In the era of true wireless earphones, the old-school neckband style feels a bit dated and overbearing in some ways. That said, the form factor comes with various advantages, the biggest of which is reasonable pricing for the features and performance on offer. OnePlus continues to promote this form factor, and its latest neckband-style wireless earphones take a proven winner one step further.
The OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z2 ANC is exactly what the name suggests — the rather capable Bullets Wireless Z2, but with active noise cancellation as an added feature.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z2 ANC first impressions: Familiar design
There's really not much to tell the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z2 ANC apart from its non-ANC predecessor; the two headsets look and feel the same. This includes the flexible neckband, physical controls, USB Type-C charging port, and magnetic power control. Like before, linking the two earpieces together magnetically turns the headset off, and separating them turns it on.
Interestingly, you get some app-like controls (within the Bluetooth settings) if you pair it to a compatible OnePlus smartphone, including the ability to cycle between ANC and transparency modes, equaliser presets (including the ability to create a fully customised preset for yourself), and a very small degree of customisation for the physical buttons on the neckband. It will take some time to build muscle memory, but the controls are convenient enough once you've figured it out.
The earpieces being attached to wires admittedly feels a bit weird to me in 2023, but the advantages of a neckband-style headset are hard to look past. Things such as battery life, fast charging, and the tuning and ANC performance tend to benefit from this form factor, as does pricing and the value-for-money proposition. I'll tackle all of this in more detail in my review.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z2 ANC first impressions: Decent active noise cancellation
The big change here is the addition of active noise cancellation, while the sound and sonic performance remain largely the same on the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z2 ANC, as expected. This means that you can expect the sound to be punchy and bass-driven, as well as loud and occasionally fatiguing if you listen to a lot of bass-heavy tracks.
Of course, the key feature of active noise cancellation is what makes all the difference here. For a price of around Rs. 300 over that of the regular Bullets Wireless Z2, you get decent active noise cancellation on the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z2 ANC. It's not exceptional or comparable to premium-grade ANC in my initial listening impressions, but it's definitely better than the kind of basic active noise cancellation you'd get on similarly-priced true wireless earphones.
Battery life is something I'll explore in detail in my full review, but I did have a chance to try out the fast charging, which is on par with the rather impressive 20-minute charging time offered by the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z2.
As mentioned, I'll be writing my full review of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z2 ANC soon, but it's safe to say that there aren't too many products like this anymore. The neckband form factor for wireless earphones retains significant advantages when it comes to pricing, and the Bullets Wireless Z2 ANC is arguably the best you can buy at around Rs. 2,500 or so, especially now that it comes with active noise cancellation.
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