OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z Review: Comfortable Earphones with Exceptional Battery Life
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z are entry-level Bluetooth earphones, built upon OnePlus’s philosophy of offering a unique product experience at a competitive price. Launched alongside the OnePlus 8 series in April, the new wireless neckband earbuds retain some of the key features of the more premium Bullets Wireless 2 while also bringing improvements of its own. Priced at just ₹1,999 or $49.95, the Bullets Wireless Z are among the most value-for-money Bluetooth wireless earbuds available on the market right now—at least on paper. But do they live up to its spec sheet? We find out in this review.
Disclaimer: I personally bought a pair of Bullets Wireless Z. OnePlus also sent a review unit to Aamir, which we used for comparison and to corroborate our findings.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z: Specifications
|Specification||Bullets Wireless Z|
|Build and Weight|
|Battery & Charging|
|In The Box|
Design & Comfort
The Bullets Wireless Z looks almost like a replica of the Bullets Wireless 2. If they were lying on a table side-by-side, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from a distance. However, they differ in terms of the material they’re made of. Unlike the Bullets Wireless 2, which used metal casing for the earcups, the Bullets Wireless Z opts for an all-plastic build. The rest of the body remains the same with both earbuds using a soft, flexible rubberized collar and plastic modules on either side housing the battery, audio chip, and other circuitry. The left module has a new OnePlus logo inscribed on the outer side. Just beneath it, you’ll find a tiny LED and circular multi-function button. Meanwhile, the USB Type C port is placed on the edge close to the logo.
The in-line controls are enclosed in a small strip on the left wire along with a single microphone. The controls are easy to reach and can be used to adjust volume, play/pause/change tracks, and receive/dismiss calls. The Bullets Wireless Z are incredibly comfortable thanks to their lightweight build and can be worn for hours on end without irritating your ears. Their ergonomic design provides the perfect snug fit that doesn’t pop out during workouts or other physical activities. The Bullets Wireless Z might not be as futuristic-looking as some of the truly wireless earbuds on the market right now, but they still make their own statement, in our opinion.
The Bullets Wireless Z feels really solid and look like they could withstand some abuse. The IP55 protection is the icing on the cake. It goes beyond the standard sweat resistance offered by most earbuds, allowing you to use them around water. I briefly used them under drizzle on two occasions and faced no interruption/connection drops or any malfunctions afterward. The added protection also makes the earbuds ideal for physically demanding activities such as workouts and running—something you wouldn’t risk doing with the Bullets Wireless 2 as they lacked an official IP rating.
Similar to its predecessors, the Bullets Wireless Z features magnetic locks, allowing you to power on and off the earbuds by simply separating the ear cups and snapping them back together. The mechanism is robust, and I never had any issues with them being detached accidentally (and thus connected to my phone unintentionally). There’s no carrying case provided inside the box, but I didn’t find that to be an issue. When I’m not using the buds, I just simply snap-lock them together and leave them hanging around my neck.
One of my favorite features of the Bullets Wireless Z is Quick Switch which lets you quickly switch the active Bluetooth connection between your paired devices. For example, if you’re listening to music on your laptop and want to take a call on your phone, you don’t have to disconnect from your current device and enter the pairing mode to swap connections. Just double press the multi-function button, and the Bullets Wireless Z will automatically connect to your phone—no need to touch your phone and open Bluetooth settings.
Sound & Call Quality
The similarity between the Bullets Wireless 2 and Bullets Wireless Z stops at visuals, though. There’s a stark difference between the two earphones when it comes to audio quality and driver setup—not surprising when we take into account the price gap. The Bullets Wireless 2 featured two Knowles-balanced armature drivers that handled vocals and treble and a 10mm dynamic driver that took care of the bass. The Bullets Wireless Z doesn’t enjoy the same luxury due to its tighter price envelope and only features a single 9.2mm dynamic driver.
