OnePlus unveiled its latest smartphone at an event last month, and after some hands-on time with the device, we called the OnePlus X a premium-looking phone that comes close to “flagship.” But at the same London event, the China-based smartphone maker also teased a new set of “premium” earphones, though it didn’t reveal prices or launch date.
What the company did reveal, however, was this promotional “blind test” video featuring “experts” expressing their delight at the quality of the sound.
Naturally, we’re not going to believe the fawnings of (presumably) stooges, which is why we needed to spend some time with the earphones ourselves.
One month in, and OnePlus has now officially launched the earphones. Costing $50 ($45 as a special Black Friday promotion), the OnePlus Icons are available in graphite or gold, and also sport a built-in microphone so you can take calls on the move.
OnePlus Icons: Hands-on
Similar to the OnePlus X smartphone, the OnePlus Icons are striking from the moment the box lands in your hands. The earphones come in premium packaging, replete with the OnePlus’s usual “Never Settle” branding.
In the box, you’ll see the rear side of the earphones, a leather case, and two additional sizes of silicone ear-tips to suit different ear sizes.
In the hand, the metallic aluminum earphones have a premium feel, and they are angled at 51° to help them fit in the ear more neatly.
The in-line remote sports three buttons — volume-up and volume-down flank a central button that serves a variety of functions. The tiny microphone hole is located on the flip-side of the remote.
The central button lets you play and pause your music by clicking it once, while a double-click lets you skip a track. Three clicks returns you to the previous track.
If you phone rings while your earphones are in, the middle button can be clicked once to answer the call, and again to hang up. The buttons worked exactly as described, based on my tests.
OnePlus says the Icons will work with all OnePlus phones and “most” Android devices. I tried them on a OnePlus 2 and a Nexus 4, and they worked as described.
But I also tested the earphones out on an iPad and an iPhone 5, and there were issues. The middle “play/pause” button seemed to work fine in most apps, including Apple Music, Spotify, and even BBC iPlayer. But the volume buttons did nothing. My hunch is that anybody looking to buy these earphones is more likely to be an Android user, given that they’re made by OnePlus, so it shouldn’t be a huge problem.
One of the biggest telltale signs of cheap earphones is the quality of sound — from my experience, poor bass is a massive red flag. I tested the OnePlus Icons across three music genres — house, rock, and drum ‘n bass — and they performed very well. They didn’t sound tinny, and they had prominent bass.
I have a bunch of earphones and headphones for various use-cases — Skype calls, jogging, and listening to podcasts in bed. Perhaps the most comparable set I have is the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts Titanium +Remote, which are great until you remember they cost $400. The OnePlus Icons currently cost almost 90 percent less than the Atomic Floyds, and although the Floyds do have a more premium (titanium) feel and broader frequency range, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend them to anyone but the most ardent audiophiles, due to the price.
With the launch of the OnePlus X this month, OnePlus made it clear it was aiming for a more mainstream “non-techy” market, and it seems this mindset has been transferred over to its accessories, too. They’re not top-of-the-range but, for the price, the OnePlus Icons offer pretty good value for money.
The OnePlus Icons are available to buy online now. Meanwhile, you can peruse the full product specifications below.
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Driver Unit: 11mm dynamic
- Weight: 15g
- Cable Length: 1.25m
- In-Line Remote: Yes
- Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 110 dB
- Connector: 3.5mm jack (straight)
- Wire Core Material: Enamelled copper wire
- Rated Power: 5mW
- Coil Material: Copper-clad aluminum
- Frequency Range: 20 – 20,000Hz
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.5%(1000Hz, 1mW)