I’ve owned AirPods since Apple originally launched them back in 2016. I think I’ve actually owned every single generation of the non-pro earbuds until the company launched the AirPods Pro — then I switched to the pro model. I owned both — the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Pro 2 — even the AirPods Max with their insane price.
I’m completely in the Apple ecosystem. I own an iPhone 15 Pro, Apple Watch Ultra 2 (which is now banned in the United States), M2 MacBook Air, Apple TV 4K, AirPods Pro 2, and AirPods Max, plus I have HomePod minis scattered throughout my apartment. I am what some would call an Apple fanboy…or am I?
I’ll admit that I consistently stayed with Apple’s own AirPods earbuds due to them being in the Apple ecosystem. I was captivated by the seamless integration of features that the earbuds offered and rarely considered any other headphones due to that close integration with Apple’s other devices.
However, even with all of the features that you get from earbuds like AirPods Pro 2, like Noise Cancellation, Adaptive Transparency, and Spatial Audio, there is one thing that has continued to nag me about them: they just aren’t comfortable.
I’ve used both the regular AirPods and the AirPods Pro, and as much as I’ve tried buying ear wings and changing out the ear tips, I can’t wear these headphones for an extended period of time before they become too uncomfortable, and I have to take them out. That ear fatigue is real, man, and I experience it regardless of which kind of AirPods I try.
The earbuds also, no matter how much I try, tend to fall out when I’m exercising. If I’m on a run, they’ll loosen up, and I’m constantly having to adjust them to stay in. I even had one pop out in the final stretch of a race. Doing pushups? They aren’t staying in for the life of them. Enjoy your earbuds dropping onto the sweaty gym floor.
Enter Shokz OpenFit
I was visiting my family in North Carolina earlier this month for the holidays. In the airport, there was one of those Hudson News stores and, within it, a demo for the Shokz OpenRun Pro open-ear headphones. The headphones use bone conduction technology, which uses vibration instead of a speaker to create sound. The best part? They don’t have to be shoved into your ear to work. I tried them out and was blown away.
They don’t have noise cancellation or any of the fancy features that AirPods have. They also don’t have as good sound quality or bass response. But holy moly, are they comfortable — even with that band going around your head. As soon as I tried them on, I knew I was onto something, so I checked out the Shokz website and found another model — the new OpenFit truly wireless open-ear headphones. Coming from AirPods Pro, these were the ones closest to those earbuds and the ones for me to actually give a go.
I’ve been using the Shokz OpenFit earbuds for a little, and I’m converted. The walled garden has an AirPods Pro 2-sized hole in it, and the Shokz OpenFit have moved in. While they are missing all of those fancy Apple features, they have enough. They have AI-based noise cancellation for phone calls (I’ll need to put that to the test), EQ control, and even multi-point pairing to keep them connected to two devices at the same time. For someone who loves to run with just their Apple Watch, that’s a huge deal for me.
OpenFit continues the Shokz open-ear concept to let users enjoy all-day comfort and hear their own soundtrack while staying open to the world around them. OpenFit offers an ultra-lightweight, open-ear construction to hear both your own audio and every sound around you with crystal clarity. DirectPitch™ technology produces a full audio experience to immerse yourself in your favorite songs, podcasts, and audiobooks. A flexible ear hook design combines stability and comfort. Moments are precious, and OpenFit gives you the freedom to hear every one of them.
The OpenFit also have much better sound quality and bass response than the OpenRun Pro, so that gets me much closer to an AirPods Pro audio experience. I’m missing out on Spatial Audio, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to gain the level of comfort I’m experiencing with these headphones. I have worn them for hours upon hours and haven’t experienced any discomfort. It’s incredible.
Could the AirPods Pro 3 be in my future? Possibly. But, for what’s available right now, I’m a Shokz convert. The level of comfort is just too important to me right now, and I can wear these OpenFit earbuds literally all day without any discomfort. Now I have to figure out what to do with my AirPods Max cause I’m experiencing something similar there, but that’s for another time.
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