OnePlus Buds Z Steven Harrington Review: Buds for the Cool Kids

OnePlus Buds Z Steven Harrington Review: Buds for the Cool Kids

Review verdict: The OnePlus Buds Z offers great value for money and conveniences like Google Fast Pair and accurate controls for ease of use. They are more bass-focused, and while they don’t have aptX and the touch control customization is limited, the Buds Z sound great for their price–provided that you listen within the right volume range. 

If the white version looks boring and generic, the Steven Harrington edition spices things up with its use of pastel colors and unique graphics from Harrington’s “Cool Cat” artwork series. 


  • Convenient Fast Pairing feature
  • Punchy bass that does not drown ears
  • Light and comfortable



  • No aptX codec
  • Touch controls are very limited
  • Case design not original (if you’re getting the regular white version)

OnePlus Buds Z Review

After several months, OnePlus is making its excellent Buds Z TWS available in the Philippines. As the brand’s second TWS offering, the Buds Z offers a lower price point while sporting unique features like Google Fast Pair, 10mm bass boost drivers, and a unique and psychedelic Steven Harrington color option. Check out our OnePlus Buds Z review and see if they’re good enough for a purchase:


Not factoring in the fun graphics and colors found on the Steven Harrington Edition (the regular version is in plain white), the OnePlus Buds Z has an oblong case that reminds us a lot about the FreeBuds 3i, down to the USB-C location and placement of the pairing button.

OnePlus Buds Z Review interior shot

You might want to spend an additional Php 500 if you want the Buds Z’s case to look more unique, as the Steven Harrington edition makes use of green and purple pastel colors, along with various graphics that take cues from Harrington’s “Cool Cat” series. Unlike the glossy finish on the white version, you get a hard-wearing matte finish on the Steven Harrington edition, which is great if you want to flex its overall design without worrying too much about smudges or scratches.

The psychedelic, graphics-filled design also applies to the buds themselves, which also employ that nice matte finish–leaving only the space for the touch controls with a glossy finish. The buds are lightweight, and it’s impressive how OnePlus managed to hide the wear detection sensors on them.

OnePlus Buds Z ReviewInterface and fit

Like the realme Buds Air Pro, the OnePlus Buds Z supports Google Fast Pair, which the most universal (not to mention most convenient) way to pair them to your Android device. What Fast Pair does is that it binds the TWS earbuds to your Google account so that you can seamlessly pair them with any Android device that has a bound account.

This auto-pairing feature is a big plus especially if you use multiple Android devices and you want to use the Buds Z on different devices–Ie. shifting from using the Buds Z for calls on your phone to using them for playing games or watching videos on your tablet. Switching between devices is as simple as holding the touch control of either bud for 3 seconds.

Aside from Fast Pair, the Buds Z come with wear detection sensors that automatically pause music when you take them off your ear, and resume playback once you wear them again. Considering that these are a pair of sub-Php 3k TWS earbuds, the wear detection sensors work surprisingly fast.

While OnePlus advertises that you need to have an OnePlus 6 or newer phone to customize the Buds Z’s tap controls, other Android users could download HeyMelody to customize controls and update the firmware. Aside from OnePlus TWS earbuds, the app is also compatible with all of OPPO’s wireless audio offerings.

Despite looking like your typical TWS earbuds with the long stem, the Buds Z are surprisingly light and not as bulky as they appear when you wear them.

Audio quality and battery life

As mentioned earlier, the Buds Z make use of 10mm bass boost drivers that make their overall soundstage more focused on the lows. Unlike other bass boost-sporting TWS drivers I’ve tried previously, the Buds Z delivers the right amount of punch for the bass and manages to give a good amount of detail for the mids and highs.

The separation between the lows, mids, and highs are not as distinct as that of more expensive TWS earbuds, but it is impressive to see how OnePlus tuned the Buds Z’s bass boost driver to have a good balance between punchy lows and detailed mids and highs. The Buds Z can go really loud, and I found that keeping the volume at around 70 to 80% is its sweet spot for the best possible audio quality. As for audio codecs, you don’t get aptX with the Buds Z, so you are limited to just AAC and SBC codecs.

in ear shot 2

As for battery life, OnePlus advertises the Buds Z to last for up to 20 hours with the charging case. Being my daily driver for walks with the dogs, for games, and for binging on Netflix shows, the Buds Z lasted me for a little over 4 hours, which is on the average side for TWS earbuds. You don’t get wireless charging with the Buds Z (charging is done via USB-C), but its main selling point is its fast charging capabilities: a 10-minute charge gives you around 3 hours of playtime. Charging the case from flat to 100% will take you under an hour.

OnePlus Buds Z Review in caseWrap up and conclusions:

Our OnePlus Buds Z review shows that the brand’s “Never Settle” slogan applies to their headphones as well, with the Buds Z offering a great pair of TWS earbuds that offer a lot of value for money. Those bass boost drivers deliver the right amount of bass while maintaining the detail on the mids and highs as much as possible.

The lack of aptX and its limited touch control functionality are not deal-breakers, as its Fast Pair feature and snappy wear detection sensors are great features that you rarely find on a pair of under Php 3k pair of TWS earbuds.

OnePlus Buds Z Review in ear shot

OnePlus Buds Z Philippine price and availability

The OnePlus Buds Z in the Philippines is priced at Php 2,990 for the Steven Harrington edition and Php 2,490 for the regular white edition. Both are available at Home Office, OnePlus Official Shopee Store and at the OnePlus Lazada flagship store.



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