With both Bluetooth and MP3 playback the Naenka Pro headphones offer flexibility and great value for runners, cyclists and swimmers, but poor battery life and low volume can cause problems.
- Bluetooth and MP3 playback
- Fully waterproof
- Short battery life in MP3 mode
- Too quiet for noisy surroundings
You can trust Coach We give honest reviews and recommendations based on in-depth knowledge and real-world experience. Find out more about how we review and recommend products.
Bone conduction headphones come into their own in three situations. The first is when you’re running or cycling in busy areas where you want to be more aware of your surroundings. The second is in running events where all other types of headphones are banned, and the third is when swimming.
In the latter two situations, built-in storage for music is an advantage. In fact it’s essential in swimming when a Bluetooth connection with your phone isn’t an option, while in races you might prefer to run phone-free. Bluetooth connectivity is still useful to have as well, so you can stream music from your phone at other times rather than having to transfer everything you want to listen to across to the headphones.
That the Naenka Runner Pro headphones offer both music storage and Bluetooth connectivity is a huge plus. It sets them apart from Aftershokz’s range, the most well-known bone-conduction brand, which offer Bluetooth-only sets and one MP3-only pair.
The design of the Naenka headphones is strongly reminiscent of Aftershokz’s products, with a lightweight frame that hooks over your ears so the bone conduction pads rest on your cheekbones.
The headphones are IPX8 rated, waterproof enough for swimming, and they have 8GB of space to store files. Music and podcasts can be transferred to the headphones by dragging and dropping files from a computer. It can be a frustrating experience as the cable falls off the headphones quite easily and the transfer speed is quite slow, but it’s acceptable if you only have to do it once in a while for swimming or a big race.
Otherwise, you can stream music from your phone via the Bluetooth connection for day-to-day use. Switching between the two modes is easy, requiring just one press of the power button, and the Naenka headphones reliably reconnected to my phone even when switching between modes several times on a run.
As with all bone conduction headphones, the sound quality is worse than in-ear buds, but the Naenka were broadly fine. There’s a little cheek tickle from the pads when playing music at high volumes, but nothing uncomfortable, and the sound was generally clear and good enough to enjoy music and podcasts when running or cycling.
When running on busy roads, the lack of volume can be a problem. With some podcasts I’d struggle to hear what was being said when running by a main road. This was less of an issue when listening to music, but I found the Naenka headphones are a little less powerful volume-wise than Aftershokz’s range. I also fear that if you were using the Naenka headphones during a race with a raucous atmosphere like the London Marathon you may struggle to hear your audio at times.
The battery life is a bigger shortcoming. When using the headphones in Bluetooth mode you can hit the six to seven hours listed by Naenka, but in MP3 mode that drops sharply to more like two to four hours, depending on volume. If you’re considering using them for marathons or long bike rides, that might not cut the mustard.
I’d say that neither problem is a dealbreaker, and you may well decide to swallow them for headphones that offer both Bluetooth and MP3 capability.
It also helps that the headphones are well priced. The RRP is £119.61, but I’ve yet to see them listed for more than £100 on Naenka’s website. At around £95 they are much cheaper than the Aftershokz Xtrainerz MP3 model, and also cheaper than the Aeropex and Trekz Air Bluetooth-only Aftershokz models. The Aftershokz OpenMove headphones are cheaper at £79, though these are also Bluetooth-only.
Despite some reservations, the Naenka headphones are certainly worth considering on the basis of the flexibility they offer with both Bluetooth and MP3 playback. Just keep a sharp eye on the battery life.
Buy from Naenka | £119.61 (currently reduced to £93.66)
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.