Earbuds are hot right now, and a big reason for that is probably because Apple decided to stop including EarPods with its iPhone 12 family (and beyond). But while the company does have a $50 solution for people who relied on them — in the name of its Beats Flex neckband-style headset — I know there are some of you out there who want more than just a basic pair to sync up with your iPhone or Android device. Up until a couple of weeks ago, my go-to were the Powerbeats Pro, but I've since switched to the new Bose Sport Earbuds, which launched at the end of September for $180. And I love them.
At first, I was scared I would miss my Powerbeats Pro, since they pair so easily with my iPhone, sound great, and have nice 9-hour battery life. But it didn't take long for me to get used to Bose's Sport Earbuds, which are also truly wireless and pack quite a punch in terms of sound. Considering how I use my 'buds for running, one of the most important elements is comfort, and the Sport Earbuds are so good that I never have to worry about them falling out of my wears or giving me any sort of discomfort as I'm racking up those miles.
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Beyond that, Bose's Sport Earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant, with an IPX4 rating that makes them perfect not just for running, but any sort of workout. And although they don't feature active noise-cancelling, Bose made these StayHear Max tips that block out an incredible amount of the noise around you. After using them for the first time, I actually had to double check the spec sheet to make sure that they did not, in fact, have ANC built in. Of course, there are different tips in the box to help you find the ideal fit for your ears.
Battery life, on the other hand, isn't the best: You can get up to five hours of listening time out of the Sport Earbuds, and 15 minutes of quick-charge will give you about two hours of playback in case you're in a rush. This power all comes through the included USB-C charging case, which offers about two full charges on its own, and you'll need it to pair with your devices since there's no Bluetooth button on the earbuds themselves. Speaking of buttons, there actually aren't any on the Sports. Instead, Bose opted for a capacitive touch interface on the earbuds that lets you tap them to play/pause, skip a song, or answer/end calls.
It definitely took me about a day to get used to what Bose calls "Simple Touch Controls," but once I figured out all I needed to do to play a song was double tap the earbud like a touchpad or hold my finger on it to bring up Siri, it wasn't a problem. Plus the tap interface is great for running since you don't have to fiddle around with finding physical buttons. That said, right now there's no way to use these touch controls to go back to a track or adjust the volume, but Bose told Input that it is currently researching if that's a functionality it could add to the Sport Earbuds in a future software update.
Now, how about the actual sound? Well, as I've mentioned several times before, my ultimate test is playing one of Bad Bunny's many banger tracks and seeing just how good (or not) they sound, before moving to other more chill genres or podcasts. Right away, as soon as I put the Sport Earbuds on, I noticed how loud and crispy they are — the bass is just bumpy enough without drowning out the vocals, and all frequencies from low, mid, and high are exquisitely balanced regardless of how high or low I had the volume set.
At $180, compared to the $250 Powerbeats Pro, you simply can't go wrong with the Sport Earbuds — so long as you're willing to live with their 5-hour battery life, which I'm seriously hoping Bose can improve in the next version of its fitness-focused wireless 'buds.