Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: this is high-end listening for the fashion-conscious (2024)

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With a unique USP, these earbuds are stuffed to the gills with the latest technology

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Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: this is high-end listening for the fashion-conscious (1)


Vicky Jessop1 day ago

What if we told you that you could go into a coffee shop, chat with the server and listen for your order being called, all while playing music at full blast? Well, welcome to the Ultra Open Earbuds: the latest Bose product to hit the market.

Bose is one of the leading providers of great-quality earwear, but these earbuds offer the average consumer something rather different. Not only do they have a unique design (hello, ear cuffs), but they’ve also been created with the aim of keeping people connected to the outside world, allowing them to listen to music and chat with their friends at the same time - the audio equivalent of having your cake and eating it.

Retailing for £299, they’re not cheap, but they are brimming with the latest technology. So, are they worth it? We put them through their paces.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: this is high-end listening for the fashion-conscious (2)


  • Cost: £299
  • Battery: 7.5 hours without Immersive Audio, 4.5 with Immersive Audio on (with 19.5/ 12 additional hours from the charging case)
  • Standby time: 48 hours
  • Time to charge: 1 hour to a full charge; 10-minute quick-charge for two hours of playtime
  • Audio: Qualcomm Snapdragon
  • Water and sweat resistance: IPX4 rating
  • Colours: black and white

The design

The design is the selling point here: how many other earbuds clip onto your ear like an oversized cuff? Bose claims that the unique design makes for better sound, as well as a more ‘open’ one. Gone are the days of pulling out earbuds in the office when somebody wants a word, the Ultra Opens mean you can keep playing those tunes, and look good whilst doing it.

The earbuds (which currently come in either black or white) basically function like a clip, with the battery pack located behind the ear and the speaker nestled on the outside of the inner ear, rather than taking up the entirety of the ear canal like a regular earbud. The case is compact and small enough to slip into a handbag without taking up too much space. Plus, it’s also made with super-soft materials to make the fit even more comfortable. Comfortable enough, apparently, to wear all day without noticing.

Is it? For the most part, yes. It took a few tries to get the hang of ‘hooking’ the earbud over the ear, and for the first few hours, they do feel like they’re constantly on the verge of falling off. Once you get used to it, though, it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing them – a welcome change from Bose’s popular QuietComfort Ultras, which do get a bit sore after the first few hours. And yes, they are secure: secure enough to wear on a run without falling off once.

Another nice touch we noticed: the bottom of the earbuds are magnetic, meaning they snap together when placed on a table together. A small thing, but it makes them harder to lose. Thanks Bose.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: this is high-end listening for the fashion-conscious (3)


The sound

In quiet surroundings, they’re impressively good. The earbuds themselves feature some top-notch audio technology, courtesy of Snapdragon, and it really does show. There’s barely any noise leakage, even when they’re playing at top volume (doubly impressive when you consider where the earbud is positioned).

That said, one of the main selling points of the Ultra Open Earbuds is the Immersive Audio tech, which Bose has been pushing hard in recent months. This uses a two-channel stereo to give its audio more depth, providing a richer sound, rather like listening through a pair of headphones, or to a two-speaker setup in your living room.

This can only be accessed through the Bose app (which therefore needs to be downloaded in order to use the earbuds properly) and comes in two forms: Still and Motion, to be used when you’re sitting down, or on the go.

Does it work? Mostly. The audio on songs comes through beautifully and really does feel like it has extra depth. When it comes to listening to podcasts, though, that same tech can make it feel a bit distorted and echoey. Just as well the Immersive Audio can easily be turned off too. You do pay a price for being able to hear what’s going on in the outside world. In louder situations – that is, in the gym, or on the dreaded tube – they’re just that little bit too quiet and they struggle to make themselves heard over the sound of, say, passing cars.

Obviously, a key factor of being an ‘open’ earbud is being, well, open, but it might have been nice to have a noise-cancelling option too. After all, nobody wants to hear the tube screeching at full volume at 8am on a Monday morning, something the alternative QuietComfort Ultras’ noise reduction technology excels in.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: this is high-end listening for the fashion-conscious (4)


The extra features

No need to pull out your smartphone every time the music needs pausing: the Ultra Opens come with a button on each earbud that does a lot of heavy lifting.

Not only does one click pause and restart the audio, but the buttons can also be mapped with a series of specific controls on the Bose app, which should make it the work of a moment (once you get the knack of it) to raise and lower the volume, skip songs and turn spatial audio on and off.

Bose has also promised that later versions of the earbuds will come with an automatic sound enhancer: that is, where the volume is automatically boosted if the speakers detect loud background noises. Again, this was slightly hit-and-miss: sometimes the volume went up, other times it didn’t.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: this is high-end listening for the fashion-conscious (5)



There’s a lot of technology crammed into these tiny gadgets, and it shows. Not only do they feel like a premium product – the quality of the materials, the satisfying snap of the case as it opens and closes – but the audio experience is truly unusual and one that makes it a good fit for any on-the-go listeners. Plus, they’re basically an ultra-comfortable piece of statement jewellery that can be worn for hours on end - a win for any music junkies.

The only downside is the lack of sound-cancelling capabilities - whereas the QuietComfort Ultras can easily be heard over the sounds of public transport or on a busy street, the Ultra Opens struggle to make themselves heard. For people who like to stay connected to the outside world, they’re a must-have: people who like to tune it out might find themselves a bit disappointed.

Buy now - £299.95, Bose



Tech review


Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: this is high-end listening for the fashion-conscious (2024)


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