Shokz OpenSwim Pro Review: Wet and wild…ly appealing

Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

While they’re pitched as swim companions, the appeal of the Shokz OpenSwim Pro goes a lot further than just the pool or beach.

Pros Cons
Comfortable fit Do you still have MP3 files to transfer to it?
Good battery life Not exactly inexpensive
Water resistance Custom charging cable is a pain in the backside… of the sofa.

Score: 3.5/5


In this review

Shokz OpenSwim Pro Specifications
Shokz OpenSwim Pro Design
Shokz OpenSwim Pro Performance
Shokz OpenSwim Pro Battery
Shokz OpenSwim Pro Conclusion


Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The design of most of Shokz’ full headphones – distinct from the OpenFit design – doesn’t vary that much, but the Shokz OpenSwim Pro headphones can definitely stand out, depending on the colour choice you make. For the more subtle types they come in a grey finish, but if you want to stand out in the pool or on the track, there’s the red variant, which is what Shokz sent me for review.

Like other Shokz headphones, they use a moderately rigid back of head band connected to two earpieces with external bone conduction speakers that sit at the front of your ears. It’s the same design style as you’ll see in (for example) the Shokz OpenRun Pro or Shokz OpenMove headphones.

Also read:
Shokz OpenRun Pro review
Shokz OpenFit review 
Shokz OpenMove review

At 27.3g, the Shokz OpenSwim Pro are relatively light; I was surprised to discover that they’re actually lighter than the Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones, because they didn’t really feel as though they were.

Buy The Shokz OpenRun Pro! Buy On Amazon

The differences are subtle, and I’d never say that either felt “weighty” on my head, but I definitely noticed the Shokz OpenSwim Pro on my head more after a 5km run, possibly due to what I’m sure is thickness of its rear cable.

Controls for the Shokz OpenSwim Pro sit on the right earpiece, which means they rest just behind your right ear. The Shokz OpenSwim Pro rely on just two buttons for volume up and down, power on/off, Bluetooth pairing and switching between audio modes with a mix of long or short presses for each function.

On the right bone conduction speaker, a single button handles play/pause as well as switching between local MP3 playback and Bluetooth playback to paired devices.

Like the OpenRun Pro, the Shokz OpenSwim Pro rely on a custom charging cable, supplied in the box. I get why a water-resistant pair of swimming headphones might not opt for a more standard USB-C connection, but it’s still a pain if you misplace the charging cable, because it’s so particular just to this set of headphones.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Which is my way of saying, yes, I did misplace the charging cable for the Shokz OpenSwim Pro during the period of this review.

It’s part of the reason it’s taken me a little while longer to test them out than I had originally planned, because I couldn’t use them once they were flat until it was found!

Shokz does also provide a simple rubberised bag for the headphones and charging cable, and it’s best to keep them in there. Or check in the sofa cushions if they go missing – that’s where mine were hiding.


Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Before I start talking about performance, a quick admission to make here.

I haven’t gone swimming with the Shokz OpenSwim Pro headphones yet.

That’s partly because it’s Winter and it’s a bit too cold, mostly because I don’t have a pool, and also because I don’t actually swim that much anyway, as you might be able to tell if you watch me flail around on the Great Barrier Reef below:

I have tested the Shokz OpenSwim Pro with limited water immersion just for the heck of it, and they sailed through that just fine.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Always a good idea to wash water resistant products if they've been in a pool or at the beach.

One quick word on the whole “water resistance” part of these headphones however. People see IP ratings and bandy around words like “waterproof”, but that’s not strictly speaking accurate – and I’m not just being pedantic for the sake of it. Doing this review led me to ponder on this, and then eventually write a full guide to IP ratings and why so many “waterproof” gadgets are anything but.

