OnePlus Buds 3 review: our favourite pair of TWS earbuds under Rs 6,000 right now

Up until now, OnePlus had a good distinction between its premium and affordable truly wireless earbuds. On the premium side, we had the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 (and the Buds Pro before it), while the budget segment was taken care of by the Nord and Z series, with the likes of the OnePlus Nord Buds 2 and Buds Z2. The company decided to throw this balance out of whack with the launch of the OnePlus Buds 3, a premium-looking pair of TWS earbuds at half the price of the Buds 2 Pro. But we’re not complaining! The OnePlus Buds 3 is good. Really good in fact.

Design, comfort, and connectivity

The OnePlus Buds 3 takes a few design cues from its Pro sibling, which is great because you’re getting a premium design at half the price. The case’s design is fairly similar to the Buds Pro 2, with a rectangular shape and matte finish. It’s smooth to the touch and doesn’t show a significant bulge in the pocket. There’s a wide slit, which makes it easy to open a case as slippery as this. The earbuds sit flat in the case and there’s a button in the middle for Bluetooth pairing.

While the case has a smooth matte finish, the earbuds come with a dual finish. The stem is a glossy and reflective shade of either Splendid Blue or Metallic Black, depending on which colour option you go for. The part that sits inside the ear has a matte finish as does the touch sensor on the surface of the stem.

Speaking of the touch sensor, I love the swipe up and swipe down gesture to control the volume. It’s very convenient to use and I feel more TWS earbuds should adopt this. You can single tap, double tap, and triple tap the sensor to perform various functions like play/pause, jumping to the next or previous song, activating voice assistant or game mode. All of this can be mapped to your liking through the OnePlus Buds 3’s Bluetooth settings menu.

The earbuds are quite light and the silicone ear tips are soft, making them comfortable to keep in your ears for long sessions. They are also IP55-rated for water and dust resistance, which means they’ll be able to handle sweat while working out or the occasional drops of water on a rainy day.

The OnePlus Buds 3 supports Bluetooth 5.3, Google Fast Pair, and Dual Connection. The latter seamlessly switches between two devices, such as a phone and a laptop. During the review period, I did not face any issues with connectivity or switching between connected devices. The earbuds deliver good low latency, which can be improved further with Game mode enabled.

Sound quality and comparison with Enco Air3 Pro

I enjoyed listening to music on OnePlus Buds 3 and they are now my go-to pair when commuting. Each earbud houses dual dynamic drivers (10.4mm woofer and 6mm tweeter). The earbuds support SBC, AAC, and LHDC audio codecs. While LHDC delivers high-res audio, you should know that it isn’t as widely supported as LDAC is.

On the default Balanced setting, the earbuds deliver a bass-forward sound but the good thing is that the bass rarely overpowers the vocals or other instruments. For example, I checked out Go Robot by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea goes hard with the bassline in this song, so much so that it can overpower Chad’s vocals on average earbuds. But the OnePlus Buds 3 manages to maintain a good balance between the thumping bassline and Chad’s vocals.

In songs with many instruments, such as ‘Belly Belly Nice’ by Dave Matthews Band, the Buds 3 does well in spacing the instruments, ensuring that each sound is clear and distinct.  

If you’re looking for a little more oomph in the bass output, you can tweak the EQ to the Bass mode and crank up BassWave all the way up to 5. BassWave brings a very subtle bass boost that most people won’t be able to tell the difference.

The OnePlus Buds 3 works well in genres like Rock and Hip-Hop, offering good bass response and vocal clarity. The earbuds truly shine when listening to Acoustic songs like Chicago (Demo) Sufjan Stevens. My experience listening to Pop songs, however, has been a bit of a hit or miss. While I liked the V-shaped sound signature with emphasis on bass and treble in Pop songs like What Goes Around Comes Around by Justin Timberlake, my ears rang in pitchier songs like Shivers by Ed Sheeran.

Here’s my rating for how the Buds 3 sound in various genres:


The main rival to the OnePlus Buds 3 is the OPPO Enco Air3 Pro. I tried both pairs and found the OnePlus earbuds deliver a fuller sound with emphasised bass response thanks to the dual drivers here (the Enco Air3 Pro comes with a single driver). That said, the Enco Air3 Pro also delivers crystal clear sound that’s more balanced and offers a slightly wider soundstage that allows instruments to breathe. It also comes with LDAC support which makes it compatible with more phones.

ANC and mic quality

The OnePlus Buds 3 delivers up to 49dB Active Noise Cancellation, which is on par with other earbuds in this price range or higher. The ANC quality itself is really good, managing to effectively reduce loud environmental sounds while travelling in a metro or if you’re in a crowded room. You’ll still hear the faint tapping of keyboards around you in the office or the announcement of a station approaching when you’re in the metro, if you’re not listening to anything.

I found the ANC of the Buds 3 slightly better than that of the OPPO Enco Air3 Pro, largely due to better sealing.

As for the mic quality, the OnePlus Buds 3 delivers better clarity than the Enco Air3 Pro, at least when talking indoors.

Battery life

The OnePlus Buds 3 delivers terrific battery life. While I wasn’t able to use them for hours at a stretch to test how long each earbud can survive on a single charge, I can say that the earbuds (with the case) can last a week to 10 days easily on roughly 2 to 3 hours of listening time per day. OnePlus claims up to 44 hours of playback, which sounds about right. Of course, the actual battery life will vary depending on whether you’re using ANC or not.

OnePlus claims you can get up to 7 hours of music playback on 10 minutes of charge, which again seems about right. With the case and earbuds at 10 percent battery each, the charging time took roughly 1 hour and 35 minutes using the OnePlus 12R’s 100W charger.


The OnePlus Buds 3 are easily my favourite pair of earbuds right now. In fact, I often choose them over my first-generation AirPods Pro while commuting. The Buds 3 TWS earbuds nail a bunch of aspects that make it worth buying under Rs 6,000. Both the case and the earbuds deliver a premium look and feel, with the swipe gesture being a bonus for convenience. The earbuds deliver a more exciting sound with good bass response in comparison to the Enco Air3 Pro. While the ANC is decent, the battery life is excellent. All in all, you won’t get a more complete package than the OnePlus Buds 3 at this price point.

For some listeners, the OnePlus Buds 3’s bass-heavy sound could be off-putting, though they can tweak the EQ to their preference. The Buds 3 are better suited for those who like to listen to Hip-Hop, Rock, and Acoustic genres. For those looking for a more balanced profile that’s suited for all genres, the Enco Air3 Pro might be worth considering.

Editor’s rating: 8 / 10


  • Premium design at an affordable price
  • Exciting bass and vocal clarity
  • Convenient swipe touch control
  • Great battery life


  • Bass-heavy sound might not be for everyone
  • LHDC isn’t a widely supported codec