OPPO Enco Buds2 review: Nice balancing act with impressive results
There are times when it feels like it's a lot easier to come up with a flagship product than one on a much tighter budget. Don't get me wrong, both have their own individual challenges. While you can pack the flagship with everything you got, it's a fine balancing act with the entry-level product deciding what features to include and what to leave out in the given budget. Needless to say, the competition is often much stiffer at a lower price point. OPPO's Enco X2 thrilled us with its features and performance in a budget upwards of Rs. 10,000. And now the company is looking to strengthen its base at the other end of the spectrum with the launch of OPPO Enco Buds2. Understandably, the Buds2 does not flaunt most of the fancy features offered by the X2, and looks to focus on two key parameters that matter most to the users in this segment - sound quality and battery life. Let's see how it fares.
Lightweight and comfortable in the ears, pocketable charging case
The build quality and design of these OPPO earbuds is pretty good for a budget product. It predominantly has a black matte finish with a touch of gloss to break the monotony. The design, though not unique, is completely different from its predecessor, the Enco Buds. You now get a stemmed design with the top of the stems being touch enabled. While the stems are nicely rounded, the touch zones are flattened to let the user know where to tap. The touch sensitivity is fine with the buds producing a clicking sound when you tap in the zone. The earbuds weigh just 4gm each and you barely feel their presence in the ear. The buds have angled tips that go into the ear canals, while the stems stay out. The buds fit snugly in the ears and stay in place during jogs and workouts; seldom did I need to adjust them. The pre-installed medium-sized silicone tips offer good passive noise isolation, and you get two more pairs in the bundle to choose from, in case medium is not the ideal size. However, a USB charging cable isn't included; a non-factor if you already have a USB-C cable/charger. The OPPO Enco Buds2 only comes in black as of now, and while it's all black on the outside, the inside of the charging case has a nice light blue shade. Speaking of the case, it is perfectly circular, quite slim and easily pocketable. Again, it has a matte finish except for a glossy ring that runs across the circumference. It weighs under 40gm despite hosting a 460mAh battery. A USB-C charging port and a charge indicator LED are located at the base of the case.
Programmable controls with volume control on the buds
The Buds2 are IPX4 rated splash resistant, but not dust resistant like their predecessor, which had an IP54 rating. I accidentally ended up testing the fluid resistance of these buds thanks to a coffee spill. It's been a couple of weeks since, and I am happy to report that they are working perfectly fine with no change in sound quality. So you can wear them to the gym or jogs without worrying about sweat damaging them. Each earbud is fitted with a 10mm dynamic driver and a microphone for calling. You do not get active noise cancellation (ANC) or wear detection sensors, which is fine for this segment. Dual-pairing support is also missing, which I would have preferred to see here. These Bluetooth 5.2 compliant earbuds support SBC and AAC codecs. There's Dolby Atmos support too when paired with compliant devices. The latency figure stands at 94ms in Game mode. If you plan to use these earbuds with an OPPO, OnePlus or Realme phone, you do not need to install the HeyMelody app that is necessary for phones from other brands to tweak the buds further. For the aforementioned brands, the options are available in the Bluetooth settings itself. You can alter the sound profile, configure the controls and update the firmware through there. Use of double tap as a camera shutter is limited only to OPPO phones for now. The buds support single tap, double tap, triple tap and touch-and-hold gestures for both earbuds. One can assign functions like play/pause, previous/next track, voice assistant, Game mode, and last but not the least, volume up/down to those gestures. Certain functions can only be assigned to specific gestures. For instance, volume control can be assigned only to touch-and-hold gesture. This is one of the rare budget TWS earphones to have volume control on the buds itself; saves you the trouble of reaching for the phone.
Fairly balanced output, multiple sound profiles are actually useful
The wireless range is good with the earbuds retaining a strong connection up to 10 meters with a clear line of sight. There were no latency issues either with no noticeable lag between the video and audio when watching videos on the synced phone. These buds are quite loud even at 40% volume, and even when outdoors 50% loudness was good enough. Not that you need to go that far with these buds, but beyond 70% they sound a bit harsh on the ear. The OPPO Enco Buds2 provides you with three sound profiles - Original sound, Bass boost and Clear vocals, and for a change, all three are usable. Personally speaking, the Original sound profile is the best of the lot and offers a fairly balanced output, which is quite rare in this budget class. The bass is sufficient yet tight, and more importantly, it doesn't mask the midrange frequencies too much. The vocal clarity is very good and the instrument separation is above average for the segment. The highs have ample sparkle but could have been tempered better. Though not always, there is a hint of sibilance in certain tracks. The soundstage is not too broad here, but acceptable for the segment. Those who crave extra bass can switch to the Bass boost profile. Unlike several budget earphones that offer a bass boost preset, the one here does not overdo it. Of course, it boosts the low end frequencies, but not to a point where the bulk of the lower mids are engulfed. It makes the output more V-shaped, which many in this segment may enjoy. The Clear vocals preset is not meant for music ideally. It is better suited for podcasts and other voice focused content.
Below par call quality, but very good battery backup
The call quality on the Enco Buds2 is not so great. It is fine indoors, and I was very much audible to the person on the line, but the voice quality isn't the sharpest in the segment. The company advertises something called 'AI Deep Noise Cancellation for calls' that didn't really work as expected when outdoors. A lot of background noise was clearly audible to the person on the call, and it did impact the conversation more than it should. This product wouldn't be my top pick if calling was a high priority. The battery life of the Enco Buds2 is quite impressive though. The company claims a backup of seven hours for the buds and 28 hours overall with the charging case. Given the absence of power hungry features like ANC, these numbers don't seem far fetched. These earbuds are loud by default and we rarely had to go beyond 50% during the course of testing, which helped the buds last for a shade over six and a half hours. The case is capable of recharging them thrice over. That gives you an overall battery backup of 26 hours for the buds and case combined, which is very good. Fast charging is available, but the numbers aren't exactly flattering. A 10 minutes charge can give you an hour of playtime, which is useful at best when in a hurry. The buds and case can be fully charged in a couple of hours, with just the buds taking close to 90 minutes to charge. The battery level of each earbud as well as the charging case is visible in the Bluetooth settings or in the HeyMelody app.
One of the best TWS earphones under Rs. 2,000
The OPPO Enco Buds2 can be purchased for Rs. 1,999 with a one year warranty, and it is often available for a couple of hundreds lower. For that price, you get a pair of TWS earphones with a neat design, comfortable fit, lively and balanced sound output, additional sound profiles, configurable controls and very good battery backup. It does enough to justify its existence and be one of the top picks under Rs. 2,000 in India at the moment. While the competition is quite fierce in the segment, it should mainly bother about two TWS products - the Realme Buds Q2 that refuses to retire and the lesser known Soundcore Life Note E. While both are officially priced a little higher, they are often on sale for Rs. 1,999. The sound quality of all three products is comparable, and all of them offer three sound profiles. While Realme flaunts ANC, the Soundcore buds boasts of even better battery backup and design. It is hard to pick a clear winner among the three, but no matter which of them you choose, you won't lose.