The Shokz OpenFit is a move away from its bone-conducting headphones, providing a richer, fuller and bassier sound…
$197.95 / £179, amazon.co.uk
- Better sound than classic bone conductors
- Good for awareness at lower volumes
- Versatile enough for running and general use
- Sound leaks at higher volumes
- Ear hooks move around
Battery life: 3.5
Shokz is known for creating some of the best bone conduction running headphones in the business. The Shokz OpenRun Pro and OpenMove leave your ears open, so you stay safely connected to the world. There are trade-offs, though. For a start, the sound isn’t great (and that’s a big trade-off). Plus the banded design doesn’t quite cross over into everyday use when you’re not running. That’s where the new OpenFit comes in.
Shokz OpenFit features
The Shokz OpenFit aims to offer the best of both worlds with the same open-ear benefits but richer, fuller and bassier sound and more versatile design. To improve the sound, they use what Shokz calls DirectPitch technology. Small ‘speakers’ fire reverse sound waves into your ear canal to deliver audio that’s much closer to the quality of in-ear buds.
In reality it’s like having little speakers sitting outside your ears and what you get is markedly better quality sound compared to the classic bone conductors. It’s louder, fuller and richer but it still lacks a bit of balance and isn’t as punchy or nuanced as the best classic in-ear running headphones.
There’s in-app EQ customisation so you can tweak the sound performance to suit your tastes and I like that you can save sound profiles for different situations, e.g. noisy gym floor or your park run. However, boosting the bass seems to rinse the battery fast. And ironically, when you whack the Shokz OpenFit up full, they’re almost too loud to make the most of that awareness. They also get a bit leaky at higher volumes.
At 8.3g the ear-hook buds are light enough and the soft silicone coating is remarkably soft and strangely satisfying. The versatile ear-hook design suits commuting and office use much better than banded bone conductors. But if you’re used to classic in-ear buds, the fit takes a little getting used to. They don’t feel entirely secure once you get moving.
For general road running on the flat, the fit was OK. At slower paces, I eventually forgot I was wearing them. But for steep descents, fast downhills and all-out intervals, they didn’t stay put that well and I had to adjust them often. So despite the ear-hook design, they wouldn’t be my first choice for the trails.
Shokz OpenFit battery
Shokz claims the headphones have a run time of 7 hours, with 21 hours in the case – for a total of 28 hours. That’s a chunk less than similarly-priced in-ear rivals like the Jabra Elite 8 Active.
In my tests I found that 90 minutes of running burned 40% of the battery in normal audio mode. That was with the volume cranked up high but it’s still significantly below the claimed battery life. I’d estimate you’ll get around 5 hours on a single charge. Perhaps a little too close to the average runner’s marathon time for comfort, unless you carry the case.
The charging case is nice and light and, although the square soap-bar design isn’t as compact as some, it’s relatively thin and easy enough to stick in a running belt or pocket. It’s a shame it’s not IP-rated though. That’s always a concern when you’re using headphones for long adventures with the threat of rain.
Speaking of durability, the buds are IP54 rated, so they’re moderately protected against dust and water splashes. That’s not as resilient as most other Shokz options or many of the regular in-ear buds at this price.
The controls are easy to use and there’s some simple customisation of controls in the Shokz app. On the downside, I had some issues with connectivity; the OpenFit kept disconnecting from the app and I often had to clear it all and start from scratch.