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Shokz OpenRun Pro Headphones Review: A Fantastic Workout Companion

Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $180
The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones from the left side, sitting on a table next to a yoga mat and dumbbells.
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

Shokz (recently rebranded from AfterShokz) is famous for its bone conduction headphones and its latest—the magnificent OpenRun Pro—are headphones the company should be proud of. They sport better audio than ever and larger buttons, have tons of great features, and are a worthy workout companion.

With improved audio all-around (especially bass), a lightweight design that’s super comfortable, and an excellent quick charge feature, these headphones were a pleasure to use and easy to incorporate into my daily exercise routine. Although I have a few minor gripes regarding the price and the design of these headphones, they hardly hold a candle to their many upsides.

Here's What We Like

  • Lightweight & comfy
  • Improved bass
  • Quick charge support
  • Multipoint Bluetooth

And What We Don't

  • Pricier than standard OpenRun model
  • Limited IP55 sweat resistance
  • Proprietary charger

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The OpenRun Pro is Shokz’s most premium pair of headphones, and their innovative design is the proof in the pudding. The open-ear headphones are constructed from flexible, lightweight titanium (weighing just 29 grams or just over one ounce) and are durable without feeling heavy. Whether I wore them for a brief 15-minute walk or during lengthier instances, they were comfortable—never heavy, tight, or in my way.

The headphones are available in either black or blue, and come in a nice protective case about the size of a portable hard drive or one of those palm-sized cases you could store a handful of CDs in back in the day. Inside the case, one side features a molded cutout that securely holds the headphones when they’re not in use, while the other has an elastic band that’ll store the included charging cord. I don’t love that these use a proprietary charging cord, especially since most other earbuds and headphones use USB. Shokz does allow you to buy additional cables as needed, but having to fork over $13 for a short cable is always going to be a kind of smack in the face.

The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones in their case with the lid open sitting on a table.
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

One of the nice updates Shokz added to these bone conduction headphones is bigger buttons and more user-friendly controls. The larger buttons are easy to find, even when I’m busy riding a bike or juggling my water bottle and phone. There are two volume buttons (one doubling as the power button) on the right side and a single multifunction button on the left side. All of them are clicky, responsive, and easy to press.

The multifunction button lets you perform an impressive variety of basic operations, like playing and pausing your music; skipping forward or back a track; accessing your device’s voice assistant; and answering, ending, or rejecting calls by tapping one or more times. Additionally, you can do more advanced tasks, like place a current call on hold while you answer a second call, switch between calls, hang up on a multiparty call, and change the language.

I found each of these functions to be easy to complete via the single multifunction button. As I tested them, they worked consistently and without any lag. However, the only downside to the multifunction button is remembering what each combination of taps and long-presses does. Still, like any modern pair of earbuds, it only takes a week or two of using them before they feel natural and intuitive.

As for the volume buttons, if you press either while your music is paused, the headset will tell you its approximate battery status (“Battery high” or “Charge me,” for example). While your music plays, pressing and holding either will allow you to switch between either EQ mode, Vocal Booster or Standard. The former boosts middle frequencies, making it great for podcasts and audiobooks, while the latter is more balanced and optimal for music.

Perhaps the biggest downside of the OpenRun Pro is that the headset only has a lackluster IP55 rating, meaning it’s resistant to a good amount of dust and sweat (but it’s not totally resistant to either). The standard OpenRun headset has a much better IP67 rating that’ll stand up to even more dust, sweat, or water. Given that these are designed for use while you’re active, I’d expect to see that higher rating here like the company’s Aeropex Mini headset has, especially since these cost more, too. However, it’ll stand up to enough.

Setup & Fit

If you’ve ever tried to use traditional true wireless earbuds while running (or doing any other vigorous exercise), you’ve most likely dealt with them falling out and never really feeling secure in your ear. That’s precisely where these headphones shine—they’re optimized for use during your most insane workouts. Never once was I worried about them slipping or falling off.

Athlete wearing the Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conducting headphones while running around an outdoor track

The headphones are also incredibly comfortable. Whether I wore them for a brief 15-minute walk or during lengthier instances, they never felt heavy, tight, or in my way. I also loved that they didn’t really interfere with my glasses or all of my hair; this was one of my biggest concerns, so I was thrilled that the OpenRun Pro didn’t interfere with either.

They use Bluetooth 5.1 and easily pair with any compatible device. In fact, the headphones support multipoint Bluetooth, which is one of my absolute favorite things about them. This way, I can seamlessly move from using them with my laptop at work to using them with my smartphone while I run on my treadmill after work without wasting time switching to different earbuds.

Sound & Performance

Sound quality is the trade-off you make with this type of headphone. They’re great for use while exercising—they’re lightweight, comfy, and let you hear your surroundings and your music at the same time—but they are not the headphones you’d want to wear for an audiophile-level music listening session.

That said, these still sound pretty damn good. Audio quality all around is loud and clear for the most part, and I was pleased by how good music ranging from pop, metal, and country sound on these bad boys. I also loved how loud the volume could go—perfect for when I’m really into a song or when I’m using the headphones in a noisy environment.

