Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review: Open Ears, Open Mind

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Bose, the name synonymous with noise-cancelling headphones, has taken a sharp turn with the Bose New Ultra Open Earbuds. These earbuds ditch the traditional in-ear design for a completely open approach, prioritizing situational awareness over sound isolation. But how does this radical shift in design translate to real-world use? Let’s dive into the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review and see if they live up to the Bose legacy.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds Review Specifications:

  • Design: Open-ear clip-on design
  • Weight: 56.5 g
  • Water Resistance: IPX4 (splashproof)
  • Battery Life: Up to 7.5 hours (with Immersive Audio off), 4.5 hours (with Immersive Audio on)
  • Charging Case: Provides an additional 19.5 hours of battery life, supports quick charging, no wireless charging
  • Drivers: 12mm drivers
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3
  • Special Features: Bose OpenAudio technology, Immersive Audio mode, touch controls

Design: An Open and Shut Case

The first thing that strikes you about the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds is their openness. Unlike traditional earbuds that nestle in your ear canal, these sit just outside your ear, secured by a comfortable ear clip. The design is undeniably unique—some might say futuristic—and boasts a brushed metallic finish that feels more like a fashion accessory than a tech gadget.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

The fit is surprisingly secure. Despite the lack of an ear seal, the earbuds stayed put during moderate activity like walking or light jogging. However, vigorous workouts or head-banging sessions might be a different story. Finding the right positioning can be a bit tricky at first, requiring some experimentation to achieve optimal sound quality.

The charging case is compact and lightweight, making it easy to toss in your pocket. While it doesn’t offer wireless charging, a quick-charge feature provides a handy boost when you’re short on time.

Sound Quality: Open Ears, Open Compromise

Here’s where things get interesting. Traditional earbuds, especially those with a good seal, excel at delivering rich, immersive sound. The open nature of Bose New Ultra Open Earbuds inherently sacrifices some of that immersive quality. Bass, the lifeblood of many music genres, takes a noticeable hit. While Bose does a commendable job with their larger 12mm drivers, lows lack the punch and depth you might be accustomed to.

However, the open design has its advantages. Mids and highs come through crisp and clear, making these earbuds ideal for podcasts, audiobooks, and calls. The soundstage, surprisingly for open-ear buds, feels surprisingly wide, creating a sense of spaciousness. Additionally, you’ll never miss what’s happening around you—perfect for runners or cyclists who need to stay aware of their surroundings.

Bose includes an “Immersive Audio” mode that attempts to digitally recreate a more traditional listening experience. While it adds a touch of depth, the effect is subtle and comes at the cost of significantly reduced battery life.

Features: Keeping it Simple

The Bose New Ultra Open Earbuds are equipped with the usual suite of features you’d expect from premium earbuds. They offer intuitive touch controls for playback, volume adjustment, and answering calls. The built-in microphones deliver clear audio during calls, even in moderately noisy environments. The Bose Connect app allows for further customization of the EQ settings and provides access to battery levels and tutorials.

It’s important to note that the Ultra Open Earbuds are not marketed as workout earbuds. While their IPX4 splash resistance rating protects them from light rain and sweat, they might not be ideal for intense workouts where you risk them getting dislodged.

Battery Life: A Decent Showing

Bose New Ultra Open Earbuds

Bose claims up to 7.5 hours of battery life on the earbuds themselves, with an additional 19.5 hours from the charging case. Our testing yielded similar results, though using the Immersive Audio mode significantly reduces those numbers. The quick-charge feature comes in handy, providing a two-hour boost with a 15-minute charge.

Who Should Buy the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds?

The Bose New Ultra Open Earbuds are a niche product with a specific target audience. They’re perfect for people who prioritize comfort and situational awareness over powerful noise cancellation and booming bass.

Here are some ideal users:

  • Runners and cyclists: The open design allows you to hear your surroundings clearly while exercising outdoors.
  • People who work in noisy environments: You can listen to music or podcasts without completely blocking out ambient noise.
  • Those with sensitive ears: The open design eliminates any discomfort associated with traditional in-ear buds.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you decide:


  • Unmatched comfort with a secure, open-ear design
  • Crystal clear mids and highs
  • Decent battery life
  • Ideal for running, cycling, and activities requiring awareness
  • Excellent call quality


  • Subdued bass response compared to traditional earbuds
  • Lacks Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode

The Verdict

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are a bold experiment in earbud design. They deliver clear, crisp audio with a wide soundstage, all while keeping you connected to your environment. The comfortable fit and secure design are additional pluses. However, the open design inevitably sacrifices some sound quality, particularly in the bass department.

Ultimately, the Ultra Open Earbuds cater to a specific audience that prioritizes safety and situational awareness over pure sonic immersion. If you fit that description, these innovative earbuds are worth a try. However, if noise cancellation and powerful bass are your top priorities, you might be better off looking elsewhere.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: How is the sound quality on the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds compared to regular earbuds?

The sound quality is good for open-ear headphones, with a wide soundstage and clear mids and highs. However, due to the open design, the bass is noticeably weaker compared to traditional in-ear headphones.

Q: Do the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds block out any background noise?

No, these earbuds do not offer any noise cancellation. They are designed to allow you to stay completely aware of your surroundings. This is a safety benefit for runners, cyclists, and anyone who needs to be situationally aware while listening to audio.

Q: Are the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds comfortable to wear for long periods of time?

Yes, the earbuds are lightweight and have a soft, spring-loaded clip that doesn’t put pressure on your ears. However, finding the perfect fit might require some adjustment, especially for users with glasses.

Q: Are the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds sweatproof or waterproof?

The Bose Open Earbuds have an IPX4 water resistance rating. This means they can withstand splashes of water but shouldn’t be submerged. They are sweatproof and suitable for workouts.

Q: Do the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds support wireless charging?

No, unfortunately, the Bose Open Earbuds do not support wireless charging. The charging case uses a standard USB-C cable.

Q: How long does the battery last on the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds?

The battery life is up to 7.5 hours on a single charge with Immersive Audio off. However, it drops to around 4.5 hours with immersive audio on. The charging case provides an additional 19.5 hours, bringing the total playtime to 27 hours.

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