Often, products come along which are brilliant but which take a while to catch on. Air fryers are a good example - they've been around for years, but it took years before we realised how game-changing they are.
Having now tried several types of bone conduction headphones, we're convinced that they're going to be the next air fryer. Headphones like these allow you to listen to podcasts or music whilst also being able to hear your surroundings because they don't sit inside your ears. This has a lot of applications - for example, if you're someone who likes to run outdoors then wearing a pair of bone conduction headphones instead of in-ear headphones could help you to hear traffic better, keeping you safer. Or it could simply help you hear your SO shouting at you while you're listening to your music and doing the dishes (sorry about that).
Shokz has emerged as a brand which is pioneering the use of bone conduction headphones, and we recently had the opportunity to try 2 pairs of Shokz headphones - the OpenMove and OpenRun headphones. Having now tried the headphones, we feel well-placed to publish a full review of both of them. Let's get into it:
How do Shokz headphones work?
As we mentioned in our introduction, Shokz are bone conduction headphones, which means they don't actually go into your ears. Shokz don't even really have speakers, which might be quite hard to get your head around. Instead, Shokz has transducers which vibrate against the area just above your ear canal, which sends vibrations through the cheekbones and sends the sound directly to the inner ear. It's all explained pretty well on the Shokz website here.
The OpenMove headphones are the cheaper of the 2 Shokz headphones that we tried, but we'd still say that they feel premium. These headphones weigh 29g and have a 6 hour battery life when fully charged, which isn't bad.
Even though the OpenRun Shokz headphones are almost £60 more expensive than the OpenMove headphones, we preferred the cheaper headphones. For starters, we found them to be more comfortable, which is a big deal for us as we can often wear headphones for more than 8 hours per day. The OpenRun headphones also weigh just 3g less than the OpenMove headphones and only have a battery life that is 2 hours longer. For us, that isn't worth paying an extra £60 for.
We have to admit that when we were trying both the OpenMove and OpenRun Shokz, we assumed that they'd both be really expensive to buy, but in our opinion, they're very reasonably priced. Currently, you can buy the OpenMove Shokz headphones for well under £100, and the OpenRun headphones for around £130. We'd expect to pay around that on a pair of good normal headphones, so that seems reasonable to us. You also get a 24 month warranty if you buy the headphones through the Shokz website.
If we had to give one criticism of Shokz headphones, it's that they can feel quite tight against your head, at least to us anyway. With in-ear buds, you can sort of sit them right on the edge of your ear canal and still hear the music or whatever you're listening to. With Shokz, the transducers have to be right next to your skin or you're not going to hear anything, because the vibrations have to be passed your skin and cheekbones. If you were to wear a pair of Shokz for a long time, I could imagine that could become annoying. We definitely found the OpenMove headphones more comfortable to wear than the OpenRun headphones.
Anything else to mention?
Both headphones are listed as waterproof but this is only against small amounts of sweat, and neither are suitable for taking underwater. However, there is a pair of headphones from the Shokz range which are totally waterproof and suitable for swimming, called the OpenSwim headphones.
So we're impressed by the technology of these Shokz headphones, and if we were going to choose a pair to buy and wear then we'd probably go for the OpenMove headphones because they were more comfortable and cheaper.
Have you tried any Shokz headphones? If you have, let us know your thoughts in the comments! If you enjoying running then we have other guides related to running, including a round-up of the best energy gels for running we've tried.