Early this year, we saw that major news outlets got an early production of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless. The announced June availability turned out to be a disappointingly small production run.
Then in the first week of September, One Plus put another batch for sale at their website and we ordered them immediately: charging via USB-C, sound via Bluetooth. Ridiculously rare, as we noted recently. So let’s see how they fare.
Reading the reviews from May this year, the packaging has received a major upgrade. The box is sturdy and shiny white, comparable with the unboxing experience of the major smartphone brands.
The box contains a USB-A-to-USB-C charging cable, ear tips and wings in three sizes and a bright red pouch. The Bullets Wireless is not made from cheap plastic, no sir. The earbuds have a premium quality look and feel; it’s soft and velvety, and feels sturdy yet flexible. The pouch likewise, it’s made of a bright red, soft polymer with a magnetic fastener. It’s too small, though.
The Bullets Wireless is somewhat different from what I’m used to; I’ve previously used the JBL Reflect Mini BT: one single cord from the left to the right earbud, with the volume rocker in between. The Bullets Wireless is different, the base is formed by a necklace-like piece, with thin cords running to the earbuds: the so-called collar design.
I didn’t much like this construction when I first saw it. It looked to me like it’d be clumsy and stiff. But that’s changed now that I’ve got the actual product in my hand. While rigid, the necklace is soft and flexible enough to fold and store it in the 3×4″ pouch.
The necklace construction also has one major unexpected advantage: it sits still. The usual mode of earbuds is that you string the wire around your neck. However when you listen music and move your head, the rubbing of the wire against your clothes is clearly audible. Since the necklace construction sits still, this no longer happens. Personally, that’s a big plus for me.
Sound is what I’d describe as neutral. There’s enough bass but it’s not overly present. Spotify standard quality is Ogg Vorbis 160kbit/s. I’ve listened to This is my bassline which sounded great. Classical music also sounds excellent. Der Hölle Rache as performed by Erika Miklósa would bring out the voice as well as all instruments, whether played soft or loud.
If sound quality is of top priority of course, then don’t get Bluetooth. I think everybody agrees on that. But to my untrained ears, the sound is absolutely fine. Note that the above music was played on my 2016 15″ MacBook Pro running High Sierra, and the aptX codec was used.
Outside noise isolation is what you’d expect from any in-ear earbuds. They’re not designed to add additional passive noise isolation. In fact, the ear buds are actually quite slim and light compared to the JBL Reflect Mini BT.
Range is impressive. Very impressive. In my 1930’s house, I can leave my phone downstairs and walk to the 3rd floor. The connection stays up, and quality does not degrade. It’s bizarre, the range is even better than my wifi.
Charging is supposed to be very convenient. Jam the nearest USB-C charger into the Bullets Wireless and be done with it. Right? Right?! In a word, no.
The box comes with a USB-A-to-USB-C. Charging with this particular cable always works. Not fast, but reliable; we saw a maximum of around 400 mA at 5V.
Then we tested a pure USB-C situation and it gets very spotty. The Bullets Wireless do NOT charge from:
- Apple’s 87W USB-C charger, with Apple USB-C charging cable
- From the USB-C port of the Apple 2016 15″ MacBook Pro, with an Anker USB-C cable
- Blitzwolf 30W USB-C charger, with an Anker USB-C cable
- Innergie 45W USB-C charger with attached cable
This was extremely disappointing to us. Pure USB-C charging simply doesn’t work. In the back of a drawer, we still had an old 1st gen. Innergie 45W USB-C charger (from 2016) and this one does work.
Of course we opened a support case with One Plus. After explaining the issue, using photos and two videos, they said it should work and sent us another Bullets Wireless. The problem was not solved; the new one still exhibits the same charging problem.
Should you have a Dash charger (OnePlus’ proprietary fast charging standard, based on USB-A), the whole point becomes moot of course. The Bullets Wireless supports fast charging on any Dash charger.
In one word, these are premium earbuds. It’s almost everything it promises to be: excellent quality, great sound and all wireless. However we’re a site focused on USB-C and the niggling doubt that you can’t just charge on any USB-C charger is a great let down for us. Recent rumors have pointed to a new version of the Bullets Wireless and perhaps this includes a fix for the charging situation. We’ll have to see but in the mean time, we only advise the Bullets Wireless if you charge via an old-fashioned USB-A to USB-C cable.
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