5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

The newest OnePlus in-ears may not have «pro» in the name but they pack premium features, long-lasting battery, and a fresh design for only $100.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

Key Takeaways

  • OnePlus Buds 3 offer impressive ANC at a lower cost than Apple's AirPods Pro
  • OnePlus Buds 3 have intuitive touch controls and a more comfortable fit for users.
  • The OnePlus Buds 3 boast a standout design with splendid blue color, beating AirPods' monotony.

Apple's AirPods are undoubtedly iconic, ushering in an age of wireless earbuds as an everyday accessory and audio must-have. As wireless earbuds have become more mainstream, more companies followed Apple's standard-setting buds, adapting more features, spatial audio, impressive ANC, and that "cut off earbud" short stem design.

I've officially ventured outside of Apple's walled garden as they're comfortable, quality, and only $100.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

Even after testing multiple pairs of earbuds, myself and other sound snobs have rarely strayed from AirPods as a mainstay. However, after reviewing OnePlus' third in-ear iteration — the OnePlus Buds 3 — I've officially ventured outside of Apple's walled garden as they provide comfort, quality, and only cost you $100. In fact, there are fittingly three things in particular that I found in my testing, which I prefer the OnePlus Buds 3 over Apple's flagship headset. However, AirPods still win on a few fronts.

The OnePlus Buds 3 may have dropped the "Pro" name their predecessors hold, but these budget headphones are surprisingly luxury. Plus, coming in splendid blue or space gray, it's refreshing to see a pair of earbuds stray from classic white or black. Aside from being a primary member of the Apple ecosystem, Apple's AirPods Pro 2 are comfortable, pocketable, and sound great. However, that comes at a steep price. That said, the OnePlus Buds 3 are not only a great alternative, but a great pair of earbuds in their own right that deserve recognition — and perhaps your $100.

1 You want ANC on a budget

OnePlus wins due to its powerful and clear cancellation for less

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

OnePlus Buds 3

$100 at Amazon$100 at OnePlus

Perhaps the most popular spec to either come with every new earbud release or receive an upgrade with each iteration is ANC (active noise-cancelling). However, that usually comes at a marked-up price. For $100 the OnePlus Buds 3 successfully had me fully invested in my audio and almost dangerously unaware of my New York City surroundings. As I listened to songs like Taylor Swift's You Belong With Me, I was so engrossed in the electric guitar solo that I missed the barista calling my name and waited a little too long at my favorite coffee shop.

I even connected the OnePlus Buds 3 to my Galaxy Z Flip 4 and AirPods to my iPhone and honestly found it hard to tell a difference in terms of noise-cancelling abilities. When it came to overall sound quality, the OnePlus Buds 3 sounded a bit more tinny, but they undoubtedly delivered in terms of silence.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

And while the AirPods Pro 2 boast a $250 price tag, the OnePlus Buds 3 are $150 less at only $100, which is a great entry-level tag for a premium feature.

Transparency mode is also impressive, clearly allowing me to stay in tune with my surroundings — especially at a lower volume — while still having Sabrina Carpenter's latest single Espresso as my accompanying soundtrack.

2 Easier touch controls

OnePlus improves with less awkward and more intuitive stems

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

The AirPods Pro 2's introduced one of my favorite features with on-stem touch controls. However, they do require a bit of pressure to fully respond and work best when you use your index finger behind the stem and firmly press your index finger on the stem divot. OnePlus' controls, however, are a bit more sensitive without being overly so. Plus, the control isn't on the stem but on the bud bulb, making for a less awkward control — especially when I'm on the go.

3 A more snug fit

OnePlus buds are more stable and comfortable for long wear

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

Like AirPods, the OnePlus Buds 3 feature soft silicone tips that fit snugly within the ear. Featuring a rounder as opposed to a flatter bulb, the OnePlus Buds 3 aren't bulky but rather rest perfectly against a wider area of my ear, and therefore, reducing the built-up pressure that I often experience with AirPods. Additionally, the eartips seem to fit even deeper within my ear, which keeps them more stable when I run or get sweaty from a workout.

4 You want a more fun style

The blue perfectly matches my Lululemon pouch

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

Arguably part of what makes AirPods iconic is the sleek, all white design that spans from early wired Apple earpod generation all the way to the newest AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C. While a genius marketing tactic from Apple, the consistency can also feel redundant to headphone fanatics like myself. The OnePlus Buds come in a Metallic Gray, which is a nice neutral that easily pairs with all outfits, but more bold alternative to Apple's all-white. Additionally, the Splendid Blue color I own really is what the name suggests — splendid. It's just fun enough to add some color and spunk, but the metallic stems make them perfectly subtle to where people's heads don't turn when they're in my ears. Simply put, they're a standout without making it feel like I uncomfortably stand out.

5 Longer battery life

OnePlus Buds 3 have battery for days (literally)

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

OnePlus says the Buds 3 get 44 hours of play time with ANC off in the charging case, and I don't think that's right. I think it has more. I've gone a week straight using the OnePlus Buds 3 as my mainstay in-ears without needing to charge them.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over AirPods Pro 2

The battery life, even switching between ANC and transparency mode, sustains my 60-minute round trip walk every day in which I make calls, listen to podcasts, and listen to Taylor Swift on loop. It's only about a week — sometimes a little over — where I get a low battery notification, and even then, I still have a 15-30 minute grace period to really get the most out of my battery. While my AirPods Pro 2 battery life is far, my OnePlus Buds 3 win when it comes to living past a week.

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