The Bullets Wireless 2 look almost identical to their predecessors, but sound far superior
- Convenient magnetic design
- Fun, lively sound
- Pairs instantaneously
- Strange dip in the upper mids
- Neckband format isn’t for everyone
- Unnecessarily loud audio cues
OnePlus is best known for its smartphones, but last year saw the company venture into the headphone market with its Bullets Wireless earbuds. These had an alluring design and an affordable price, but were let down by lacklustre drivers.
Now the company’s having another try with the Bullets Wireless 2. Can these new headphones fix their predecessors’ problems and win over audiophiles on a budget?
OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 review: What you need to know
Design-wise, the Bullets Wireless 2 have a lot in common with the original Bullets. The wired-together format, with its rubberised neckband, will suit commuters and office workers, although it doesn’t work well with a high-collar jacket. It’s not ideal for fitness fans either, but splash and water resistance means they should survive a bit of rain or sweat.
The finish and controls are very similar, too. The dark grey aluminium housing keeps its red accents, with the earphone nozzles set at a 45-degree angle. On the left side of the cable, an inline three-button remote can be used to control your media and answer calls; a USB Type-C charging port is set into the left side of the neckband, along with a multifunctional power button.
One last familiar feature is “Magnetic Control”. Once again, OnePlus has embedded magnets inside the outer housing of the drivers, allowing them to snap tightly together. This not only makes them convenient to stow away, but it also doubles as an instantaneous power toggle. Pull them apart to turn them on, and clip them back together to turn them off – simple.
Battery life is average, with the earphones lasting around eight hours on a single charge. However, it’s also possible to apply a quick flash charge, with ten minutes of juice providing around five hours of playback. It’s perfect if you’re getting ready to head out the door and realise your headphones are dead.
Connectivity is one area where the Bullets 2 improve on the original model. They paired instantly with my phone over Bluetooth, and alongside the SBC and aptX codecs, there’s now support for aptX HD, for even better transmission quality. What’s more, if you hold down the button on the left side of the neckband you can pair the Bullets 2 with an additional secondary source – and if you’ve already paired the earphones with another device, they’ll instantaneously switch to it. That’s the theory, anyway: I couldn’t get the headphones to automatically switch between a 2012 MacBook Air, a Surface Go and an Honor View 20 smartphone, but the feature ought to work with modern OnePlus phones.
Once you’ve got a connection, wireless performance is generally good. At one point I found the Bullets Wireless 2 had randomly disconnected and couldn’t be seen by my phone, but turning them off and on again cleared this up. A bigger irritation is the overly loud high-pitched tone that beeps in your ear when you power on the headphones or try to switch source.
As well as the upgraded codec, the Bullets 2 feature a hybrid triple-driver setup in each ear, which is a definite step up from last year’s single 9.2mm dynamic drivers. As a result, the Bullets Wireless 2 sound far superior to their predecessors, with a meatier sound signature and better tonality across the frequency range.
The improvement is particularly noticeable at the lower end. The mid-bass frequencies are far better controlled than with the Bullets, which sound wobbly in comparison. The bass also hits harder than some rivals, such as SoundMagic’s E11BT – although compared to the beefy 1More Triple Driver BT, the OnePlus buds lack a touch of finesse.
The lower mid-range is excellent too. There’s a bit of a dip in presence, but vocal tracks featuring rich instrumental sounds are vibrantly brought to life – you’ll definitely not be “Sorry” when listening to Justin Bieber’s 2015 smash hit. The highs meanwhile extend well, with plenty of energy and sparkle, and a lovely wide and clear soundstage. It’s not quite as engaging as my favourite true wireless earbuds, the Creative Outlier Air, which manage to flawlessly separate the instruments in Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailamos”, but it’s still a great performance.
The Bullets Wireless 2’s biggest sonic weakness is a dip in the upper mid-range: this area of the spectrum lacks presence and just sounds a bit odd. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, as hybrid earphones often struggle with the crossover frequencies between drivers – something that isn’t an issue with single-driver earphones.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 review: Price and competition
At £99, the Bullets Wireless 2 are a bit more expensive than their £69 predecessors. At this price point, it’s worth comparing the 1More Triple Driver BT at £130, which support LDAC, the highest-quality Bluetooth audio codec available. If you’re looking to keep the price down, you should also check out the sensibly priced SoundMagic E11BT at £70 and the true wireless Creative Outlier Air earbuds at a phenomenal £75.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 review: Verdict
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 are a solid improvement on their predecessors. The feature upgrades are welcome, and the enhanced drivers and codec support make a big difference to sound quality. They’re definitely worth the £30 premium.
They’re not flawless: the design isn’t ideal for everyone, the loud audio tones are annoying, and rival sets from 1More, SoundMagic and Creative give them a run for their money. But if you’re looking for an upgrade over the original set or own a OnePlus smartphone, the Bullets Wireless 2 are a great choice.