Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

Opening eyes to the open-ear experience

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future)

Laptop Mag Verdict

If you crave exceptional audio quality without sacrificing awareness or style, the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds offer a revolutionary listening experience at a premium price.


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    High-end design throughout

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    Excellent audiophile performance

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    High-quality audio

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    Good battery life

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    Excellent free app


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    Not for everyone

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Put away those bulky headphones and slippery, sometimes uncomfortable, earbuds, Bose is redefining wearable audio with its new Ultra Open Earbuds. Forget choosing between immersive sound and staying aware of your surroundings – these innovative, cuff-shaped earbuds offer the best of both worlds.

Available for $299, the Ultra Open Earbuds rest comfortably on the outer edge of your ear, eliminating ear canal blockage and ensuring you stay connected to your environment. Whether that means listening to podcasts while walking the dog or enjoying workout music without missing your friend's conversation, these open-ear buds seamlessly integrate audio into your day-to-day life.

Beyond functionality, the Ultra Open Earbuds boast a sleek, minimalist design with polished edges and a brushed metal finish. They’re designed to complement, not clash, with your personal style, effortlessly paired with glasses, hats, and jewelry. Comfort is paramount, and the Bose-engineered flex arm, coated in soft silicone, ensures a secure, light-as-air fit on most ear shapes.

So, if you crave exceptional audio quality without sacrificing awareness or style, the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds offer a revolutionary listening experience at a premium price.

With so many positives on display, the best wireless earbuds should quake in their charging cases. The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are a serious contender, so listen in a little, and let’s see how they fare.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: Price and availability

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds cost $299, which puts them in the top tier with the Bose Quite Comfort Earbuds 2 ($299),  Technics EAH-AZ807 ($299), and the Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279). All of the earbuds listed feature excellent sound quality and premium active noise canceling.

However, the Bose Ultra Open buds do not, and they’re not meant to. While they lack the current earbud meta, Bose’s earbuds offer something all-new: An open-ear experience pairing audiophile-level quality and natural sound pickup to great effect.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: Design

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

(Image credit: Future)

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds come in sleek, stylish Black and White Smoke colorways. The contrast in textures between their soft and metallic finishes makes them feel like a luxurious fashion piece, and I like that a lot.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

(Image credit: Future)

They’re more like a pair of clip-on earrings than your traditional earbuds, and thanks to the ultra-soft silicone flex arm that connects the speaker to the battery barrel, they stay on your ear regardless if you’re just walking around or going for a jog.

For easy control, a physical button sits conveniently on each of the ear-resting barrels, allowing you to play, pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, and more. Additionally, the Bose Music app unlocks Auto Volume, which intelligently adjusts your audio level based on ambient noise, ensuring consistent sound wherever you go.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

(Image credit: Future)

Built for real-world use, the Ultra Open Earbuds boast an IPX4 rating, making them sweat and water-resistant, so you can confidently wear them during workouts or light rain.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: Comfort

I have large, oddly shaped ears which makes finding properly fitting earbuds challenging. However, the Ultra Open Earbuds are so super lightweight, that I would often completely forget I was wearing them, especially since they don’t sit within my ears.

I couldn’t locate or find the details for how much they weigh, but how exactly does one measure air? (Don’t answer that, I am pretty sure there's a way.) When I find out, I will update you. 

Once you learn how to put them on (and there is a brief learning curve), you’ll immediately notice how lightweight and unobtrusive they are. I went about my day strolling the streets of Manhattan, riding the subway, and walking in the park, all while enjoying my music and surroundings.

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are so comfortable, that it was only when I returned home and my significant other asked me if I got a new pair of earrings that I remembered I had them on.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

(Image credit: Future)

Gone are the days of headphones gripping uncomfortably. The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds utilize innovative flex arms feel incredibly secure. Its ultra-soft silicone coating gives a unique sensation, reminding me of the smooth, delicate touch of one of my kid's skin when they were infants. This meticulous design ensures a snug, perfect fit without ever feeling intrusive, seamlessly becoming an extension of yourself. 

It was a great experience until my significant other snatched them, and once she had them, she ran off like Smeagol in “Lord of the Rings” to hide in her cave. I never got to wear them again. Though, I did find her dancing in the hallway and referring to them as precious. 

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: Setup and controls

Setting up the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds was quick and painless. You simply connect them via Bluetooth and call it a day. However, I suggest you download the Bose Music app to enjoy the best experience. 

Within the app, you will find all the intimate controls and options that take the experience to a whole new level. Granting you access to the fine-tuning of your audio experience, including different listening modes and an EQ. The app also lets you compile all of your music services into one place, allowing for seamless listening across your entire audio library.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

(Image credit: Future)

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds prioritize seamless control. Each earbud boasts a conveniently placed physical button that grants intuitive access to playback, volume adjustments, and track navigation. No more fumbling with touch controls or awkward gestures – just simple, tactile commands at your fingertips.

But the convenience doesn't stop there. The Bose Music app unlocks the intelligent "Auto Volume" feature. This clever technology analyzes your surroundings and adjusts your audio level accordingly.

