Despite some rumours that OnePlus would jump onto the wire-free earbud bandwagon, the company has not decided to ditch all their wires. Instead, it has released a newer version of last year's Bullets Wireless, in the inventively named Bullets Wireless 2. Obviously a new product means new features, but just how different are they compared to last year? Fortunately, I have both pairs in my possession, and can tell you just how different they are.
The short version is that OnePlus hasn't completely reinvented the Bullets Wireless, so there aren't a lot of differences from last year. They both look rather similar, as you can tell in the images (above, the Bullets Wireless are on the left, and the Bullets Wireless 2 on the right), and in fact the only design change comes from the buds themselves. There are a few changes on the inside too, but generally speaking if you're already the proud owner of a pair of the original Bullets Wireless there isn't much to make upgrading worthwhile.
But if you're in the market for a new pair of Bluetooth earbuds, and the original Bullets Wireless (which will no doubt be getting some sort of price cut) don't appeal, these just might.
The Bullets Wireless 2 buds are smaller and sleeker than its predecessor, but they're also heavier. That's because they're made of stainless steel this time round, rather than whatever lesser metal they used last year. The weight is noticeable in your hands, especially when you're comparing the two side by side, but once they're in your earholes the differences is negligible. The magnets are also smaller, but it seems as though the connection is a bit stronger than last year, which makes sticking them together less of a hassle. Not by much, though, so if you want to take advantage of the magnetic pause control you'll need to make sure they actually connect. Otherwise you're going to lose your place in whatever podcast or audiobook you're reading.
The new Bullets Wireless also feature better sound, thanks to the presence of three drivers on the inside. Last year only had one, and while the audio quality was good it wasn't perfect. This time around it means you get clearer treble and deeper bass, provided you're the kind of person that notices this kind of thing. I did notice a difference in the sound, but I don't have the vocabulary to put that into words. There's a reason I don't review headphones anymore, and it's because I'm an audio pleb.
Other upgrades include a quick switching option, which is fantastic news for anyone who uses Bluetooth headphones with one or more devices. While the Bullets Wireless could be quite problematic for switching between devices (you basically had to re-enter pairing mode every time you wanted to switch), the Bullets Wireless 2 has a quick switch option. Simply double press the power button and it will swap to the device you were connected to before. It takes a second, and unfortunately it can only remember two devices at a time, but it's a brilliant little feature that makes life a lot easier. Especially for me when I'm trying to get wireless audio on my Nintendo Switch.
The Bullets 2 are also Bluetooth 5.0, which should help prevent interference when you're in an area swarming with active Bluetooth connections - which is basically everywhere these days.
As with last year the Bullets Wireless 2 are also water resistant. There's no IP rating, in typical OnePlus style, but they should be fine with sweat and rain.
The biggest plus this time round is that Bullets Wireless 2 will charge much faster than the originals. The original Bullets Wireless had about a day's battery life overall, but were capable of soaking in five hours worth of power in 10 minutes. Bullets Wireless 2 doubles that, soaking up 10 hours worth of power in 10 minutes, and as an added bonus can apparently pull it in from any USB-C cable - not just OnePlus's own fast chargers. I'm not sure how that works, and I couldn't accurately test it myself before launch day, but if that's the case it's pretty impressive.
So there's not a huge amount of difference this year, and if you have the first wave of Bullets Wireless earbuds you probably don't want to drop however many pounds they cost so quickly. But the improvements they've brought along are still great, especially where charging is concerned. It's up to you to decide whether they're worth the money, though.
One random point from me, though? Don't sleep in the Bullets Wireless 2 unless they're fitted properly. Otherwise they may end up falling out and rolling under you in the night, and that's why I have a very painful bruise on my ribs. Ok it's not that painful, but it's not exactly a fucking picnic either.
Bullets Wireless 2 will launch alongside the OnePlus 7 Pro on 21st May, with a £99 price tag. Bit of a step up from the £69 the originals cost, so bear that in mind.