Not only do the Bullets Wireless Z have an inferior driver setup, but they also leave out the high-quality Bluetooth codecs such as aptX HD and LDAC. You only get AAC and SBC codecs, a definite step down from the Bullets Wireless 2 which boasts aptX HD support. All of the abovementioned codecs offer higher bitrate throughput and lower latency compared to AAC and SBC. For what it’s worth, OnePlus says the earphones do support the Low Latency mode on OnePlus devices through the phones’ Fnatic gaming mode.
Coming to the audio quality, the Bullets Wireless Z has a warm, bass-forward sound that’s suitable for pop, EDM, and Hip Hop music. Mids are a bit laid back but still come clean without being muffled by the emphasized bass. This was quite evident when listening to Lost In Yesterday by Tame Impala, where Kevin Parker’s vocals pierced through the heavy bass presence. Treble performance, on the other hand, lacks sparkle and zing. On overly bright tracks, this could have a positive effect as it would tame down some of the harshnesses and make the sound more bearable for ears. However, when listening to acoustic and classical music, it often lacks energy and loses out finer details.
Although the bass on the Bullets Wireless Z takes center stage, it’s not particularly well-balanced. The sub-bass feels all over the place and lacks a satisfying punch. Some people might enjoy the elevated low-end bass, but I personally prefer a tighter punch that only kicks in when needed and doesn’t stick around too long.
The Bullets Wireless Z has a narrow soundstage that’s located inside the user’s head. Tracks that don’t utilize too many instruments will sound fine and you’ll be able to identify different instruments easily. On The Run by Pink Floyd incorporates multiple panning effects with footsteps moving from side-to-side and pulsing synth sounds fading in-and-out, all of which were faithfully reproduced by the Bullets Wireless Z.
Full Test Playlist
- Time — Pink Floyd
- On the Run — Pink Floyd
- Money For Nothing — Dire Straits
- Mystery of Love — Sufjan Stevens
- Intuition — Maejor
- Unsquare Dance — Dave Brubeck
- When the Morning Light Shines In — Dan Romer (Far Cry 5)
- The Mummers’ Dance — Loreena McKennitt
- Lost In Yesterday — Tame Impala
- Take My Breathe Away — Berlin
- Locke — PYLOT
The Bullets Wireless Z might not be the best sounding product in the wireless earphones category, but they do make for an excellent movie-watching experience thanks to their emphasized bass and clean mids, giving a sort of home-theatre like feel in your ears.
Overall, the sound quality of the Bullets Wireless Z is a mixed bag. For me, they don’t sound as good as my trusty Bullets V2. There is a smoothness and excitement to the Bullets V2’s sound, which I found missing on the Bullets Wireless Z. The neutral sound profile of the Bullets V2 also makes them an excellent choice for a vast genre of music. With the Bullets Wireless Z, your experience will largely depend on the type of music you listen to. Songs with a simple bassline and few instruments will fare well, but anything complex and multi-layered tends to lose clarity and sounds muddy.
The call quality on the Bullets Wireless Z is serviceable. With no secondary microphone or software-based noise reduction solution in place, callers on the other end of my voice calls often complained about background noises when I was in the middle of city traffic and noisy environments.
The Bullets Wireless Z offers very good passive noise isolation. Just putting the earphones in will effectively block out a fair amount of outside noise, including the rumbles of engines and the humming of a ceiling fan. Once you start playing music, it’s difficult to make out of what’s going on around you. To achieve the perfect isolation, it’s vitally important that you experiment with the different ear tips and choose the ones that give you a perfect seal. For me, the smallest ear tips provide the best fit and seal. Try out each size one-by-one and decide for yourself which one works for you.
