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Featured Review: OnePlus Silver Bullet Earphones

October 22, 2014 - Written By John Anon

So here they are. The OnePlus Silver Bullets. OnePlus have developed an extremely wide fan-base in a very short time and without actually having a device readily on the market. It almost seems surreal how they have entered the tech world and yet here they are. Their self-dubbed flagship killer the ‘OnePlus One’ is a great product and really does offer a lot of bang for the buck. With the release of the Silver Bullets as their first true post-One accessory they do have a lot to live up too. In the review we will look at the presentation, design, sound quality and a final summary. There will be a lot of images included for your viewing pleasure so make sure you scroll pass the images to move on to the next bit.

Presentation

Now generally there is not much need to comment on the presentation of the box and the packaging of a product. With reviews, readers tend to be far more interested in the actual product than the type of box and so on. However, this is OnePlus and the presentation of the One has become somewhat synonymous with the product. Everyone is always greatly surprised at the level of detail put into the actual boxing of the One and how the user’s first experiences the packaging. Just check the numerous unboxing videos on YouTube if you don’t believe me. With that in mind the quality of the presentation on this occasion must be taken into consideration. The only other accessory I have purchased from OnePlus prior to the headphones was the flip case. Like the actual One, the presentation of the flip case was rather good and opening the product reminded me of when I first received the phone. The detail, the little red pull inserts. Well, to be blunt that was not the case with the Silver Bullets. The overall quality of the box, its presentation and general demeanor was of a much lower standard and this was the first sign of what was to come.

The box is extremely poor compared to both the flip case and One boxes and simply did not illicit the same emotional response. There is an etched image on the outer box along with the logo and that was about it as far details go. Inside the earphones were presented in a small internal plastic casing. Although the earphones sat nicely, this was the limit in terms of a positive presentation. The actual plastic case was extremely difficult to open which again was not what was expected from OnePlus and had to be firmly cracked open to get to the product out. There was none of the small inserts normally encountered by OnePlus (those who have a One know what I am talking about) and the presentation just seemed to be lacking. On the One and the flip case the packaging mattered. Not anymore.

 

Design

I hear you. Stop moaning about the box. Fine. Let’s get to the actual earphones. Again as these are a OnePlus product there is immediately an emphasis on the expectation of quality. Those who have had the experience of owning a One seem to already expect a certain quality and I can tell you now that these do not meet those standards. The earphones (from an aesthetic point-of-view) are extremely plain looking with no discernible design aspects, which for me is a negative. On the OnePlus listing they do state “The best designs are the ones that you barely notice“. They were not joking. These are unnoticeable by other people and even the wearer. As such the immediate design is more reminiscent of generic earphones you might find at Walmart…or CVS for that matter.

On a more telling point, the design feels a little cheap. Now of course these are cheap earphones. BUT again, this is OnePlus and you would expect them to at least look better than they do. However, that is not the case as they look and feel rather cheap. The chassis casing for the earphones has a silver covering but again this lacked any real premium feel and simply looks too generic. The cable is the only aspect which contains any branding or notable design features and this mostly consists of the control unit. This is a plain white panel with the OnePlus logo. This is where the design could make or break the product. The control panel although it looks OK lacks the sufficient textile properties needed to effectively control the unit. Instead, the panel feels too basic and is too often too difficult to feel where the volume control is and especially when trying to skip to the next track. One feature which I was highly anticipating was the Silver Bullet’s ability to control the camera. However as the control for the camera is via the same control unit it is quite time consuming and awkward to take a picture. I promise you after a few goes you will never use this feature again and always just hit the take picture button on the phone.

Sound

The sound quality is probably the saving grace of the earphones and as such does not need too much explaining. Now to be clear the sound quality is not excellent, but it is good and especially when considering the price. The frequency response seems to be dealt with well. Although it is worth noting the top end (treble) is a little underwhelming (in my opinion) with the mid-range frequencies coming through more predominantly. However, the bass is present and to a decent-enough degree. Although being a big bass fan the bass does not seem punchy enough. However, in fairness for the cost and the size of the earplugs the level of bass delivered is sufficient and the earphones seem to handle it well…enough.

Overall

After using the Silver Bullets solidly for almost a week the issue is that they feel like two different products. The first is the OnePlus earphones and with that in mind there is this issue of the ‘expectation of quality’. In reality, this is the company’s first proper aftermarket accessory and it should have hit with some force. But that is not the case. If you just focus on the fact that these are OnePlus then they are overall disappointing. The product feels cheap and lacks all the touches we have come to know from OnePlus and the One. The sound quality is good but in an average way with no particular excellent or worthwhile features. The control panel is poor, lacks the tactile clarity and quite often annoys more than it does its job.

The second product is a $15 pair of earphones. There is no escaping that these are very cheaply priced which is again a feature we expect from OnePlus. BUT they do not seem to offer the same level of quality ratio (to the price) as the One…or even the flip case. That said, for $15 bucks how much quality can you expect? The bottom line is if you need a pair of earphones right now and headed out to Best Buy I would happily recommend you paying $15 for these. But you certainly should not hold out and buy directly from OnePlus with the preconceived idea of these being a OnePlus product. This is where OnePlus have made a fundamental mistake this time. They seemed to have aimed a little too cheap and as such have only come out with a boring looking and average-to-low quality product. This is probably why immediately after they sold their stock they announced their new JBL earphones. In summary, they are worth $15 but that does not mean they are worth buying. Hold out for the JBL ones. Hopefully, they will be better. Their price would certainly suggest they should be.