The Shokz OpenFit Headphones won’t leave your ears sore, but their open style won’t suit every audio need either.
|Very comfortable||Less isolation than a standard set of true wireless buds|
|Good microphone pickup||On the expensive side|
|Easy Bluetooth pairing||Touch controls are just awful|
There’s countless options (including some truly awful choices) if you’re after true wireless buds, but for the most part, you’re stuck with buds that include in-ear tips, providing isolation but also some potential comfort issues, especially for long-term wearing.
That’s not what the Shokz OpenFit Headphones do. As the name suggests, they have a more open design, piping audio into just outside your ear canals for a more “open” experience.
The question is, does that open design deliver a pleasing audio experience?
The Shokz OpenFit Headphones are a touch larger than most current true wireless buds on the market, thanks to the fact that the lack of a “bud” section means that they require small rubber hooks to latch onto each of your ears. Those hooks sit above the left and right speakers that nestle quite lightly against your ear canals.
On paper, I had my doubts about how well this might work for me, because I wear glasses pretty much all of the time. For my frames they actually worked quite well, but if you have frames with thick arms there might be some positioning issues.
Those hooks also mean that the case that the Shokz OpenFit Headphones sit in is rather larger than on competing models. It’ll just about fit into a jeans pocket at a pinch.
The big advantage here is one of comfort. For most in-ear buds, I find after a few hours that the pressure of the buds themselves can become positively painful.
For the Shokz OpenFit Headphones, I had no such issues, because of course there was nothing in my actual ear canals. There was a little pressure on the top of my ears, but as I’m used to glasses all of the time anyway, this wasn’t too much of an issue for prolonged listening periods.
The Shokz OpenFit Headphones pair via Bluetooth, with fresh device pairing managed by holding down the touch-sensitive area on each bud while in the box. This is typically not what I favour for wireless headphones, because it can often be super fiddly getting them to recognise that you want to go into pairing mode. Here the Shokz OpenFit Headphones performed admirably, happily jumping into pairing mode – signified with a flashing light on the charging case itself – whenever I needed it to.
Those touch controls only redeemed themselves in that way, however. In theory I should be able to control playback and pausing and skip tracks with different combinations of taps and long presses.
In practice… nearly never. I often have issues with these kinds of touch controls, but the Shokz OpenFit Headphones were just about the worst in this category that I’ve ever tested.
All of which might sound like the Shokz OpenFit Headphones aren’t worth bothering with, but that’s not the whole story. While they can’t offer the same kind of isolation or indeed any level of noise cancellation and similarly priced true wireless buds in this category, the general quality of audio output they have is surprisingly solid.
I honestly figured that I’d end up with a somewhat hollow sound thanks to the simple open nature of the Shokz OpenFit Headphones. Instead I got generally warm tones, good bass reproduction and enjoyable music times – which is exactly what you’d want out of a set like these.
Using some of my standard tracks, such as Prince’s Purple Rain, Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World, Metallica’s Enter Sandman and Taylor Swift’s No Body, No Crime displayed good audio variety, with just a slight tilt towards more bass-centric performance.
That bass level — or treble if that’s your style — can be accentuated if you install the Shockz app (iOS/Android) which gives you access to firmware upgrades and equalisation settings. You can also change the function of the touch sensitive controls here, but not their sensitivity — I had no luck at all getting them to work anywhere near as accurately as I would have liked, sadly.
The obvious challenge — especially at the Shokz OpenFit Headphones’ asking price point — is whether they sound as good as full in-ear buds.
The answer is simple.
No, they don’t, because there’s really no way that they could, given the lack of basic isolation, let alone any kind of noise cancelling capability. Still, for what they are and where the audio’s coming from, I was solidly surprised at how good the Shokz OpenFit Headphones sounded.
The looser fit of the Shokz OpenFit Headphones won’t suit every athletic pursuit, but for basic street running they worked fairly well. Again there’s a tradeoff; after a 5km run I felt less pressure in my ears because the Shokz OpenFit Headphones weren’t in my ears at all, naturally enough.
The counterpoint there is that the looser fit was evident from the first jogged step, and I found myself adjusting the left earpiece quite frequently because it felt loose. It never dropped, but it felt like it could.
Noise leakage wasn’t a noted problem for anyone nearby, and I had several respondents on calls tell me that pickup was actually very good for calls. That’s a super variable matter, however, because so much of call quality can depend on relative network conditions in my experience.
Shockz rates the OpenFit Headphones as being good for up to 7 hours of listening time, a little longer than most competing buds in this price range. I guess that’s the benefit of a larger size, because you can pack in more battery capacity.
They lived up to that claim too, making an easy 6 hours or more in my own tests. The case is on the larger side, but it does allow for another three charges in total.
You’d need to wait for actual charging between those use cases, though, so while Shockz’ claims of “28 hours of listening time” aren’t a total fib, they’re ignoring the 60 minutes it would take to fully recharge them each time they went flat. You’d probably want some kind of break in that time period anyway, if only to sleep.
Shokz OpenFit Headphones: Alex’s Verdict
The Shokz OpenFit Headphones aren’t like other headphones, and that does make them a little tricky to compare. If you’re after absolute top-notch audio quality, these aren’t going to be the headphones for you.
Equally, if you want some true wireless headphones that you can tuck into your ears and hide under your hair (not my specialty) then their larger size won’t suit.
However, if you find that in-ear buds become uncomfortable quickly and you don’t like the enclosure of a full set of headphones, they’re a good middle ground. They’re not inexpensive, but they are certainly quite comfortable for longer-term wearing.
Shokz OpenFit Headphones: Pricing and availability
The Shokz OpenFit Headphones retail in Australia for $289; you can pick up a pair from Amazon using the button below:Buy On Amazon