Live Science Verdict
The Shokz OpenFit will suit those who need to hear their surroundings or can't put things in their ears, but the tried-and-tested in-ear earbud formula is hard to beat.
Don’t go inside your ears
No noise isolation
Sound leakage at higher volumes
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When looking for the best running headphones, it'd be fair to say that Shokz doesn't play by traditional rules.
The Shokz OpenFit are — as the name implies — open-ear. They don't sit inside your ears but instead sit on top of them. While this sounds strange, if you can't get on with the fit of the more typically shaped ear buds (Jabra Elite 4 Active or JBL Reflect Flow Pro, for example) and are looking to try a different, potentially more comfortable design, these might be just what you're looking for.
Smart enabled/compatibility: Bluetooth
Waterproof: IP54 water-resistant
Battery life: 7 hours, 28 hours with charging case
Charging time: 80 mins (including case)
Includes: Earbuds, charging case, USB-A to USB-C cable
One environment that we can see them being particularly popular in is offices where you need to still be able to hear the ambient noise in the room clearly, but also want to listen to music, a podcast or audiobook. In this regard, the Shokz OpenFit almost feels like you're adding a backing track to your day-to-day. We'd also feel happy walking/running at night with them in — you can still hear your surroundings, so you generally feel less vulnerable.
This style has drawbacks, though — there are no built-in controls on either bud and if you're looking to lose yourself in a podcast or album, you'll still be able to hear pretty much everything happening around you. In fact, as you turn the volume up, others will likely be able to hear your audio of choice too.
Price and release date
The Shokz OpenFit were released in June 2023, costing $179.95 in the US and £179 in the UK.
Shokz OpenFit: Set-up and design
In terms of setup, the Shokz OpenFit are about as basic as it gets — and we're not complaining. Pop open the case for the first time and they'll be in pairing mode, and you'll just need to connect using your device's Bluetooth settings.
The Shokz app allows for customization of audio, but right out of the box the OpenFits offer a balanced sound — more on that later.
Design-wise, since there's no need for ear tips, the OpenFit look quite unique. The ear hooks are nice and flexible, with a weightier end to them to keep them behind your ear, while the buds themselves have a pair of speaker grills on each, pushing audio toward each other and upward for a well-rounded sound.
Our review unit is in the Beige colorway, but a Black version is also available.
Shokz OpenFit: Controls
As we mentioned earlier, there are no physical controls on the Shokz OpenFit — you'll need to navigate touch gestures instead.
Double-tapping the bud pauses your music, but we found this to be a little inconsistent (in terms of responsiveness) in our testing — although this may be down to sweaty hands. Still, the Shokz OpenFit won't pause your track when you take one of them out of your ear.
These controls can be customized within the Shokz app, so you can have it bring up Siri or Google Assistant, for example, if you prefer.
Shokz OpenFit: Fit
While some earbuds offer additional tips so you can choose which is the most comfortable fit for your ears, there's no real way to adjust the OpenFits because they don't go into your ears. We've tested them on a couple of users, though, and while you're always expecting part of it to get closer to your ear, they're comfortable regardless.
If your worry with in-ear buds has been comfort, then rest assured that the Shokz OpenFit are comfortable to wear for long periods.
While the Shokz app allows for tweaking various aspects of the audio experience, the OpenFit arrive with well-balanced sound — most users will find a lot to like without tweaking anything, but audiophiles who want a more granular approach will want to make adjustments. For example, we found bass really solid for rock tracks but lacking a little for rap — so we adjusted it to suit our preference.
The biggest issue with the Shokz OpenFit, is a lack of noise isolation. Because OpenFits aren't in your ears, they're on them; they let in pretty much all ambient noise. In a coffee shop, we could hear cups on plates, while at the gym we heard the constant clanging of weights being picked up and put down.
As discussed earlier, though, if you're looking for exactly this experience, which some users prefer, you'll find it here and then some — but you will need to be mindful of audio bleed as you increase the volume.
Shokz OpenFit: Performance
Having spent a decent amount of time with the Shokz OpenFit, we've been impressed with the battery life. For one, each earpiece holds a seven-hour charge, but we've actually reached seven and a half on a couple of occasions.
Then there's the case, which stays charged for a commendable 28 hours. The lack of noise cancellation is definitely a factor in prolonging the battery life.
When it comes to charging, users can expect the case and buds to be fully charged within around 80 minutes. A USB-A to USB-C cable is included, but you'll need to find a charging brick since one isn't included in the box, something that is now fairly standard when buying new electronics. We're also pleased to say that charging the case for 5 minutes will offer an hour of playback time — perfect for a quick gym session.
Shokz OpenFit: User reviews
Amazon.com offers an average rating of 4.3 stars for the Shokz OpenFit, with many noting the comfort afforded by not having to jam them into your ears.
One reviewer also noted that they feel comfortable to wear alongside glasses, with excellent audio quality. There are many reviews stating that the Shokz OpenFit are great for people who can't put things in their ears, whether that be due to an ear problem, piercings or hearing aids.
Should you buy the Shokz OpenFit?
If the idea of in-ear buds is one that you can't or won't entertain, then the Shokz OpenFit are an easy purchase. Audio is great, the battery life is better than a lot of the competition, and they're comfortable.
If the Shokz OpenFit aren't for you:
If the idea of open-ear headphones doesn't have you convinced, consider the Jaybird Vista 2 which also offer noise canceling, solid audio performance and are a great fit. Apple users can also check out the AirPods Pro, although those are pricier.
If you want something more affordable, the Treblab X3 Pro are ideal for running. Though they are affordable, they don't 'feel' cheap. They offer a concrete battery life and they're a comfortable fit. The sound is good, though it does lack dynamism. Still, for the price, they are perfectly adequate as workout earbuds.
Lloyd Coombes freelance tech and fitness writer for Live Science. He's an expert in all things Apple as well as in computer and gaming tech, with previous works published on TopTenReviews, Space.com, Dexerto and TechRadar. You'll find him regularly testing the latest MacBook or iPhone, but he spends most of his time writing about video games as Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com. He also covers board games and virtual reality, just to round out the nerdy pursuits.