashion and function success I can’t stop wearing

They may not be part of Bose’s QuietComfort lineup, but my ears don’t want any other buds. Think transparency mode — but better.

Both the charging case and earbuds themselves are lightweight, sleek, and I’m happy how they perfectly fit (and match) my go-to workout belt bag.

OnePlus Buds 3 single earbud

No skimping on sound

While these buds look and feel far from “cheap” buds, where they stray furthest from that category is in sound quality. Overall, I’m continually impressed by the bassy performance, emphasis on instrumental separation, and clearly punctuated subtle brass snares.

“The OnePlus Buds’ dual dynamic drivers give an overall warm soundstage, but the frequency range still lets vocals and brassy instrumentals shine.”

To match the brilliant blue color, I spent a lot of time listening to Lorde’s Melodrama album while testing these buds, and their sound profile quality made me fall in love with hits like Supercut all over again — accentuating downbeats but preserving the synths without sounding too airy or heavy. Similarly, Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me sounds beautiful, with the low snares perfectly flooding my ear without overpowering Jones’ sultry voice. The OnePlus Buds’ dual dynamic drivers give an overall warm soundstage, but the frequency range still lets vocals and brassy instrumentals shine.

OnePlus Buds 3 single earbud

When I’m listening to Tití Me Preguntó while working out, I can even feel Reggaeton-patterned bass without losing out on Bad Bunny’s low, slurry, conversational tone. If I want to adjust the EQ, I use the HeyMelody app on my iPhone, where I can adjust it either manually or by toggling the Bass preset. HeyMelody additionally provides iOS and Android users a “FindMy Earbuds” feature. I conducted an Ear Fit test on the app, too, and found that the earbuds’ audio overall sounds fuller after a few tweaks.

Doesn’t sound like $100 ANC… in a good way

I listened to the OnePlus Buds 3 in various locations, including New York City subway stations, the gym at rush hour, my desk, and walking the always-bustling Fifth Avenue, and in each of those locations, I was able to focus on my audio — almost too much.

Once ANC was toggled on, I could barely hear conversations around me and had to be extra aware of my surroundings. I’d often take one bud out of the ear to hear my coffee order called or which subway stop to get off at. Transparency mode is also up there with AirPods, allowing me to have a conversation with my roommate while still listening to audio (usually at 50% volume output or less).

OnePlus Buds 3 in case with colorful background

OnePlus 3D Audio comes for Spatial Audio

Another triumph that comes from OnePlus’ third try is OnePlus 3D. Delivering a more immersive sound, I feel like I’m listening to audio with me instead of at me. However, the integration can give certain music an airy, disconnected feel and punctuate the wrong sounds.


How Apple’s Spatial Audio offers realistic 3D listening on most AirPods

Spatial Audio helps you get more out of Apple’s earbuds. Here’s how.

When listening to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, the hand claps sounded more like metronome clicks, giving my head a more disorienting pins and needles feeling. In other songs, however, like Maggie Rogers’ Shatter, the guitar and bass made me feel like I was in a studio.


OnePlus Buds 3 are undoubtedly impressive, even making me think I won’t need “premium” ANC earbuds after I’m done testing them.

Boasting an entry-level tag with premium features, they deliver impressive ANC, vast connectivity options, and some of the most seamless on-stem controls available. They wear comfortably in the ear for a range of activity and don’t skimp on sound. Essentially, if you’re in the market for feature-rich buds that look and sound great for less than $150, these should be first on your list.

Songs I listened to most on OnePlus Buds 3

  1. Shatter by Maggie Rogers
  2. Supercut by Lorde
  3. Moves by Suki Waterhouse
  4. Keep Driving by Harry Styles
  5. The Kind of Love We Make by Luke Combs


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