Additionally, I was impressed by the amount of bass these headphones could put out. Bone conduction headphones have never been known for their terrific bass, but Shokz completely reworked these headphones to improve sound quality for the lower register. The company added in its 9th generation TurboPitch Technology for bolder bass, along with two bass enhancers into the transducers to give you a more noticeable “beat experience.” I thought all the frequencies sounded solid.

Out of the box, the OpenRun Pro headset has fantastic sound all-around, and my opinion didn’t change even after spending a few weeks with them. I was able to enjoy a decently loud volume before people standing seven or so feet away from me could hear what I was listening to. They also get super loud, so no matter whether you use them in the city or noisy neighborhood, you’ll be able to hear whatever you’re listening to with clarity.

The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones view from the right, sitting on a table
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

Call quality was decent and would work fine for casual phone calls or even work calls if you were in a relatively quiet area. Audio from calls sounded flat but clear; there was no treble or bass. Again, these aren’t traditional headphones, so they aren’t gonna have outstanding call quality. But if you’re taking a call while you’re out on a run, they’re plenty sufficient. They feature dual noise-canceling microphones, as well, to help ensure your calls sound crystal clear to the person on the other end.

And despite loud, bass-rich music and decent-sounding call quality, I was always able to hear my surroundings. Even with the volume turned up to a moderately-high volume, I could easily hear nearby footsteps, kids laughing, traffic, yelling, dogs barking, and other garden-variety noises that in-ear buds might otherwise dampen or completely mute out. The OpenRun Pros struck that perfect balance of music and situational awareness that I like to have while exercising outside, especially as a woman.

The Shokz App

Shokz has a brand new companion mobile app for these headphones (Android/iOS) that you can use to toggle and adjust a handful of settings. When you first open the app, it does prompt you to allow it to use your location. In response to several customer reviews complaining about this, Shokz claims it only uses this to set the app’s language and provide additional services and product info dependent on your specific region. However, there is zero option to deny this and continue into the app, which I don’t love.

From the app’s homepage (should you accept those terms), you can easily switch between Standard and Vocal EQ modes, toggle and set up multipoint Bluetooth pairing options, and control basic playback for your music or podcast.

You can also access a couple of other advanced settings for both app and prompt languages or launch a firmware update. However, I was disappointed that the app doesn’t offer more substantial EQ settings. While the out-of-the-box sound on these is decent for anything from rock and pop music to movies and podcasts, it’s always nice to have the ability to customize EQ to one’s liking. Otherwise, the app doesn’t have anything to offer.

Battery Life

The battery life on these headphones is excellent. You’ll have up to 10 hours for music and calls on a single charge—plenty for lengthy workouts or an entire workday plus your commute. It also supports quick charging! Plugging it in for just five minutes gives you an extra 1.5 hours, and at that rate, you won’t have to spend an entire hour waiting for it to recharge. I alternated between “regular” charges and the quick charge function multiple times per week and never noticed any serious deviation from these times. Five or six minutes on the charger always netted me an hour and a half (give or take how loud and complex my music was), and the whole thing always took an hour flat to fully recharge once it was dead.

The headphones also have stellar standby and will stay charged for up to 10 days. So, you won’t need to worry about charging them every single day, which is great. As I tested them, I regularly got between 9.5 and 10 hours of music playback at a moderate volume.

Charging the OpenRun Pro is a cinch, as there’s an open port on the right side. However, they only work with a proprietary-to-USB-A charger. While one is included in the box, and you can buy extras on Shokz’s website, it’s still a little annoying that they don’t use a more common cable type. It makes them a bit of a hassle to keep charged, especially if you’re the type who likes to keep cables around your home and in your vehicle for that purpose; this is just one more single-purpose cable to add to the mix.

The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones plugged in and charging via the included proprietary charging cord.

My only gripe about battery life is that they don’t automatically turn off when I’m done wearing them and remove them. In a world where every other modern pair of headphones and earbuds has this functionality, this kind of feels like an oversight. There were multiple times when I forgot to turn the headphones off, and the battery just sat there and drained, when it could have detected that I removed them and shut them off automatically, saving my battery.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really liked the OpenRun Pro headphones, and I think they’re a big step forward for bone conduction headphones. Between their open-ear design, comfy fit, and lengthy battery life, the OpenRun Pros are the ultimate workout-friendly pair of headphones. Shokz clearly worked hard to improve this model’s audio quality (especially the bass) and to make them even easier to use when you’re on the move.

While I wish they had a higher IP rating and used a standard cable for charging, neither are dealbreakers by any means. I loved (and appreciated) that they allowed me to listen to my tunes as well as my surroundings while I went out for a morning walk—they’re much better suited to the task than standard earbuds are. If you choose to pick up your own pair of the OpenRun Pro headphones, I don’t think you’ll regret it. I didn’t.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $180

Here’s What We Like

  • Lightweight & comfy
  • Improved bass
  • Quick charge support
  • Multipoint Bluetooth

And What We Don't

  • Pricier than standard OpenRun model
  • Limited IP55 sweat resistance
  • Proprietary charger

Suzanne Humphries Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne Humphries was a Commerce Editor for Review Geek. She has over seven years of experience across multiple publications researching and testing products, as well as writing and editing news, reviews, and how-to articles covering software, hardware, entertainment, networking, electronics, gaming, apps, security, finance, and small business. Read Full Bio »