Also read:
Why your waterproof phone isn’t actually “waterproof” the way you think it is

Previous Shokz swim-suitable headphones got past the issues around Bluetooth connectivity by being, in effect, Shokz-shaped MP3 players without Bluetooth compatibility. The Shokz OpenSwim Pro support both Bluetooth and direct MP3 playback, toggled with a long press of the button on the left hand earpiece.

Streaming audio over Bluetooth naturally works with just about any audio source on a paired smartphone or other device, and then there’s the question of MP3 playback.

It’s certainly not a bad feature to have, with 32GB of onboard storage for dropping files onto the Shokz OpenSwim Pro once you’ve connected them via USB-C. The Shokz OpenSwim Pro’s storage is formatted as FAT32, so it’s workable for both PC and Macs – and should be fine for Linux too, though I’ve not tested that – but there’s a bigger modern challenge here.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Do you still actually have digital music files stored somewhere, as distinct from streaming them through Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal or other sources?

Odds these days are that your music listening is likely streamed, not direct, and those files won’t (as far as I’ve been able to test) transfer to the Shokz OpenSwim Pro at all if you’re using the MP3 playback mode.

Purchased music files may work – I was able to get some purchased Apple Music files to copy across and play without issue – though that will depend on their precise DRM implementations. Naturally if you have ripped CD audio files from CDs you own (100% legal in Australia, fact fans), they'll work just fine.

Audio quality is much on par with other Shokz headphones I’ve tested in the past, given the limitations of bone conduction as an audio input. It’s all about the noise awareness, essentially, but the price you pay is in audio quality.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

That’s the nature of not blocking your ear canals with buds or enclosing them with full headphones, of course, but the end result in Standard audio mode is still quite good for most general and exercise pursuits. There’s also an optional Vocal mode that’s meant to accentuate voices (as the name would suggest); that’s maybe OK for some podcasts but it’s otherwise a way to make weaker audio sound even more tinny if you leave it on.

Like other Shokz headphones, the Shokz OpenSwim Pro can be managed through the Shokz app, though you could nearly entirely get by without it given its inbuilt MP3 playback and simple Bluetooth pairing systems. The only details (outside firmware upgrades) that you’d miss out on that way would be enabling multipoint pairing and customising what long presses on the buttons actually does with the headphones.


Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Shokz’ claims around the Shokz OpenSwim Pro’s battery performance at first confused me.

Why confused? Primarily because while its nine hour Bluetooth runtime is fair – though an hour less than the OpenRun Pro headphones – the MP3 stated playback life is only six hours. It’s kind of wild that on-device music playback uses less power than transmitting audio through Bluetooth as a stream, really.

Not what you’d expect, though Shokz’ official statement to me about this --  I asked, because it very much confused me --  is that “the MP3 mode in the OpenSwim Pro includes an additional storage module, which results in higher power consumption and therefore shorter battery life.”

It’s not wrong, either, with the Shokz OpenSwim Pro headphones hitting their stated battery life almost exactly in my tests.

No, I didn’t go running (or swimming) with them for nine hours, because that would kill me. But using them for both running and as my in-office working headphones saw them last out close enough on average to their claimed times that I’m happy with that.

I am, as noted above, less happy about the charging solution for the Shokz OpenSwim Pro, simply because it’s a custom cable that, if lost (and it’s easy to do!) would leave you both high and dry when the battery runs out.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro: Alex’s Verdict

Shokz OpenSwim Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Shokz OpenSwim Pro are a good inclusion in the Shokz lineup, though you’d want to be sure that you were going to use the expanded functionality of their MP3 playback mode and the fact that they’re water resistant to good use, given the price premium that they command.

Clearly, given I rarely swim they’re not 100% for me – the OpenRun Pro would be my choice in the Shokz lineup – but if you’re a swimmer, or an open water sports enthusiast, they’re rather well suited to the task.

Shokz OpenSwim Pro: Pricing and availability

The Shokz OpenSwim Pro retail in Australia for $299 outright, and will be available from the 5th of July 2024.
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