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Tech Talk Reviews: Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

In this latest edition of Tech Talk Reviews, Boardroom tests the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds, a new device for audio immersion and awareness.

This story is part of Tech Talk Reviews, a series highlighting tech reporter and digital creator Michelai Graham’s experience testing new tech gadgets, emerging platforms, apps, games, and more. Find more reviews here.

Could you imagine listening to your favorite true crime podcast while also hearing the busy NYC streets?

Bose created a new product for that.

The renowned audio brand launched the Ultra Open Earbuds on Feb. 15, debuting a new product line focused on immersive audio and awareness. I’ve been testing Bose’s new earbuds for about a month now, and much like the brand’s QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, I’m a huge fan.

In this latest edition of Tech Talk Reviews, get an insider perspective on Bose’s newest audio-wearable and hear from Raza Haider, Bose’s Chief Product and Supply Chain Officer.

The Specifics

Photo courtesy of Bose

The new Bose Ultra Open Earbuds feature a cuff-like design that was created with fashion and comfort in mind. The earbuds let users hear their audio and physical surroundings all at the same time because they actually don’t go inside of your ears. Unlike your typical headphones or earbuds, the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds were made to be worn throughout the day, even if no audio is coming through them. Bose was able to accomplish this design by creating a device that attaches to the side of users’ ears.

The earbuds’ flexible, silicone-wrapped arm coating connects the speaker to the battery barrel. The flexibility creates a one-size-fits-all device since the earbuds will adjust to whatever ear they latch onto. The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds also feature small magnets that help secure them inside their charging case. Like the audio brand’s other products that feature Bose Immersive Audio, the earbuds can also tap into still or motion mode. There is one button on top of the battery barrel that can be set to play, pause, skip, adjust volume, and more.

Users can set their preferred audio preferences on their earbuds in the Bose Music app.

Haider exclusively told Boardroom at a pre-launch press demo that the brand’s newest product has been in the making for roughly two and a half to three years. The audio company previously launched products that inched towards open earbuds, but Haider said those devices were more episodic and particular to certain use cases.

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“We’ve been working on open-ear audio type of experiences probably for eight or 10 years,” Haider told Boardroom. “Three years ago, we went on the hunt to search for a form factor that could take that technological innovation and bring it not just to episodic use cases, but to everybody.”

Bose does a lot of customer research and rapid prototyping during its products’ research and development phases. Haider said the design was a perfect fit when the team landed on it, so they started teasing it to people early on, and it was clear the cuff-shaped design was a winner.

Ahead of launching the Ultra Open Earbuds widely, Bose partnered with Kith for a limited-edition version of the earbuds that quickly sold out. The Kith for Bose Ultra Open Earbuds feature the words “Kith” in the design of the Bose logo. This partnership was a perfect match since Bose is also targeting fashion-forward customers with its latest product design.

“If you’re going to wear something, you want it to fit your personal style,” Haider said. “The newness is really fun. You don’t get to work on completely new form factors or things that revolutionize the way a product category looks and feels like. It’s a real step change in a no-compromise experience that I don’t think the world has seen. The audio quality is great; the comfort is fantastic. It fits everybody. I’m excited to see what people have to say.”

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds come in Black and White Smoke and are available for $299 at Bose.com.

Michelai’s Review

I’ve been testing the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds for the past month or so, and my favorite thing about them is that I don’t have to compromise on any of my ear candy, which is very important to my everyday look. I have a lot going on around my ear area between endless studs and my glasses stems. If anything, the earbuds have added to my style.

I found that I wear my earbuds a tad higher than most users, and I can guarantee they are just as secure as wearing them lower near my first ear piercing.

I didn’t intentionally mean to wear my earbuds in the shower one day, but I did, and they emerged in tip-top shape. The audio wearables also have water and sweat-resistance protection built into them.

I don’t have many cons to share about this product. My only note is that the magnets under the earbuds sometimes latch onto my earrings, but l easily move the earbuds around to find a suitable area on my ear.

And let’s get into the battery life on these! My earbuds never died, even when I wore them for an extended period of about six hours. That’s because they feature up to seven and a half hours of battery life on a single charge without Bose Immersive Audio activated and up to four and a half hours when it is turned on.

Aside from that, a full charge also provides 48 hours of standby time, meaning if I leave my earbuds on for two days straight and stay connected to my phone without using them, they will stay fully charged. The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds only take an hour to fully charge.

Also, if you’re into a truly noise-canceling audio experience, this might not be the product for you. The immersive audio is top-tier, but the open earbuds don’t get as loud as your typical earbuds or headphones. I found myself trying to turn my earbuds up more and more in louder environments, but they aren’t meant to drown out your surroundings.

Overall, I’m a huge fan of these earbuds, which are now integral to my commute around New York City. I have a no-headphones rule when riding the train so I can be aware of what’s happening around me, but all of that has changed with these earbuds. I can be aware and still listen to my favorite music and podcasts.

Tell me, after reading this, would you invest in the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds? Stay locked on Boardroom and subscribe to Tech Talk for more reviews just like this.

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Michelai Graham

Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.

About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.