Bone conduction headphones are fast becoming the standard in earpieces for athletes. Shokz pioneered the commercialization of bone conduction headphone technology, and its products are still synonymous with the industry. But when headphone giant Philips released its A6606 competitor to the Shokz OpenRun, it begs the question: Which one is the best?
Shokz’s OpenRun headphones have the advantage of years of bone conduction experience. They have good sound quality and are very comfortable to wear. But Philips knew what it had to contend with, so the A6606 offers even better sound and longer battery life. Overall, they are very evenly matched.
To determine which is the best, we have to compare all the different aspects and specifications, and ultimately, your personal choice will be the determining factor. But let’s start by looking at both brands side-by-side so you can decide with all the relevant information.
Philips A6606 Vs. Shokz OpenRun: The Technology
Shokz’s OpenRun headphones have been the standard in high-end bone conduction headphones for a long time. It’s the one that everyone is trying to beat and with good reason. Shokz has spent years perfecting and fine-tuning commercial bone conduction technology to get the best possible sound from its headphones, and the OpenRun is the result.
On the other hand, the A6606 is a change in direction for Philips. From a company that’s been known for making headphones for decades, this new bone conduction model is entirely different. The technology is essentially the same as that of the OpenRun, and most people won’t notice a difference at first glance.
The logical first response would be to assume that the OpenRun would be better since Shokz has had years of experience in the bone conduction field, but that’s not necessarily the case. As we go through this comparison, you will see that Philips used Shokz’s experience to fine-tune it even more and try to overcome OpenRun’s limitations.
Differences In Sound Quality
Shokz’s OpenRun provides solid sound quality for bone conduction headphones. It successfully addresses many issues seen in older models, leading to an improved audio experience.
Having said that, bone conduction headphones are still not an option for perfect sound quality. The unfortunate fact is that the combination of open-ear designs and limitations in bone conduction technology leaves much to be desired. OpenRun headphones are for listening to music or podcasts on the go, especially while exercising, not for enjoying perfect sound quality.
The Philips A6606 suffers from the same limitations in sound quality, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Philips managed to improve the sound quality considerably, and a significant part of this is due to its ability to switch between Music and Voice modes.
Whereas the OpenRun tries to find an acceptable middle ground between voice and music, Philips lets you switch between the two. When you’re taking a call or listening to a podcast, Voice mode will enhance the quality of the speaker’s voice. Music mode will improve the bass and higher frequencies to give you a fuller musical experience.
The A6606’s music quality is still not perfect, but it has a definite edge over the OpenRun.
Volume is another common problem with bone conduction. Because of the open-ear design, it’s hard to notice how loud the headphones really are; I often find myself pushing it far above safe levels to hear clearly in noisy environments.
Unfortunately, this is something that both the OpenRun and A6606 struggle with, and the only way around it is using earplugs, which defeats the primary purpose of using bone conduction headphones by limiting environmental awareness.
Water And Dust Resistance
In this regard, the Shokz OpenRun and Philips A6606 are identical. Both have a very capable IP67 rating, which means that the headphones can handle more than just a little bit of water. Whatever sport you participate in that makes you sweat profusely, the OpenRun and A6606 can both take it with style.
Having said that, it’s not uncommon for OpenRun users to experience microphone issues for a few minutes after the headphones have been exposed to plenty of water (especially when users shower with them). It causes no permanent damage, but people on the other end may have a little bit of difficulty hearing you for a while during phone calls.
Related: Can you Shower with Shokz OpenRun?
There are no such reports about the Philips A6606, even from users who often shower with their headphones. This could be due to a smaller number of A6606 units on the market or less user feedback. Regardless, it appears that Philips has met the water resistance challenge effectively with the A6606.
Battery Life And Charging
Shokz OpenRun headphones offer a battery life of approximately 8 hours. It supports quick charging through a USB-C port, and it usually takes me about one and a half hours to charge it from 0% to 100%.
The Philips A6606 has an estimated battery life of around 9 hours, beating the OpenRun. It charges from 0% to 100% in about 2 hours. So, the Philips has slightly better battery life, but its charging time is also proportionally longer.
Keep in mind that the battery life depends on your usage. For example, both headphones’ bass boost options will reduce battery life considerably, and the estimations are based on running the headphones at approximately 50% volume, so your mileage may differ somewhat.
Comfort And Use
Shokz OpenRun has a skin-friendly silicone coating over its ear hooks and neckband. It is soft, light, and unbelievably comfortable to wear. The transducers apply some light pressure to your cheekbones and vibrate lightly against your skin, as all bone conduction headphones do.
The sensation is often irritating to some, but I found (as do most others) that you get used to it after a few minutes.
The Philips A6606 has a similar design and coating and feels incredibly comfortable. It’s as if the vibrations against your skin are slightly less pronounced, but they are still present. The pressure against your cheekbones is similar to that of the OpenRun.
The A6606, however, differentiates itself with built-in LED lights – a feature particularly useful for night runners, enhancing visibility and safety.
There is a slight weight difference, though. The OpenRun weighs about 26 grams, while the A6606 weighs 35 grams. This number seems small and insignificant, but you can feel it when you wear them. It’s not as if the Philips headphones are too heavy, but they feel heavier and more solid around your ears without feeling like they will slip off.
Overall, the Shokz OpenRun’s slimmer design makes it slightly more comfortable to wear than the A6606, but that doesn’t make the A6606 uncomfortable in the least.
The Shokz OpenRun has the advantages of better comfort and a more lightweight design, combined with Shokz’s years of experience in bone conduction technology that ensures excellent sound quality despite using bone conduction.
The Philips A6606 is a worthy contender. Thanks to the different audio modes, it can offer better sound quality and has a longer battery life, which is always beneficial.
The two headphones are so evenly matched that it’s difficult to indicate a clear winner. However, since they are so similar in specifications and capabilities, the fact that the Philips A6606 often sells at approximately $30 less than the OpenRun could make price the determining factor for many users, and it would not be a bad choice.