Bluetooth Range & Latency
The Bullets Wireless Z offers Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and is backward compatible with older Bluetooth specifications. The signal range is excellent, as you would expect from any Bluetooth 5.0 audio accessory. For me, it’s a big step up from my Sennheiser HD 4.50, which uses Bluetooth 4.2 and easily drops connection when I’m in another room away from my phone. With the Bullets Wireless Z, I don’t have to ensure a clear line of sight or worry about physical obstructions interrupting my audio playback. I could roam in different parts of my house with my phone plugged into the charger in my bedroom, and yet there was no hint of music or calls suffering from connection drops or showing a loss of clarity.
The lack of aptX or other high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs means the latency on the Bullets Wireless Z isn’t that impressive. Using the Audio Tester app, we measured the latency to be above 300ms, which is far from ideal for gaming. Although OnePlus does offer a low-latency mode for a reduced lag gaming experience, it’s only available on its own phones using the Fnatic mode, which is available on the OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Pro, OnePlus 7 series, OnePlus 7T, OnePlus 7T Pro, and OnePlus 6T (the OnePlus 6 will receive it via an OTA in August). Aamir was able to test the low-latency mode on his OnePlus 7 Pro and found that it did cut the latency significantly in PUBG Mobile. It doesn’t come quite close to a wired solution—you can still spot the delay if you listen closely for it—but it’s far better than what you get out-of-the-box. For non-OnePlus phone owners looking to buy these earphones primarily for gaming, we would advise sticking to wired headsets or looking for something else with at least aptX codec support.
Battery Performance & Charging Speed
The battery performance is the strongest aspect of the Bullets Wireless Z. The company claims up to 20 hours of non-stop music playback on a single charge, a marked improvement over the Bullets Wireless 2’s 14-hour claim. In my experience, the Bullets Wireless Z’s battery life does live up to this claim. During my three weeks of heavy usage, which included hours of music listening, watching YouTube videos, and taking calls, I only had to fully charge the earphones three times.
The amazing battery life of the Bullets Wireless Z is accompanied by the equally amazing Warp Charge wired fast charging tech, which fills up the empty battery at a moment’s notice. OnePlus says a 10-minute charge is enough to give you 10 hours of music playback. To test this claim, I charged the Bullets Wireless Z for precisely 10 minutes and looped the earphones through a playlist with the volume set to 50%. The earbuds lasted for 10 hours and 55 minutes before being disconnected. This better-than-expected result is due to the fact that I used a 5V/2A adapter, which is higher than OnePlus’s minimum requirement of using a 5V/0.6A charger. We performed a similar loop test to check the 20-hour endurance claim. Again, the earbuds delivered on their promise and managed to last for 20 hours and 8 minutes before finally dying.
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z are simply incredible when it comes to battery performance. There are few if any Bluetooth wireless earphones on the market in this price range that can deliver such a marathon battery life on a single charge.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z: Conclusion
The Bullets Wireless Z succeeds in its goal to deliver a practical, value-for-money wireless audio package that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Where the Bullets Wireless 2 were a niche product aimed at providing a premium audio experience, OnePlus has taken a more mainstream approach with the Bullets Wireless Z by lowering the price barrier and retaining some of the most useful features from last year’s model.
The OnePlus Bullets Z are fantastic entry-level Bluetooth earphones that nail the fundamentals. They have a reliable build quality that can withstand rough handling, an ergonomic design that’s comfortable to wear for extended periods, and battery life that just goes on and on. The sound quality is decent for everyday listening but certainly not the best in its class. If sound quality is your top priority, you should perhaps take a look at the OPPO Enco M31 earbuds, which cost the same as the Bullets Wireless Z but are Hi-Res certified, offer LDAC codec support, and have a neutral sound profile. I primarily bought the Bullets Wireless Z to replace my wired Bullets V2, hoping to enjoy a similar audio experience with the convenience of Bluetooth. While I can’t say I’m pleased with the overall sound quality, I can totally see myself enjoying that extra kick of bass while listening to EDM and trance. On top of that, I also find the convenience and comfort offered by them to be immensely helpful in day-to-day usage.