Whether you're strolling through a quiet park or navigating a bustling city street, Auto Volume ensures consistent sound clarity without you needing to constantly tinker with the settings. It's like having a personal sound engineer, automatically fine-tuning your experience for optimal enjoyment.

With both physical buttons and intelligent software features, the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds empower you to take control of your listening experience, effortlessly adapting to any environment while keeping you immersed in your audio world.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: Software

Bose creates next-level audio immersion thanks to the aptly named Bose Immersive Audio. This innovative technology goes beyond headphones to virtually transport you to the heart of your music, placing you center stage in a three-dimensional soundscape.

Imagine the rich, layered depth of a live concert, all delivered directly to your ears – that's the magic of Immersive Audio. When you’re using the UOE’s it feels like you’re at a live concert, which I love. 

It feels less constricted compared to traditional stereo sound. Immersive Audio expands your listening experience with a wider, more spacious stage, faithfully recreating the natural way we hear music.

Here’s the best part, it's platform-agnostic, meaning you can unlock this spatial audio experience regardless of your preferred streaming service or device.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

(Image credit: Future)

For tailored immersion, Bose offers two distinct listening modes: "Still" and "Motion." The "Still" mode is ideal for stationary listening, anchoring the sound stage to a fixed position and creating a concert-hall atmosphere in your living room. On the other hand, "Motion" keeps the music dynamically adjusting to your head movements, ensuring you stay immersed even on the move.

You can choose different modes to enjoy different audio experiences. In this part of the app you will find the options of Stereo, immersion, and music, which all provide a different listening experience. There is also an equalizer, which you can manually adjust or make use of the bass boost, and treble boost presets. 

Whether you're a discerning audiophile or simply crave a deeper connection to your music, Bose Immersive Audio promises a transformative listening experience. It's not just about hearing your music – it's about feeling it.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: Audio

I went a little old school with Linkin Park’s “Hi-Voltage” and the audio was excellent with beautifully discernable tonal separation, and shockingly good bass and treble when you consider that the unit's speaker is not sitting directly in your ear. It is akin to being at a live concert, which I mentioned earlier. Listening to the thumping bass beat, and rap lyrics, both excellently reproduced, I felt like I was back at a Linkin Park concert some twenty or so years ago, happy. Before the kids happened. 

I moved on to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and the scratchy opening guitars were reproduced to perfection, I was taken back. I felt like I was at a live show with a young Kurt Cobain's rough voice and powerful lyrics taking me back once again to my anxiety-ridden youth. 

Here’s the best part of the experience, it removes the need to just use one earbud so that I am fully aware of my surroundings. If you’ve ever walked around a big city late a night, you want to be completely aware, so the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds created an extra secure feeling while delivering the kind of stunning audio that reminded me of the concert halls, bar basements, and CBGB’s of my youth. 

The other thing that I love, is that even though these buds aren’t stuffed into my ears, nobody else can hear what I am listening to, no matter how loud I have the volume. Which is refreshing, and adds a level of privacy I covet as there is nothing worse than someone else dancing to your music.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: Battery life

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds boast impressive battery life, keeping you connected for extended periods. With immersive audio off, a single charge is rated up to 7.5 hours, which drops to 4.5 hours with it on. In my time with them, I got all-day use plus because I mostly used them while riding the subway or when I go for my walks.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

(Image credit: Future)

In standby mode, they last a remarkable 48 hours, perfect for all-day wear. The charging case provides an additional 19.5 hours (or 12 hours with immersive audio), and a quick 10-minute charge fuels 2 hours of playtime. So the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are dependable travel partners.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Fashion, function, and fidelity are a powerful combo

(Image credit: Future)

Tech-wise, the earbuds feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound Technology Suite, including the latest aptX Adaptive codec for lossless, low-latency audio streaming. This ensures seamless, robust connectivity, especially with premium Android devices. 

Adding to the convenience, Google Fast Pair simplifies pairing with Android devices, and Bluetooth 5.3 compatibility guarantees broad connectivity. This allowed me to easily switch between two phones and my laptop. 

If you want to enjoy a fun and more immersive experience, Bose Ultra Open Earbuds work with Bose SimpleSync technology. This allows you to pair them with select Bose smart soundbars and speakers for a personalized listening experience. Independent volume controls enable you to adjust the soundbar volume without affecting the earbuds, giving you complete control over your audio environment.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: Call quality

Call quality was excellent to solid depending on my surroundings. When talking to my daughter during our weekly whist of my bank account, She said I sounded crystal clear while I was sitting at my desk in our office. 

However while talking to my uncle while walking around the busy Brooklyn streets he did say he could hear traffic behind me, but he could also very clearly hear my voice over the background noise.

Bottom line

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are truly worth every penny, they not only bring an excellent audio experience your friends and family will be jealous of, but they also provide a sense of security that urban users will take comfort in. Some may balk at the $299 price tag, but that would be a mistake. 

The Ultra Open Earbuds are the perfect meshing of audiophile-level sound experience, style, and security you can purchase today. If you love that live music experience, and keeping it to yourself, these are an excellent pair of buds to buy. If you’re active, and like taking your music with you while jogging or running, the flex arms design will make you thrilled you purchased these as they will never pop out of your ears.

Mark Anthony Ramirez

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.