While the OpenRun Pro headphones offer more battery and beefier bass, the OpenRun set have comparable sound quality overall and it’s the better-value pick from the upper end of Shokz’s Bluetooth headphones range.
- Open-ear design is good for awareness
- Lightweight, comfortable design
- Quick charge feature
- IP67 waterproof rating
- No music storage
- Not loud enough at times
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The OpenRun headphones are the first launched since the company changed its name to Shokz from AfterShokz. The addition of a quick charge feature offers a modest improvement on the previously top-of-the-range Aeropex.
Other than that, the OpenRun impress with a lightweight design and solid sound quality. They're certainly among the best running headphones out there, and the audio is as good as any I’ve come across on bone-conduction headphones, if still short of what you get from in-ear buds, the style of choice for most of the best workout headphones.
Shokz OpenRun: Price And Availability
The OpenRun headphones are available to buy now from the Shokz website and cost £129.95, which is £30 less than the OpenRun Pro, £50 more than the entry-level OpenMove, and £10 less than the OpenSwim, which are MP3 headphones that can store music, but don’t offer Bluetooth connectivity.
The OpenRun weigh just 26g and the slim, flexible frame sits comfortably over the ears even when wearing glasses and a hat. The open design allows for greater awareness when exercising, which is why bone-conduction headphones are the only type allowed for runners at many races. They also help cyclists and runners stay alert to traffic in busy areas.
With an IP67 rating, the OpenRun headphones are waterproof to depths of one metre for up to 30 minutes, so they easily shrug off the rain and sweat from your exercise. However, without any MP3 storage, they aren’t suitable for swimming because Bluetooth won’t work when underwater – if you’re looking for swimming headphones from Shokz, the OpenSwim offer music storage.
The headphones have volume controls on one side, with the volume up button doubling as the power and pairing button. On the other side there is a multi-function button you can use to play/pause and skip music, and activate your phone’s voice assistant. The controls are pretty easy to operate while moving, though sometimes I found it a bit tricky to double-tap the multi-function button to skip a track while running or cycling.
There are four colours available – black, blue, grey and red – and the headphones have a proprietary open charging port which enables that IP67 waterproof rating without needing to be covered with a silicone tab.
The OpenRun headphones last eight hours on a single charge and can be charged from empty to 100% in 90 minutes. The quick charge feature nets you 90 minutes of playback from 10 minutes of charging and is a welcome upgrade on the Aeropex for all of us who regularly forget to keep our headphones topped up.
When you turn the OpenRun headphones on you are given a simple battery rating of high, medium or low so you know if you need to give them a quick charge before your workout. I found that they lasted me a week of training easily enough, even with the volume at the max level for all my outdoor runs.
It’s important to temper expectations when it comes to the sound quality of bone-induction headphones, since the open design cannot hope to match in-ear buds. However, the OpenRun impress on their own terms; along with the Aeropex headphones they offer the best sound quality I’ve come across from bone-conduction buds.
The OpenRun headphones have Shokz’s PremiumPitch 2.0 tech, which is designed to add more power and bass and reduce sound leakage. They still tickle the cheeks when a particularly bassy track comes on, though I’ve never minded a little cheek tingle.
While I prefer in-ear headphones for better audio quality when not exercising, the OpenRun sound good enough that it's not unpleasant to use them all day long.
When using the headphones in particularly noisy environments they do lack a little volume, and when running by very busy roads I found I’d have to switch from podcasts to music as the former were often inaudible. I’m talking about especially loud roads like London’s North Circular though, rather than general traffic, when you can hear music and podcasts well enough.
You can change the EQ on the headphones from standard (best used for music) to vocal boost (for podcasts) by holding both volume buttons simultaneously. I didn’t find this change made much of a difference though.
Are The Shokz OpenRun Worth It?
For a short period the OpenRun were the top option in Shokz’s range and were the clear best-in-class pick. The introduction of the OpenRun Pro muddies the water, but of the two I’d still recommend the OpenRun, since the upgrades you get on the Pro are small and cost an extra £30.
There are also cheaper options than the OpenRun available, including Shokz’s own OpenMove headphones at £79.95. There are also the Naenka Runner Pro headphones, which offer both Bluetooth and MP3 playback, and are generally reduced from their RRP of £111.02 to under £100 (they’re £88.82 at the time of writing).
The OpenRun headphones sound better and offer more battery life than these alternatives, but the cheaper headphones do deliver on the promise of bone-conduction headphones – providing more awareness of your surroundings while playing audio.
Finally, it is worth considering the OpenSwim headphones at £139.95 if you do want MP3 playback. They don’t offer Bluetooth as well, as the Naenka headphones do, but the OpenSwim sound better and last six to eight hours on a charge, whereas the Naenka battery drops to around two to four hours in MP3 mode.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.