Shokz’s OpenRun (formerly known as Aeropex) has been the standard in bone conduction sports headphones for many years. However, Shokz released an upgraded model, the OpenRun Pro. Both models are for sale with no plans to discontinue the original. But many new users wonder which one they should buy, the OpenRun or OpenRun Pro?
The OpenRun Pro headphones use 9th generation bone conduction technology, while the OpenRun uses 8th generation tech. This gives the Pro a slight advantage in sound quality and deeper bass. It also has longer battery life and a hardshell case but a lower dust- and water-resistance rating.
The two headsets are similar in many ways. Most of the changes are under the hood and impact user experience rather than appearances, which is a good thing. At the same time, not all the differences are improvements, so it’s good to compare them properly before you buy. Let’s dive in and compare the Shokz OpenRun Pro with the original OpenRun.
What Makes OpenRun Pro Better Than OpenRun?
The OpenRun Pro has a few features that are improvements over the original Shokz OpenRun.
9th Generation Bone Conduction Technology
OpenRun currently supports 8th generation bone conduction technology. Though it is pretty good, there are a few problems with it. For example, sound quality leaves much to be desired, especially in terms of bass. There’s also quite a bit of sound leakage when listening at high volumes.
OpenRun Pro uses the newer 9th generation bone conduction technology. This is quite a significant improvement over the 8th Gen, and the Pro benefits considerably from those improvements.
For example, the OpenRun Pro has considerably better sound quality than the OpenRun. I especially notice it in songs with prominent bass riffs, like Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” It sounds more well-defined than it does on OpenRun.
There’s also less sound leakage. It’s not entirely gone; when you’re listening at high volumes in a quiet room, people will still notice it, but nobody will hear your music in the gym.
Better Battery Life
The battery life on OpenRun is approximately 8 hours, while that of the OpenRun Pro is up to 10 hours. The OpenRun Pro also charges much faster. It has a 5-minute Quick Charge feature that gives you 1.5 hours of listening time, and it fully charges in about 1 hour. Meanwhile, the OpenRun’s Quick Charge takes 10 minutes to provide the same 1.5 hours of usage and charges to full in about 1.5 hours.
The OpenRun Pro‘s call quality excels due to its strategic dual microphone setup, which enables noise-canceling capability. These microphones operate much like headphones with active noise cancellation, but the process is applied on the input (the captured sound) rather than the output (the sound being produced).
The system captures environmental noise with the outward-facing microphone and uses this data to eliminate unwanted noise from the mouth-facing microphone, which is primarily capturing the speaker’s voice. Even in noisy environments, such as a bustling city street or a crowded restaurant, my voice transmission remains reasonably clear. The call quality is noticeably superior compared to that of the standard OpenRun.
The Carry Case
The original OpenRun ships with a carry bag, which is excellent but doesn’t really feel premium. The OpenRun Pro comes with a compact and sturdy hardshell case, which does a far better job of protecting your headphones from drops, bumps, and moisture. It feels much more like the premium product it is.
Where OpenRun Pro Is Lacking
As you can see, OpenRun Pro has a few significant upgrades over OpenRun, but it’s not all good.
Many other features are identical. They both support Bluetooth 5.1, which isn’t the latest version but is still the standard for most devices. It would have been good to see Bluetooth 5.2 or 5.3 supported, though.
They also look almost identical except for a few color differences. OpenRun comes in Black, Grey, Red, and Navy, while OpenRun Pro is available in Black, Beige, Coral, and Teal.
One area where OpenRun Pro is significantly less desirable than OpenRun is its dust- and water-resistance rating. The older OpenRun has an excellent rating of IP67. This means it’s nearly perfectly dust-resistant and can handle its fair share of moisture. Cycling in the rain and even falling in a lake will be no problem. Some users even shower while wearing their OpenRun.
The OpenRun Pro’s rating is IP55. They are decently dust-resistant and can handle limited moisture like sweat and a bit of rain, but showering with them is not an option. This difference won’t impact many people, but it’s still essential to remember it.
General User Experience
After using both devices for a while, the general experience is comparable. For the most part, you don’t even realize which model you’re wearing. There is a slight weight difference between them. The OpenRun weighs about 0.9 ounces(26g), and the Pro weighs approximately 1 ounces(29g). Not a big difference most of the time, and you have to pay attention to even notice it.
Though the designs are very similar, the OpenRun Pro felt like a more secure fit than the OpenRun the first time I wore it. Wearing them for long periods doesn’t make much of a difference, but you might notice the tighter fit and slightly heavier weight the first time you put them on.
The difference in sound quality is quite striking. It’s clear that Shokz has improved the technology considerably over the last few years. It’s still not for audiophiles, though, as the improvement feels like it’s mainly in the bass and mid-range frequencies. Though it does offer a fuller sound experience, high-end air conduction headphones still beat the OpenRun Pro by a landslide.
Another slight problem that I have with both models is that the magnetic charging port isn’t covered. The devices are water resistant, and I don’t tend to sweat profusely, but after a few runs, I found that the charging ports can get dirty from the moisture and salt, creating a weaker connection. It’s nothing that a cotton bud can’t fix, but it’s still a hassle.
I also found that the battery life of the OpenRun Pro isn’t quite as good as I expected. It can reach the ten-hour mark if you keep it at a low volume level. The problem is that bone conduction headphones are notorious for low-volume issues because they don’t plug your ears. You tend to push the volume higher than usual, especially in noisy environments.
This leads to a rapid drop in battery power. From my experience, the battery can last between eight and nine hours if you never push the volume above 60%. That’s easier said than done since 60% sounds quite soft, even in a relatively quiet gym.
Which Should You Buy?
If you are very concerned about having the best sound quality possible, want longer battery life, and won’t be wearing it in the shower, the OpenRun Pro is the best option.
The standard OpenRun is excellent for anyone who doesn’t care too much about slightly lower sound quality, doesn’t want to spend too much money, and wants the best water- and dust resistance.
The OpenRun Pro is an upgrade from the Shokz OpenRun bone conduction headphones, but it’s not an upgrade in all aspects. Though its sound quality is higher, and you have slightly improved battery life, it isn’t as water- and dust-resistant as the standard OpenRun. The OpenRun should be sufficient for everyone except those who want the best sound quality bone conduction can offer.