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Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Wearable Literally All Day

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Bose Ultra Open Earbuds 02

Key Takeaways

  • Bose Ultra Open Earbuds provide all-day comfort, excellent sound quality, and easy-to-use media controls.
  • The open design allows you to hear the world around you while enjoying high-quality audio.
  • The earbuds have a long battery life and a standby life of 48 hours, making them convenient for all-day use.



The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds dabble in being a fashion accessory, but I think that’s just a side effect of being open earbuds. And while it’s debatable whether the ear cuffs deliver on being fashionable, they do easily provide all-day comfort and quality audio content without clogging up your ears.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Wearable Literally All Day
Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

The Ultra Open Earbuds deliver a breakthrough audio experience that brings together. Bose OpenAudio and Immersive Audio technology OpenAudio lets you enjoy your music and life with almost no sound leaks to the world around you creating a private soundtrack for your life.

Battery Life
7.5 hours (Immersive off) 48 hours standby

Bluetooth
5.3

IP Rating
IPX4

Case battery
19.5 hours

Colors
white and black

Charging Port
USB-C

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Easy-to-use media control button
  • Comfortable to wear for as long as the battery lasts
Cons

  • Call quality is poor
  • High price compared to other open-ear options

An Open Design That’s All About Comfort

hand holding Bose Ultra Open Earbuds
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


It’s been a while since I felt giddy looking at a pair of earbuds. But when I opened the Ultra Open Earbuds charging case and saw their unique shape, I couldn’t help but genuinely smile. It was certainly the first time in a long while that I’ve had to consult the instructions for how to put them in (or on) my ears. The Ultra Open Earbuds keep your ear canals clear by placing the driver higher inside and directing the sound down into your ear.


The earbuds hook inside your ear, and then a flexible rubber band gets pulled to the back. In pictures, it might look like a clip or something that pinches your ear’s cartilage, but in practice, the earbuds stretch and flex around your ear with a soft material.


I was immediately struck by the comfort of this design. There have been multiple times I forgot I was wearing them after music or podcasts finished playing. That might be a problem for knocking them off and losing the buds at some point, but overall, they are a serious win for comfort. Plus, there’s nothing stuck down into your ears to plug them up. As good as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds fit my ears, the Open Earbuds still feel better.

Related

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Review: Seriously the Best Noise Cancellation!

High-end premium earbuds that can make travel less noisy and distracting.

There have been a lot of attempts to do open-ear buds in recent years—Bose itself had Sport Open Earbuds. Sony’s Linkbuds also come to mind, among the myriad of bone-conducting options.


That’s where these earbuds get a little existential. As digital transparency has gotten really good, do we still need analog openness to fully hear the world around us? I would be open to debating this, but in my time with the Ultra Open Earbuds, they’ve proved to me that keeping your ears unplugged is still worth pursuing. Bose has seemed to solve a lot of the problems that come along with earbuds being open.


There’s almost no leaking sound to whatever room you’re in. Bose’s OpenAudio technology somehow creates a personal bubble so only you can hear what’s playing. I put these earbuds in my wife’s ears and, standing two feet away in a quiet room, I couldn’t hear what was playing. When you’re using the Ultra Open Earbuds it feels impossible that no one else would be able to hear your music, but unless you turn it up louder than is comfortable, no one else can hear more than the faintest of whisper.


Speaking of putting these earbuds into my wife’s ears, these are the first ones that she said felt comfortable. Most of the time, when I ask her to try on earbuds, they’re too big to fit in her ears. These worked perfectly. So, even if you don’t care about the open nature of these, they may just fit and feel better to wear.

person wearing Bose Ultra Open Earbuds
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


I love the design of the Ultra Open Earbuds because they take the key areas that are important to this product type and make them work together. In this case, the part that wraps around the back of your ear is the battery and media controls button. It’s an actual clicky button, too, not a touch-sensitive one.


The primary single and double click controls are set—pause or play and skip, respectively. But you can configure the long-press shortcut in the Bose Music app, available for iPhone and Android.


I had no problem pressing the button to skip tracks while running. I couldn’t do a short press and long press of the button to raise or lower the volume without slowing down my mile pace, but I had no problem adjusting the volume using the button while seated at my desk.


