You can trust Coach
Unlike other truly wireless earbuds, it’s very hard to lose the Skullcandy Push Ultra headphones, and that’s not just because of the bright yellow design (a black option is also available). It’s because each headphone has Tile’s Bluetooth beacon in it, so once you’ve set up the Push Ultras in the Tile app you can see their last location on a map and activate a sound if you’ve misplaced them.
It’s a nifty feature and one that’s found on several Skullcandy headphones (and similar to Apple’s Find My AirPods), but there’s not a whole lot else to write home about. The Push Ultra aren’t awful headphones by any means, and £120 is reasonable for a set of sports buds that offer a decent fit and battery life.
The fit should be better than decent though, given the ear hook design. I found that although you can bend and twist the hook to fit your ear better, it still never felt quite as secure as other ear hook headphones I’ve used, like the Beats Powerbeats or Plantronics Backbeat Fit. I didn’t feel that the Push Ultra buds might fall out, but they didn’t sit in place as solidly as those others – and my wife couldn’t get them to fit her ears at all.
Part of that might be the open design. The Push Ultra doesn’t have an in-ear tip, so the weight of the buds falls to the outside. This design does mean you’re more aware of sounds around you – which is sometimes handy when out in the world – but has a negative impact on sound quality, which is not the Push Ultra’s strong suit in the first place.
When listening to music at high volumes I found that instruments and vocals were mashed together harshly, and there wasn’t a lot of punch to the bass. The open design also means you can’t zone out the rest of the world as easily (when it is safe to do so), and it’s still not as open as bone-conduction headphones like the Aftershokz Air. All this means that the Push Ultra ends up offering a halfway house that doesn’t really satisfy on either front.
Each bud does offer independent controls so you can use just one if you prefer to keep one ear open. The controls are fairly easy to use even while running: the volume up and down buttons are also used for commands like skipping tracks, and the main play/pause button also turns the headphones off and on.
The Push Ultra headphones will last for six hours on a single charge, and the case holds another 34. Those are good numbers, especially for the case, though I’m a little surprised there isn’t more in the buds. Six hours is now fairly standard on much smaller in-ear headphones, while the (admittedly much pricier) Beats Powerbeats Pro ear hook buds hold up to nine hours.
It’s a little fiddly to get the headphones back into the case correctly and you have to be careful to make sure they’re charging – a few times my phone remained connected to one bud that wasn’t sitting in the case correctly. If you adjust the ear hooks a lot when wearing them you might also have to bend them back to fit them into the case, and then go through the process of reshaping each time you wear them, though this doesn’t take long.
With a waterproof rating of IP67 you can be sure the Push Ultra headphones will withstand even very sweaty exercise sessions or long runs in the rain. The case itself is also pretty rugged so it won’t get damaged if you drop it accidentally.
The Push Ultra buds are an OK set of sports headphones but won’t wow anyone with their sound quality, and the fit is odd, feeling a little insecure despite the ear hook. They are reasonably cheap for truly wireless buds, but there are still better-value options – the Plantronics Backbeat Fit 3100 truly wireless headphones are under £100, and if you don’t mind a wire between your headphones the Beats Powerbeats 4 have far superior sound quality and a better fit than the Push Ultra for £129.95.
Buy from Skullcandy | £119.99
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.