OnePlus Buds Z2 vs Nothing Ear 1 Comparison Review – And the Best TWS Buds Under Rs 5,000 Goes To.. (Watch Video)

OnePlus Buds Z2 vs Nothing Ear 1 Comparison Review - And the Best TWS Buds Under Rs 5,000 Goes To.. (Watch Video)
OnePlus Buds Z2 vs Nothing Ear 1 Comparison Review – And the Best TWS Buds Under Rs 5,000 Goes To.. (Watch Video)


The OnePlus Buds Z2 is an interesting product because it is much more expensive compared to the original Buds Z. Why? Mainly because of the addition of active noise cancellation and support for Dolby Atmos. See, the Atmos licensing doesn’t come cheap ok.

Now, I am sure the most pertinent question in most people’s minds would be how does it compare against the Nothing Ear 1, now that both are available for the same price of Rs 4,999. That’s exactly what we shall do in this review. 

Design

First things first, the Nothing Ear 1 is way better looking than the Buds Z2. Whether it is the transparent case, or the buds themselves, the Ear 1 will turn more heads. It is uniquely designed and has a distinctive identity. The Buds Z2 looks too run-of-the-mill. The only problem is the case scratches easily but you can just get the Black variant instead. The Buds Z2 is also available in Black and White colour options. 

However, it is worth noting that the Nothing Ear 1’s case is much bigger. And therefore, it is easier to carry around the Z2’s case in a jeans pocket. By the way, the Ear 1’s case has a metal hinge so it should be sturdier in the long run. FWIW, it’s held up well. 

On the flipside, the Buds Z2 offers IP55 rating on the buds and IPX4 on the case. In comparison, you only get IPX4 rating on the Nothing Ear 1’s buds. 

Fit and Comfort

As for the earbuds, both are equally comfortable to wear for longer durations at a stretch. And, why wouldn’t they be? The Buds Z2 weighs 4.6g and the Nothing Ear 1 weighs 4.7g.  But, the Buds Z2 definitely has a larger body and, hence, it juts out a little more. Which means that if you are planning on wearing these with a bike helmet over your head or sleep on your sides with it, it does get uncomfortable. Plus, for some odd reason, the Buds Z2 leaks a lot of sound. Arjun, our lead video editor, was definitely super annoyed.

App

The Buds Z2’s features can be configured via the HeyMelody app on non OnePlus phones. Because, for OnePlus phones, you have direct integration in the Bluetooth settings itself. From here, whether it is the HeyMelody app or the direct BT settings, you can see the battery percentage for the buds and the case. And, there’s the option to switch between Noise Cancelling and Transparency modes too. Plus, you can configure the touch controls to your liking and switch to a low latency mode for gaming. 

Now, all of this is possible on the Ear 1’s app too but it offers you the option to switch between a few preset EQs. The Buds Z2 doesn’t offer any EQ-ing option. Anyway, the Ear 1, by default, is set in Balanced sound mode but if you wish you can opt for a Bassier sound profile or a Treble Heavy one. Furthermore, the Ear 1’s app is way better designed. And, all the initial connectivity-related bugs that existed during the launch period with the Ear 1 app and buds have now been wiped out. 

Oh btw, both the buds support Google’s Fast Pairing protocol. Meaning, the moment you open the case, you get a card on your Android phone that directly lets you connect the buds. And moreover, you also get the same level of features and functionality from the corresponding iOS apps as well. That’s great because even Samsung doesn’t offer full-fledged support for its TWS buds on iOS. 

Touch Controls

In my testing I noticed both the buds had fairly good Wear Detection capabilities; immediately pausing the music when you take them out of your ears. However, the Ear 1 was slightly more reliable and better tuned than the Buds Z2. As for the touch controls, you get a slightly larger touch target on the rear faceplate of the Buds Z2. Also, the touch controls work super flawlessly on the Z2. I also like the distinctive audio feedback that you get from it making it a more tactile experience overall. 

Here’s the thing though, the Nothing Ear 1 does all of this and offers volume control as well! You just have to slide up or down on the stem to increase or decrease the volume. 

