Shokz OpenFit review: Changing gear

Shokz is a name that’s been entirely synonymous with bone conduction headphones, the perfect companion for outdoor exercise if you’re rightly worried about safety and awareness.


Now it’s slightly changing its formula with the OpenFit, its first pair of air conduction earbuds, and its first truly wireless option to boot, but how are they to actually wear and use? I’ve put them through their paces.

Shokz OpenFit

Shokz OpenFit feel like a great first tilt at a new form factor, and prove that more open earbuds can work. With a few refinements, subsequent generations could become must-haves for runners.

Pros

  • Good sound for this
  • Comfortable fit
  • Great awareness in use
Cons

  • Fit feels a little loose
  • A little expensive
  • Sound will always be weaker to closed alternatives

Design and fit

  • Available in black and beige
  • IP54 water resistance
  • Weighs 8.3g per earbud

Shokz has ditched the wire that went around the back of your head on all of its most popular bone conduction headphones, and that’s a major sea-change that makes the OpenFit a lot more appealing in a world of AirPods and other earbuds.

That said, this is a set of earbuds aimed pretty expressly at exercise, so it’s not necessarily the case that the direct comparison is to the likes of the AirPods Pro, despite that being the comparitive price point.

The OpenFit look like a sort of chunky silicone fishhook, with a weighted pill-shaped end that hooks behind your ear to anchor each earbud, and a bigger section that rests in your outer ear, holding the drivers and touch controls.

Shokz OpenFit 2

The lack of an actual earbud means there’s basically a one-size-fits-all approach here, but the fact that they don’t really go in your ear means this shouldn’t be a huge issue unless you have really tiny ears.

The earbuds are lightweight so wearing them does feel really nice and open, but one crucial area that I’m not sure they’re perfect on is the security of the fit – while they’re perfectly fine for more sedate listening, when I ran in them I found them a tiny bit loose, with no clear way to tighten them.

I never had either OpenFit earbud actually fall out, but the fact this felt possible at all isn’t ideal for a set of earbuds I’d want specifically for exercising outdoors.

All that said, these are also nice and comfortable – in the same way that bone conduction headphones don’t weigh on you as much as on-ears, the OpenFit didn’t annoy us even after more than an hour wearing them in one stretch.

Shokz OpenFit 3

You get a pretty standard charging case with the earbuds and it’s easy to magnetically secure them inside, although the unique shape of the OpenFit does make for a bigger case than more normal earbuds boast.

There’s no wireless charging for this case, sadly, which is a bit surprising at this price, but USB-C means charging it up is still very easy.

The OpenFit has unsurprisingly good weather-proofing with IP54 resistance that means you really don’t have to worry at all about dampness or sweat while you work out.

Sound quality

  • 50Hz-16kHz frequency response

Putting some music on, the OpenFit gives a pretty unique sense of feedback – where bone conduction headphones use vibrations to give you a surprisingly good response, these are more like tiny open-air speakers.

Shokz OpenFit 6

Air conduction might be the marketing word for it, but it’s not far off something like an old-fashioned first-generation AirPod, just one that sits outside your ear canal instead of right at its entrance.

This means you get total access to the world around you, and on that front the OpenFit excels – these are earbuds that don’t diminish your awareness much at all, and I felt safe using them out and about.

The sound itself is a slightly more mixed bag – you do sacrifice something to get that open design, understandably, and while it doesn’t make for a terrible readout, sound is a little empty at its edges.

Shokz OpenFit 7

If that’s vague, it’s because it’s hard to explain exactly what the OpenFit lacks compared to closed earbuds, but “oomph” is pretty close to summing it up.

Bassy tracks still have a bit of low whack to them, but nothing like what the AirPods Pro could manage, and I do think that Shokz’s other high-end bone-conduction models are a little better, too.

Still, the trade-off for that safety and openness is clear, and the sound on offer here is still very solid – it only really suffers by comparison to other options that aren’t really the same proposition.

Battery life and features

  • 7 hours battery life, 21 more in case
  • 5-minute charge for 1 hour of listening

Perhaps because of their unique size and shape, Shokz has managed to do a great job on the battery front – these will last you seven hours on a full charge, which is enough to see you through an endurance race without worry.

Shokz OpenFit 5

With a further 21 hours in the charging case, this is a pretty great outlook for those concerned about battery life, and more than equips you to take a long weekend of outdoor activity without needing to plug in.

Best of all, slipping the earbuds into the case for just five minutes gets you back an hour of listening, which is a charging ratio we can get behind, freeing you up further.

One note of caution here is that cranking the volume up significantly does result in faster battery drainage, and that’s a bit of a bummer considering these earbuds really benefit from higher volumes.

Connectivity is solid enough (although there’s not a huge amount you can do to be remarkable in this area) but perhaps the most solid surprise I had using them was that call quality is very decent.

Shokz OpenFit 8

It’s nothing so impressive as a really high-quality earbud like the AirPods Pro, but you’ll still come through clearly enough to make them easy to use without ruining conversations, which is more than some competing running earbuds can say.

A companion app is also solid enough, and offers EQ controls to let you customise your sound if you enjoy that sort of tinkering,

Verdict

The OpenFit might be a great choice for those who’ve been waiting for the chance to get a safe pair of earbuds that are secure enough to run in, without the danger of sonic isolation.

That might be a fairly niche pursuit, though, and if you’re in the market for a more widely usable pair of earbuds, I’m not sure these fit the bill. At nearly $200, they’re also not cheap at all, so I’m left thinking that a couple more iterations down the line is when we’ll see a really stellar version of the OpenFit from Shokz.

Trending Products

0
Add to compare
0
Add to compare
.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

ProductHubSpot
Logo
Register New Account
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Compare
0
Shopping cart