The solution for this is an auto-volume setting in Bose’s Music app. I turned this on and it worked surprisingly well. I noticed the volume rise when I was making noise with dishes in the sink. The auto-volume also worked when the earbuds were connected to my Apple Watch and I was out on a run without my phone. This is a great feature.


Bose’s Music app has a standard feel no matter which of its products you’re using it with. The app is fairly well-designed and generally easy to navigate. It’s nothing to write home about, but if nothing else you will want to have the app installed to perform software updates. I encountered some Bluetooth interruptions from pre-release software that needed to be updated. Unfortunately, I’ll likely need to do at least one more software update to address minor glitches on the early release.

Sound Quality Is Surprisingly Good While Calls Fall Short

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds in front of open charging case
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


It’s easy to grade the sound of the Ultra Open Earbuds on a curve because they don’t actually go into your ears. More surrounding noise can affect how audio products sound. For example, these probably won’t be the best option for commuting on a train in a busy city. But outside of some specific scenarios, I think these earbuds can hold their own and provide great audio quality.


When I listened to music in a quiet room, songs were full and detailed. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much, if any, fidelity. Plus, the openness of the earbuds made the experience that much nicer too—almost like I was listening to speakers in the room.


I had zero issues discerning instrumentation on various songs. Acoustic guitars were plucky and had resonance. Electronic songs were immersive and authentically digital. I was thrilled with all the music I listened to on the default EQ settings.


There are no isolation settings, but there is Bose’s Immersive Audio, which spatializes audio. That setting sounded fine, but it just wasn’t worth the significant hit to battery life.


When using the Ultra Open Earbuds outside while running, I could still hear almost all of the same details as I could inside. Music still sounded fantastic. There was still a full range that provided plenty of bass and mid-range. Plus, as I ran by a lawn mower, the auto-volume kicked in, and I didn’t miss any parts of the song.


The single biggest disappointment of the Ultra Open Earbuds was their microphone performance. Using these for calls wasn’t great. They’re usable, barely, but they sound like earbuds from 2014. That’s a shame because if you are going to wear these all day, there’s a chance you’ll need to make a call or two. You can hear two examples for yourself.

Battery Life Is Excellent

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds lying next to closed case
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


It might be obvious, but the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are more of a lifestyle product than merely music earbuds. What I mean is that I can put them on and just wear them throughout the day, no matter what I’m doing—whether I’m listening to anything or not. Most of the time, I’ve worn them longer than I meant to simply because I forgot they were on my ears.


I bring this up in the context of battery life because the earbuds have lasted a long time in my use. Officially, Bose states a 7.5-hour battery life, plus 19 hours from the charging case. The real trick here is that the Ultra Open Earbuds have a standby life of 48 hours. That means if you’re not actively listening to something, the earbuds are conserving their battery life for when you do want to use them. It’s fantastic.

Price and Availability

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds retail for $299. They come in two colors at launch, black and white.

Should You Buy the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds?

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds in front of charging case
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


For any circumstance where you know you want a lot of transparency, the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are phenomenal. Their performance has blown me away. You get nearly the best of both worlds: audio quality and unfettered awareness. Best of all, I found the earbuds to be extremely comfortable, which is key for a product you might want to wear all day.


The flip side is that if you do need isolation for travel or focus, these won’t do that. Call quality is pretty poor, too. But possibly one of the biggest hurdles might be their premium price point. It’s hard to imagine spending $300 on earbuds that you only end up using for a 45-minute workout a few times a week. That’s more than fair. The value isn’t there for that use case. Even though these are open, I do think they perform closer to standard earbuds. That means you could reasonably use them for everything, from running errands and working in a home office to working out.


If they do fit your budget, you’ll love them.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds 02

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Wearable Literally All Day
Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

The Ultra Open Earbuds deliver a breakthrough audio experience that brings together. Bose OpenAudio and Immersive Audio technology OpenAudio lets you enjoy your music and life with almost no sound leaks to the world around you creating a private soundtrack for your life.

Battery Life
7.5 hours (Immersive off) 48 hours standby

Bluetooth
5.3

IP Rating
IPX4

Case battery
19.5 hours

Colors
white and black

Charging Port
USB-C

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