Shokz OpenSwim Pro pool-friendly headphones now pack MP3 and Bluetooth. Reviewer Kieran Alger rates them highly for running as well as swimming.

When Shokz launched the original swim-friendly version of its classic bone conduction headphones, there was one big omission – Bluetooth playback. This latest generation now adds wireless playback to the built-in MP3 player alongside a 9-hour battery life, IP68 waterproof rating and a lightweight neckband design. So are the Shokz OpenSwim Pro now the best multisport soundtrackers going? We hit the road, the pool and the gym to find out if they’re worthy of a place alongside the best running headphones on the market.

Men’s Fitness verdict

Thanks to the welcome addition of Bluetooth, these are now the most capable bone conduction headphones in the Shokz range. They offer decent sound quality and are comfortable, too.
  • MP3 and Bluetooth modes
  • Secure, lightweight fit
  • Good sound underwater
  • No charging case
  • Sound is a bit lightweight
  • Lack of playlist tools

How we tested these headphones

We tasked Kieran Alger, one of our top professional fitness product testers, with putting these headphones through their paces. In practice, that meant seeing how they performed in all sorts of active environments, from the gym, to the pool, to the great outdoors. Specifically, Kieran assessed traits like sound quality, comfort, and additional tech/features.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro: features, design, fit and controls

The one-size, IP68-rated Shokz OpenSwim Pro follow Shokz’ classic design with ear hooks and bone conduction ‘pads’ linked to together by a nickel titanium band. 

At 27g they’re very light and nicely minimal. If you’re familiar with Shokz you’re getting a similar feel here to the cheaper Shokz OpenRun and OpenRun Pro, with a stroke-ably soft silicone coating that’s really nice to the touch and sits comfortably against the skin. I wore them for runs up to three hours with no trouble.  

Fit is nicely disappearing on the run, on the swim, in the gym and sitting working in a cafe. They generally play nice with caps, though don’t do so well with sunglasses or a cap and shades combos. They generally sit secure though there’s a bit of  bounce if you’re jumping off boxes. The neckband can also get in the way if you’re lying down doing bench presses. 

There’s lots of flex in the neckband and the ear hooks – a durability boost if they’re loose in a gym bag but there’s also a soft carry case for added protection. 

It’s drag-and-drop easy to transfer MP3s files onto the headphone’s 32GB built-in music storage, but you will need to connect to a computer to do it.. 

That’s where things get a bit messy. Unless you’re connected to your laptop, you can’t see what’s actually on the headphones. There’s also little control over the playlist once the music is loaded. You can’t order tracks in the app and you need the charging cable, an adaptor (if you’re on a newer Mac) and a laptop to do any kind of music tweaking. If you lose the magnetic charging cable, you’re screwed. 

To generate any kind of playlist order, you’ll have to number your tracks in a folder on your computer otherwise it dumps them over in alphabetical order in one big playlist. Which makes the 8,000 track storage unwieldy and much less useful. 

The controls are simple and straightforward. The big multi-function button is easy to find on the move and in the water. However, the two main control buttons for control volume and switching between the Swim and Standard EQ audio modes are a bit small and just a touch fiddly. 

On durability, I actually tested the Shokz OpenSwim Pro out in an 80-90c sauna. I’m probably not supposed to and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. But the OpenSwim Pro survived two separate 15 minute stints while heat training. They also don’t leak audio to my fellow sauna dwellers which is great.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro: Sound

You don’t buy bone conduction headphones for top drawer sound quality and on the run, or generally out of the water, the OpenSwim Pro offers fairly expected audio performance for bone conductors. 

There are two EQ modes for Bluetooth playback in the app, one standard, one designed to improve vocals. 

Overall it’s a bit thin and lacking in bass compared to regular buds. I like my music loud and I had to crank it up to get anywhere near that kind of pants-kick punch. At those top volumes, some of the really bassy tracks distorted and the bone conduction had a noticeable tickle.

If you need headphones to drown out your gym’s banging Euro house, these are not the ones. They also struggle when you hit heavy traffic or louder crowds at races. 

I found it was better underwater where you’re insulated from outside noise and the audio was nice and full. Though I struggled to discern much of a difference between the Swimming and Standard modes.

However, overall I’d say the sound delivers what you’d expect from bone conductors and it’s largely enjoyable to listen to. So, if you feel that music helps you perform better, these are still well worth considering.

Other things to note: you’re obviously not getting active noise cancellation and you can’t personalize the sound in any way. 

Shokz OpenSwim Pro: Battery life

On paper the Shokz OpenSwim Pro claim nine hour’s workout time in Bluetooth and six hours in MP3 mode. Along with a strong rapid charge that offers 3 hours for 10 minutes on the plug. 

In my tests, that came in about right for MP3 but lower for Bluetooth. A two-hour swim in MP3 mode burned 40%, while a one hour run in Bluetooth mode burned less than 10%. 

These have been marketed somewhat as a good trail/ultra option where you can run phone-free. But for most regular, not-so-speedy runners, the 9-hour Bluetooth 

and 6-hour MP3 staying power probably restricts them to 50km ultras. Particularly as there’s no charging case.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro: Verdict

The big update here is obviously the addition of Bluetooth so the Shokz OpenSwim now offers the best of both worlds, in and out of the water. It was a big omission on the OpenSwim and if pair running, riding and gym with laps in the pool, it instantly makes the OpenSwim Pro worth an upgrade from the OpenSwim. They’re now Shokz most capable bone conduction headphones. 

If you’re a duathlete or swim-biker-runner, these are also now your best Shokz open. If you want to run phone-free, the OpenSwim Pro now has you covered as well and that two-for-one functionality is an enticing USP over regular in-ear buds and bone conductors. Though you’ll pay a chunk more for the extra smarts. 

Comfort is great, nicely light and disappearing. For me the sound is pretty standard Shokz quality. Good for bone conduction and better in the water than on dry land. But you’re obviously making trade offs on top volume and richness for that bone conduction awareness. 

The big increase in MP3 storage is welcome, though the lack of playlist management somewhat limits how useful that is. And I really wish the charging cable was USB-C. 

The price is fairly high and there are cheaper alternatives like the Mojawa Run Plus or the Naenka Runner Diver. But if you’re looking for that fairly unique USP of MP3 and Bluetooth, for easy soundtracking your workouts in water and on dry land, the Shokz OpenSwim Pro offers the best all-round performance and value. 

ColorGray, Red
Water ratingIP68
Extra featuresBluetooth, 32GB MP3 music storage, two EQ modes
Battery life9 hours in Bluetooth mode, 6 hours in MP3 mode