OnePlus was founded in December 2013, though the company first burst onto the scene in 2014 when it launched the OnePlus One. The self-proclaimed "flagship killer" promised top-end performance at entry level prices. Now, OnePlus is making a push into the audio space as well, and the brand has launched its second pair of earphones, the OnePlus Icons. While the OnePlus Silver Bullet earphones were priced fairly affordably at Rs. 899, the Icons, at Rs. 2,999, are clearly at the upper end of what can be called "budget".
The OnePlus Icons are a nice looking pair of in-ear headphones, but are they comfortable enough and most of all, do they sound good enough to justify the price tag? Or should you consider spending as much or a little more to buy something nicer, or save your money and pick up a cheaper pair?
(Also see: Best In-Ear Headphones for Every Budget)
Design, specifications, and comfort
The design of the Icons is eye catching. The angled earpieces look nice and help ensure a good fit as well, and the metallic bands behind them look good. In your hand or in your ears, these look better than the earbuds that ship in the box with most phones.
The design and build quality of the OnePlus Icons is quite good for the price, and the woven cable feels like it will take a while to fray. It was also really easy to untangle, so from a durability perspective, we quite liked the Icons.
The earphones come in a fancy looking box, with multiple earpieces in different sizes, and a stylish looking pouch. It's a little small to carry the earphones in, and after a couple of days it picked up a lot of wrinkles and bulges as a result, but the small size makes it easy to carry around.
The OnePlus Icons use an 11mm dynamic driver and uses an aluminium composite diaphragm, with a frequency range from 20-20,000Hz, and 32Ohm impedance. It comes with an inline microphone and remote, so you can adjust volume or take calls using the Icons.
Unfortunately, the looks of the Icons are certainly superior to the comfort that this set provides. We tried all the different sizes to see what would be most comfortable, and unfortunately, the answer was none at all.
Simple in-ear designs, or hooked shapes like the Bose sets, were significantly more comfortable to wear for extended periods; watching a full movie while wearing this set was extremely uncomfortable, and worse, the earphones also popped out at times. The only consolation was that the sound isolation was pretty good, even when nothing was playing.
A little discomfort would not matter if the OnePlus Icons sounded great, but unfortunately, that's not the case. The sound you get from this set is tinny. Turn up the volume and the clarity goes out the window right away, and it sounded only average at lower volumes.
The bass performance is relatively okay, but not great, and the midrange and treble just sounds dull. Bass is given a lot of importance in India, but frankly, there are plenty of much cheaper options that will get you the exact same sound, so you're really paying for the looks of the headphones.
Trying it with various music styles there wasn't any genre where the Icons truly got to shine. Watching movies wasn't great either, as vocals felt oddly flat and lifeless, and the clarity of the headphones really could have been better.
Unlike the smartphone market, where there was a lot of room for price disruption, low-cost but high-quality audio brands already exist and have a fair amount of mindshare.
There are many headsets that deliver better audio than the OnePlus Icons, whether you're looking for clean, punchy bass, something with a bright, sparkly sound, or something that is comfortable enough that you'll forget you're wearing it. Although Rs. 2,999 isn't much if you're getting really good headphones, in the case of the OnePlus Icons, you're paying for the design, and not the audio. If you're comfortable with doing that, this is a good pair, but otherwise, they're average at best.
Price (MRP): Rs. 2,999
- Good design
- Appears durable
- Easy to untangle
- Only average audio
- Relatively high price
Ratings (Out of 5)
- Design: 4
- Performance: 3
- Value for money: 3
- Overall: 3