OnePlus Icons headphones review

We're a big fan of OnePlus' smartphones but what can the firm offer in the way of headphones? It's new pair of in-ear headphones claim to offer performance way beyond their budget price tag. Here's our OnePlus Icons review. See also: Best budget headphones.

Also see: Best Black Friday Headphones Deals

Update 24 August: It appears that OnePlus has some new headphones on the way, based on the below tweet. Our guess is that we're looking at 'V2', or version two, of the Icons headphones. So you might want to hold on if you were about the buy the current model.

OnePlus Icons review: Price and availability

You probably wouldn't guess it after looking at the stylish photographs of the Icons on the OnePlus website, but these in-ear headphones are just £39. That places them firmly in the budget category with our upper limit at £50.

Although they are very affordable – which you can generally expect from OnePlus – the firm claims they can outperform, via a blind listening test (watch above), headphones roughly five times the price. They're available from the OnePlus store.

That's a bold claim and something which we were keen to investigate.

OnePlus Icons review

OnePlus Icons review: Design and build

Sound performance is paramount when it comes to headphones, of course, but style and build are also important. In this area, we're impressed with the Icons which look more expensive than they really are.

Available in silver (Graphite) or gold, the Icons are constructed from aluminium with the asymmetric design taking echo an organ. The two tubes are different heights and there are shiny bevelled edges all over the place. The grille style section in between the cylinders looks neat, too and their not just for show as we'll explain later.

Overall it's quite distinctive and you don't normally find much in the way of materials other than plastic at under £50.

As usual with many pairs of headphones, you get a three-button in-line control and to make a change it works fully with Android (most are designed and approved for iOS in the wider market). The 3.5mm connector is solid and the 1.25m cable is braided although only until it splits off to each earbud.

Also typical is a set of three different sizes when it comes to the earbuds so you're likely to find a good fit. We also like the included faux leather pouch which closes magnetically.

OnePlus Icons box and pouch

OnePlus Icons review: Sound quality and specs

When it comes to specs and audio performance, OnePlus has packed 11mm drivers into the Icons. That's as large as you'll typically find for in-ear headphones and the spec sheet claims the headphones have a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz, matching the hearing range of a human – depending on how many speakers you've been too close to etc.

It's not too surprising that OnePlus fared well in a blind test as the Icons really do sound pretty good, although we're wondering how carefully the firm selected the test track(s) as the quality is not exactly consistent. They can't compete with headphones as expensive as OnePlus says but that was a bold claim to make.

Even with minimal running in, we found the Icons sounded bright and lively utilising those 11mm drivers. We're impressed mainly with the stereo field, which is larger than most budget in-ear headphones and the mid-range. The Icons are especially detailed and crisp when it comes to a lot of vocals and instruments such as acoustic guitars.

OnePlus Icons gold

We also found the icons comfortable which is unusual for this reviewer (most in-ears typically just fall out). The 51 degree angle to the tip looks dramatic but it seems to work. Isolation isn't great but that's mostly down to those grilles on the outside of the Icons which we mentioned earlier. These are ports which help when it comes to bass which is good but nothing astounding.

What's disappointing is the top-end which OnePlus pushes too hard creating, at times, a harsh and uncomplimentary sound. As usual, it depends on what type of music you're listening to. As alluded to, you'll be pleased for acoustic and vocally led music but if you like rocking out to tracks with plenty of lead guitar, the tuning of the Icons won't suit you very well.

OnePlus Icons: Specs

  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Driver Unit: 11mm, dynamic
  • Weight: 15g
  • Cable Length: 1.25m
  • In-Line Remote: Yes
  • Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 110±2dB
  • Colors: Gold, Graphite
  • 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)
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Driver Unit: 11mm, dynamic
  • Weight: 15g
  • Cable Length: 1.25m
  • In-Line Remote: Yes
  • Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 110±2dB
  • Colors: Gold, Graphite
  • 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)

OUR VERDICT

The OnePlus Icons are impressive headphones for a number of reasons. For under £40 they offer above average design and build quality which is a good start. They also sound better than you might expect for the price but aren't all-rounders for every music type so won't suit every listener.