Sound Quality

The default sound signature of the OnePlus Buds Z2 is an audiophile’s nightmare. It is a boisterous, U-shaped sound that plays to the gallery. The loudness levels are through the roof and it leaks plenty of sound too, despite the great fit that I managed to achieve. I absolutely abhor the sound signature. The bass overpowers every mix and there’s very evident auditory masking as well. For example, Dhanush’s voice in the song Little Little from Atrangi Re sounds subdued as the underlying bass bed overpowers his singing. Plus, the quality of bass is not very good. The Nothing Ear 1 is far more balanced in comparison.

Whether it is the tonality of instruments or imaging or the soundstaging, the Nothing Ear 1 does it better. Only around the highs does the Ear 1 but so does the Buds Z2. In fact, the Buds Z’s treble response and quality is very weak. Here’s my suggestion. Just use the Wavelet app and pull down the mid-bass and sub-bass regions considerably and pick up some of the highs to get a far more engaging and open sound from the Buds Z2. 

All that said, the Buds Z2 does have one ace up its sleeve and it is the support for Dolby Atmos. I tried the Z2 with the Mi 11T Pro, which has support for Atmos, and I was genuinely impressed. In Jugnu by Badshaah, you can clearly hear the distinction between the Atmos and regular mixes. Especially at the 1:18 mark when the synth bass kicks in, in the Atmos mix, you will hear it travelling around your head. I’d suggest you try A/B testing it and let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Overall, I would pick the Nothing Ear 1’s sound signature for basic stereo mixes and the Buds Z2 for Dolby Atmos support. In fact, the Buds Z2 would be a great companion for watching movies. 

Latency

The Buds Z2 offers 94ms low latency while gaming or watching videos but only with OnePlus phones. The Nothing Ear 1 offers it with all Android phones and iPhones. As for the latency, while playing Call of Duty, the audio lag was not too bad on either the Ear 1 or the Buds Z2. They are equally matched. 

Mic Quality

A lot of folks buy truly wireless earbuds for Zoom calls and regular calls but most budget ones are not that great. Which is true for the Buds Z2 as well. It makes my voice sound robotic. The Nothing Ear 1 makes me sound more natural in comparison and has slightly better noise cancellation in calls. Listen to it for yourself. 

ANC and Transparency Mode

As for the active noise cancelling on the buds, the Nothing Ear 1 is actually slightly better at drowning out environment sound compared to the Buds Z2. Additionally, the Transparency mode sounds more natural on the Ear 1, as opposed to the Buds Z2 which amplifies the sound a bit too much and makes humans sound robotic.

Battery Life

The Buds Z2 offers a battery life of approximately 5 hours with ANC on, which is about 30 minutes more than the Nothing Ear 1. Plus the Buds Z2’s case holds 4 hours more charge than the Nothing Ear 1’s case. Technically, that’s a win for the Buds Z2 but not one that could sway any buying decision decisively. Most regular users won’t care about this difference. More importantly, the one advantage that the Nothing Ear 1 has over the Buds Z2 is the support for wireless charging on the case. 

Conclusion

My biggest issue with the Buds Z2 is its default sound tuning which is unapologetically U-shaped and ear-piercingly loud. Plus, the dynamics and detail retention is definitely better on the Nothing Ear 1. The only saving grace on the Buds Z2 is the support for Dolby Atmos because it really does work well with well-tuned songs. The catch is your source device, like a smartphone, needs to support Dolby Atmos and you need an Apple Music subscription as well. 

If you look at the whole package, I feel the Nothing Ear 1 is a better option at Rs 4,999 and I’d recommend it over the Buds Z2. And, fun fact, it isn’t even the best sounding earphones under Rs 5,000. There are way better options such as the Lypertek Soundfree S20, Jabra Elite Active 65T, and a few others. 

See, in isolation, the Buds Z2 is a decent product but the competition is very intense and the Buds Z2 packs the features but not the quality.

What do you folks think of the Buds Z2? Let me know in the comments section below. Until next time, Keep Trakin and Godspeed, my friends. 

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