With increasing numbers of smartphone manufacturers removing the headphone jack from their latest handsets, it’s become something of a necessity for consumers to find a good pair of Bluetooth headphones to go along their new phone.
Of course, the main thing stopping most consumers from buying their own pair of Bluetooth headphones is the associated cost. Whatever other compromises Bluetooth headphones ask consumers to make, it’s the hefty price tag of even the most basic models that stops most people from buying a pair.
Enter OnePlus, the one company that didn’t remove the headphone jack from its latest smartphone. Alongside the excellent OnePlus 6, the company announced the Bullets Wireless, a $100 CAD pair of Bluetooth headphones.
I’ve been using them since the OnePlus sent out review units of the OnePlus 6. With how quickly OnePlus sold through its initial stock of the Bullets Wireless, I decided to do a short review to help those on the fence.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
Let’s start with the obvious. Over the course of its short history, OnePlus has shipped some good-looking products. The Bullets Wireless is not one of those products.
Even at their best, neckband type Bluetooth headphones look unattractive. The Bullets Wireless don’t do anything to change that. Additional colours could have helped somewhat with this problem. Unfortunately, the Bullets Wireless are currently only available in one colour: black.
Thankfully, once you get past their looks, they have a lot going for them.
The Wireless Bullets ship with three different sets of silicone ear tips and fins. I wasn’t able to find a combination that fit my ears well enough to create a perfect seal, nor prevent one of the drivers from wiggling its way out of my ear on occasion. For what it’s worth, I have trouble finding any pair of in-ear headphones that are large enough to fit my ears. I did, however, find the Bullets Wireless significantly more comfortable than other neckband type Bluetooth headphones I’ve used in the past, such as the BeatsX and Fitbit Flyer.
Included with the Bullets Wireless is a red carrying pouch.
While cute, the pouch isn’t as practical as some of the other carrying cases that come with headphones from other manufacturers. It stays shut using a magnet, so it can’t protect the Bullets Wireless against accidental spills and dust. I also was never sure if I put the headphones in properly.
Look elsewhere for audiophile audio quality
Overall, sound quality is on par and, at times, better than what popular — and, it must be said, more expensive — Bluetooth headphones like the BeatsX produce.
I didn’t fall in love with the Bullets Wireless after my first listen, but they slowly won me over. With certain types of music, they can sound brittle. Moreover, the soundstage they present isn’t the most nuanced, with different instruments and vocals getting muddled together. However, considering both their price and the fact that they’re designed with more active users in mind, they get the job done.
When I used them at the gym, instead of a quiet space, they were more than up to the task. What’s more, the Bullets Wireless include other features that more than make up for their less-than-perfect sound quality.
One of those is related to battery life.
USB-C, as it should be
OnePlus claims eight hours of battery life on a full charge. In practice, I found the Bullets Wireless fell short of that mark. Depending on how loud I listened to my music throughout the day, battery life was closer to six to seven hours. In the past, less than stellar battery life would have stopped me from using a pair of Bluetooth headphones after testing them.
However, that hasn’t been the case with the Bullets Wireless thanks to their inclusion of USB-C charging.
This is the best feature of OnePlus’ new headphones. While they ship with a shorter version of the company’s signature red USB-C cable, it’s possible to take advantage of their fast charging capability with any international standard USB-C cable. In comparison to other Bluetooth headphones, I found the Bullets Wireless were a much better fit for me because of this functionality. I’m able to charge them with the USB-C cable that came with my MacBook Pro, which lets me bring just one cable with me when I travel to and from work.
What’s more, the fast charging functionality works exceptionally.
OnePlus claims it takes just 10 minutes of charging to get the Bullets Wireless back up to five hours of battery life. While I don’t have an exact hour count for battery life, I do have one good anecdotal example. On days when I went to the gym after work, I charged the Bullets Wireless for five to ten minutes before leaving the office. In this way, I’ve never got into a situation in which they ran out of battery while I was working out.
In another feature for the gym crowd, the Bullets Wireless are splash and sweat-resistant.
Bluetooth made easy
Hardware aside, the OnePlus Bullets ship with several interesting software-related features. In short, these work great.
I first paired the Bullets Wireless with my OnePlus 6 at the co-working space MobileSyrup calls home. It’s an office filled with dozens of Bluetooth devices.
Normally finding the one Bluetooth device you want to pair with your phone in that type of situation resembles something approaching a nightmare, but almost as soon as I turned Bluetooth on, the OnePlus 6 displayed a notification that prompted me to pair the two together. I didn’t have to navigate into Android’s Bluetooth settings menu to complete the process.
In another nifty addition, the Bullets Wireless feature magnetized drivers. Putting them together automatically pauses playback.
It’s a neat feature that works even on other Android devices. It’s also possible, using the OnePlus 6’s ‘Earphone mode,’ to set the Bullets Wireless to automatically resume playback when you pull the drivers apart. All of these features also work with the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T.
The price is right
In Canada, the Bullets Wireless are priced at $100. Even once one factors in both shipping and tax — $13.99 and $14.68, respectively — on top of their $100 price tag, the Bullets Wireless represent excellent value. While there are other compelling options at the $130 price point, such as the Jaybird X3, it's hard to find a competing pair of Bluetooth headphones that matches the Bullet Wireless' excellent feature list.
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless are available to purchase online via OnePlus.com.
"While there are other compelling options at the $130 price point, it's hard to find a competing pair of Bluetooth headphones that matches the Bullet Wireless' feature list."