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Shokz OpenRun review: Brilliant bone-conduction headphones

Edward Munn
25 Jan 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
130
inc VAT

Thanks to their new fast-charging feature, Shokz’s flagship headphones are more appealing than ever

Pros 
IP67 waterproof
New fast-charging feature
Lightweight and comfortable
Cons 
Not suitable for swimming
Don’t sound as good as regular earphones
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With a name practically synonymous with bone-conduction headphones, it seemed the last thing Aftershokz needed was a rebrand. The new “Shokz” name isn’t such a drastic change, however, and crucially its headphones remain as impressive as ever.

The Shokz OpenRun headphones on test here build on the flagship Aeropex model with a new fast-charging feature. If you’re looking for an excellent pair of bone-conduction headphones, look no further.

Shokz OpenRun review: What did we like?

Despite their name, the OpenRun are not merely aimed at runners. Like the more affordable OpenMove, these headphones are well suited to all manner of outdoor activities, including walking and cycling, in addition to running. Indeed, if you’ve never tried bone-conduction headphones before, they can be quite a revelation when it comes to both comfort and practicality. Because there’s nothing in your ears – the headphones hook over the top of your ears and the “drivers” sit on your cheekbones – the OpenRun not only offer a supremely secure fit, but importantly, also let you hear what’s going on around you. That makes them a great choice for any activity where you want to be aware of your surroundings. The OpenMove are very lightweight at just 26g. Thanks to their titanium construction, the earhooks can also flex in all directions, and this makes for a more comfortable and snug fit than you get with the cheaper OpenMove model (which have plastic earhooks).

As with the Aeropex before them, the OpenRun use the brand’s 8th-generation bone-conduction technology, which it claims offers better sound and less vibration and leakage than the previous generation (as used in the OpenMove). It’s not a night-and-day difference compared to the cheaper model, but I definitely found the OpenRun offered a better overall listening experience than their cheaper stablemates.

When it comes to battery life, the OpenRun offer the same eight hours of listening as the Aeropex, but they also benefit from a new quick-charge feature, which Shokz claims can deliver up to 90 minutes of listening from a ten-minute charge. That's a significant boon if you discover your headphones are dead before going for a run – a quick charge while you get dressed and warmed up should give you enough juice to get you through your workout.

As with the Aeropex, the OpenRun’s charging cable attaches via a magnetic clip, which is quicker and easier to attach than the USB-C cable you get with the OpenMove. The other perk to this connection is that the OpenRun are IP67 waterproof, meaning they can be dropped into 1m-deep water for up to half an hour. That said, Shokz makes it clear that this model isn’t for swimming, so don’t be tempted to use them in the pool.

If that’s what you want, you’d be better off choosing the firm’s OpenSwim model, which comes with a superior IP68 rating.

Shokz OpenRun review: How can they be improved?

Aside from the waterproofing being on a par with the OpenSwim model, it’s difficult to see how the Shokz OpenRun could be drastically improved.

I’d love sound quality to be better, but that’s a limitation of the technology itself. As with most other bone-conduction headphones, it simply doesn’t compare with standard earphones – there’s a significant lack of bass, and you’ll struggle to hear whatever you’re listening to when there’s a lot of background noise. When cycling, you’ll find even strong headwinds can leave you needing to crank up the volume, and noisy vehicles can totally drown out your music or podcasts.

And, unlike the original OpenMove, the OpenRun don’t come with earplugs or an earplug mode, so they’re not a great choice if you want one pair of headphones you can use everywhere, including on the train or an aeroplane. Otherwise, my only gripe with the OpenRun is that the volume controls can feel a little fiddly, and they also don’t power off automatically. Thankfully, battery life doesn’t drain too fast if you leave them switched on and not playing music, but it would be better if they simply turned themselves off after a few minutes.

READ NEXT: The best wired and wireless headphones to buy for running

Shokz OpenRun review: Should I buy them?

With a launch price of £120, the Shokz OpenRun are £30 cheaper than their predecessor at launch. That makes them better value than ever and a no-brainer if you’re looking for best-in-class bone-conduction headphones. They’re incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods, making them a brilliant option for exercise or even wearing around your home if you don’t get on with conventional earphones. The only caveat is that Shokz will soon be releasing the OpenRun Pro, which promise improved, 9th generation bone-conduction technology and superior sound quality. If you want the very best bone-conduction headphones money can buy, it might be best to hold out and see how the OpenRun Pro stack up. Otherwise, you’ll likely be very happy indeed with the regular version.

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